You don’t need Valentine's Day or Cupid’s arrow to unleash your inner Don Juan or sexy Siren on your partner – enjoying a romantic retreat is just the ticket for rekindling that fire or sparking a new love affair at any time of year. Of course, it can be hard to fan the flames in a mega-resort swarming with guests or digs just not designed with adoring duos in mind – that’s why we’ve rounded up this luscious list of our 10 favorite small romantic inns and resorts across the U.S. From historic castles to beachside resorts to mountaintop inns, we’ve got a lodging style that’s guaranteed to feel intimate to amorous adventurers of every ilk. And with settings ranging from wine regions (on both coasts) to quaint New England towns, and from dreamy desert landscapes to the sultry South, there’s a pick to fit the whims of a wide scope of starry-eyed lovers.
Surrounded by the verdant beauty of Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes wine region and perched beside Seneca Lake, Belhurst Castle effortlessly blends 19th century charm with cozy, modern-day comfort for the perfect romantic getaway. Originally built as a private residence in 1889, the mansion was converted into a rollicking restaurant, speakeasy, and casino in 1933, and later, into the romantic, antique-filled retreat it is today. Its 14 unique rooms boast elegant features like four-poster and canopied beds, stained-glass windows, sweeping lake views, and cast-bronze fireplaces. Dine beneath a beamed cathedral ceiling at the on-site restaurant, which offers sumptuous steak and seafood in the evenings, and free mimosas and Bloody Marys with Sunday brunch. Lovebirds: Check out the Castle’s special romance-themed weekday packages. www.belhurst.com
A little piece of 19th-century England has been transported to Martha’s Vineyard at this charming Relais & Châteaux property. Set in a merchant house dating back to 1864, the Charlotte oozes with romantic ambience and touts a fine-tuned staff that is unmatched on the island. Inn guests can snuggle up in one of the 25 richly-hued rooms, individually decorated with period furniture and steeped in copious comfort, sumptuous style, and a meticulous attention to detail. Interesting aside: Jackie Kennedy is listed on the roster of illustrious onetime guests. www.relaischateaux.fr/charlotte
Luxury – and romance – is in the details at this intimate, rustic B&B in Virginia Beach. Guests are greeted with freshly baked cookies upon arrival, bathrooms are outfitted with Italian marble and well-polished chrome fixtures, and in the morning, customized, multi-course breakfasts are served by the outdoor pool or inside by a cozy fireplace. The secluded 4.4-acre property encompasses an herb garden, day spa, and just two suites, and is less than a ten-minute walk from the beach. Quaint and quiet, this B&B is perfectly suited to a honeymoon or romantic weekend getaway. www.countryvillainn.com
As Maui’s first resort (built in 1946, it was completely restored in 2002), this luxury complex of spacious seaside bungalows tucked away in unspoiled Hana (on the eastern coast) is the superlative spot for couples looking to get away from it all and to experience the “real” Hawaii. 70 rooms are situated on the lush grounds – our favorite accomodations are the oceanfront Sea Ranch Cottages that line the sloping hillside by the rocky shore. Here, you can hear the crashing waves and practically feel the salty sea sprays. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open onto a large deck (many have a private hot tub) and offer spectacular views (keep an eye out for horses grazing in the field just to the right of the seafront). Don’t miss a couples treatment at the spa, or a swim in the dazzling pool overlooking the rocky coast. www.hotelhanamaui.com
*This property was awarded a 2008 Smart Luxury Award by Sherman's Travel magazine.
There's truly nothing in Santa Fe – or even the Southwest – quite like this Far East-meets-Wild West boutique property of 13 whimsically decorated, opulent rooms and suites. The spacious units here invite couples to enjoy varying features like colorful mosaic-tile murals, traditional kiva-style fireplaces, decadent Asian and Middle Eastern fabrics, and ornate beds with hand-stitched headboards. Rates are a bit steep, but include all kinds of thoughtful extras like walking tours, lavish breakfasts, afternoon wine-and-cheese spreads (on select days), gourmet snacks in your room, and even staff gratuities. The inn is set along Santa Fe's oldest street, a narrow lane right behind the state capitol building and just a five-minute walk from the many galleries and shops of the Plaza; a warm and efficient staff completes the experience. www.fivegraces.com
In the shadows of Sedona’s Red Rock country sits one of Arizona’s loveliest and most romantic accommodations. Rustic creekside cottages front a main lodge reminiscent of a French countryside retreat, and the 56 lodging options range from cozy bungalow to an entire house. The stellar staff at L'Auberge, which is situated within walking distance of uptown Sedona, will even set up a personalized vacation itinerary to satisfy you and your partner's every need. Guests dine on remarkable French-inspired cuisine at the hotel's award-winning restaurant, complemented by an extensive wine list – the scenic views from your dinner table will be just as memorable as your meal. www.lauberge.com
This exclusive island hideaway is just a boat or seaplane ride off Florida’s Little Torch Key, yet feels worlds away. The five-acre private islet, ringed by a sliver of yellow sand and an iridescent green-and-blue speckled lagoon, is a romantic haven, indeed: secluded, swank, and sexy. The resort’s 30 luscious bungalows and suites are decked out in British Colonial grandeur with dark-wood furnishings, chandeliers, four-poster beds with mosquito netting, separate his and hers bathrooms with outdoor showers and claw-foot tubs, and curtains heavy enough to keep out the light if you and yours choose to stay in bed till noon. Expect private verandahs with ocean views, some with jetted tubs, chaise lounges, and at least one encounter with the island's adorable resident key deer. The candle-lit dining room serves up primo, yet pricey, French-Asian fusion cuisine, while long docks stretch over the water with lounge chairs arranged in pairs. Aside from sailing excursions, beachcombing, and spa pampering, there’s not much else to do except bed down and unwind in the closest thing to a lover's paradise in the continental U.S. www.littlepalmisland.com
Couples bunking down at Savannah's first hotel (built in 1851) can expect to be pampered with romantic extras, like a complimentary wine and cheese reception most afternoons. Each of the 68 well-appointed rooms comes equipped with its original 1851 fireplace, Queen Anne-style furnishings, and lavish bedding. Indulge in a stay in the Mary Marshall Suite where you can draw a bath in the antique claw-footed bathtub. The ornate second floor iron veranda can be privately accessed via the Veranda Rooms, where guests can take in historic, boutique-lined Broughton Street from their perched rocking-chair post. In the evening, couples can enjoy savory seafood and cocktails at the hotel’s 45 Bistro. For the true romantic, book the “Romantic Escape” package and enjoy refined chilled sparkling wine and a turndown service that includes rose petals on your pillows. www.marshallhouse.com
Bathed in a palette of khaki, chocolate, and cream, the 12 suites at this chic Napa property come trimmed with fresh orchids, cushy beds, and elegant bathrooms. A luxurious spa and magnificent views of the idyllic Napa River complete the picture, while amenities include gourmet breakfasts, daily wine and cheese receptions, evening port services, and French bath products. In fact, the inn’s so dedicated to catering to amorous duos, they’ve devoted an entire section of their website to outlining the ultimate romantic Napa adventure (www.millikenpillowtalk.com). www.millikencreekinn.com
Set amidst the tranquility of Vermont’s pristine Green Mountains, this luxurious and historic 15-room inn unfolds in a building that boasts more than two centuries of history. Wide-planked wooden walls and three original fireplaces make for a cozy reception and lobby on the main floor, while the property’s award-winning restaurant brims with romance, courtesy of its crackling fireplaces. At any time of year, couples can enjoy awe-inspiring views of Jamaica State Park below, or in winter, venture just 5 miles to play in the snow together at the Stratton Mountain Ski area. www.threemountaininn.com