Old World romanticism makes cities such as Paris and Venice, even the Greek Isles, almost a cliche in terms of their reputation as some of the world’s most romantic places. But, in fact, Europe is home to a veritable melting pot of romantic cities that beg to be discovered.
belgium This is a country famous for its lace, chocolate and beer, but as many lovers have found out over the centuries, it also harbors at least two cities that would give Paris and Venice a run for their money in terms of steaming up a romantic escapade, not to mention a honeymoon rich with a variety of activities, steamy little sidewalk cafes, tree-lined canals to stroll along and quiet little nooks and crannies to be alone in.
Ghent, for example, one of the most overlooked little treasures of a town in all of Europe, is a case in point. With its winding, cobblestone streets and beautiful and serene canals meandering sensuously through the town and lined by shops, quaint little hotels, cafes and pubs, the place just screams romance.
In keeping with this, the Hotel Harmony, a four-star beauty fronting a canal and comprised of two buildings—one of which was built in 1766—and situated in a neighborhood called Patershol, the oldest neighborhood of Ghent, has a couple of romantic options. The Romantic Stay package, designed to “surprise your honey,” as they say, offers an “exceptional room for one night, specially decorated,” a welcome drink, bottle of Champagne Bauser, breakfast buffet served in room or in the breakfast area, a surprise gift in the room and late check-out. Longer stays and packages can be booked, as well. Or, check out the Romantic Surprises package that includes adding little touches to one’s stay such as rose petal decor in the room, flowers or chocolates. So, how’s that for romance?
Bruges, the so-called “Venice of the North,” and a more well-known city of canals and romance than Ghent, has plenty to offer the honeymoon and romantic traveler, as well. The Kempinski Hotel Duke’s Palace is a honeymoon favorite for many travelers from throughout the world because it is, after all, a real duke’s palace that goes back to the 15th century. Honeymoon and romantic getaway packages are available, as well as special deals like its 2-night Choc-a-licious program that sweethearts will love and which includes entrance tickets to the Bruges chocolate museum for two, one hot chocolate pp with an assortment of Kempinski cookies upon return from the museum, truffles, entrance to the spa and the Kempinski Royal breakfast buffet for two.
Then there’s the Hotel De Tuilerieen-Bruges, another 15th century nobility residence that’s a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World situated in the midst of this historical city. Its classical interior and furnishings reflect its historical past and it’s an elegant hideaway for lovers and honeymooners. It’s Cupido Arrangement as they call it, offers an overnight stay in a superior room, breakfast buffet for two, sauna, pool and Turkish bath at guest’s disposal, dinner for two in Le Menu Belge or typical Bruges restaurant and champagne in the room on arrival.
Contact: (800) 525-4800; slh.com
czech republic Okay, think Prague, the Charles Bridge at night under the moonlight, strolling the classical city’s streets into the wee hours, stopping at out-of-the-way little cafes and getting to know your new mate in the intimacy of a romantic little bistro. Now that’s romance and you won’t find that kind of atmosphere anywhere outside of Prague.
There are two ways to go when selecting a lover’s getaway or honeymoon hotel in Europe—contemporary luxury or captivating classical hotels that ooze more charm than contemporary comforts. But in Prague, you get the luxury of both. The Mandarin Oriental, Prague definitely falls into the luxury category with honeymoon packages and suites that they say absorb all the romance of the city, from the historic atmosphere of its baroque suites, to the roof terrace of its presidential suite with panoramic views of the castle. But because it’s situated in the historic “little quarter” of the city in what was once a renaissance building itself, when you step out of the hotel, you’re literally in the midst of the fairytale ambiance of Prague. There’s also its Oriental Suite at the top of the spa building, located in the vaulted ceilings of what was once a renaissance church, or you can reserve the couple’s suite in the spa for simultaneous massage and therapy. Try the program for honeymooners who have held a wedding in one of the Mandarin Oriental hotels or resorts, which includes a complimentary night as well as special benefits when they honeymoon at another hotel in the group.