This year’s most royal of weddings—the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at England’s Windsor Castle—reminds us all that Europe is for lovers and that now is the perfect time to plan a royal honeymoon. Best of all, the continent is full of regal accommodations—former palaces and castles, chateaux and estate mansions—that take pride in their traditions of comfort and service.
The UK: Experts in Royal Romance
While Prince Harry and now Princess Meghan will be honeymooning in Namibia, newlyweds from the U.S. might think of choosing a love nest in the U.K., and Scotland in particular for their own royal honeymoon: Inverlochy Castle Hotel. Located outside Fort William, the country-hotel is known for its cozy grandeur, offering honeymooners a choice of 17 rooms and suites that are traditionally furnished, with mountain/loch/garden views, some with four-poster beds, embroidered bed linens, and waterfall showers in posh bathrooms. Guests may dine in any one of three dining rooms, or perhaps order a private picnic when heading out to go boating, golfing, mountain biking or white-water rafting.
Ireland: Fairy Tale Castles Galore
There’s no shortage of castle-hotels on the Emerald Isle, although perhaps in a land of fairy tale accommodations, Ashford Castle stands out. This medieval architectural gem is set on a 350-acre woodland in County Mayo; its turrets and battlements, overlooking Lough (Lake) Corrib, were raised by the Normans some 800 years ago, while the castle’s last private owners were the Guinness family. Ashford’s 2-night Honeymoon Package hits all the castle-hotel high notes. Priced from $1,242 per couple, included are accommodations in a deluxe lakeside room; Irish breakfast daily; a candlelit 5-course dining experience in the elegant George V dining room; rose petal turndown service and Champagne to celebrate, as well as complimentary archery, relaxation pool, steam-room, fitness studio, and greens fees on the 9-hole golf course. Further compliments of the castle: tennis, golf, cycling, billiards, estate hiking, and unwinding in the premier cinema room fitted with red velvet chairs and jars of sweets and popcorn. Honeymooners can enhance their castle stay with spa-time, cruising on Lough Corrib, horseback riding, and visiting the Falconry School with a chance to fly one’s own hawk.
Paris: City of Light & Love
To stay at the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris is to understand its official designation as one of Paris’ 10 “Palace” hotels. Formerly the palace of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew and meticulously restored to its former glory, the mansion’s carved, gilded and frescoed salons and sitting rooms are listed as historic monuments. Honeymooners can’t beat Shangri-La’s location, hugging the Seine River and delivering front porch views of the Eiffel Tower. The hotel currently boasts not one but two Michelin-rated restaurants, L’Abeille and Shang Palace, and its spa and fitness center—complete with the largest indoor pool in Paris—occupies the palace’s former stables. Guestrooms are elegant and smart, complete with orchids, marble bathrooms with heated floors, and oversized windows permitting lovers to tuck into bed and watch the iconic tower’s nighttime dazzle.
Italy: Atop Every Romance Bucket-List
For the most royal of Belmond digs, combine two Belmond palaces. First stop: Belmond Castello di Casole, a historic castle-hotel sitting on hundreds of acres of farmland, vineyards and olive groves in the heart of rural Tuscany. Dating back to the 10th century, the castle’s most recent owner was cinematographer Luchino Visconti. This newest addition to the Belmond family has 39 spacious all-suite rooms appointed with original stone floors and antique furnishings; many have private gardens. Honeymooners will savor the pleasures of gourmet Tuscan wining and dining, an infinity pool, and activities such as cycling, truffle hunting, cooking classes, and relaxing in the spa, located in a vaulted wine cellar.
Next stop: Head south to Belmond Hotel Caruso, which began life as an 11th century palazzo and has an unmatched location perched high above the town of Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. The hotel’s grand style runs to marble hallways, vaulted ceilings, and frescoes to 50 guestrooms and suites appointed with antiques, Frette fabrics, and grand marble bathrooms. There are views of the sea—and landscaped gardens—from the infinity pool and from the romantic-dining terrace of the Belvedere restaurant. The royal honeymoon treatment includes spa and fitness action, plus complimentary boat trips along the coast.