Two’s company: where to stay

Two’s company: where to stay

Want to stay somewhere extra special on your honeymoon? Liz Simpson, editor of, picks boutique hotels and secluded escapes that are top for two

1. Scotland - The boathouse at Ardanaiseig

It's top for 2 because... it's a secluded one-bed boathouse, on a sparkling lochside

This unique, glass-fronted bolthole makes a perfect honeymoon hideaway for those who want a lot of privacy, but want their luxuries close at hand too. Part of the romantic Ardanaiseig Hotel in Scotland, it sits in perfect seclusion on Loch Awe, surrounded by forests, deer, 19th-century gardens and staggering waterside views. With a mezzanine bedroom up top and a kitchen and huge living area below, there's all you need to escape the world for a while. And when you want a break from self-catering you can jump in your golf buggy and head to the hotel for lavish gourmet cuisine.

What's nearby? The loch is a great base for activity: you can hire motorised launches or romantic rowing boats, fish for trout and pike, and swim in the summer. You can bicycle through the surrounding forest (borrow bikes at the hotel), go clay-pigeon shooting, or sit and watch the many birds, including sea eagles and various owls. If you get cabin fever (unlikely!), head into Oban, the nearest town, and visit its whisky distillery and restaurants, or take a boat to the islands of Mull, Iona, Staffa and beyond.

Bottom line: From £251 per night, room only. The hotel is 25km east of Oban, and 143km from Glasgow.

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2. Namibia - KuanguKuangu

It's top for 2 because... you can be totally alone in an out-of-this world setting

This hidden retreat on the edge of the red-sanded Namib desert embraces the wild, the beautiful and the remote. It's a glass-fronted wood-and-stone cabin for two, which is eco in the purest sense: solar powered, with a simple rocket boiler and bathroom open to the elements. Watching dawn break over the savannah is a sight you'll never forget, and the star-gazing is incredible - KuanguKuangu means 'Milky Way'. to the Ovambo people. You can self-cater and keep completely to yourselves or eat at the neighbouring Barchan Dunes Lodge (a ten-minute walk away), where great food is guaranteed.

What's nearby? There are 4,000 hectares of wilderness surrounding the cabin. Set out on foot and experience the exhilaration of finding yourself alone with no sign of habitation for miles. Or take a guided nature drive out from the lodge in a 4WD. The iconic Sossusvlei sand dunes are an easy half-day excursion away, and hot-air ballooning trips over the red desert can be arranged. 

Bottom line: £96 per night, room only. The hotel is 350km from the Namibian capital Windhoek; transfers in a small plane can be arranged.

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3. Tanzania - Sayari Camp 

It's top for 2 because... you get a private driver for game drives

Safari doesn't get better than this: the ultimate in game viewing and luxury accommodation set in a less-visited part of the Serengeti. The 15 spacious tents are thoroughly decadent - polished-wood floors, kingsize beds, free-standing baths for two and private terraces. Food is very good (honeymooners will be given a 'surprise' private dining experience), service is exceptional, and when you head out on safari you'll get a jeep (plus your own driver/guide).

What's nearby? You're probably here to watch the Great Migration: Sayari sits next to the Mara River, which each year sees millions of zebra and wildebeest crossing it on their way north through the Serengeti. From July to November a stay here will put you in the best position for witnessing this, though it has a high density of big cats, elephants, crocodiles and hippos all year round. What's more, wildlife wanders through the camp; you can laze in the bath and watch zebras.

Bottom line: From £596 per night, all inclusive, including transfers and game drives. The hotel is a 30-minute flight from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

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4. Costa Rica - Latitude 10 Resort

It's top for 2 because... you get a private chef with your casita so meals are super romantic

This place is a wonderful escape: just five secluded suites in a private beach retreat, on the unspoilt Nicoya Peninsula. You'll find your room hidden in the foliage, a little Balinese-style wooden house that feels wonderfully private. Think canopy beds, stylish sitting areas and exotic open-air bathrooms. Over in the sleek clubhouse, your private chef awaits to rustle you up a seafood dinner, fresh from the ocean - or whatever else takes your fancy. You're guaranteed a quiet, romantic atmosphere for your meals, with hurricane lamps, Cuban music and the sound of the ocean.

What's nearby? The resort is right on a beautiful beach, complete with overhanging palms. Lie back and dream, enjoy massages and private yoga classes in an open-air studio by the sea, or learn to surf if you're feeling active. Just a short distance away, there's a wildlife refuge, with spider monkeys, scarlet macaws and tropical birds - the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve at the peninsula tip is one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica. For those who want an adrenalin rush amidst their relaxation, the hotel can arrange zip-wiring through the jungle.

Bottom line: From £156 per night B&B, excluding 13% government tax. Latitude 10 Resort is a 25-minute flight from the capital city San José.

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5. Sri Lanka Kalundewa Retreat

It's top for 2's a private chalet, stilted over a lake, with full service

Hidden within a 100-acre retreat of pomegranate and mango trees in the heart of rural Sri Lanka, this modern chalet sits on stilts over a lake and surrounded by beautiful paddies, offering total seclusion. You raft your way in and are greeted by an architectural gem: steel beams and vast panels of glass glint in the dappled sunlight, and a plunge-pool jacuzzi bubbles welcomingly on the wraparound deck. You get the beautiful interior all to yourselves - modern bedroom and bathroom, and a stunning lounge - and when you want meals, staff raft in and serve you delicious homemade curries. But what you'll remember most is the silence: this is far, far from the tourist crowd.

What's nearby? The estate itself is a nature lover's paradise - you can take walks and bicycle rides through the fruit orchards; spot birds, including kingfishers and egrets; or swim in the natural spring-pool. But if you can tear yourself away, there's a host of cultural treasures close by: you're 8km from the Buddha-filled cave temples in Dambulla and an easy drive from Sigiriya, an awesome fortress sitting atop a rock monolith - quite rightly deemed a Unesco World Heritage site.

Bottom line: From £159 per night B&B. Kalundewa is a 3-4 hour drive from Colombo.

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6. Thailand - The Sarojin

It's top for 2 because... extraordinary adventures are personalised for you

This hotel is honeymoon heaven. The tag of a five-star luxury resort on an unspoilt beach in Khao Lak would clinch it for most people, but The Sarojin offers much, much more. Service with a capital 'S' is de rigueur, and we love the careful thought that's gone into this place, including bath rims big enough to hold champagne glasses and private pools for midnight dips. Your days will be filled with long beach walks, relaxed pampering in the uber-spa and lazy meals. But the resort's real USP is Jowell 'The Imagineer', who tailormakes special activities 'just for two': drink champagne by a waterfall, go diving at sunrise or bamboo-raft down jungle rapids. Having spent years as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, he's full of suitably dramatic and exciting ideas.

What's nearby? The hotel is set on 11km of private beach, which is protected by Pakarang Cape, keeping the water lagoon-like and still, even in low season. Learn to dive or take a guided underwater tour; the hotel works with the mainland's top dive school and the dreamy Similan or Surin Islands (one of the world's top ten dive and snorkel sites) is a short boat ride away. Not a water baby? Hike or bike through Khao Sok National Park, where you'll see some of the world's oldest primary forest, waterfalls and wild animals. Epicurists can take an excellent Thai cooking workshop, which includes a visit to the local markets and outdoor cooking in the jungle.

Bottom line: From £118 per night, room only. The Sarojin is 80km north of Phuket; the hotel can arrange a transfer.

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7. Rome, Italy - La Residenza Napoleone

It's top for 2 because... it's a lavish hideaway in a really romantic city

This gloriously opulent suite of rooms in the heart of Rome's fashion quarter is actually home to the welcoming Princess Letizia Ruspoli, who has made two of her apartments available for rent. If you have always wanted to stay somewhere fit for a queen, this is your chance! Decor is sumptuous (swagged four-poster beds, oil paintings that open to reveal marble bathrooms), and a personal butler unobsequiously caters for your every whim. It'll probably be the most spoiling (and expensive!) experience of your life - but hey, if there was ever an occasion to warrant it...

What's nearby? Glorious Rome is on your doorstep. Revel in the history of the Forum and Colosseum, marvel at the art in the Vatican, people-watch in St Peter's Square, and throw a penny in the Trevi Fountain to ensure you return to Rome one day...

Bottom line: £637 per night B&B. La Residenza Napoleone is in the heart of Rome

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8. Italy - Relais Blu Belvedere

It's top for 2 because...the views are heart-stopping

Set in cliff-top gardens of olive and scented pine, this cool white hotel combines modernism and dazzling Mediterranean colour with incredible panoramic views over the Bay of Naples. The 11 rooms are fresh and contemporary, opening on to private terraces where you can enjoy the views from white cubist sofas.But you'll spend most of your time on the main terrace, gazing out to sea - drink Prosecco out here as the sun dips, then turn your attention to the fantastic gourmet restaurant.

What's nearby? At the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula, you're a short drive from Sorrento, an elegant seaside resort town. From here you can take a ferry to the glitzy island of Capri, or along the Amalfi coast to admire its gravity defying villages. Take a day trip to the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and build up an appetite for dinner by scaling the (still active) volcano that destroyed them, Vesuvius.

Bottom line: £227 per night B&B. The hotel is 45km from Naples.

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9. Mexico - Viceroy Riviera Maya

It's top for 2 because... there are indulgent couples' treatments in the fabulous spa

At this uber-romantic jungle retreat on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, the philosophy is to cocoon guests from the outside world; no children are allowed. The superb Mayan spa may be one of Mexico's best, and canoodling couples can indulge in an 'Asparalove' massage for two.

What's nearby? Try scuba diving and snorkelling along the second biggest barrier reef in the world, swimming with dolphins at Sian Ka'an, and seeing ancient Mayan sites at Tulum, Coba, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal.

Bottom line: From £372 per villa per night, excluding 29% tax. The Tides Riviera is 45km south of Cancun.

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10. Portugal - Areias do Seixo

It's top for 2 because... the rooms are all utterly decadent

This upmarket eco-chic hotel on Portugal's west coast is one of i-escape's favourite new additions. Its ten rooms are blindingly unique - a blend of Indian and Moroccan inspiration, modern minimalist style and glorious imagination. There are beds framed with driftwood, warm gold Chinese cabinets, pod-like woodburners and irresistible bathrooms. You'll want to hide in your room forever but, when you emerge, you'll love the organic restaurant, Ayurvedic spa, open-fire pit and the sandy beach.

What's nearby? The hotel offers some extraordinary 'experiences' (we love 'Your Hands In The Sea', a fishing/mussel harvesting morning after which you cook your own lunch), or you can borrow a bike and explore the sand dunes and Atlantic coastline. Need a city fix? You're 35 minutes from Lisbon - a buzzy, beautiful city with great galleries and museums, and a cool vibe - and 25 minutes from the walled medieval town of Óbidos

Bottom line: £218 per night B&B. The hotel is 45km from Lisbon.

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11. Vietnam - Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

It's top for 2 because... your villa has a private pool and a personal butler

You arrive by boat to find a 2km crescent beach with forested mountains rising behind; you step ashore to discover your very own butler waiting to whisk you off to a private villa. Six Senses is an A-Z of luxury with every conceivable indulgence. Each villa has a pool; some have steps down to the sea, too. You get sitting rooms with enormous daybeds and bedrooms with exquisite views. But best of all, you can keep yourselves to yourselves if you want to. Your butler can bring meals from the restaurant, or whip you up a barbecue on your private deck. Alternatively, ask for a meal on a private beach, where it's just you two and the stars.

What's nearby? Take a boat trip to the Five Islands for fantastic snorkelling or to learn to dive. Hike into the hills and find natural swimming holes to cool down in. Or stay put. The hotel has a world-class spa, there's complimentary yoga and a range of watersports, and what could be more romantic than a champagne sunset cruise?

Bottom line: From £382 per villa per night, including yoga; excluding 15.5% tax. Six Senses is a short boat ride from Nha Trang, in central Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh airport is 450km away.

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12. Costa Rica - Pacuare Lodge

It's top for 2 because... it's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure

This idyllic riverside lodge in the depths of the rainforest is only reachable by raft. You're uniquely isolated in the jungle and immersed in nature (exotic birds and monkeys dart around you), but with delicious caipirinhas and excellent food - not to mention the dreamy honeymoon suite. This extravagant cabin has a huge bedroom and sitting area, and a private plunge pool. There's even a suspension bridge to a secluded observation platform, perfect for declarations of love.

What's nearby? The jungle! Canopy tours on zip wires allow you to fly through the forest like a bird. Stay grounded with plenty of hikes, taking in waterfalls and exotic flora and fauna. A visit to the Cabécar indigenous community is unforgettable.

Bottom line: Two night all-inclusive package with a bottle of champagne, zip-lining, a special dinner and a tree-planting, from £490 per night. Pacuare Lodge is 150km from capital San José.

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13. Western Australia - Sal Salis

It's top for 2 because... it's an unforgettable bespoke honeymoon adventure

This luxurious, tented eco-lodge is set among white-sand dunes, just metres from Ningaloo Reef. The honeymoon package includes full board and activities, transfers, and a romantic beach dinner for two overseen by a canopy of stars.

What's nearby? You're here to explore Australia's largest fringing reef, and will snorkel with turtles and tropical fish, kayak among cruising manta rays and reef sharks, and can dive with whale sharks. As you enjoy fresh coffee and croissants in the morning, you can watch humpback whales breach offshore.

Bottom line: From £599 per night all inclusive. Sal Salis is 65km south of Exmouth in Western Australia.

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14. Argentina - Casa Margot

It's top for 2 because... there are only two suites, and a range of romantic activities - plus a constant flow of champagne!

This 1920s-inspired two-bed hotel in Mendoza is all about champagne, tango and the roaring twenties. Exquisite food is often infused with bubbles (a Bellini to kick-start your meal, champagne mousse for dessert), can be tailormade to your liking, and served wherever you like. But the real romance factor is in the activities you can take part in: learn the sultry tango, book an 'I love you' evening (a candlelit meal with a piano player serenading you) or relax in your room with Mendoza-inspired spa treatments.

What's nearby? A plethora of bodegas for wine tasting, plus you can spot condors when mountain walking, or horse-ride through the surrounding countryside.

Bottom line: £175 per night B&B. Casa Margot is 18km from Mendoza.

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