No matter where you go, your honeymoon should be something special. Make sure you look back on your trip fondly with our line-up of some of the hottest honeymoon destinations for 2018. From a private island retreat on the Indian Ocean to an Irish castle that’s hundreds of years old, whether you’re seeking romance, culture, adventure or gastronomy, one of these picks is perfect for you two.
Having long been a honeymoon favourite, 2018 sees this tiny African island nation celebrate 50 years of independence making this the perfect time to visit. Combine romance and relaxation with a touch of adventure with idyllic beaches and a terrain that teems with rainforests, waterfalls and hiking trails. Visit the capital Port Louis for unique museums and the famous Central Market then head north and check into the retro-chic Lux* Grand Gaube.
Edged by a private bay with two beaches, gorgeous gar-dens and breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, expect postcard-perfect scenes paired with no less than 13 bars and restaurants. There’s also a movie theatre for a different kind of island date-night and a spacious spa where trained therapists will customise packages to suit both of you. The resort’s romantic suites all have ocean views, four-poster beds and twin outdoor bathtubs and there’s a whole plethora of funky extras like pop-up events, street-art exhibits, boutique shopping and make-your-own jewellery classes.
Rates start from Dh2,000, including taxes; luxresorts.com
2. A regal retreat in Ireland
For a stately affair, head to Ireland’s breathtaking west coast for a stay in the 800-year-old Ashford Castle. Set in County Mayo amongst 350 acres of countryside, woodlands and lakes this place is something special. Book the Reagan Presidential Suite in the oldest wing of the castle for a crackling original fireplace, antique four-poster bed, stunning chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows to take in that view. Indulge in romantic fine-dining in the grand George V Dining room where seasonal pro-duce and local ingredients are expertly prepared by Chef Philippe Farineau.
Visit Ireland’s oldest established falconry school and get the chance to fly one of the birds around the castle grounds on a private hawk walk. Indeed, the entire estate is your playground with cycling, golf, shooting, zip-lining, tree climbing, archery and more on offer. Crank up the romance with a woodland carriage tour for two and book a couples’ treatment at what was named the best spa in Ireland at the World Spa Awards 2017. If you both share your love with a four-legged friend, you can bring them along too: the castle offers doggie duvets and pet-friendly turndown treats.
Rates start at Dh1,575 per night, including taxes with the Reagan Presidential Suite starting at Dh11,412 per night; ashfordcastle.com
3. The very best of Morocco
Step back in time in the colourful kingdom of Morocco with Black Tomato’s Berbers, Kasbahs and Camels tour. Explore the old capital of Fes – bedding down at what Forbes called one of Morocco’s sexiest hotels – Riad Fes.
Head off on a guided food tour, picnic in Roman ruins and weave through the city’s labyrinth medina alleyways before heading south to Erg Chebbi, Morocco’s highest sand dune. Here, you’ll be glamping in style as you soak in the calm of the Sahara desert. Continue your travels through mountainous terrain via the stunning Tichka Pass en route to Marrakech, where you can discover the city at your leisure from your base in Riad Farnatchi.
Saving the best for last, it’s time for adventure in the Atlas Mountains. Pile into a 4x4 and enjoy driving across some of the country’s steepest terrain, then end your adventure at Sir Richard Branson’s mountain-based Kasbah Tamadot, named Best Resort Hotel in the MENA region by Travel + Leisure last year. Spend the final two nights of your adventure here luxuriating in the beauty of one of Morocco’s most spectacular hotels.
The ten-night trip starts from Dh22,715 per person, including tax-es but excluding flights; blacktomato.com/destinations/morocco/
4. Maltese cultural delights
Home to Valletta, the 2018 capital of culture, the tiny Mediterranean nation of Malta is carving out a name for itself as one of the year’s hottest must-visits. Across the island, museums, shops, and beach clubs are opening, not to mention gorgeous new hotels. Try the Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour in Senglea. This seriously sleek abode combines an evocative history with a unique harbour location, spectacular views and the sleekest interiors. Set against a backdrop of historical fortress walls, the original building dates back to 1554 and all of the suites boast high-vaulted ceilings and amazing views over the harbour and marina.
Go for a corner suite to make the most of natural light and increased privacy. The rooftop pool is perfect for a dip at sunset with views as far as Valletta and feast on Maltese cuisine with an international twist at Cugo Gran’s restaurant. A stroll along the renovated promenade with a stop at one of the many quaint bistros and cafes makes for a truly perfect evening.
Rates for the corner suite start at Dh1,277 including breakfast and taxes; ibbhotels.com/cugo-gran-macina-grand-harbour
5. A celebrity haunt in the Seychelles
If money is no object, make for North Island Lodge in the Seychelles recently named the most expensive private island retreat on the planet. Accessible only by helicopter and with just 11 villas, privacy is nonpareil which is why the likes of Salma Hayek, the Beckhams and Prince William have all holidayed here. With an eco-friendly philosophy, you’ll be sharing your honeymoon with a plethora of exotic wildlife including endangered birds, giant tortoises and coconut crabs.
Head off on a gourmet picnic for two, take to the ocean or get active with a sunrise hike; experiences are tailor-made to reflect couples’ preferences. Villas are surrounded by a screen of natural vegetation and you’ve got direct access to your very own private beach. Be prepared to be wowed when it comes to dinner, as the resort chefs serve bespoke menu creations in some truly amazing locales – starlight helipad dinner for two anyone?
Rates start from Dh22,501 per night on an all-inclusive basis, but excluding tax; north-island.com
6. Remotest New Zealand
If you really want to escape it all, then fairytale-like New Zealand is the perfect pick. Combining seriously swoon-worthy vistas with adventure-filled days, try your hand at horse riding, kayaking, white water rafting, bungee jumping, skydiving or quad biking; then retreat to Seascape, a luxury rural villa designed as a honeymoon bolthole on the Banks Peninsula, south of Christchurch.
The area was formed from the eroded remnants of two large volcanoes and the gorgeously-designed villa is tucked under an escarpment at the foot of one of the peninsula’s rolling hills with a turf-covered roof to help camouflage the property and ensure absolute privacy. A glass wall faces out onto a boulder-strewn beach with the South Pacific roaring behind it. An outdoor lounge with crackling fireplace and sea-facing bathtub coupled with a huge super-king bed guarantee the romance factor. The Luxury Package includes two nights in the villa, helicopter transfers, a bottle of premium bubbles, a private chef, gourmet picnic hamper and a nature cruise.
Rates for the Luxury Package start at Dh32,714 for two people, including taxes; annandale.com/accommodations/seascape
7. Zanzibar’s little sister
A cluster of islands off the east coast of Tanzania, the Zanzibar archipelago is offers gorgeous island vibes not too far from mainland Africa. Avoid the masses hotfooting it to Zanzibar Island by heading north, to lesser-known Pemba Island. Stay at Fundu Lagoon, accessible only by boat, and the place for an authentic barefoot-chic honeymoon. Bungalows have ‘makutchi’ thatch roofs and views of the Indian Ocean as well as huge wooden decks and private plunge pools and a backdrop of lush greenery – keep an eye out for the bush-babies and vervet monkeys who call the island home.
Tuck into a delicious fusion of Swahili and international dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby villages and local fishermen and spend days wandering through banana plantations, taking a guided spice tour or river cruising. Don’t miss Misali Island, just a few miles west, where crystal-clear waters guarantee impressive snorkelling and turtle spotting.
Prices start from Dh1,083 per person in low season including meals, house beverages, selected activities and taxes, but excluding transfers. Honeymoon promotions are also available; fundulagoon.com
8. Malaysian luxury
Made up of 104 islands, the archipelago of Langkawi is known for its fantastic diving, jungle-cloaked valleys and bargain duty-free shopping. It’s also home to the recently opened Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi. Overlooking the turquoise Andaman Sea, escape to a private bay ensconced in a jungle that’s millions of years old. Stay in one of the resort’s lavish villas and make the most of the setting by heading out for a jungle adventure where you can trek the Walkway of Wishes, witness the traditional ‘Dance of thanks to the Sea’ or learn the elegant self-defence movements of ancient Malay soldiers.
Located on top of Machinchang Mountain, Langkawi Skybridge is the longest free-span curved bridge in the world and is the perfect spot for sunset thanks to sweeping above-the-tree views. Don’t miss the hotel’s spa – housed in a network of cocoon-shaped structures that hover above the ocean.
The Ultimate Romance package is available until March 31, 2018 and costs from Dh3,024 per package including 3 nights, transfers, a bottle of bubbly and macaroons, one degustation dinner and a couples massage but excluding taxes; ritzcarlton.com
9. A private Sri Lankan island
With a host of luxury hotels having opened on the teardrop island of late, this tropical country recorded its highest number of tourists ever last year, and looks set to be a top choice for holidaymakers in 2018. Yet, for honeymooners looking to soak up the Sri Lankan charm in resplendent isolation, the 1920s-built mansion on Taprobane Island is our pick.
Located 100m off the coast of Weligama in the south, this hideaway can only be reached by wading through the sea. Once you arrive, there will be nothing but ocean between you and the South Pole. The neo-Palladian villa is octagonal in shape meaning that every room commands fantastic views. Interiors are a gorgeous mix of colonial and con-temporary design and the tropical gardens are stunning. With two and half acres of exotic paradise to call your own, a staff of five are on hand to cater to your every whim leaving the two of you to get on with enjoying starting married life on a private island.
Low-season rates start from Dh3,672 per night; taprobaneisland.com/
10. Ecuador’s culinary charm
If food is your language of love, then South America is for you. Avoid the usually culinary calls of Lima and Buenos Aires and head instead for Ecuador’s Quito, one of the most exciting and succulent destinations on the planet. For old-world romantics, Casa Gangotena in the heart of Quito is a beautifully-restored historic mansion and a great base from which to explore the delights of Ecuador’s capital.
Embracing a Quiteño menu means understanding a mash-up of cultures, continents, eras and ingredients and at the hotel’s The Restaurant overlooking Plaza San Francisco, you can sample creative dish-es inspired by the flavours, scents and textures of seasonal ingredients fused with local farmers know-how and ancestral cooking techniques.
Rates start at Dh2,019 for a luxury room, including taxes; casagangotena.com/en/