THE ROYAL HAWAIIAN, HONOLULU
Lipstick pink is the color of this Old Waikiki landmark. When the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” first opened in 1927, there was only one other hotel along the beachfront. Today, Waikiki Beach is lined with high-rises, but it’s the historic Royal Hawaiian (starwoodhotels.com) that is still favored by Hawaii aficionados. During the 19th century, King Kamehameha I used this land as his royal playground. The famous flocked to the hotel during the 1930s and it remained until WWII, when it was leased to the US Navy. Tourist mania returned in the 1950s and the Royal Hawaiian has been pop- ular ever since. Historical walking tours offer insight into the hotel’s rich past, and its weekly luau is one of the best in the islands. Other amenities include the plush garden-style Abhasa Waikiki Spa, where bamboo and dia- mond-studded treatments are especially popular with brides.
LA MAMOUNIA, MARRAKESH
The grandest hotel in Marrakesh, La Mamounia (mamounia.com), has amazed guests for years—and with good reason: richly decorated columns support brilliant mosaic tiled roofs, open courtyards frame shallow aquama- rine pools and palm-filled exotic gardens surround the sunset-red Medina walls. The look is a blast from the ruling dynasties of the past. Le Bar Churchill is the same smoky, exotic hangout it always was. Le Marocain is on the top of our romantic restaurants list. Tucked among flowers and foun- tains, couples can dine on seafood tagine and sip mint tea on the candlelit terrace. Choose a riad (traditional Moroccan house) nestled in the gardens with its own private pool or in the main mansion, choose a king-size bed in a small-but-gorgeous room adorned in rich velvets.
THE BILTMORE ESTATE, NORTH CAROLINA America’s largest home rises majestically in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Opened in 1895, The Biltmore Estate (biltmoreestate.com) is modeled after a 16th-century French chateau and has 250 rooms, 34 bed- rooms, 43 baths and 65 fireplaces. This Asheville property was originally the home of George Vanderbilt—grandson of Cornelius—who indulged his passions for art, literature and horticulture. Following his wedding to Edith Stuyvesant Dresser and their honey- moon to Paris, the newlyweds returned to The Biltmore in 1898 to make it their permanent home. Although never intended to be a hotel, friends stayed for months and were treated like hotel guests. Plaques with their names were placed on bedroom doors, and personal servants (a precursor to modern-day but- lers) were assigned to attend them. Today, the estate and gardens are open to the public for guided tours. However, you can live like a Vanderbilt and stay at the Inn on Biltmore in one of the exqui- site guestrooms or suites, or choose The Cottage, once the cozy residence of the former estate’s gardener. Blazing fireplac- es, butler service, afternoon tea, fine din- ing and spa services are just some of the amenities. Romantic extras, such as horse-drawn carriages, can also be easily arranged.
TAJ FALAKNUMA PALACE, INDIA
Think of a fairytale residence belonging to a powerful prince and you’ll get the Taj Falaknuma Palace (tajhotels.com). Once a 19th-century guest- house for royalty, it has taken years to convert this 60-room palace into one of India’s top hotels. Made of Italian marble, the rooms are furnished with antiques and French tapestries. In fact, the Dining Hall has the longest dining table in the world, seating 101 (now that’s a dinner party!). It may be very old and very bling, but it’s got modern touches too, like the stunning new spa, where you and your prince charming can indulge in an Indian head massage or Ayurvedic treatment overlooking the terraced gardens. Later, you can indulge in the best curry you’ll ever taste in one of two restaurants, then challenge your man to a game of billiards. Couples can take a tour of the hotel conducted by the in-house historian who focuses on the palace’s romantic past or take a trip to Hyderabad for gem-studded bracelets and necklaces, fit for the princess in you. The Presidential Suite has a private pool and butler; the Luxury Room has an ornate bed suitable for your royal majesties.
MONMOUTH HISTORIC INN, MISSISSIPPI
The Natchez Trace Parkway Trail, which winds along the Mississippi River, is covered in history. For centuries, it was used as a trade route. Today, it’s a scenic trail that originates in the town of Natchez—the oldest settlement on the Mississippi—which brims with antebellum mansions. Imagine you’re Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara comfortably settled at Monmouth
(monmouthplantation.com), a romantic 30-room hotel dating from 1818. Stroll among the flower gardens and oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and then sip a mint julep in the parlor before retiring to a cozy canopied bed.
HOTEL BEL-AIR, LOS ANGELES
Once a hotspot for top celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly, the luxurious Hotel Bel-Air (hotelbelair.com) reopened last year after a multi-million dollar modernization of this trend-set- ting hotel. The façade’s signature color, known as “Bel-Air Pink” and its Spanish Colonial architecture remain. New are the redesigned guestrooms and suites inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood. With views of the canyon, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, grand pia- nos and spacious decks, the 12-acre property provides a peaceful nest for the new La Prairie Spa with seven treatment rooms including a couple’s massage area and a mosaic steam room. Not to be over- looked is Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, where fresh local California cuisine is served with a European accent.
THE WALDORF ASTORIA, NEW YORK
If ever a hotel was synonymous with a city, The Waldorf Astoria New York (waldorf.com) is the one. Set on Park Avenue in the heart of mid- town, this world-renowned Art Deco landmark has been host to real-life love stories: When the Duke of Windsor relinquished the throne of England for the woman he loved, they traveled to New York to live in the Royal Suite. Today, the hotel still welcomes guests with regal flair: Soft bed linens, in-room technology, and design- er-brand toiletries are some of the luxuries. Whether catering to an over-the-top wedding reception or a couple splurging to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon getaway, the Waldorf Astoria ensures a memorable time in the world’s most exhilarating city.