20 affordable romantic retreats

Create interest by changing things up. Here are our favorite places to start

The Inn at Langley, Langley, WA: Find your own recipe for romance here, literally. The six-course meals served by Seattle-bred celebrity chef Matt Costello are reason enough to stay here (did someone say chocolate sponge cake with cardamom mango sauce?). Spend the day kayaking or hiking in search of birds and seals on the waters of Saratoga Passage, or simply gaze out at the water as you lie by the wood-burning fireplace. Make it new: Bring bikes (perhaps a tandem) to explore the area. The inn offers biking maps of the island. $$$, including breakfast. – Jess Thomson

Hacienda del Sol, Taos, NM: Hunkering down in this B&B is an experience in total immersion: in Taos’s storied history as a high-desert art outpost, and in the stunning topography that surrounds it. French doors open onto the B&B’s best features: the view of Taos Mountain looming above Taos Pueblo, and an open-air hot tub for stargazing. Make it interesting: Pay homage to D.H. Lawrence’s famously steamy writings with a pilgrimage to the ranch where he lived in 1924 (in the village of San Cristobal, 17 miles north of Taos; 575/776-2245). $$, including breakfast. – Katie Arnold

Cedar House Sport Hotel, Truckee, CA: Skip Tahoe’s typically crowded après-ski scene and head back to eco-luxe Cedar House for a glass of red at the guests-only fireside bar. Enjoy an outdoor soak before an Italian supper at the boutique inn’s new restaurant, Stella ($$). Make it interesting: After a day on the slopes, sign up for Cedar House’s Cooking Club n Stella’s open kitchen: intimate hands-on classes or dinner-theater demos by the inn’s talented chef. $$$, including breakfast; two-night weekend minimum. – Rachel Levin

Los Poblanos Historic Inn &Cultural Center, Albuquerque: Curl up beside a roaring piñon fire in your room ― laid for you daily by the attentive staff ― or work up an appetite exploring the more than 25 acres of fields, trails, and organic gardens at this 19th-century working dairy ranch turned inn. Make it interesting: Take a lesson in Southwestern art just by prowling the premises, where you’ll see works by prominent New Mexico artists like R.C. Gorman, Gustave Baumann, Laura Gilpin, and Peter Hurd. $$$, including breakfast. – K.A.

Blue Lake Ranch, near Durango, CO: Snowshoe or cross-country ski à deux past stands of 150-year-old cottonwoods along a riverside trail, or dogsled or ride horseback through the snowy woods nearby. Fuel up first with a hearty breakfast of tamales and scones (served with heavenly ranch-made preserves and wildflower honey). Make it interesting: Spend an afternoon exploring the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at nearby Mesa Verde National Park ($10 per vehicle). $, including breakfast; two-night minimum. – Amy Marr

Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, Halfmoon Bay, B.C.: Cuddle up under a deep duvet while you listen to raindrops brush against the walls of your luxe tent-house suite. Roughing it this is not: Think fireplaces, heated tile floors, silk shoji ― plus the sound of winter waves against the shore. If you can force yourselves to part from these digs, explore the surrounding rain forest. Then hurry back with a blanket for some quiet time by the ocean on your private veranda. $$$ U.S. – Deana Lancaster

Villa Amor, Sayulita, Mexico: The 35 villas at this resort, some set into a terraced hillside with decks that have little or no railing, are a great place to feel a frisson. From this aerie you can take in all the sights and sounds of the beach without venturing anywhere. Mini kitchens (in some villas only) make it even easier to stay in. Make it interesting: Skinny-dip in your private cliffside plunge pool (request a villa that has one). $$ U.S., including breakfast. – A. W.