Top 20 romantic getaways

Make this Valentine's Day weekend—or any weekend—special at one of these dreamy retreats

Post Ranch Inn

Written by Lisa Trottier

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA

The most dramatically situated and architecturally ambitious of the Big Sur inns, Post Ranch Inn has rooms set along the bluffs and others tucked away in the forest. And what do we think of the clifftop rooms? Wow. As in: Wow, check out those end-of-the-earth ocean views and get a load of those James Bond–worthy bells and whistles. But also as in: Wow, $1,060 to $2,185 a night? Youch. Regular rooms start at $675—still a splurge, yes, but there’s no dreamier perch. $$$$;

Rolling Huts

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Kathryn True

Rolling Huts, Methow Valley, WA

Skip the snow cave, and check into a stylish winter perch. Tucked into the tranquil upper end of northern Washington’s Methow Valley—where the loudest noise is the swish of cross-country skis—are the Rolling Huts, tricked out with platform beds, wood-burning fireplaces, and sleek kitchenettes. If cooking isn’t your thing, order tapas to go from the Wesola Polana Diner ($), and snuggle in to watch shadows play on the peaks above the ponderosas. Or ski out your door 6 miles for an espresso and fresh-baked goods at the Mazama Store ($; 509/996-2855). No tickets necessary for the nightly show: a gazillion stars and, if you’re lucky, the aurora borealis. $$; 2-night minimum;

L'Auberge de Sedona

Written by Nora Burba Trulsson

L'Auberge de Sedona, Sedona, AZ

With red-rock views and dazzling canyons, a drive through Sedona is a surefire way to get hearts aflutter. To really get things going, stop for lunch at L'Auberge de Sedona on the banks of Oak Creek, a place so romantic that a grass-stained knee doesn't signal an accident but a proposal. Share wine, a grilled chicken-and-brie crisp, and the warmth of the stone fireplace at the inn's creekside restaurant. Get even cozier by spending the night either in one of the 31 cottages along the creek or up the hill in a lodge room. $$;

Petit Hotel Hafa

Photo by Anne Menke; written by Samantha Schoech

Petit Hotel Hafa, Sayulita, Mexico

Relax on the stylish rooftop lounge at Petit Hotel Hafa, a tiny boutique hotel two blocks from the beach, where the Moroccan-inspired decor in the middle of the Mexican tropics draws both design enthusiasts and hideaway seekers. Owners Christophe and Marina Mignot know everyone in town and are happy to share all off-season secrets, so a stay here feels like the real local’s-eye-view. $ U.S.; 2-night minimum;

Hidden Meadow Ranch

Photo by Sara Stevens; written by Nora Burba Trulsson

Hidden Meadow Ranch, Greer, AZ

Six miles up a forest road, 10 miles to the nearest village, the seclusion and often-snowy setting make this super-luxe guest ranch in the White Mountains the ideal winter retreat. By day, sleigh-ride à deux, ride horseback through pines, or snowshoe. At night, dine on elk tenderloin in the candlelit lodge, then relax in the steamy hot tub under dizzying stars before bedding down by the crackling fire. $$$$, including meals, horseback riding, and other ranch activities;

Volcano Rainforest Retreat

Photo by Lisa Romerein; written by Bill Harby

Volcano Rainforest Retreat, Big Island, HI

In the secluded Sanctuary, light candles, make the Tibetan chimes kiss, play a CD of sensuous Indian music, and whisper words from a bedside book of meditations on love. As you snuggle under the Balinese-print quilt, you’ll feel a glow that comes only partly from the ornate cast-iron fireplace. Hide out in the open-air pavilion’s Japanese soaking tub, just big enough for two, surrounded by glistening ferns and sweet flowering ginger. $$, including breakfast; two-night minimum;

Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate

Photo by Kodiak Greenwood; written by Lisa Trottier

Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate, Sausalito, CA

Cavallo Point is so close to the city, you could walk across the Golden Gate Bridge for a glass of bubbly on the porch, where rocking chairs and couches are positioned for a view of those red towers jutting above the Marin Headlands. This WWI-era Army base turned luxe lodge has an Ultimate Date Night Package that—when you break it down—is quite a deal: $450 buys a four course dinner for two at the elegant Murray Circle; breakfast the next morning; parking; and a room with a fireplace, original pressed-tin ceilings, and a front-row seat to the San Francisco skyline. Plus, free yoga in the former base chapel and hikes around Marin County in between. $$$$;


Rockwater Secret Cove Resort

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Deana Lancaster

Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, near Halfmoon Bay, B.C.

This ragged stretch of the Sunshine Coast is so unspoiled and awe-inspiring, it's sometimes hard to imagine that anyone but a bald eagle or two has been here before you. Wooden walkways meander through the forest where Rockwater Secret Cove Resort's 13 roomy, light-filled, adults-only canvas tent suites―with fluffy king-size duvets and tubs for two―perch above the blue water. Each suite has a deck and views to inspire castaway fantasies. At Rockwater's Spa Without Walls, treatments are on a platform at the water's edge with stunning views. $$$$ U.S.;

Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Kathleen N. Brenzel

Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs

Grab the glass of mint tea that awaits you in your Moroccan- or Mediterranean-style room, then head out through French doors onto your bougainvillea-edged patio to sip and stare at the San Jacinto Mountains. Later, go for a swim in one of the inn’s two torch-lit pools under clear desert skies, or catch an outdoor movie. $$, including breakfast; two-night minimum on weekends;

View Hotel

Photo by David Fenton; written by Dina Mishev

View Hotel, Monument Valley, UT

Daydreaming is the main activity at the View Hotel, where every room has a balcony with vistas of those iconic sandstone spires—and nothing else. Occasionally guests rally from their reveries and bundle up to wander out into red rock scenery made completely new by a fairy dusting of snow. $;

Two Harbors

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez; written by Matthew Jaffe

Two Harbors, Catalina Island, CA

On the far side of Catalina, away from the main town of Avalon, is Two Harbors, a tiny boaters' haven that feels like an island on the island. For all the isolation, you don't have to rough it here. In addition to boat-in and walk-in campgrounds, Two Harbors has the Banning House Lodge in the vacation home of Catalina's onetime owners. All 12 rooms have views of the harbor. When you're not enjoying the comforts of your room, you can snorkel through swaying kelp beds and kayak to hidden coves. Steep trails lead into the Catalina backcountry. Or just stroll across the isthmus and look out over the Pacific: next stop, Hawaii, 2,500 miles away. $$;

Waimea Plantation Cottages

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Lisa Trottier

Waimea Plantation Cottages, Kauai

Once you lay eyes on your cute little cottage that's been rescued from a shuttered sugarcane plantation, spruced up, and set here in a grassy coconut grove, your guidebook of Kauai's must-see sights doesn't stand a chance. Spend mornings drinking coffee on the porch before wandering under the banyan trees to a lonely hammock to collapse hip to hip, long-neglected novels in hand. At night, as a ceiling fan stirs over your quilted bed, the whooshing of the waves lulls you to sleep. $$$;

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort

Photo by Ebbe Roe Yevino-Smith; written by Deana Lancaster

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, at Uclulet, Vancouver Island, B.C.

The luxurious Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is a curving sweep of glass, steel, and wood beside the rain forest and above a surge channel that boasts the best storm-watching in the West. Each room comes decked out with a fireplace, balcony, and flat-screen TV ― not that you'll need it. What's really worth watching here is the view out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Feeling restless? Switch it up by taking in the view from one of the spa's outdoor hot pools. $$$ U.S.;

Figueroa Hotel

Written by MacKenzie Geidt

Figueroa Hotel, Los Angeles

Humphrey Bogart would fit right in at this cinematic Moroccan oasis in the middle of downtown's flurry. For a fun date night, catch a concert at the nearby L.A. Live entertainment complex before you head back to North Africa. $$;

Todos Santos Inn

Photo by Jenny Elia Pfeiffer; written by David Lansing

Todos Santos Inn, Baja, Mexico

Hidden away in a quiet village near Cabo San Lucas is this enchanted brick-and-adobe hacienda. Disappear into one of its antique canopy beds, or head to a nearby beach. $$ U.S., including breakfast;

Griffin House Inn

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Dale Conour

Griffin House Inn, Elk, CA

In an unspoiled tiny town on a quiet stretch of the Mendocino coast, you'll spot Griffin House ― and its friendly, if somewhat worn, cottages. Set on a cliff's edge, looking out to sea, is our favorite: the recently renovated Kestrel. Bundle up and sink into the deck's weathered Adirondack chairs, and watch for gray whales. At dusk, sip (complimentary) wine and enjoy your private sunset. For dinner, saunter over to the inn's Bridget Dolan's Pub; in the morning, a light knock signals the arrival of breakfast. $$;

Indian Springs, Calistoga, CA

Photo by Ian Shive; written by Amy Wolf

Indian Springs, Calistoga, CA

There’s no better way to warm up, literally and figuratively, for an amorous evening than with a soak in steamy water so rich with minerals it feels like silk ― especially when your private cottage is just footsteps away. To make it even more interesting, try Watsu on each other in the pool. Wat-what? Enthusiasts claim that this aquatic massage technique ― which involves rocking and cradling ― promotes a blissful sense of letting go. $$$ (ask about winter Sun–Thu spa packages);

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn

Photo by Thayer Allyson Gowdy; written by Peter Fish

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn, Big Sur, CA

Each of the very rustic cottages, which are grouped around a redwood-shaded ravine on a gorgeously untamed coastline, has a name ― Grandpa’s, Faraway ― and each contains a journal in which visitors have bared their souls, sometimes happily, sometimes not. But when the rains lash the redwoods, there’s no better place to snuggle and listen to the crackling of a fire in the woodstove. $ with shared bath, $$ with private bath;

Coast Cabins

Photo by Andrew Geiger; written by Jenny Cunningham

Coast Cabins, Manzanita, OR

A group of "cabins" in name only, the Zen-like Coast Cabins is set in a bamboo grove a couple of blocks from the beach, with private outdoor spas, sculptural firepits, and heated floors. And wait 'til you see that beach: seven wide-open miles of sand, big boomy waves, and poetry-worthy sunsets. $$;

Bamboo Retreats

Photo by Shelly Strazis; written by Elizabeth Jenkins

Bamboo Retreats, Los Angeles

Don’t mistake Bamboo Retreats for a hotel. An “anti-hotel” is more what the owners—one a screenwriter, the other an interior designer—had in mind when they opened the peaceful Hollywood Hills hideout a few years ago. Don’t look for a sign, or for that matter a lobby or a bellhop angling for a tip. Instead, you’ll be greeted and ushered right to your door so your vacation can begin immediately. The minimalist Japanese-inspired studios and suites are spare but luxurious, with big views and miniature kitchens—in case you just don’t feel like going out. $$$; 3-night minimum;

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