By Jane Anderson
For your first honeymoon you might have opted for all the bells and whistles – confetti, cakes and cocktails at 3am. Perhaps you locked yourself away in a luxury suite for seven days, only answering the door for room service. Your second (or third?) honeymoon is likely to be a more subdued, grown-up affair. You’re probably an experienced traveller by now, and less keen on the cheesy romantic add-ons. You know yourselves, and what you want. Here, Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons, presents some choice options.
If it’s good enough for George (Clooney) and Amal, it’s good enough for you, right? The Italian Lakes make for a sublime and sophisticated honeymoon with minimal travel stress. Why go long-haul when you have this level of natural beauty, finely-honed hospitality and the most incredible hotels and restaurants to hand? Italy specialist operator Citalia has the lowdown on the best places to stay around Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. Simply provide them with a few hints regarding your interests, and they will handle the rest.
The French island of Corsica is another classic choice, renowned for its traditional Mediterranean charm, superb food and white sand beaches. Corsican Places offers the best hotels and handpicked villas for two with private pool.
Travelling by train offers a sense of nostalgia and romance. Ride on the back of the current renaissance of rail travel with The Luxury Holiday Company which can suggest some romantic honeymoons by rail from the Venice-Simplon Orient Express to the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada.
If you want other-side-of-the-world romance, think like Paul Gauguin, and head to The Cook Islands which still have an old-school mystique about them. Stay on the main island of Rarotonga and the other-worldly Aitutaki atoll.
When all you want to do is fly and flop in beautiful surroundings, you can’t beat a pretty boutique hotel on a Greek island. The team at i-escape are masters at discovering these authentic small places that you won’t find on mainstream booking sites. I love Demeter Cave House, hidden away in one of Santorini’s prettiest villages, and Osom Resort with views over Mykonos and the Med.
Another option is Simpson Travel which has a hand-picked collection of adult-only romantic boltholes in Greece and Turkey.
If you’re looking to venture further, consider a tranquil Caribbean island like Anguilla. All there is to do there is enjoy one another’s company in a five-star hotel such as Cap Juluca or Malliouhana, explore the island’s white sand beaches and nature reserves and indulge in the buzzing culinary scene. Inspiring Travel can join the dots.
Costa Rica tops my list for adventure honeymoons due to its stunning combination of lush national parks, incredible wildlife, volcanic peaks, and picturesque lakes. A specialist such as Rainbow Tours can put together an exciting honeymoon itinerary for you with the best eco-lodges and boutique hotels, finishing with some R&R on a pearly Pacific beach.
If you fancy heading deep into South America, Dehouche is the tour operator for you with intoxicating honeymoons to Brazil taking in Rio, the Amazon and the Bahia coast.
And if Africa is more your thing, check out Mahlatini for the best in luxury safari, wine-tasting and self-drive adventures. South Africa can easily be combined with Mauritius or the Seychelles.
The second time around, a cultural getaway for two may be higher on your list than locking yourselves away in your honeymoon suite. As we all know, Italy is a hotbed of culture as well as the Dolce Vita, making it a great choice for a second honeymoon. Abercrombie & Kent offers memorable getaways in the rolling countryside of Tuscany with the chance to explore Florence, Siena and Cortona.
If your love of food brought you together, check out Inntravel which has a range of self-guided gastronomic tours on foot or by cycle in scenic European destinations from Andalucia to Alsace.
Keeping it simple is often the best way to go when you’re older. Paris is such an obvious winner as a honeymoon choice, it’s sometimes overlooked. What you save on travel, splurge on five-star accommodation, lavish dinners for two, and top cultural experiences. Kirker Holidays has the inside track.
Blow the inheritance
If you’ve had a few years to work on your savings, you may be ready to invest in a blowout honeymoon. There are some tried-and-tested high-end honeymoons that will not disappoint. The Maldives is choc-a-bloc with five-star resorts, but Huvafen Fushi stands out from the crowd for its barefoot luxury with romantic overwater villas and underwater spa.
For something different, an indulgent cruise on a small ship is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Star Clippers offers all the romance of a tall ship with incredible itineraries and onboard experiences.
Stick to a budget
If you’re the sort of honeymooners who like to know how much everything is going to cost up front, an all-inclusive is a sensible option. Sandals Resorts, pioneers of couples-only all-inclusive holidays across the Caribbean, prioritise honeymooners, offering everything from gourmet restaurants to scuba diving. For the last word in luxury, Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort in St Lucia has 25 new butler suites with walkout beach access and private pools. Equally romantic are the overwater suites at Sandals South Coast and Sandals Royal Caribbean, both in Jamaica, and Sandals Grande St Lucian.
For all-inclusive resorts where you can expect five-star luxury at four-star prices, Tropical Sky has a selection of romantic resorts in the Dominican Republic including Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, where you can also get married.
More for your money
An island-hopping honeymoon is a super romantic option, but usually comes with a hefty price tag in places like the Indian Ocean or Caribbean. Think outside the box with a honeymoon to the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa where your money will go a lot further. It’s a direct six-hour flight from the UK with no significant time difference.
You can also consider a self-catering villa in Europe. Oliver’s Travels and Vintage Travel offer beautiful villas for two – often with private pools or hot tubs, where you can choose to self-cater and save some money, or have the occasional blow out with an in-villa chef cooking for you.
You can also save money by travelling in the shoulder season – May, June, September or October in the Med – and choosing a lesser-known destination such as Galicia in north west Spain over more ritzy ones such as the Cote d’Azur.
Find more ideas at 101 Honeymoons.