Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and here at Oyster we believe there's no better way to celebrate than with a romantic escape -- and we think your significant other would agree.
Last week, we gave you the inside scoop on America's Best Hotels for Valentine's Day. This week, we're expanding our horizons a bit (and maybe stretching our budgets just a tad). The eight hotels -- whether perched on the rocky outcroppings of the Italian coast or hidden away amid the rice fields of northern Thailand -- that make this list are some of the most romantic in the world, and are the perfect places for a romantic rendezvous ... with a little international flair.
With a name that alludes to the seductive sirens of Roman mythology, Le Sirenuse Hotel sets a high standard for romance. This breathtaking hotel, set into the cliffs of Italy's famed Amalfi Coast, lives up to its amorous appellation in every way. The bright-red exterior beckons guests to come inside, where it seems as though every room offers a more stunning view than the one before. All-white units feature antique furnishings and hand-painted tiles that have been carefully selected by the owners; and large whirlpool tubs, plush bedding, and gorgeous balconies create a romantic scene. There's a Michelin-starred restaurant with beautiful terrace seating, and an oyster-and-champagne bar where you can watch the sun as it sets over Positano. The only downside? Romance doesn't come cheap around here, as Le Sirenuse is often considered one of the priciest hotels in the area.
Housed in a 19th-century castle in a city that exudes wintertime romance, the Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac is an obvious choice for couples who appreciate old world charm and spectacular scenery. The Fairmont is not just a hotel, it's a Quebec City landmark in the heart of the Old City, where the cobblestone streets, gothic cathedrals, and quaint sidewalk cafes resemble those of a European capital. Standard rooms, while on the small side, are elegantly appointed, and some have incredible views of the St. Lawrence River. Enjoy a romantic evening in front of the fireplace at Le Champlain, The Fairmont's grand dining room, where a five-course dinner menu will be offered on Valentine's Day.
Hotel La Banane, a retro-chic boutique on the ultra-luxe island of St. Barts, attracts hip young couples looking to add a little 1950s Paris glam to their Caribbean vacation. Nine freestanding bungalows feature vintage furnishings and fresh pops of color. Bright, spacious bathrooms have semi-outdoor showers with fun mosaic tiles, and missing fourth walls. Though it's not directly on the beach, the hotel is a mere five-minute walk from Lorient Bay -- one of St. Barts' prettiest spots on the sand. La Banane's funky lounge and bar is a popular nightlife spot, but there is no on-site restaurant (though free continental breakfast is served daily). La Banane is perfect for couples looking for a sexy hideaway with a fun and funky ambiance.
Built to resemble an ancient Burmese temple, Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai feels more like the private lodgings of Thai royalty than a hotel -- and guests are treated as such. Here, private villas are made from reconstructed rice barns and overlook working rice paddies. They feature traditional Thai decor with modern amenities and gorgeous plunge pools. Couples can lounge by one of two incredible pools, take a horse-and-buggy ride through the sprawling property, or enjoy the ultimate day of pampering at one of Thailand's best spas (right on-site). Dhara Dhevi also has some of northern Thailand's most sumptuous dining options, with restaurants serving everything from haute French cuisine to traditional Thai. Without a doubt, Dhara Dhevi is one of Thailand's most romantic and luxurious stays, but also one of its most expensive.
You may already be familiar with the decadent interiors of Hotel Le Bristol, as it was the primary setting for Woody Allen's film "Midnight in Paris." And while it didn't quite work out for Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams' characters, their demise clearly had nothing to do with the over-the-top gorgeousness of Hotel Le Bristol (it was more the whole infidelity and time-traveling thing). One of Paris' top luxury hotels, Le Bristol employs a well-regarded staff that leaves no stone unturned and offers some of the best service in town. Rooms are spacious, with high-quality furnishings and decadent marble bathrooms, but the decor is a bit bland for a hotel of this caliber. There is a three-Michelin-star restaurant on-site, and a daily afternoon tea service. Bristol's fantastic location on the fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore means Parisian hot spots like the Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries Gardens and Lourve are all within walking distance.
About 45 miles south of Cancun's wild hotel zone lies Playa del Carmen -- a peaceful oasis where Mexican culture hasn't been completely lost to tourism. Playa has a host of accommodations ranging from mega all-inclusives to tiny boutiques, but the most romantic spot is easily the Banyan Tree Mayakoba. With sleek, Asian-inspired architecture and modern Mexican decor, this secluded spot is perfect for couples with an eye for design. Spacious villas have romantic touches, including outdoor bathtubs and showers, as well as private plunge pools and hammocks that overlook the hotel's lush landscaping. There's also a pristine white sand beach, fantastic dining options and tons of activities offered throughout the day.
Any hotel with Santorini's famed caldera views can be considered romantic. Heck, you could pitch a tent just about anywhere on the island and it would be romantic. But what makes Art Maisons Luxury Santorini Hotels Aspaki & Oia Castle stand out are all of its thoughtful little extras. This dual property, Aspaki Suites and Oia Castle Suites, share common (luxurious) amenities, but feature unique differences. Aspaki suites have private balconies with sweeping caldera views and private plunge pools built into the natural rock formations. Oia Castle suites feature cave-like architecture with ultra-luxe amenities. Though there isn't a full service restaurant, the Bar at Aspaki serves light Mediterranean cuisine, and a traditional Greek breakfast is served each morning. The spa offers holistic aromatherapy treatments, and the on-site concierge can arrange a plethora of island activities. But as far as we're concerned, there's nothing more romantic than popping a bottle of champagne and watching the sun set above the caldera from your private balcony.
Well-known throughout Belize, Turtle Inn is one of the country's top resorts. The Balinese-style hideaway is where celebrities, honeymooners and families peacefully coexist thanks to the property's 25 secluded thatched-roof villas. Each private cottage features stunning decor and luxurious outdoor bathrooms. Here, you and your love can spend your days lounging in seaside hammocks in the shade of swaying palms, take a dip in the pool, relax at the spa or even learn to scuba dive. As you soak up the sun, you might begin to notice the lack of technology around Turtle Inn -- there are no televisions, telephones or air conditioners -- but that's the point. You come to Turtle Inn to unplug. Instagram will be waiting for you when you go home.