Post Ranch Inn, CA
Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn
By Emma Sloley / Travel + Leisure
January 28, 2015

After a day out in the snowy Adirondacks, you pull up two chairs and a bottle of Cognac by the crackling fireplace at New York’s Whiteface Lodge, where a golden glow suffuses the dining room.

If you’ve been stuck in the winter doldrums, nothing will change your outlook on the season faster than a dose of heartwarming fireside romance—and that doesn’t require booking a trip some place frigid. We’ve road-tested hotel fireplaces the world over, from the California coastline to Chile’s starkly beautiful Atacama Desert, and added irresistible newcomers in Newfoundland, Australia, and Argentina. The most bewitching include historic hearths whose stones could tell a thousand stories as well as contemporary fireplaces in urban boutique hotels.

Some hotels treat guests to a gas fireplace in the privacy of your room, while others use a roaring fire to make a bold design statement at the center of the lobby or restaurant. Then there’s the hip, art-filled Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s most famous for the spa, which sports its own apothecary—and its own fireplace.

“The fireplace area in the lounge is a favorite spot for couples, who enjoy quiet, private time together before and after a couples’ massage or a hammam experience for two,” says Alondra Saldarriaga, manager of Spa Matilda. “The ambience is so intimate and romantic, with many candles burning, that one guest proposed to his girlfriend there.” Her answer? Sí, of course.

The love stories date back centuries at Ireland’s Ashford Castle, which was once the Guinness family estate. “The Ingelnook wooden fireplace surround has two Irish mythology figures carved into the wood,” explains Paula Carroll, Ashford’s director of sales and marketing. “These two figures are Diarmuid and Grainne, who were involved in a love triangle with Fionn MacCumhaill.” The imposing fireplace has inspired modern-day lovers—and also witnessed many proposals.

Whether your idea of the perfect fireside tryst involves snowy slopes or the African savanna, there’s just something about snuggling up with your loved one while gazing into the flames and nursing hot chocolate—or something a wee bit stronger—that sets the mood, on Valentine’s Day and every day.

Read on for the hotel fireplaces that are heating things up.

Calistoga Ranch, CA

This Napa Valley gem is a favorite among wine-country-touring lovebirds. Each of the 48 freestanding guest lodges centers around a double-sided, indoor-outdoor fireplace. That means you can snuggle from the plush comfort of the lounge room on one side to the private outdoor terrace on the other, below the canopy of stars and breathing in that pine-scented Napa air.

Tierra Atacama, Chile

The activities at this high-design lodge in Chile’s Atacama Desert include exploring vast salt flats and bubbling geyser fields, climbing volcanoes, and hiking through some of the world’s most arresting and otherworldly terrain. So it’s thrilling to come home to a convivial lounge area where the waiters mix perfect pisco sours and there’s always a fire burning in the artful modern hearth—a long stone bench on which flaming twigs are piled. Even more gratifying: sitting fireside or on the terrace (which has its own fire pits) and watching the sun set behind the brooding Licancabur Volcano.

XV Beacon, MA

One of Boston’s hippest hotels, this boutique player in Beacon Hill sports modern gas fireplaces with brushed stainless steel in every room, along with other top-shelf luxuries like cashmere throws, private bars stocked with premium spirits, and Italian marble bathrooms with rain showers. Reluctant to leave the comforts of your room? The hotel can arrange an in-room massage fireside.

Cottar’s Camp, Kenya

There’s nothing quite like a sundowner overlooking the savanna at dusk, as the African wilderness comes to life. That treat comes daily along with guided game drives at this lovely lodge at the edge of Kenya’s legendary Masai Mara game reserve. The camp meticulously re-creates the romance of the 1920s safari experience, down to individual tents filled with turn-of-the-century antique furnishings and liveried waiting staff. Four family-size tents come with crackling log fireplaces in the lounge area, an idyllic spot to gather for story swapping as night closes in on the Mara.

Hotel Matilda, Mexico

A relative newcomer to the artsy Spanish Colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, this boutique hotel is already renowned for its avant-garde contemporary art collection and a groundbreaking spa—guests can have locally sourced ingredients blended into customized formulas for treatments. The fireplace in the tranquil relaxation area is a favored spot for guests to bliss out before or after a couples massage or soak in the hammam.

Read the full list HERE.

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