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Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA
Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn

All you need is love—these swoon-worthy hotels take care of the rest.

A good hotel, much like a good relationship, has that perfect alchemy of comfort and excitement, intrigue and indulgence. The trick is in finding your match.

Fancy a heart-pounding hike followed by a hot mud bath? California’s Calistoga Ranch may be your hotel soul mate. If frozen margaritas in a beachfront hammock are more your thing, we’d like to set you up with the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico. Virginia’s Inn at Little Washington, meanwhile, sets the mood nightly with its award-winning tasting menus and wine pairings.

These are a few of the top-ranking hotels for romance, as chosen by Travel + Leisure readers in our annual World’s Best Awards survey. No. 1 on the list: Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn, where rooms appear to float above the forest floor and alfresco hot pools seem to flow into the wild Pacific. Other hotels that seduced readers provide over-the-top pampering. At Tuscany’s Castello di Casole, for instance, couples get massages in a former wine cellar and cozy up for classic films beneath the stars at an on-site amphitheater.

Italy, not surprisingly, has a strong showing, as do Hawaii, California, and Mexico, with their irresistibly simple pleasures of sun, sand, and frozen drinks. Yet T+L readers also fell for hotels in some less-expected destinations like Tennessee—where the rambling Blackberry Farm delivers candlelit barn dinners and breakfast in bed—and Budapest, where you can channel Art Nouveau glamour at a gorgeously restored property on the Danube.

And there’s no need to commit to just one enchanting hotel, so go ahead and indulge your wanderlust this winter with your favorite travel companion. These hotels are heating things up.

No. 1 Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA

On a cliff 1,200 feet above the Pacific, the Post Ranch Inn defines au naturel. Some rooms have undulating rooflines covered in wildflowers while others float nine feet above the forest floor like postmodern tree houses. All embrace the elements with organic materials—wood, slate—and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel ticks all of the romance boxes: nighttime stargazing, infinity hot pools overlooking the waves, couples massages, and aWine Spectator–lauded, candlelit restaurant. But there’s also charm in what the hotel lacks, namely, TVs, alarm clocks, pets, and kids. So there’s nothing to distract you from the person cozied up next to you by the fire.

No. 2 Castello di Casole – A Timbers Resort, Casole d’Elsa, Italy

Castello di Casole’s 4,200-acre estate of vineyards, cypress trees, and olive groves is postcard Tuscany, and its modern incarnation feels as self-contained as it did back when it was built as a village in the 10th century. Your every need can be met within a slow saunter from the wood-beamed rooms in the former stone farmhouses. Take in sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards and medieval villages from the heated infinity pool. Get a massage beneath the barrel-vaulted ceilings of the spa, housed in the estate’s former wine cellar. Learn to cook pizzas in an original wood-fired oven with ingredients plucked from the estate’s gardens. Then watch a film beneath the stars at the hotel’s amphitheater.

No. 3 One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort, San José del Cabo, Mexico

When this Mexican glamour spot opened in the 1950s, A-listers like Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne could access its sandy shores only via yacht or private plane. The resort retains that hideaway feel, with its whitewashed buildings tucked amid swaying palms and fragrant gardens and fronting a sugary sand beach. Butlers arrange romantic experiences, filling rooms with candles, creating beach bonfires beneath the stars with food care of the on-site Jean-Georges restaurant, and chartering yachts for sunset sails. All rooms front the ocean, but we suggest upgrading to a casita for private (skinny-dip-friendly) pools.

No. 4 Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Big Island, HI

A soft breeze blows in from your private lanai, tousling the gauzy fabric draped from your bamboo canopy bed. You wake up with difficult decisions to make: a soak in the deep granite tub or an alfresco shower in your private lava rock garden? A dip with tropical fish in the sand-bottomed swimming hole or in the oceanfront infinity pool amid gardenia and swaying palms? Haute locavore fare at ‘ULU Ocean Grill, which works with 160 island farmers, or feet-in-the-sand mai tais and mahimahi tacos at the Beach Tree bar? With any luck, you’re at the Four Seasons Hualalai long enough to check off that list and more. Though big on amenities—including seven pools, a Jack Nicklaus golf course, a cultural center, and a spa—the property feels intimate thanks to the 243 guest rooms secreted away in bungalows and staff eager to plan surprises for your partner.

No. 5 Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA

The tired romantic trope of the bed and breakfast could not be further from the reality of this James Beard Award–winning culinary landmark in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The beds were selected by London stage designer Joyce Evans, who sets the country house scene in 24 decadent rooms spread among a historic farmhouse, a grand Victorian, and a series of cottages. And the breakfast? It might include an oatmeal soufflé, accompanied by flights of fresh-squeezed juices and baskets of pastries. But the draw for foodie couples will be dinner, preferably at a special table beside the baronial fireplace in the middle of the kitchen. From there, watch chef Patrick O’Connell prepare indulgent dishes like truffle-stuffed pheasant breast atop champagne-braised savoy cabbage or seared tuna capped in foie gras with a Burgundy butter sauce (paired with a bottle or two from the 14,000-strong wine cellar).

Read the full list HERE.

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