Chania, Crete, Greece
It’s one of the most important holidays of your married life. Honeymoons are designed around splashing out – booking up once-in-a-lifetime experiences, drinking champagne for breakfast and lazing the hours away on tropical shores. But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to experience an unforgettable honeymoon – ‘mini-moons’ are a growing trend for time-short couples.
More and more newlyweds are taking shorter breaks immediately after the wedding, to short-haul destinations such as France and Ireland, then saving up for a longer break in the future. Europe is ripe for mini-mooning: it’s far enough to get away together without unwanted jetlag and it’s practically bursting with swoony delights. Here are five of our favourite places for romance-seekers:
The country one
Rathsallagh House: Wicklow, Ireland
The welcome is warm at this cosy country house just one hour from Dublin airport. Calming decor (log fires, snuggle-worthy sofas and crisp white linens) make it a peaceful retreat if you’re jotting down mini-moon ideas. You’re close to Waterford Crystal, Wicklow National Park, The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens and Kildare Retail Village – so there are plenty of post-marriage adventures to pencil in during your stay. Rathsallagh House has a long list of awards under its belt – its restaurant has even won the National Breakfast Awards a record four times. And in the words of Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”.
The boutique one
Serenissima Boutique Hotel: Chania, Greece
Maintaining faultlessly high standards for loved-up couples, Serenissima Boutique Hotel is mini-moon gold. Standing next to a quaint old port in the centre of Chania, each room has a plush mattress, rain shower and all the luxury amenities you’d expect of a forward-thinking hotel. But that doesn’t mean it loses it’s 16th-century charm: the Venetian architecture, clean stone walls and signature Cretan dishes all transport you to simpler times.
The secluded one:
Lysebu: Oslo, Norway
Far enough to feel remote but close enough to Oslo to avoid lengthy train journeys, Lysebu ticks all the boxes for a perfect mini-moon destination. You’ll find it at the top of Holmenkollen, its rustic wooden buildings blending seamlessly with unspoilt surroundings. Step into your own fairytale as you wander through the guest farm, built in 1916 with traditional Norwegian flair. If you want a clean and classic stay with a side of jaw-dropping views, book a room and watch the sun go down clinking champagne with the love of your life.
The spa one
St Brides Spa Hotel, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Raised about Saundersfoot harbour and Carmarthen Bay, St Brides Spa Hotel balances spectacular seafood, indulgent spa and heady seaside honeymoon in one luxurious package. From the rooms fitted with huge beds and power showers, to having a glass of wine in its heartstopping infinity pool, it’s the ultimate mini-moon destination. Spend the day being massaged in the rejuvenating spa, then sashay down to dinner to have your plate heaped with the finest Pembrokeshire produce.
The city one:
Hotel Saint-Pierre: Saumur, France
It wraps up the best of French vineyards, food, warmth and character – and you don’t even have to head out to the sticks to experience it. Personality-packed Hotel Saint-Pierre is right in the heart of downtown Saumur, at the foot of the Loire River. From the fresh crepes served up first thing to original artwork and properly old-fashioned, polished service, this historic hotel is, in every sense of the word, magnifique. During your stay in Saumur, quaff famous local reds, whites and rosés, visit one of the world’s most prestigious riding schools (École Nationale d’Équitation) and gaze at tufa-stone sculptures in the valley.