Whether you’re rekindling love’s fire, getting it started, or just want to hear those three little words (and we don’t mean ‘Desideraun gelato?’), there’s nowhere quite like Italy for a romantic break.
Head there post-Christmas and you’ll be immersed in a world of sensual pleasures, surrounded by centuries of art and architecture and rubbing shoulders with the local cognoscenti who continue to take matters of style as seriously as their coffee.
And what better way to guarantee living la dolce vita than by partnering your Italian destination with a hotel that lives up to the fantasy? Give a Roman holiday a rough-luxe edge at G-Rough; make like a Sixties icon at the retro-glam Tiberio Palace on the island of Capri (nippy convertible and headscarf optional); or go for cool, ice-white serenity on a private island in Venice. Ciao, bella…
The lowdown Impossibly chic Aman hospitality in Italy’s most romantic city.
Best for Venetian romance with a contemporary twist.
Early pioneers of the trend for architecturally driven destination hotels, the Aman group helped usher in a new breed of ultra- luxurious, minimalist resorts that celebrate sustainability, modern design and local culture.
You might not think of Aman’s clean Asian style as a natural fit with the eccentric glamour of Italy’s floating city, but the style clash works.
Situated in the San Polo district, the 19th-century palazzo retains its heritage period features – think frescoes, chequered marble floors and a near endless supply of gilt moulding – but partners them with contemporary Italian furniture and a subtle design ethos.
Bedrooms are linen-draped refuges with huge bathrooms, riotous in their liberal use of marble and huge tubs.Downstairs, the Yellow dining room conjures up fantasies of the city’s merchant port past, with Rubelli silk wallcoverings and dazzling Grand Canal views.
The lowdown Sixties glamour, as viewed through Jackie O shades.
Best for Loved-up couples on their Grand Tours.
The roll call of Hollywood stars who’ve flocked to this tiny island reads like thelyrics to Madonna’s Vogue: Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth… Oh, andnot forgetting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton at the start of their scandalous (first) affair. The Tiberio Palace embraces the island’s Fifties and Sixties heritage with a sparkling wit that never drifts into pastiche.
Unexpected touches from designer Giampiero Panepinto include zinged-up shades – turquoise, hip orange and punchy primaries – and zany, surreal artwork, including giant Perspex boxes of American Beauty-esque rose petals and a montage of Pan Am model planes. Fabrics and headboards have been dreamed up by Dedar and Limonta to keep everything feeling modern-luxe and chef Francesco de Simone’s dishes (marjoram ravioli and baked sea bass with panzanella) certainly rocked our yacht.
Book it Double rooms from £390.
The lowdown A fantasy worthy of filmmaker Federico Fellini.
Best for Mid-century lovers who like a bit of rough-luxe with the smooth.
The crumbling frescoes and façades of 17th-century Rome feel ever-present in the spaces of G-Rough, sister hotel to the Starck-tastic PalazzinaG in Venice. Designed by Emanuele Garosci and Gabriele Salini, it has taken the shell of a baroque building, with its timber ceilings, acres of parquet and plastered walls, and shaken things up with pieces by Italy’s design royalty from the Thirties through to the Fifties.
Run your fingers along the sheeny-shiny brass, glass or velvet outlines by greats such as Ico Parisi, Giò Ponti, Paolo Venini and Giani Seguso, all within an artfully dilapidated framework. It’s on the doorstep of Piazza Navona, the finest place for an evening passiagata and the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain arealso both within strolling distance.
Book it Double rooms from £290.
JW MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA
The lowdown A private island for water-borne escapism.
Best for A cool antidote to the city’s cultural riches.
Venice is almost embarrassingly romantic. Pick any candlelit restaurant and you can lay bets that at least one person is nursing a ring box, gently perspiring and waiting for the right moment to pop the question.
But away from the gondolas, Renaissance glories and dazzling layers of gold-leaf decoration and dappled palazzos, there’s an oasis of calm beauty that serves as a welcome relief to your overloaded senses; a palette cleanser, if you like, after a delicious plate of Caffè Florian cream pastries.
On its very own island, located 20 minutes by boat from San Marco, this latest offering from the JW Marriott stable is all about privacy and serenity. There are 16 acres of gardens, with olive groves and orchards to linger in (lest you missed the right moment to propose over dinner) and sleek, ice-white rooms, with a hint of mid-century styling and a lot of marble: sublime.
Book it Double rooms from £280.