A charming country inn perched on a ridge overlooking the world heritage site of the Blue Mountains, Lilianfels Blue Mountain Hotel in Australia has a spectacular view of vast mountains and one of the most magnificent plunging canyons in the world. The estate, which includes English gardens, a world-class spa and the original heritage house (now a sophisticated restaurant called Darleys), is a great spot for romantics as well as adventurers who want to go bushwalking.
A 90-minute drive from Sydney, Lilianfels offers pet accommodations for dogs, cats and even birds. Pooch beds, cat litter and water bowls are provided in each room as well as pet menus which feature dishes such as Bow Wow Bolognese or Polly’s Crudités. For more information about this five-star inn, check out Lilianfels.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand
It’s not difficult for a resort to attain a five-star status in the hill regions of northern Thailand. Nestled in the lush Mae Rim valley, the setting is already idyllic, with acres of terraced rice paddies marching along the base of the foothills of a hazy mountain range. Architecturally, the resort is built Lanna style, like the northern Thai villages of raised houses, with each pavilion, or guest suite, overlooking lily ponds and the soothing green rice paddies. The rice is actually harvested and donated to people of nearby villages. The resident water buffalo family, Mrs. Mud, Mr. Sand and Baby Clay, who are considered “staff,” help transport the harvested rice, along with their other duties around the resort.
What makes the property even more exotic are the romantic touches that enhance the natural beauty of the landscape: the torches lit through the terraced fields about the time the sun drops in a red ball behind the crest of the teak forests; the pool designed to appear to drop off into the rice terraces; the natural polished teak floors in each pavilion; and the luxurious baths overlooking a secluded garden of elegant French peonies, fragrant jasmine and riotous bougainvillea. For honeymooners, first or second time around or serious hill trekkers, check out the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.
Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, Luang Prabang, Laos
Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel, once the residence of Prince Souvanna Phouma is framed with crisp white pillars rising against a garden backdrop of palm trees and high shrubs sculpted into the shape of an elephant and the ever blooming jacaranda. Guests are greeted with a warm “sabaidee” refreshingly cold rolled terry towels and a fruit punch from the hotel reception. It’s a typical Asian reception that makes guests feel they’ve journeyed by dusty coach over rutted roads for several weeks and are being honored and rewarded for their perseverance. For an elegant retreat in a city designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, check out Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel.