1. Don’t call it a “romantic getaway”
Why? because if you make this dire mistake, you’ve just raised expectations that are bound to bite you in the ass. Now the two of you will spend four days trying very hard to be ROMANTIC, racking your brains to think up suitably amorous ways to fill the day and wondering if you should take a walk on the beach . . . or something. So forget the clichés of what a trip with each other should be. Over the next four pages, we tell you where to go, what to avoid, and how to have a hell of a good time. Because, let’s face it, there are enough questions you have to answer in your relationship as it is (Who’s handling the leaky roof? Did you feed the dog? Do you want to be cremated or buried?). Where to get away together shouldn’t be one of them.
2. Go in the off season
A few years ago, I dumped my kid at my parents’ house in Utah and took my Brooklyn-born husband on his first road trip to what everyone thinks is the perfect ski town—Jackson, Wyoming—in the dead of summer. We had the
and its outdoor hot tub practically to ourselves. The Silver Dollar Bar at the
was mainly filled with chatty locals drinking midday. More important, there was no burden to do the thing you’re supposed to do here. That is, except to enjoy the quiet of a tourist town on break. –Candice Rainey
3. Lock up your tech
Throw your phones, iPads, even your Fitbit (counting steps can wait) in the hotel safe and don’t take them out until you leave.
4. Get really, really remote
My husband and I live in London, and for years, travel for us meant high-gear tears through busy, beautiful places: Barcelona, Marrakech, Stockholm, Istanbul with one and then two kids in tow. Now that we have officially been outnumbered, this year the resolution is self-prescribed exile at the Black Shed, a blissfully isolated cabin on the equally removed, dreamy Isle of Skye in Scotland. We want to sit in front of the wood-burning stove, take in the view of Loch Dunvegan, maybe eat some oysters at the Three Chimneys, and nod to a few sheep on blustery walks outside. I’ll take unadulterated solitude over room service any day. –Katherine Wheelock
5. Give the shorties the slip
When you’re on your second margarita before noon, nothing kills the buzz faster than the sounds of contagious laughter coming from other people’s kids splashing around in the shallow end with Mom and Dad (thus making you feel like a selfish a-hole for leaving your own brood behind). Take it from us: Kid-free zones are made for a reason—guiltless third margaritas being one of them. Here are our favorites:
Four Seasons, Lanai Float in the aptly named adults-only Retreat pool at this recently renovated resort with views of Hulopoe Bay.
The Peninsula House, Dominican Republic Cognac comes in Baccarat crystal, tables are dressed with French linens, and antique furniture meshes with contemporary art. Could you ask for a more adult space?
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur Your new reality: sitting in a clifftop hot tub, drinking a crisp chenin blanc, and watching the sun set over the Pacific. Tomorrow? Complimentary yoga and a visit to the on-site shaman.
Rockhouse, Jamaica Everyone who’s anyone comes to this oceanside retreat (stylish West Enders, international music producers, local Rasta men). That’s the charm of the place: You’ll see almost anyone . . . except kids under 12.
The Standard, Miami Come here for a good, near-naked scrub at the hammam (one of the best outside Turkey).
Travaasa, Austin This little oasis on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve has a great spa (healing rituals alongside more traditional treatments), organic food, and hiking. It’s also less than 20 miles from kick-ass BBQ.
6. No talking about finances
(And absolutely no quips about the bar tab.)
7. Don’t book restaurants serving more than three courses per meal
You don’t want to sit anywhere longer than it would take you to fly to someplace else.
8. Never leave the room (and don't feel bad about it)
These hotel rooms have such preposterously covetable interiors and views so beyond, you’ll want to hole up all day in your bathrobe. We say do it.
- The Boathouse The Point, Adirondacks
- Glass Igloo Kakslauttanen, Finland
- Paseo Suite Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, California
- Prestige Suite Portrait Firenze, Florence
- Room #10 La Pause, Marrakech
- Spring Villa Nayara Springs, Costa Rica
- Superior Room Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile
- Tempter House Telluride, Colorado
- Turret Suite Castle Hill Inn, Newport
- Ty Warner Penthouse Four Seasons, New York
9. Bring an actual camera
Also, alcohol is for drinking—not Instagram.
10. Rent (or borrow) another house and live another life
The first real break we got after having our son was borrowing a famous fashion editor’s house—a “gentleman’s cottage” on Stone Canyon Road, close to the
. For three days, we did little more than mooch around the place, where the walls were hung with original Irving Penn, Demarchelier, and Lindbergh prints as if for our personal pleasure. We dug through wicker baskets filled with 1960s French Vogues and Italian Elles. We read Private Eye and Jackie Collins. We threw open every window and let the scent of rosemary and lemon trees roll in. Past the yard’s thick pine groves, we found a secret entrance to the hotel, where we ate steak tartare in the piano lounge and somehow wound up having cocktails with Brian Grazer. We thought about playing tennis but somehow never did. –Lucy Sykes
11. Smoke cigarettes at outdoor cafés
Forget the Surgeon General. Spend money on good, high-end, nice-smelling ones. You don’t have to finish the pack—or even the first two.
12. Consider surrendering à la carte control
Last winter, we were tired (of the cold, of children), and what we wanted most was rest. We’d go to an all-inclusive, we thought. [Maybe One&Only Palmilla in Cabo, or Sugar Beach in St. Lucia.] We wouldn’t wonder what lay beyond its borders. We wouldn’t judge others who were there because, well, we were there too. And so we took the normal tensions of our daily lives together—What should we do? What should we eat? Well, who is going to make that?—and instead stared at a horizon of cartoon colors and then stared at each other and then stared at the inside of our eyelids, and then woke up and decided that today, yes today, we’d spend a few hours in the hammocks. –Taffy Brodesser-Akner
13. This is not the time to start or stay on a cleanse. Eat bread.
14. No “couple’s treatments” or “sanctuary spa suites for two”
No Watsu flotation exercises for you both, led by some weird breathy lady in a one-piece. In fact, don’t agree to anything whatsoever that’s explicitly labeled “couples.”
15. Don’t feel the need to get all cultural...
The difference between traveling and vacationing is lost on too many couples, who think “going to Rome” automatically equals “relaxing holiday.” Then they cram every hour with “activities” (Canaletto at the
, Olivo Barbieri at the
, with a 37-minute lunch at
in between) and leave no time for the relaxing part. My wife and I had been to Rome before and knew we’d be back again. So this time, we cleared our agenda and spent a blissful week just Being in Rome: waking whenever we felt like it, walking wherever looked nice, eating whatever (invariably delicious) cacio e pepe we found. Aperitivo hour was officially moved up to noon. And when we happened upon the line outside the Caravaggio exhibit, did we join the queue? Of course we did. We had no place else to be. –Peter Jon Lindberg
16. ...Or do, if that's what gets you off
The promise of romantic abandon could tempt anyone to ditch their children for a long weekend in Paris, as my husband and I did a few years ago. But as deprived as we felt of each other—anesthetized by 47 months of kids diving into our bed at all hours—we spent little time mangling the hotel’s fluffy duvet. Instead, we set a breakneck pace: the Vuillard exhibit at the
; alabasters and tapestries at the Cluny; an inundation of blue, pink, and Cubist-period Picassos at his namesake museum. We weren’t total squares—we found time to sip vin de table and dropped too many euros at La Perla (which sexed up waiting in ticket lines). But crammed as our days were, art was a depth charge that brought us back to our senses—and eventually, when we tumbled onto that duvet, to each other. –Alex Postman
17. Hangovers are allowed—and thus so is day drinking. Bring Aleve.
18. Order room service as often as possible
And don’t complain about the 18 percent service charge. Don’t even look at the bill. Just sign the damn thing.
19. Do a wine country tour in France, but go by boat
A “French barge cruise” might sound as appealing as a foam party in Cancún, but it’s actually one of the best (and most stress-free) ways to do France’s wine regions sans car. When you’re on a barge, or péniche as the French say, you can lounge about in your sunny en-suite bedroom, spend an hour in the soaking tub, or hit the deck and kick back with a glass of rosé while watching the countryside drift by. (Some vessels even have hot tubs.) If money is no object and privacy is imperative, charter an entire boat—like the Prospérité, which cruises the canals in Burgundy. Or do as barge broker Ellen Sack suggests and reserve a spot aboard the eight-cabin Luciole, which goes between Auxerre and Clamecy. You can bike into town, taste local wine and cheese, go antiquing, or visit the lovely Noyers-sur-Serein farmers’ market. A weeklong trip that includes meals prepped by the crew and all the red and white wine you can drink runs about $4,800 per person in peak fall season. Not a bad deal considering you won’t have to worry about who’s driving home. –Christine Cantera
20. Don’t bring too many books, for God’s sake—you aren’t there to tackle the Man Booker Shortlist
21. Make your date last 36 hours...
A while back, when we heard Arcade Fire was touring, we knew we had to go. But the venue closest to us was in Denver (we live in Jackson Hole), so we bought tickets to the show and booked the 90-minute flight. We flew in the afternoon of the concert, checked into the
, took a nap (I know), and pre-gamed with drinks and lamb chops at Elway’s. Per Arcade Fire’s dress code, we wore black tie—I packed a really hot Marc Jacobs dress I had not worn since I was cool enough to buy it. The next morning, we had coffee and read the Times in bed and were home in time to pick up our kids from school. –Joohee Muromcew
Three Other Cities Made for Date Night
CHICAGO Check into the
and have dinner at the
, which feels like a Mad Men set (in a good way). This is a drinking town, so plan to barhop—we like the amari at the Sportsman’s Club and the vodka martini at
. Beat the hangover with a stop at Dove’s Luncheonette for chiles rellenos, or try to catch the architecture boat tour before you leave for O’Hare.
MIAMI Book a room at
and have dinner at
in Wynwood (skip the tasting menu—see rule No. 7). Check out the newly opened El Tucán, an old-school cabaret inspired by the Tropicana in Havanna.
NASHVILLE Hit up
for live country music. When you have a few drinks in you, go to Santa’s Pub (the Christmas decorations never come down here) for late-night karaoke. Peel yourselves out of the four-poster bed at
the next morning and splurge on a pair of leather boots at Peter Nappi.
22. ... Or spend a long weekend in Buenos Aires
If you hop a Friday overnight flight—11 hours from New York, only nine from Miami—you’ll get a full night’s sleep mid-air. (That means no jet lag.) Check into the
, and spend the next three days soaking up the town (along with plenty of malbec). Buy each other something nice at Guido, B.A.’s best leather shop, and get her some tango shoes at Comme il Faut; feast on rib eye and sweetbreads at La Cabrera, then walk it off in boho-chic Palermo; have cocktails in the garden at Milión, dinner at Paraje Arévalo, and then hit the Faena’s super-sexy (and super-legit) Rojo Tango show. Your flight home isn’t till Monday night. Tuesday is for hangovers.
23. Don’t tell everyone you're going away together
They’ll just ask how your “sex trip” was.
24. Stay in town and remember why you live there. (And don’t think you’re too cool for the touristy stuff)
My husband and I had pretty much forgotten to make plans for Fourth of July weekend, so instead of taking a super-last-minute trip, we went into full-on tourist mode. We started the day with heaps of croissants at
in NoHo, then we walked. Everywhere. We ended up in Herald Square, officially the unsexiest neighborhood in New York. But we refueled with lobster rolls and a bottle (or two) of rosé and had the brilliant idea to watch the fireworks from the top of the nearby Empire State Building. When we got there, we were told that the observatories were closed during the Macy’s fireworks show (buzzkill) but that they’d reopen at 10 p.m. (success!). So we hit the swanky bar at the nearby
for one more drink and at 10 p.m. sharp returned to find not a single soul in line. Alone at the top—except for a saxophonist—we caught the last of the fireworks. Corny, for sure. Unforgettable? Absolutely. –Lauren DeCarlo
25. Don’t go zip-lining, bungee-jumping, or anything else that you can also find at an amusement park or a large midwestern mall
The safety harness alone is an instant sex appeal killer.
26. But a little scary is good
In 1974, psychologists conducted a study now known as the “shaky bridge experiment.” In it, they had an attractive woman stand on a wobbly suspension bridge over a river. When male subjects walked by, she gave them a questionnaire—and her number. Then they repeated the whole thing on a stable bridge. The guys who’d been interviewed on the shaky bridge were four times more likely to call the woman up that night. Which means you’ll be more turned on by someone when you’re feeling a strong emotion, like fear. Don’t bother replicating the bridge scenario—anything that gets your adrenaline flowing will do.
Dive the cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatán. The
can help you make a day of it.
Floor a Formula car at the Skip Barber Racing School in Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, then spend the night at the 200-year-old White Hart inn.
Work the sheets on the Dove, a 54-foot, two-guest-cabin sailboat based in Antigua (Ocean Voyages’ Mary Crowley can book it for you).
Run the white water on the Tuolumne River near Yosemite National Park. Mindy Gleason at O.A.R.S can hook you up with a rafting plan.
Hike a Via Ferrata —a network of fixed cables and iron rungs along rock canyon walls—at
in Canyon Point, Utah.
27. Spend time apart
It's okay to say peace out for a couple of hours and do what you really want to do.
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