Love is in the air. And so are planes, thousands of them, gliding above the clouds to transport lovebirds to the most stomach-tumblingly romantic cities on planet Earth.
With Valentines Day just over a month away, it’s time to start thinking about where you might want to whisk your loved one to in 2020.
The question is – which is the most romantic city of them all?
Our resident Telegraph Travel love guru, Benjamin Parker, compiled a shortlist of what he believes to be the most romantic spots on the planet, including Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Kyoto, Marrakesh, New York City, Paris, Prague and Venice. And we asked you to cast your votes.
We also gave an ‘other’ option, and were interested to see your opinions. Harrison Parker opted for Istanbul, Alex Andrews said Seville, while Alan Balls quite poetically wrote: “Got to be one of the normal places. Rome.” Thanks Alan.
We also had some more gonzo suggestions. Bob Baumann voted for Scranton in Pennsylvania (setting for Jim and Pam’s slow-burning romance in the American TV show The Office), Andy McElwaine opted for Darlington (each to their own) and @sophiewossname told us on Instagram that the world’s most romantic city is… Stevenage.
(She is of course wrong – Stevenage is a town.)
The poll has now been open for a full 12 months and the question is, which city came out top? Here are the top five most romantic cities in the world, according to you
5. Cape Town
In fifth place is South Africa’s coastal gem. It’s not hard to see why. Set off in almost any direction and you are rewarded with undulating mountain peaks, slopes carpeted in the world’s richest floral kingdom, fertile valleys riven by amber streams, and wind-clipped plains producing unexpected culinary gems. So romantic is Cape Town that you voted it the greatest city on Earth, for the seventh consecutive year. Pippa de Bruyn explains why you were right to do so.
Where to stay? Where to begin? Dorp is a grand yet unpretentious place to stay, high on the slopes of Signal Hill, with unparalleled Table Mountain views. Alternatively, try Compass House, an unpretentious gem that manages to combine the standards of a boutique five-star hotel with the kind of relaxed intimacy and personal service of a well-staffed private house.
4. New York City
We were surprised to see that New York City, the setting for the likes of When Harry Met Sally and Annie Hall, did not make it into the top three. Our writer Benjamin Parker said: “There’s a wonderful juxtaposition between gazing at the calm, twinkly Manhattan skyline over the river, or strolling hand-in-hand around Central Park, and navigating through the unfiltered, gritty hubbub of the Big Apple. Both experiences pair for an ideal couples’ getaway, where it can be as refined and romantic or edgy and cool as you wish.”
Where to stay?Where to begin? There are countless romantic hotels to choose from in the Big Apple. One of the finest is the Soho Grand Hotel. Our expert Tracey Kaler said: “Downtown Manhattan’s first luxury boutique hotel is as stylish as ever. Honouring the district’s illustrious past, the Soho Grand continues to impress with its sublime interiors and attentive service. A haven for trendsetters, this hotel precisely portrays all that SoHo was and still is.”
Prague is the third most romantic city in the world. Who knew? Describing the city’s romantic appeal, Telegraph Travel’s Will Tizard commented: “For a romantic walk straight out of a Fellini film, it’s hard to beat the twisty, cobbled lanes of Prague’s Malá Strana district, where sonatas spill out of palace windows and hushed baroque gardens appear behind great grandiose gates. The city’s centuries-old architecture, barely scratched during the Second World War, serves as a fitting backdrop to a lifestyle that gave us the word Bohemian.”
Where to stay? Take your pick. Prague has no shortage of romantic boltholes, but one stand-out option is the Romantik Hotel U Raka. Our expert Paul Sullivan said: “City hotels don’t get more rustic than this. Tucked away in a quiet network of medieval streets behind Prague Castle, this assembly of lovingly restored 18th-century timber cottages offers six delightful rooms, a rock garden and good old-fashioned family-style service.”
It was always going to be up there, but Paris just misses out on the top spot in our poll. Our Paris expert Natasha Edwards comments: “What makes Paris the most romantic city in the world is one of those questions every Parisian hates. Where do you begin? The romance of wandering down ancient streets that pile up layers of history yet still tick to the rhythm of a lived-in cosmopolitan metropolis. A city with rows of grey zinc roofs and mysterious spires and domes. A city where a discreet doorway leads to a Roman amphitheatre, where fashion boutiques occupy mansions that once held literary salons or revolutionary plotters, of restaurants inside ancient monasteries, of cafés where bar philosophers still like to set the world to rights.”
Where to stay? Paris has a track record of knowing how to ‘do romance’ in style. There are plenty of sumptuous hotels to choose from, and one of our favourites is the Maison Souquet. Our Paris expert Nicola Williams said: “Maison Souquet was a pleasure house during the belle époque – today it’s an extraordinary boutique address with a Jacques Garcia décor as indulgent and spirited as the illustrious courtesans it once housed. The 20 rooms ooze romance, guests can privatise the spa and the clandestine cocktail bar is wickedly pleasurable.
It’s official. Number one in the league table of romantic cities goes to the floating city. Our expert Anne Hanley isn’t at all surprised. “Palazzi of infinite pastel shades reflected in quiet canals; footsteps echoing down intimate alleyways and sea birds calling over the vast lagoon vistas; the gentle chug of waterborne traffic along the magnificent Grand Canal and the soft splash of a gondola plying a watery backstreet: there’s really no competition. For romance, Venice is the perfect backdrop.”
Where to stay? Venice has a host of wonderfully romantic hotels to choose from, but The Gritti Palace is up there with the very best. Giving it a 10/10 rating, our expert Tim Jepson said: “This 15th-century palazzo occupies one of the loveliest spots on the Grand Canal, looking across to the magnificent Salute church, and has equally sumptuous interiors to match, with priceless antiques and frescoes, and a small but exquisite spa.”
Do you agree? Join the conversation and let us know where you consider to be the most romantic city on Earth.