Walking hand in hand from your boutique hotel along a white sand beach with your recently betrothed may be one of the great honeymoon clichés, but it’s a cliché for a very good reason – it’s pretty darned dreamy. We all know the image, but where to actually fulfil this post-wedding fantasy? Fortunately the exceptionally well-travelled team at Original Travel have rolled up their sleeves (and linen trouser legs) and padded across some of the best beaches the planet has to offer to pull together the list of the 10 Best Barefoot Luxury Honeymoon Hotels.
If there was anywhere that made you want to shout ‘don’t be ridiculous, that’s clearly been Photoshopped’ at the screen, it might just be the island idyll of Tsarabanjina off the north coast of Madagascar. Think hammocks, fine (and fine) sand, fresh seafood, massages and sundowner cocktails. The dream, basically.
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
You fly to Dubai, but Zighy Bay is a world away from the high rise and low brow experiences on offer in the UAE. Cross the border into the Omani Musandam Peninsula to reach this, one of the most spectacularly located hotels in the world, reached either by boat or on a hairy road up and over a mountain range. What awaits is the picture perfect half moon bay of soft sand and still water and a village of private villas all with their own pools. Another way to experience the beach is by paragliding down to it. Dictionary definition ‘original’.
Be Tulum, Mexico
Mexico is so hot right now, and that’s before you get to the delicious chillies that spice up the excellent street food. Hottest of the hotspots is the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula and the sweet barefoot luxury spot there is Be Tulum. It’s kid-free and suites-only, so particularly perfect for honeymooners, and the bar/restaurant/pool area by the beach is seriously cool. If you can tear yourselves away from the hotel, the beachfront Mayan ruins of Tulum are up the road and make for a spectacular cultural interlude.
Areias do Seixo, Portugal
Portugal is having something of a renaissance and the best of the bunch of excellent chic boutique hotels popping up is Areias do Seixo, a study in quirkiness that works perfectly rather than veering into pretentiousness. Sure, there’s mismatched furniture, beds on wheels and slogans on the walls, but you’ll also find excellent service, great food (and under-rated Portuguese wines) and a short walk away, a beautiful beach where you will most likely be the only people wandering, let alone the only lovestruck lovebirds.
Canne Bianchi, Italy
If you haven’t yet explored Puglia, you’re missing out on one of Italy’s secret gems. The heel of the Italian boot is home to miles of wide open beaches, ancient villages and some deliciously sophisticated hotels. Don’t even get us started on the food…. Mmmmm…. OK, back in the room – stay at Canne Bianche, a whitewashed slice of Puglian barefoot luxury perfection with an emphasis on elegant simplicity and (surprise, surprise) food to die for. The nearby Torre Canne beach is where to walk off some of the excess.
Petit St Vincent, St Vincent & the Grenadines
A little slice of laidback Africana in the heart of the Caribbean, Petit St Vincent is a private island paradise where guests have the run of the island and stay in one of just 22 immaculate cottages. With no mod comms you run up a flag to order room service or, best of all, enjoy a little too much rosé and a barefoot BBQ or a private picnic anywhere on the island.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
The hotel that pretty much invented the whole concept of barefoot luxury, Soneva Fushi introduced their ‘no news, no shoes’ policy to force stressed out tycoons to decompress. They needn’t have bothered, because the island has a healthy dose of magic that sees most guests fall into a state of contented email-free bliss within a few hours of arriving. What’s the secret sauce? It’s hard to put your finger on it but the lovely team, beautiful villas, incredible food, bicycles to pootle around the island and superb diving (often with manta rays) are pretty good ingredients.
Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania
A quirky combo of barefoot and hi-tech walking boot luxury, this one. Stay at the blissful Greystoke Mahale, a thatched and super-romantic paradise on the beach beside Lake Tanganyika that can only be reached by plane and boat. Tarzan fans will already have picked up on the Greystoke reference, because the real reason for finding yourself here is to wash the sand off your feet, lace up the walking boots and trek up the thickly wooded slopes of the Mahale Mountains that soar behind the camp in search of one of the world’s few groups of habituated chimpanzees. Once you find them (which – warning – can take hours!), sitting and watching our nearest relatives is, for most, a genuine life changing experience.
A shining beacon of how a barefoot luxury property in a beautiful and remote region can work hand in hand with the local community, Nihiwatu, on the island of Sumba, also happens to be a small slice of heaven on earth. The accommodation is sublime, the service beautifully judged, the sustainable tourism element genuinely exemplary (many of the team come from the local village) but the icing on the cake is a perfect white sand, mile-long beach (where locals sometimes train their horses for local festivals) and the hotel’s own surf break. Too cool.
Casa Uxua, Brazil
In the heart of hipster heaven Trancoso on Brazil’s Bahia Coast, Casa Uxua (pronounced oo-shoo-aa) consists of 17 rooms either fronting on to the charming grassy main square or quadrado, or dotted around a lush garden behind. Literalists will be delighted to know that most of the locals spend their lives sem sapatos or barefoot, and that figure becomes 100% at the hotel’s beachfront lounge, a short stroll away on one of Trancoso’s outstanding beaches. Lounging here, caiparinha in hand, is a pretty good way to start or finish a honeymoon.
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