After the travel restrictions of 2020, the feeling of jumping on a plane is going to be all the sweeter in 2021 - even more so when you're jetting off on the honeymoon of a lifetime!
If you're planning the ultimate bucket list honeymoon or a luxury minimoon, it can feel a bit overwhelming deciding where to go. There are the classic, romantic destinations like the Seychelles and the Maldives which are going nowhere in 2021, but there's also plenty of exciting new trends, destinations and hotels to discover.
From the rise of luxury UK honeymoons to jaw-dropping safari treehouses and first class upgrades now couples have a little more time to save up, you'll find the ultimate inspiration here for your 2021 honeymoon. Make sure you read this before you book!
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- The 50 Best Honeymoon Destinations Around the World for 2021
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- 15 Long-Haul Flight Essentials for Your Honeymoon
1. Private Villas and Secluded Resorts
Even after lockdown ends, social distancing will continue to play a role in the choices we make and especially in how and where we travel. In 2021, you're likely to see a rise in honeymooning couples choosing private villas with their own pools and tucked away resorts, like safari camps, instead of a busy hotel.
Stacey Owens, Kuoni honeymoon expert, says, "Couples are keen to look for ultimate relaxation and seclusion; they want to go to places that will guarantee social distancing but also total relaxation after the pressures this year has brought. Wide open spaces in Africa are in demand and luxury lodges with outdoor sunken pools on the deck are one of the most requested honeymoon choices for the year ahead.”
Swanky resorts with private villas offer the best of both worlds - you get the huge choice of facilities like bars and restaurants that a resort offers, while having your own privacy and a pool that you're not sharing with lots of other holiday-goers.
"More than half of all Kuoni’s honeymoon bookings are for the Maldives and its secluded island retreats are more appealing than ever in the current climate," says Stacey. "Water-villas and beach villas just paces from the a turquoise ocean and white sand are in high demand, particularly with private pools as couples seek luxury in their own surroundings. The destination is taking time to open up with care, so it respects social distancing, hygiene and cleanliness whilst not losing any of its relaxed, luxurious holiday vibes."
As well as safari camps for secluded luxury, opulent eco-lodges in countries like Thailand and Costa Rica offer the chance to get away from it all and surround yourself with nature.
Where to Experience It:
The new resort of Maafushivaru is a winner, with small island charm but everything you could need. There's two wide beaches, a house reef for snorkelling, an infinity pool and an uninhabited sister island which you can hop on a boat over to for candelit dining or even a stay in the island's private villa - which features an outdoor hot tub.
If you're after finding some inner zen following this odd year, try the chic, new Kagi Maldives Spa Island. The boutique, five-star retreat is the Maldives first dedicated wellness haven, and scheduled to open in September this year, with a focus on restorative health, fitness and nourishing menus. All 50 of its villas have private pools, and 40 of those are water villas, perched right over the ocean.
Those who truly want to get away from it all should book a stay at Minaret Station in Wanaka, New Zealand. Only accessible by helicopter, these four luxurious chalets sit in the heart of a glacial valley on a working high country farm, surrounded by the wild beauty of the Southern Alps. The chic, modern interiors match gourmet dining in the Mountain Kitchen and it's the perfect place to go for walks with no one around you or try heli-skiing.
2. Luxury Upgrades
“Many couples are upgrading their honeymoon plans for next year and even the year after, saying that they will now have longer to save," says Stacey. "They’re either extending their stay with multiple centre destinations, upgrading their accommodation to luxury pool villas, or adding experiences such as balloon trips over the Maasai Mara, private champagne picnics on deserted islands or an overnight stay in an Africa treehouse.”
If your honeymoon has been rescheduled until next year, that extra year to save up money means some couples will be treating themselves. Speak to your honeymoon travel agent to see what deals they can get you: they might be able to swing you an extra few nights or upgraded flights for not much more money.
Think about where's going to be the area for you that makes the most sense to splash that extra bit of cash. If you're doing a long-haul flight to Australasia, giving yourself the leg room of a first class flight can make all the difference. If you're massive foodies, see if there's a Michelin-starred restaurant near your destination and make a special night of it. If you can take a few extra days of holiday, then you won't regret packing in a few days of adventure on a luxury stopover or twin-centre honeymoon.
Where to Experience It:
For a dinner like no other, book The Sarojin in Khao Lak, Thailand. This romantic boutique hotel sits among tropical gardens that lead to its own secluded seven-mile beach. For a night you'll never forget, enjoy fine dining by candlelit beside a magical jungle waterfall. You'll enjoy dishes of marinated Andaman prawns, lamb massaman curry, seared duck breast and steamed white snapper to the sounds of a cascading waterfall. They also offer a 'Shipwrecked in Style' meal for two where you'll be whisked off on a private yacht to your own private sand island to watch the sun set over the ocean.
Add a safari experience into your trip at the stunning Finch Hattons resort, set on the south-western edge of the Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. The lodge's luxury tents have views of Mount Kilimajaro and overlook a spring which is home to a resident pod of hippos and crocodiles. The facilities here are second to none and you'll see the most amazing wildlife on their twice daily game trips and guided bush walks.
3. Sweet Home Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is going to be a hugely popular honeymoon destination in 2021. “Honeymooners will get a very warm welcome in Sri Lanka as the destination pulls out all the stops to wow couples with a blend of culture, adventure, activities and luxury beach and spa.
"It packs a lot into one small island – safari experiences, tea plantations and jungle walks mean its seeing strong demand for 2021 honeymoons and is frequently combined with the Maldives," says Stacey.
You can get serious luxury for less than you might expect in Sri Lanka, especially at small, boutique resorts.
Where to Experience It:
Jetwing Hotels have intimate, boutique spots across Sri Lanka that showcase the best of every region and lead the way in sustainability. The barefoot luxury Kottukal Beach House and eco-chic retreat Jetwing Surf are found on the South East coast in a world-class surfing area with a fun, laid-back beach scene. Or explore the relatively undiscovered North of Sri Lanka from Jetwing Jaffna, which is an amazing base for visiting the wildlife-rich national parks and untouched islands.
If you want the utmost luxury, go to Cape Weligama which was awarded one of the top 10 infinity pools in the world by Condé Nast Traveler. There's jaw-dropping 270-degree coastal views from the resort, exceptional service and lavish suites - but there's plenty to draw you away from the resort too, like tea trails and whale-watching trips.
4. Close to Home
Plenty of couples will choose luxury honeymoons right on their doorstep, with amazing venues across the UK and Ireland. For the first time this year, honeymoon experts Kuoni have added UK and Ireland properties to their collection, which is a sure sign this trend is only on the up and up.
Avoiding a long-haul flight is both an eco-conscious choice and may be preferable for health and comfort reasons for some couples (most airlines are asking flyers to wear a face mask for the whole duration of the flight). Stacey also notes that the UK and Ireland is also a popular honeymoon choice for those getting married for the second time.
With lots of couples marrying this year in different circumstances to what they'd planned, they may want to save their main honeymoon for next year. This is where a luxury minimoon comes into its own. You don't miss out on any of the style, service and beautiful backdrops. In fact, why not go one step further and hire a classic car to drive to your destination for even more sophistication? Picture yourself road tripping along the coast of Scotland or Ireland in a Jaguar E-type, Morgan 4/4 or an MGB Roadster.
Where to Experience It:
The Scottish islands are one of the best kept secrets in the honeymoon world. How about island-hopping around the romantic Isle of Skye, or visiting the straight-out-the-Caribbean beaches of Harris? Why not cross a bridge to your own private Scottish island retreat, or go for a moonlit kayak on a loch? Try the Isle of Eriska hotel on its own private island, which features a five-star spa, fine dining restaurant and an amazing array of outdoor activities.
If fine dining is important, then don't miss the chance to stay at a hotel with Michelin-starred dining options. The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Cumbria uses the best Lake District ingredients or sit at the Kitchen Tasting Bench at Fischer's Baslow Hall in Derbyshire to watch the chefs whip up your meal right before your eyes. One of our favourite UK honeymoon hotels is The Newt in Somerset - once you've arrived at this cool, contemporary boutique hotel not far from Bath, you'll never want to leave. Every one of their dishes features the freshest ingredients gathered straight from their estate.
5. Bedrooms with the Wow Factor
It's not enough just to go to incredible destination. Couples want their accommodation to be just as amazing as the surroundings. For some this will mean a classic, romantic five star hotel with every detail thought of, but for others, they want to push the boat out with unique accommodation and room experiences that they'll never forget.
"Rooms with the wow factor are high on the wish list for couples and Africa pulls out all the stops with this. Copper baths on the decking, beautiful tented camps and treehouses are the most requested for honeymoons," says Kuoni honeymoon expert Stacey.
Where to Experience It:
Have you ever wanted to stay in a treehouse? Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa is one of the best places to spot the Big Five with gorgeous lodges and three luxury treehouses - Chalkley, Kingston and Tinyeleti. These remote treehouses offer panoramic views of the bush and you can sleep under the stars in a four poster bed in complete privacy - with just the noises of the wildlife to help you drift off to sleep.
Shinta Mani Wild is an uber luxurious tented retreat in the heart of one of the most wildlife-rich national parks in Cambodia. Each of their 15 Khmer tents is set along a winding riverbank, with breathtaking views and gorgeous outdoor baths. The ultimate bedrooms are the ones set at the base of the waterfall, which you can watch right from your room (or bath). It's the ultimate in luxury, while the resort also leads the way in conversation efforts in the area.
6. Short-Haul Honeymoons
Minimoons aren't a new concept, but they'll cement themselves as part of the 'new normal' in 2020 and 2021. Following FCO advice and safe "corridors" of travel opening up, couples will turn to luxury European minimoons and keep their big adventures for another time.
Long-haul travel in the near future is being seen as "too risky" for some, says Stacey, but it means you'll get amazing value deals with added-value upgrade offers at European destinations as they entice travellers back.
The top destinations for this? Italy and Greece.
Where to Experience It:
Stacey says, "The top honeymoon island in Greece is Santorini with its chic resorts, rooftop champagne bars and sunsets to die for. In Italy, Ravello on the Amalfi coast is frequently requested and the Belmond Hotel Caruso stands out as something special as a famed honeymoon spot with romantic candlelit dinners and vistas of the Amalfi coast."
A little further away is Croatia, which has plenty of postcard-pretty boutique hotels as well as coastline to die for.
"The unspoilt island of Lošinj has something new in the Boutique Alhambra which is in one of the most secluded coves on the island, with a Michelin starred restaurant, and a fabulous spa for couples treatments."
Still after a bit more inspiration? Check out our destination guides to the top honeymoon locations around the world - you're guaranteed to find your perfect spot, whether it's Bali, Bora Bora or St Barts.