In this pandemic era, the 'minimoon' has become a popular choice for many Irish newlyweds, as they temporarily cool the jets on their international dream escapes. However, a stay at Ballyfin in County Laois may just eclipse any honeymoon accommodation you’ll find overseas. The exceptional Laois estate which remains an exclusive hidden gem makes the ultimate romantic escape (just DM Kim Kardashian if you need a second opinion).
Once you check in, you’ll want to spend every moment within the five-star Palladian mansion and its demesne — so the team has created a special romantic package for just that.
By day, while away your afternoon in the sumptuous spa, wander the romantic grounds and walled gardens or enjoy a boat trip across the lake.
Come early evening, enjoy a rose petal bubble bath with Champagne and strawberries before relaxing in the library for 'prinks', followed by dinner in the State Dining Room.
The package at Ballyfin is based on full board with lunch or afternoon tea on arrival day, teas and coffees with homemade cake and cookies and gourmet dinner.
Rates from €520pp per night.
If you’ve always dreamed of a Las Vegas honeymoon but love the romanticism of a Caribbean resort, then why not marry the two!
Tour America’s most popular honeymoon right now is a twin destination trip mixing four nights in Sin City chased by a dream trip to Cancun in Mexico. In Vegas, you’ll check into the iconic MGM Grand hotel on The Strip — the perfect base to take in the city’s nightlife, live shows and incredible food scene. Jet from south from Vegas to Mexico and you’ll spend 10 nights at the luxury Dreams Sapphire Resort & Spa, a quintessential all-inclusive resort that will make you feel like you’re living on the set of The Bachelor (just without the drama).
Both destinations also offer plenty of options for add on excursions, from a road-trip to the Grand Canyon or helicopter tour over The Strip from Las Vegas to taking day trips from Cancun to Tulum and the ancient site of Chechen Itza.
Prices from €1,999pp based on a May 14, 2022 departure
Thinking of a cruise with a difference?
If the Caribbean isn’t rocking your boat, why not try the wild waters of Alaska. The state has become massively popular in recent years as tourists seek more off-the-beaten-cruise-path destinations combined with epic natural surroundings.
Leaving from Vancouver, you’ll cruise through the famous Inside Passage coastal route taking in the vast forests and knock-out fjords of Alaska’s rugged coastline. Recline in the luxury of your luxurious Celebrity cruise ship as some of the world’s most epic wildlife pans by: keep an eye out for whales or orcas from the panoramic lounges.
Cruise passengers will also get to disembark in extraordinary coastal towns such as the quirky city of Juneau and postcard towns such as Ketchikan.
This eight-night, all-inclusive trip with Sunway starts from €1,489pp (excluding flights to Vancouver).
You may think that flights to French Polynesia have become a bit of a social 'non non' due to the carbon footprint but make no mistake, Tahiti still remains the ultimate honeymoon paradise. Trailfinders can make your dreams come true with a two-week trip to the archipelago.
You’ll start off with a three-night stopover in Los Angeles where you can enjoy Tinsletown razzle dazzle from romantic hikes in the Hollywood Hills to taking in a live TV show taping (think Jimmy Fallon or Kelly Clarkson live).
From there, it’s an eight-hour flight to Tahiti where you’ll enjoy nine blissful days in this South Pacific paradise of towering emerald mountains, turquoise blue lagoons and luxurious resorts. Start off in the often overlooked island of Moorea with its jagged volcanic landscape and wild rainforests before reaching the ultimate honeymoon crescendo in the island of Bora Bora. Spend your days swimming, snorkelling and simply deep-diving into Tahitian life from your (overwater) bungalow bliss base.
Looking for a DIY honeymoon without the long haul? New routes to Santorini this summer make the Greek Island an extremely popular choice for a romantic retreat. And what you’ll save on the airfare you can pump into some knock-out accommodation too.
The spectacular island is stacked with heavenly inns, Airbnbs and boutique hotels with jaw-dropping views over the Aegean. Think high-end options such as the Pegasus Suites & Spa which feature private infinity pools to the highly-rated Remezzo Villas with rates from about €200 per night.
Summer flights teeter around €250 return
Honeymoons experiencing the great outdoors, rather than cocooning in beach resorts are a growing trend and nowhere to showcase this better than with a trip to the wilds of British Colombia in Canada. After beginning with a city break in Vancouver, you’ll tour across Vancouver Island to the waterside town of Ucluelet, famed for its wildlife, where you can board a whale watching cruise or join a kayak tour in search of black bears along the shore. Next up, catch a sea plane to the gateway to remote Great Bear Lodge, a floating lodge retreat which offers daily bear viewing excursions with experienced wildlife biologists in a jaw-drop backdrop. Cap your honeymoon in style with a stay at the five-star Relais & Chateaux Sonora Resort where you’ll spend three days spending your time going on wildlife hiking trails and relaxing in the hot tub with a glass of Champagne. You’ll even have time to chase your luxury escape with a visit to the winelands of Parkesvillle — the perfect spot to pick up a vintage souvenir of your honeymoon.
One of Ireland’s top tour operators, Cassidy Travel, has a range of luxury romantic destinations for your honeymoon but if you really want to make a splash or a splurge — the Seychelles. You’ll stay on Mahé, the largest of the nation’s islands — known for its Instagram perfect white sandy beaches and palm trees. When you’re not glued to your twin sun loungers, enjoy local activities like boat trips, snorkelling or visiting a tea or rum factory.
Rates start from €2,589pp (flights included) based on a stay at the five-star Le Meridien Fishermans Cove. If you prefer the idea of Southeast Asia, the company also features deals to Thailand from €1,039pp
Whether you’re at the honeymoon stage or are simply thinking of popping the question, check out the gorgeous Castlewood House in Dingle. They offer a number of romantic packages, not least a perfect proposal package where your own private driver will bring you to the perfect spot on the peninsula to ask the big question. Castlewood’s honeymoon package is also very popular: it includes champagne, chocolates, roses, a private breakfast plus a piece of art to take home. Honeymoon packages start from €280 per couple
Any time I’m asked to recommend a great honeymoon destination — or travel destination in general — I’ll always steer them south to the Rainbow Nation. I may be a little biased after living in Cape Town for a couple of years, but I reckon there are few better romantic destinations than South Africa.
The stunning gateway of Cape Towngate boasts excellent hotels (think five-star options from the seaside Radisson Blue from €145 per night). You’ll also enjoy sublime food while a world-class wine region lies in Stellenbosch just an hour away. City + Safari breaks are a popular combination with many travellers venturing onwards to Kruger National Park.
But don’t overlook getting your fix of the wilds in neighbouring Namibia, one of the most spectacular countries in the world. Fly north to the capital to stay in stunning new resorts such as Zannier Hotel’s Omaanda Lodge. The South African Rand has really taken a battering in recent years too so expect some great affordable luxury during your stay.
For more minimoon inspiration, thejohnstownestate.com).in County Meath offers a two-night luxury stay with a host of treats such as Möet & Chandon and strawberries on arrival, a four-course meal on one evening, a signature spa treatment and access to the rooftop thermal suites (from €950pps;
Finally, one of the most affordable breaks, the fallshotel.iein Ennistymon has a two-night stay with champagne and strawberries on arrival, a three-course dinner on the evening of your choice, a romantic bathing ceremony together in Kings Bath with chocolates and chilled Prosecco plus complimentary tickets to Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. From €480 total;