Everyone needs a foolproof date night plan — or romantic escape — regardless of whether they celebrate Valentine’s Day. Here’s a cheat sheet you can use any time and (almost) anywhere, tried and tested by Bloomberg’s experts in global cities, from Dublin to Manila.
Read Part 1 of the series here.
If you want one great night: There are few more romantic ways to kick off an evening than with a sunset catamaran cruise on the Tagus (Tejo) River; the itineraries that depart from the city’s BMW Sailing Academy include traditional Portuguese canapes, cocktails, and views of the renowned Torre de Belém. (Bring a blanket to bundle up if it’s chilly.) Then have an intimate meal at Local restaurant, a communal chef’s counter on a colorful side street near Praca do Príncipe Real square. The place looks humble, with seating for only 10, but the food is superior: mushroom quinoa, skate with morels, oxtail with root vegetables. Your date will be impressed with your insider knowledge.
If you want a weekend getaway: Rather than hitting the Azores or the Algarve, try the World Heritage City of Évora. Just a one-hour drive from Lisbon, it’s home to the new Tivoli Eco Resort, with 56 villas strewn around a complex of striking, whitewashed architecture. The spa is a real selling point: It has steam rooms with Turkish baths, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a chromotherapy room where colored lights are meant to help you relax and unwind. Be sure to explore the surrounding area, which is full of Roman ruins, dramatic cathedrals, and colonial squares; it’s one of the country’s most charming, underrated destinations.
If you’re going out on a weekday: Put yourselves in the hands of the talented, vest-clad bartenders at Hoper to kick off your night: The jazzy cocktail bar just off Beiluoguxiang Hutong alleyway offers creative riffs on classics and a wide range of off-the-menu concoctions. Then grab a taxi to Duck de Chine for one of the city’s most rightly famed indulgences: Peking duck with a French twist. There’s drama in every aspect of the meal, from the Bollinger Champagne Bar to the hand-carved presentation of those famous, crisp-skinned birds.
If you want a weekend getaway: Spend a night at the Brickyard, a renovated tile factory in Beigou Village. Though it’s only an hour outside of the city, it feels worlds away, with a view of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Go hiking along the monument during the day, then come back to a jacuzzi, sauna, and yoga platform when your legs have grown weary. Bonus: The hotel serves good western food, though you can also try northern Chinese food (and even some of China’s fearsome rice wine) in the nearby village.
If you want one great night: Avoid running around town on a tight schedule and focus your attention on an all-in-one destination instead. At the $2.5 billion, 23-acre development the Wharf, you can start with drinks and hand-carved jamon iberico at the glass-walled Spanish restaurant Del Mar, then walk a few steps to Kith & Kin, where chef Kwame Onwuachi is producing vibrant quail and Gulf shrimp gumbo. A few blocks away, mixologist Todd Thrasher offers frozen rum-and-cokes at his brand new Tiki TNT & Potomac Distilling bar. You might even coordinate your night for a show at the Anthem, the 6 000-seat hall that showcases performers from Meek Mill to Interpol, who will be in the house February 15.
If you want a weekend getaway: Start with breakfast in the high-ceilinged lobby of the Line DC, a hotel set in a renovated church. (On request, it will serve pastry chef Pichet Ong’s phenomenal, multilayered dome cakes, such as the cocoa-banana-coffee Brooklyn.) Then get in a car and drive 90 minutes southwest to Washington, Va., home of the Inn at Little Washington; its dining room just became the first in the capital area to receive three Michelin stars. After checking in—Suite 6 is modeled after the Ritz Paris — you can make your way to the nearby town of Sperryville, which has lovely antique stores, the option of horseback riding at Conyers House Country Inn & Stable, or the chance to drink wood-fired beers at Pen Druid Brewing. Dinner and breakfast are no-brainers at the In — less obvious is a gin-centric pit-stop at Murlarkey Distilled Spirits to break up the drive back home.
If you want one great night: Take the unofficial romance-themed tour at El Museo Larco. The museum is best known for its pre-Columbian artifacts, which include jewelry, funerary bundles, tapestries, and pottery — but a self-guided look at the Mochi tribe’s ancient erotic statuettes and the lush floral garden might be more apt for date night. Then drive down the coast to Morphology, a concept shop and art gallery whose rooftop garden supplies a top-floor restaurant called Barra Verde. The lush space is filled with orchids and butterflies (yes, live ones), and the seafood- and vegetable-centric menu manages to feel both healthy and indulgent at the same time.
If you want a weekend getaway: Most people visit Cusco and the Sacred Valley to see centuries-old sites, but make this trip all about contemporary culture, instead. A stay at the new XO Art House will expose you to works by 10 artists currently dominating the local scene; the property itself is also within walking distance of the best art galleries in the creative quarter of San Blas. Then have dinner 11 500 feet above sea level, at Mil. The restaurant is a modernist ode to Peru’s high-altitude agriculture from chef Virgilio Martinez (of Lima’s famed Central), and the view of the Incan farming terraces at Moray is just as memorable as the food.
If you want one great night: Pay homage to the holiday with a stroll to the Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin’s city centre — the remains of St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers, are said to be in a wooden box tied with a red ribbon in a casket beneath a marble altar. Then continue walking on a tree-lined path in St. Stephen’s Green before warming up to afternoon tea at the grand Shelbourne Dublin. Decide if you want a pre-dinner pint in the 120-year-old Grogans Castle Lounge, beloved among the city’s bohemian set. Then it’s a quick cab ride to Ross Lewis’s Michelin-starred Chapter One, which highlights such local ingredients as Irish Guinea hen with white pudding.
If you want a weekend getaway: Hop on the city’s DART train service and scoot out to Howth, a small fishing village just north of the city. There, grab a hot chocolate to go in any of the town’s cute cafes and head up to the cliff walk, a six-mile loop overlooking Dublin Bay. The Summit Inn bar, set in a 19th century cottage, is a perfect pit-stop for a pint of Guinness — and it’s worth sticking around for an early charcuterie-and-cheese dinner at the House, once home to Captain William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. Sleep it off at the new boutique Devlin Hotel back in Dublin: The cozy Americana Bar has a strong selection of Irish whiskey, and the corned beef and scallion hash at breakfast comes with panoramic city views, to boot.
If you want one great night: Take off the afternoon to take in the famous mobiles at the Museum of Fine Arts’ Alexander Calder exhibition before it closes. Or stop in for an afternoon tipple at Les Enfants Terribles on the 44th-floor observatory at the I.M Pei-designed Place Ville Marie for the most romantic view of the city. Work your way toward old Montreal by 6 p.m. for Aura, an immersive, 45-minute multimedia show at the Notre-Dame Basilica, which blends futuristic light projections with beautiful orchestral music. You’ll leave just in time for dinner at swanky Monarque, where prolific French chef Richard Bastien and his son Jeremie churn out indulgent venison tartare and butter-poached lobster.
If you want a weekend getaway: Your getaway to Quebec’s Eastern townships, near the Vermont border, starts with a 75-minute drive to Balnea Spa. Soak in hot baths outdoors — with your hat on, Quebec style! — while admiring the snowy landscapes at your now-warm fingertips. The spa’s peaceful restaurant, Lumami, offers a vegetable-focused menu, or you can continue on to Manoir Hovey, a lakefront Relais & Chateaux property with fireplaces in most of its 36 rooms and access to 30 acres of woods and gardens. For Valentine’s Day weekend, the hotel is offering an eight-course menu of Arctic char and quail, which will give you the stamina for a weekend full of snowshoeing, skating on the lake, or even dogsledding with your significant other.
If you want one great night: Go on a walking tour of the walled quarter of Intramuros. You’ll take in Spanish-era baroque architecture in the capital’s oldest surviving colonial district, including the UnescoWorld Heritage Site of San Agustin Church. Come sundown, grab al fresco drinks at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s aptly named Sunset Bar, where tables are surrounded by palm trees and overlook Manila Bay. Stuck in the financial district? Book a table at the Peak, which recently opened and is now the tallest restaurant in the city — it occupies the 60th to 62nd floors of the Grand Hyatt Manila. Prioritize a seat in the whisky bar or music lounge, where you can sip cocktails with an unrivalled view of the cityscape.
If you want a weekend getaway: Manila offers no shortage of culinary delights. Yet, about two hours’ drive south in Tagaytay, a food scene with a unique sight awaits. There, the Filipino culinary powerhouse Antonio’s Group operates Balay Dako, an indoor-outdoor spot serving traditional dishes near the world’s smallest active volcano, which sits in the centre of a water-filled caldera named Taal. (Request a table near the centre windows.) A day trip is doable, but why not spend the night at the picturesque Escala Hotel? You’ll wake up to the smell of the town’s esteemed Barako coffee and a stunning view from your own veranda. For the slightly-more adventurous, glamp under the stars and relish the cool breeze at Nayomi Sanctuary Resort, where tents are tricked out with private decks, string lights, and en-suite bathrooms.
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