Welcome to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik has always been a favourite among the rich and famous and continues to be so today. This month we are taking a look at what a five-star resort set beside the sea has to offer in this ever-charming city.
Sun Gardens Dubrovnik in Croatia is the perfect place to unwind after your wedding. Located 11km from the historic centre of the town proper, the resort will have you, not only enjoying panoramic views of the picturesque Adriatic Sea but, dipping your toes in the beautiful blue waters at the hotel’s pebbled beach. It’s not far from your room and you can enjoy seasonal VIP services like a beach-side massage, sunbeds and fruit platters.
About the Photo
Following a major redevelopment of the site, the resort opened a decade ago. Its architects are internationally recognised and the materials used and art featured in the resort today are all of local Croatian descent.
And that rounded pool you see isn’t the only one! The resort features three large swimming pools, two of which you can enjoy among family or with your little ones, while the third is designated as an adults-only haven. Each pool is accented by sea views and a poolside bar.
About the Accommodation
Boasting modern amenities like a spa, tennis court, football pitch, three swimming pools, access to the beach as well as several restaurants and bars, you won’t even need to leave the resort!
There are different types of accommodation available, ranging from one-bedroom and two-bedroom residences to three-bedroom residences with sea views. Each room is equipped with what you would expect from a five-star resort including Wi-fi, bathrobes, slippers and fully equipped kitchenette – all of which can be enjoyed from your terrace or balcony.
The charming hotel grounds feature well established gardens and mature trees, making you feel in-the-midst of nature. Stroll by the pretty pathways finding your way to one of the hotels various dining options.
Our recommendation for where to enjoy a nice dinner would be at either of the two quality restaurants within the hotel premises. Origano Restaurant and Maraska Lounge Bar both have an outdoor seating area which is perfect for the summertime where you can gaze at the views of the Elafiti Islands. In all, there are six restaurants to choose from and if you’re a real foodie you can also take part in seasonal gourmet cooking classes.
Ms Zebra Says: No one can deny the beauty that lies in Dubrovnik – and you don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to put this one on the honeymoon wishlist! We’re already imagining waking up to this view…
If you’re looking for a honeymoon destination, Japan has SO much to offer. It’s a measly 10-hour flight (nothin’ on that brutal European honeymoon trek) and is bursting with history, beautiful food, kind-hearted people, excellent hospitality and incredible culture.
Mrs Houndstooth and I travelled to Japan recently, and it’s safe to say we have fallen head over heels. But travelling to such an intricate country with many amazing destinations can make it difficult to know where to go. I’ve already spelt out one of the obvious ones, Kyoto, but there’s another spot I think will turn your Japanese honeymoon from great to magnificent.
Located a short ferry ride from the mainland (just near Hiroshima), Miyajima Island is one of the most scenic spots in Japan. It’s regarded as an Island of Gods, steeped in so much culture, beauty and romance that it’s almost overwhelming. Most people take the ferry out from Hiroshima to do a day trip to taste the delicious food the island has to offer, pet the wild (but tame) deer that roam the island freely and get a close look at the stunning Itsukushima Shrine – a World Heritage site. What many of the tourists don’t know, is that you can also stay on the island and experience peace and beauty for days on end.
It’s one thing to do a day trip, it’s another to feel like you’re among the only people on the island once those tourists jump back on the ferry and head for the mainland.
Momiji Manju. Image via Mr Houndstooth
Where to stay
Stepping off the ferry onto Miyajima, there’s a certain touristy feel to it – it’s hard to ignore given the number of people on the ferry. However, beyond that you immediately feel that this place is steeped in history. The Miyajima Arimoto Grand Hotel is no exception. The hotel has been in operation on the land of Miyajima since the early Edo period. The more than 400-year-old retreat is the closest hotel to the world-famous Itsukushima Shrine – but more on that later. The hotel has a mix of western and Japanese rooms and I cannot recommend highly enough forking out the bit extra for the beautifully crafted traditional room.
We’re talking tea poured for you on arrival and your own open-air bath carved from cypress wood. The hotel also has an on-site onsen (natural hot spring spas) so you can kick back after a long day of sight-seeing. Fair warning, most onsens require nude bathing and are naturally, separated into genders, so you won’t be bathing with your bride. It’s a great experience, but it’s also very handy having that personal open-air bath back at your room for a bit of ‘together time’.
Fun fact: We went full tourist when we arrived and almost called reception to ask where the bedroom was. Turns out, the furniture in the ‘lounge’ area is pushed to the side and a mattress bed is unfurled for you on the floor while you eat dinner. Speaking of dinner, the hotel also has an incredible restaurant. It’s a traditional Japanese seafood extravaganza, sourced from the Seto Inland Sea and served in a private room with that incredible Japanese hospitality we know and love.
What to eat
Miyajima is famous for its oysters. Oyster farming goes back about 450 years in Hiroshima, and about 330 years in Miyajima. Oysters farmed in the Seto Inland Sea are renowned for their flavour and texture. There is even an oyster festival every February.
It doesn’t matter where you turn, you can see oysters for sale everywhere on Miyajima. Whether you like them fresh, fried, grilled, marinated or battered, there is sure to be an option for everyone. I just have to mention the Momiji Manju too – a maple leaf-shaped snack cake. It’s one for the sweet tooth and the delicious smell wafts across the island. Grab some oysters for lunch and Momiji for dessert and you’re laughing.
Miyajima Brewery’s Caramel Blond. Image via Mr Houndstooth
What to drink
All this walking can be thirsty business and the Miyajima Brewery has your name written all over it. We’re talking top-class hospitality, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and of course, a Japanese beer paddle to do Australia proud. I personally recommend the Caramel Blond. The brewery also caters for the non-beer lovers with spirits and sake. It is the perfect people watching spot after a long day of sight-seeing.
Deer on Miyajima island. Image via Pen Ash
How to be romantic
Miyajima is a sacred place regarded as an object of worship and this is epitomized by the magnificent ‘floating’ tori gates of the Itsukushima Shrine. You’ve probably seen a picture of this gate before without even realising what it was or where it was located. It looks particularly spectacular during high tide, like it is floating on the sea. The tori gates – very common in Japan – are a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine.
They are said to mark the transition from the mundane to the sacred – and the Tori gate at Miyajima is one of the most famous in the world. During low tide, you can walk to the foot of the gate to see it up close, but we recommend sticking around until dusk when the Torii gates stand out against the beautiful golden sky. As the sun sets behind the giant gate and you’re surrounded by cute wandering deer, it becomes very clear that this is truly a romantic bucket list item.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention the deer! Second only to the island’s gate as the most popular attraction, the island is filled with wild (but friendly) deer. They wander the streets without a care in the world, but be warned they’ve got a pretty epic nose for sniffing out food and they can get a little too friendly when they smell something good!
Ms Zebra Says: This sounds like such a magical and wonderful experience. To taste the culinary delights, explore and of course, pet the deer, sounds like a truly romantic holiday! Thanks Mr Houndstooth – and we’re so glad you enjoyed your sojourn over there!!
About Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.
European summer is upon us and that usually means our Instagram feeds will be making us feel extra envious of those lapping up the sunshine whilst we snuggle up, braving the cold. It’s the perfect time to escape and celebrate your honeymoon in style or should we say celebrate your honeymoon ‘Italian style.’ Come with us as we uncover one of the summer celebrity hotspots.
Tucked away in the Italian Riviera is the small fishing village of Portofino, where you’ll find Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare. Frequented by the rich and famous, Portofino is a picture-perfect location to add to your Italian honeymoon hit list.
You can reach Portofino by ferry or via car/bus from Santa Margherita. Both are very quick journey’s making it easy to commute between the two.
Do note, after some storms in late 2018, the road into Portofino was damaged and extensive work is underway to repair it. Though this does mean there is some disruption to travel. If you’re planning a visit sooner rather than later, make sure you check with your travel agent to ensure your access to the town is not affected.
About that photo
Yes, this does look like the prettiest garden to explore, but what you might not have noticed is this picture is featuring the restaurant La Terrazza. La Terrazza is one of the prettiest places to eat in Portofino with clear views of the marina.
You’ll be eating fresh local produce as you sample authentic Italian cuisine. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, so make sure to book a table (particularly during the busier months of summer).
Between the hotels there are three restaurants, a wellness centre, a heated outdoor pool, water sports, gym and a complimentary shuttle to take you to and from both locations so you can enjoy all each has to offer.
We’re Also loving
Portofino is the perfect location for a honeymoon. There is plenty to see and do like visit Castello Brown (the best view of Portofino can be found here), tempt your tastebuds at any of the pretty coloured restaurants by the marina or take the ferry to visit San Fruttuoso Abbey.
Other activities that the Belmond Hotel Splendido could assist in organising are detailed on their website. This includes wine tastings, experiencing a secret underground grotto, visiting a local Wellness Farm or travel a little further and organise a trip to the famous Cinque Terre.
We hope your stay in Portofino is nothing less than fabulous and don’t forget to keep your eye out for an A-lister – you might even see George Clooney enjoying some gelato!
Ms Zebra Says: There’s nothing better than enjoying a gelato whilst holidaying like an a-lister! Or at least I can imagine!!! This sounds like the best place to splurge if you’re enjoying your honeymoon on the coast of Italy!