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April 20, 2010

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Top 10 travel spots to ask the big 'Will you marry me?' question

ASKING someone to marry may be one of the most important questions of your life, and the right place can make it all the more memorable. Boutique hotel travel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith ( have come up with a list of the top 10 hotels to propose.

Palazzo Barbarigo Venice, Italy

This dramatic 18-room destination hotel adds a modern shot of plush velvet, saucy feather-trim and moody mirrored wall to polished parquet floors and period details.

In the bedrooms, the theme continues with mini-bars in deco-style cocktail cabinets. Sigh over Grand Canal views in one of the lovely Junior Suites, which also have separate dressing and wardrobe areas. Then whisk your lover out of the door and straight onto the gondola you've arranged at the hotel's marble-clad waterside landing.

Amankora Bhutan

Not so much a hotel as a pilgrimage, Amankora consists of five luxurious lodges dotted around the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, set against a spectacular backdrop of plunging valleys, lush rice paddies, and mountaintop temples.

Whether you make the full 10-day trip to visit each lodge or tailor-make your Bhutanese excursion to suit the time you have available, Amankora can arrange your travel and put together a program of mountain-trekking, temple-hopping, or spa pampering as you wish.

The Louise Barossa Valley, Australia

Indulge your inner gourmand at the Louise, the Barossa Valley's brightest star. Concern for guest satisfaction and food-and-wine passion have informed every decision at this South Australian retreat: privacy is paramount, room facilities are state of the art, and the restaurant is truly outstanding.

Hide away in No. 29 - the best of the 10 suites revolving around the entrance piazza. It has a private courtyard and terrace, spa tub, underfloor heating and recessed candle nooks in the bathroom, and an outdoor shower.

Mollies Auckland, New Zealand

Music, food and romance await at the elegantly attired Mollies, Auckland's bohemian boutique hotel famed for its sociable soirees.

With classic-meets-arty interiors dotted with pianos, regular opera recitals, gourmet dining and a sensual spa, there's a fairytale feel about this glamorous harborside getaway. Seclude yourselves away in Room 8, a New York-style loft with views over the water.

Noir D'Ivoire, Marrakech, Morocco

At this ravishingly restored riad, the delight is in the detail: capacious beds and baths; real fires for winter nights; fresh oranges brought to your room each evening; squirreled-away bowls of nuts and dried fruit dotted around; giant swags of tasselled silk and linen; and artisan toiletries presented in glass vials with silver caps.

Add on a hammam, boutique, candle-lit courtyard and excellent chef, and you've already got romance with a capital "R." If you really want to push the love boat out, check into one of the Royal Suites, which have private roof terraces with plunge pools.

Hotel De La Paix, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Babylonian-meets-metropolitan facade of this spectacular spa hotel offers just the faintest hint of what awaits inside. White is the shade of choice throughout, set against dark tiles and brooding monochrome images of temples and carvings.

The rooms have an understated elegance, the restaurant, Meric, is renowned throughout the city, and the breath-stealing majesty of Angkor Wat is just 10 minutes away into the jungle.

Duplex Spa Suite 346 is swoon-worthy, with an alfresco rooftop bath and enough space to host a cocktail party should you have something to celebrate.

La Residence, Garden Route & Winelands, South Africa

This mini, modern Versailles presiding over Franschhoek's valley of vines has a contemporary shell and a romantic colonial interior. La Residence is filled with Persian rugs, exotic antiques and fine art works.

This Winelands estate will make you feel as though you've been whisked off to your own private palace to live in the lap of luxury. White and gold Frangipani is the most tucked-away of the ground-floor suites and has a monumental four-poster bed, 18th-century French dressers and mirrored bathroom, complete with chandelier, roll-top bath and chaise longue.

Cayo Espanto, Ambergris Caye, Belize

About 5 kilometers off the coast of Belize, this palm-fronded private-island resort is ultra-exclusive.

It's surprising, then, that it can also nurture such a laid-back and unpretentious air. Hidden among the palm trees on the Caribbean shore, its handful of luxurious villas offer a uniquely personalized level of service.

Your every need is met by a houseman who'll do everything from fix you drinks to accompany you on excursions - it's like having your own genie. Casa Ventana is set out to sea on its own wooden pontoon.

It may be the smallest of the resort's six villas, and lack the private pools of its neighbors, but who needs a pool when you've got the Caribbean on four sides?

Crosby Street Hotel, New York, USA

There's an English elegance about the Crosby Street Hotel, a kitsch-but-classy boutique bolthole on a calm, cobble-stoned street in sassy SoHo.

While away the days watching romantic films in the sexy screening room, curled up by the fireplaces in the luxurious lounges or making the most of the spectacular bar and restaurant scene in the NY neighborhood.

Pick one of the Junior Suites on the 10th and 11th floors - their winning combination of height and huge warehouse windows will give you some of the best views in southern Manhattan.


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