There's something undeniably sexy about the Mediterranean: The sea breezes, the storied history, the beautiful architecture, the friendly people, the delicious cuisine, and -- without a doubt -- the sweeping views, of both city and sea, certainly don't hurt either. We've made our way along the winding coast, from Spain's Costa del Sol to the Greek island of Mykonos, and have found that the Mediterranean can certainly set the scene for romance -- as can many of its luxury hotels. Here are a dozen beautiful, romantic properties in the Mediterranean that are perfect for a sexy escape.
Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center, Mykonos
Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center is a luxury hotel (it's part of the Relais & Chateaux chain) with 70 rooms overlooking Platis Gialos. Guests seem to love the hotel's little extras, such as juice at check-in and ice pops by the pool. Guest rooms are chic, white, and airy, and offer ocean views. The hotel has an infinity-edge outdoor pool, and a restaurant serving Mediterranean, Greek, and Mykonos dishes. The indoor spa offers guests a free, daily thalassotherapy session, and the hotel has a fitness center with several weight and cardio machines. Free shuttle service to the airport is available. It's a short walk to the beautiful Platis Gialos Beach, and Mykonos Town is a 12-minute drive from the hotel.
Mare Hotel Savona, Italian Riviera
With its beach-heavy, modern design, Mare Hotel Savona provides a tropical escape on the Mediterranean. Savona is a bit industrial, but the hotel provides a nice spot for a beach vacation and is also a good base for exploring other tourist destinations on the Italian Riviera, such as Bergeggi and Finale Ligure. The on-site restaurants are popular (though a bit pricey), which means snagging a table without a reservation can be somewhat difficult. Rooms on the south side have much better views and are quieter.
Claris Hotel, Barcelona
A former palace, the luxurious 124-room Hotel Claris is conveniently located within walking distance to Plaza Catalunya and Paseo de Gracia. The gorgeous rooms are quiet and creative with Egyptian-inspired art objects and marble bathrooms; there are several room types including chic duplex suites. The extensive array of features includes a rooftop pool, solarium, gym, and sauna. One highlight is the glass-enclosed cocktail bar and restaurant with striking city views. There is an on-site museum and interesting works of art in every hotel corner, but there is no tea or coffee in the rooms.
Royal Continental Hotel, Naples
The 397-room, four-star Royal Continental Hotel bills itself as a "boutique" property, but in actuality it is the largest convention center in Naples. Located in a quiet pedestrian area by the Bay of Naples, the Royal Continental has a wide variety of facilities for business travelers, including a full theater and exhibition hall, but tourists and couples will also appreciate the location, away from Naples' inner-city crush and surrounded by cafes and restaurants.
Electra Palace Hotel Athens
Electra Palace Hotel Athens is a beautiful luxury property with 150 rooms in the neighborhood of Plaka. The grounds and facilities are gorgeous, featuring an outdoor garden with manicured lawns and a pavilion where guests can enjoy the free breakfast. The rooftop restaurant, pool, and surrounding deck offer stunning views of the Acropolis. The hotel has a spa with a large indoor pool and hot tub as well as a fitness center. Rooms offer classic decor with crown molding, wooden floors, and area rugs. Guests looking for more modern accommodations may want to check out the less expensive New Hotel Athens, which is nearby.
Masseria & Spa LuciaGiovanni, Lecce
This old farmhouse has been transformed into an intimate Moroccan-themed hotel located in the southern Italian region of Salento. The beautiful, natural-looking pool and spa make LuciaGiovanni an exotic escape that’s unmatched -- unless you hop a plane to Morocco. The 28 rooms have stunning details such as wood-beam ceilings and wrought iron four-poster bed frames. The property is vast and green and provides a relaxing oasis, but is only a short drive to the old part of the city.
Petasos Beach Hotel & Spa, Mykonos
Petasos Beach Hotel & Spa is a luxury property built in the traditional Cycladic architecture style that prevails on Mykonos. It has many of the same features as its competitors (large spa, swimming pool, beach access, restaurants, and fitness center). Unlike competitors, however, the hotel doesn't own any of the beach facilities, so expect to pay extra for a chair and umbrella on the sand. Still, those looking for more activity may prefer this location -- the nearby beaches are among the island's most popular, and there are a number of restaurants and shops nearby (most competing properties tend to be more secluded). Be aware that the views shown on the hotel's website are mainly from private suites, and might not be available from many rooms. Mykonos Town is about two miles from the hotel, and a bus stops directly outside of the front doors.
Precise Resort El Rompido, Costa de la Luz
The 196-room Precise Resort El Rompido is a luxury golf resort near the fishing village of El Rompido. The hotel is in a gorgeous, palm tree and tropical plant-filled setting, with many peaceful spots to sit, sun, swim, or, of course, golf. The 36-hole golf course, driving range, and golf school are the resort's centerpiece, so much so that the front desk features large arty photographs of golf balls. Rooms upscale, contemporary decor in neutral colors.
Mercer Hotel Barcelona
One of Barcelona's top-rated hotels, the 28-room Mercer Barcelona offers the intimacy of a boutique hotel and the amenities of a larger property. Add in its location -- tucked away on a charming, cobblestone street in the city's Gothic Quarter, and within walking distance to many top attractions -- and the Mercer can be a win-win for travelers. Leisure travelers are the main customers here, but business travelers will likely appreciate its "business corner," with its library and computer, and small private areas for events and meetings. The hotel also offers several cocktail and dining options, including the Le Bouchon tapas bar and Jean Luc Figueras' Mercer Restaurant JLF, a rooftop lounge and small pool, a hanging garden, and some of the most comfortable beds around.
Hotel Excelsior, Naples
Built in 1908 and considered one of the classic hotels of Naples, the Hotel Excelsior is adorned with crystal chandeliers, antiques, and Italian marble floors in its sumptuous public spaces. A stay here is like stepping back in time to Belle Epoque-era Italy. Set in a prime position at the southern tip of Naples, the Excelsior overlooks the Castel dell'Ovo castle, Gulf of Naples, and Mount Vesuvius. The 121 rooms are elegant and understated, and some come with superb views of the water (though dated touches, like patterned bedspreads, are present). The prime gathering spot is the rooftop terrace restaurant, with fine Mediterranean cuisine and panoramic views.
Hotel Balcon de Europa, Costa del Sol
The Hotel Balcon de Europa is one of many four-pearl luxury hotel choices on the Málaga coast, but what sets this 108-room property apart is its prime location on the beach in the center of tourist-friendly Nerja. There's definitely an adult vibe here thanks to the rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities, and a romantic restaurant with views of the beach through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Classical King George Palace, Athens
The historic Classical King George Palace is one of the most luxurious and exclusive properties in Athens. Everything about this hotel is chic -- from the aviator-clad doormen to the gourmet restaurant with stunning views of the Acropolis. The Palace boasts every amenity one would expect from a luxury hotel -- but as a boutique, some are on a smaller scale: There is a small indoor pool, an intimate spa, three glamorous meeting rooms, and a tiny fitness center. The 102 rooms are elegant, with hardwood floors, antique furniture, rich, silky curtains, and plush bedding. The dated tube TVs in some rooms seem a bit out of place. For those who can afford it, the Royal Penthouse Suite is truly decadent, with two bedrooms, a massive terrace, and an infinity pool with unobstructed views of the Acropolis.
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