With short, darker days and freezing temperatures, as far as romance in winter goes, it’s usually not much more than curling up together in front of your favourite TV show. While that’s all fine and good, post-Christmas is a great opportunity to break out of hibernation mode, rediscover your spark and explore some of Europe’s top destinations together, when they’re not jam-packed with tourists.
On a romantic getaway, where you stay is just as important as where you go and, with their fantastic locations and luxurious amenities, Hilton’s impressive collection of European hotels offers a great base for discovering new places. Think spas, indoor pools, delicious dishes, cosy beds and stunning views. Tempted? Here are six romantic destinations that will have you pressing “pause” on the TV …
A great way to explore Vienna is in one of the traditional horse-drawn fiaker carriages, and a night-time excursion only adds to the romance. A faithful steed and period-clad coachman will take you around the city’s main sights, including Innere Stadt’s (1st district) monuments, which are bathed in golden light once the sun sets. This area, with St Stephen’s Cathedral at its heart, is moments away from Hilton Vienna Park, where you can choose a room with a cathedral view. January and February are when the waltz comes home to Vienna and hundreds of balls take place all over the city, many of which are open to the public.
Where to stay
Whether you’ve been sightseeing or waltzing, you can put your feet up at Hilton Vienna Waterfront. Located on the Danube, this hotel boasts the Oxbo restaurant and bar, which has signature cocktails, Austrian bar snacks and a great view of the river. Alternatively, if you want to be in the heart of the city, the 1920s art deco-designed Hilton Vienna Plaza is just off the Ringstrasse boulevard, only 1.2 miles (2km) from the imperial palace, Vienna State Opera, and city hall.
Prague, Czech Republic
With its cobbled streets and castle whose origins date to the ninth century, Prague in the winter snow can’t help but induce romance. Most couples flock to the Malá Strana district and the picturesque Lovers’ Bridge, where hundreds of said couples used to attach padlocks with messages showing their enduring love. As temperatures drop, the city’s indoor and outdoor ice rinks open, and popular skating destinations include the illuminated ice area below the Žižkov television tower, the tallest structure in Prague. Afterwards, cosy up together with a mulled wine, homemade punch or a hot chocolate.
Where to stay
Hilton Prague is the perfect place to warm up after a day out on the ice. Relax in the hotel’s heated indoor pool, sauna and steam room, or indulge in Czech cuisine at one of its six restaurants. At Seasons, the menu changes according to the availability of local ingredients, with autumn dishes including smoked mussels and duck breast roasted on the bone. Hilton Prague Old Town, meanwhile, is just moments from the Powder tower and old town gates, and also has an indoor pool and spa, as well as a stunning art deco-style design.
Lake Como, Italy
While beautiful at any time of the year, thanks to the snow-capped peaks of its surrounding mountains, Lake Como in the winter is especially atmospheric. The resort is also much quieter, meaning popular villages such as Bellagio, Varenna or Menaggio, aren’t packed with tourists and you get a better sense of the local flavour than in high season. Many restaurants are open all year round and it’s easier to get a table with a romantic lake view in January than in July. If you’re after something active, take a his‘n’hers ski trip to the nearby Piani di Bobbio resort, while the less energetic can ride the funicular from Como up to the village of Brunate for great views of the surrounding area and the lake below.
Where to stay
Hilton Lake Como is just 10 minutes from the city centre and offers panoramic views of the lake and mountains. Dial up the romance with a couples’ treatment at the hotel’s Eforea spa or a glass of something fizzy at the rooftop Terrazza 241 bar. If food is the way to your heart, the Taffeta lounge has an à la carte menu offering both Italian and international classics. You don’t even have to leave the hotel to try out a winter sport – the garden area of the Taffeta lounge now has its own ice curling rink. The new feature is made from artificial ice and is open across the winter season to guests and locals alike. Hot drinks will be served nearby.
Rome’s average winter temperatures are approximately 12-14C, a more comfortable level for sightseeing than the high 30s and the 40s you get in the summer months. There also are significantly fewer tourists at this time of year, so getting a romantic selfie in front of the Colosseum, Spanish Steps or St Peter’s Basilica is that bit easier. This city invented romance and, if you want to solidify yours, head to the Trevi fountain. It’s rumoured that couples who drink from its “fountain of lovers” will remain in love and faithful forever (although taking a sip is not recommended nowadays).
Where to stay
Set in six hectares (15 acres) of Mediterranean parkland, but with the centre still within easy reach, the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, boasts opulent rooms full of antiques, and La Pergola, a Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant. For competitive couples, there are outdoor tennis courts, while those who fancy a winter dip can relax in the indoor pool and whirlpool, set beneath a stunning glass dome. There’s a rooftop bar and the 1930s Restaurant to discover at Aleph Rome Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton. The hotel, in a historic former bank building, is just 10 minutes from the Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps, and has a spa with a hammam to unwind in.
Krakow in winter has a slow, subdued pace, which will appeal to couples wanting to relax and just enjoy each other’s company. The city is packed full of candlelit cafes where you can enjoy delicious hot chocolate or steaming bowls of borscht (east European soup), while the National Museum is a great stop-off for anyone interested in modern art. If you want to get out of town, what could be more romantic than a traditional dog sled? Sleigh rides run in the surrounding countryside and usually culminate with a roaring bonfire and delicious feast of sausages and smoked cheese.
Where to stay
Hilton Garden Inn Krakow is a great base from which to explore the city: Wawel Castle and the former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz are within two miles, while the old town and Rynek Główny (main square) are only 10 minutes away. Work off some steam at the hotel’s well-equipped fitness centre, before enjoying traditional Polish dishes at its restaurant. If you’re after surroundings with a more traditional feel, the 200-year-old Hotel Saski Krakow, Curio Collection by Hilton is slap-bang in the middle of the old town and has an indoor pool to chill out in after a day pounding the city’s cobbled pavements.
Of course, Davos is renowned for its skiing and this picturesque resort benefits from 200 miles of downhill pistes in six different ski areas. There’s more for couples than just the slopes though; the Davos World of Ice is an outdoor skating rink like no other, consisting of a network of interconnected ramps and rinks. Those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle can venture out to the 100 miles of prepared winter footpaths and snow-shoe trails, and enjoy peace and quiet, and vistas that will take your breath away.
Where to stay
Just five minutes from the Davos Platz area and the Jakobshorn cable car, Hilton Garden Inn Davos has everything you need to recharge, whether your day involves the slopes, a pair of skates or just the après ski. Warm up in the wellness area with its relaxation room, sauna and steam bath, before enjoying local dishes at the hotel’s Grill Restaurant.
Discover more on the Hilton website