Oyster’s hotel reporters trekked across Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar (alone, sadly) to track down the region’s most romantic retreats. These 18 hotels — adult-only beach resorts, secluded jungle villas, and colonial landmarks among them — are the most romantic ones our investigators found in all of Southeast Asia.
The 51-room Layana Resort and Spa is a luxury beachfront escape, with James Bond-style treatment that starts with a private speed boat along the scenic Andaman coast to Koh Lanta Island. The lush, adults-only resort consists of exquisite Garden Pavilions as well as exclusive Beach Suites (stand-alone bungalows) that sport private terraces and direct beach access. The resort offers a saltwater infinity pool, spa, and fitness center. Guests can sample international and local Thai cuisine at the on-site restaurant, and as the name suggests, watch the sunset from the Sundowner Bar and Lounge.
The Bale is one of the most luxurious properties in Nusa Dua, and its soothing zen-inspired decor and gorgeous grounds wow at first sight. Housed in private pavilions set within their own walled gardens, the adult-only hotel’s 29 rooms offer a level of privacy hard to find in other luxury resorts. All units have lovely infinity pools, 24/7 butler services, upscale amenities, and top-notch bathrooms with outdoor showers. The spa offers wonderful signature treatments in minimalist rooms, and there's a beautiful two-tier infinity pool. There are two excellent restaurants and a small fitness center with yoga classes, plus the hotel has a private beach club with loungers on a nice stretch of sand a short walk away. Rates can be steep, but freebies such as breakfast, airport transfers, welcome massages, and free daily restocking of the minibar add value.
Tucked away on a private stretch of sand, Kayumanis Nusa Dua is an intimate and luxurious adult-only retreat that feels a world away from the large neighboring resorts. Each of the property’s 20 villas is housed in a beautiful pavilion with an indoor-outdoor design and tasteful, traditional Indonesian decor. All have private pools, outdoor bathrooms, and top-notch services such as personal butlers, and drivers for free private day trips. The on-site beach is not the prettiest around, but it is sandy and relaxing, and has padded lounge chairs and a beach club. The spa is small but excellent, and also offers in-room treatments. The on-site Italian restaurant is mediocre, but there's a great Indonesian restaurant on-site and plenty of other options within a short distance of the hotel.
The Shore at Katathani is an upscale, 36-room villa hotel that caters mainly to couples and honeymooners. Its private location, tucked away in a cove along Kata Noi Beach, adds to the hotel's intimate, beachy atmosphere. Guests spend most of their time lounging beside their private plunge pools or in oversize daybeds facing the ocean at the main infinity pool. The property, which includes a small spa and an oceanfront restaurant, does not allow children under 12.
Paresa means "heaven" in Thai, and with a staff that refers to themselves as angels, panoramic views of the Andaman Sea over Millionaires Mile, and private luxury villas -- to some guests, Paresa is truly a five-pearl piece of (expensive) heaven on earth. At night, the infinity-edge pool is lit up with hundreds of twinkling LED lights. Two on-site restaurants and a cooking school offer gourmet fare. The location on a cliff means privacy (and those uninterrupted views), but the trade-off is a remote neighborhood and no direct beach access; the resort works around that problem with a free hourly shuttle to town and Kamala Beach.
The Kayumanis Ubud Private Villas & Spa is a luxury all-villa complex set in lush jungle gardens a 10-minute drive from Ubud's main attractions. The focus is on romance, with secluded villas providing outdoor tubs, private pools, and personal butler service along with a super-romantic candlelit dinner service. There's also an all-day breakfast. While the outdoor living won't appeal to all and bugs are inevitable, for a blow-the-budget, back-to-nature resort with guaranteed privacy and deluxe lodgings, this is a fine choice. Kids under 16 aren't allowed here.
The 100-room, historic Eastern & Oriental Hotel has been in operation since the height of the British Empire when George Town was an important trading hub. Known locally as the E&O, this hotel's colonial pedigree sets it apart from other options, but it also has a fully modern all-suite addition with private balconies and rainfall showers. All in all, it is one of Malaysia's top romantic spots, thanks to its rich atmosphere, two elegant pools, and fine dining.
Opposite the old Moorish style railway station in a historic part of town, the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a five-pearl grande dame near the city's museums and botanical gardens. The hotel is an attraction in itself, built around a restored 1932 colonial landmark filled with parlors and drawing rooms from another era. The bulk of its rooms are luxurious modern dwellings with Art Deco flair, and suites in the original wing retain their period elegance along with personal butlers. A spa, two outdoor pools, a conservatory with an orchid garden, and a wood-paneled restaurant with gold leaf ceilings round out the lavish facilities.
One of Bali's chicest properties, the five-pearl Bulgari Resort Bali is an ultra-luxury resort with 59 villas featuring Javanese mahogany furnishings and volcanic rock interior walls (plus five chic three- and five-bedroom mansions). Along with a private beach and gorgeous infinity pool, the resort offers four bars and restaurants, an opulent spa, a fitness center, and plenty of space for meetings and weddings. The removed location is peaceful and romantic, but it may not be a good fit for travelers who like to explore destinations on foot.
The 39-room Nakamanda Resort and Spa is an upscale romantic retreat on a secluded cove with traditional Thai decor and attractive tropical grounds. An outdoor pool and an open-air bar with two private terraces face the Andaman Sea, and there’s also a full-service spa and a fitness center. Stylish, modern villas have soaking bathtubs, and some come with kitchenettes and hot tubs or pools. Nakamanda Resort & Spa provides a romantic retreat, but the property’s many steps and rocky shores are less than ideal for kids or guests with limited mobility.
This five-pearl resort is best known for its breathtaking main pool, which sits dramatically over jungle treetops and offers gorgeous vistas of the gorge below. With a secluded location about 30 minutes from Ubud, the hotel offers a peaceful, rain forest getaway, complete with a luxurious spa and dining options that range from an on-site restaurant, bar, and cafe, to romantic private dining experiences. Its 44 suites and private villas offer panoramic views as well as private pools and terraces. The jungle setting means that various critters are to be expected, which might be an issue for some, and travelers should also be prepared for pricey dining.
A cliffside location overlooking the Indian Ocean and minimalist, modern architecture that seamlessly melds with lush grounds make the luxurious Alila Villas Uluwatu a serene, yet spectacular retreat. There’s a gorgeous and vast infinity pool, though each of the 65 villas on the property have their own private pools as well. The sleek, contemporary spaces offer a host of other comforts, from techy amenities like flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi, to gorgeous bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers and tubs. The remote location means that guests are limited to the two restaurants on-site, though these offer tasty fine dining and local cuisine. A spa, fitness center, and daily morning yoga classes are also available.
The 39-room Hotel Tugu Lombok is a five-pearl property that’s designed to evoke the spirit of Indonesia’s past. Charming bungalows and villas feature Indonesian artwork, and many have outdoor copper bathtubs; a few even have private plunge pools. Statues and antiques adorn thatched-roof buildings, and there's a beach with long-tail boats and a bamboo water-sports shack. Picnics and moonlight barbecues are provided on the sand, and the hotel has two restaurants and a bar, but the food gets mixed reviews and there aren't a lot of other places to eat nearby.
The Twin Lotus Resort & Spa is a large, adults-only beachfront resort with 76 rooms and bungalows on a property large enough that buggies are used to shuttle guests around. All categories of rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, with DVD players and huge furnished terraces. The upscale resort sits toward the quiet northern end of Klong Dao Beach, and is close to Saladan town and the ferry pier for the mainland. Resort features include two swimming pools, two restaurants, a fitness center and spa, bicycle rentals, and a library with books and DVDs.
There are 49 rooms at this luxury adult-only, all-villa property set high in the hills overlooking Layan Beach. The secluded location is ideal for those wanting some rest and relaxation, and the luxurious villas are designed for guests to thoroughly unwind. Each has its own infinity pool, huge bedroom, bathroom, and gorgeous views of the sea or countryside. In-villa spa treatments can be arranged. The hotel’s restaurant serves modern Thai cuisine, and the 360° Bar is a real hotspot. A free shuttle is provided to the nearest beach.
Belmond Governor’s Residence is one of Yangon’s premier luxury hotels. The 49-room property sits on beautiful grounds with a pool and open-air restaurants, providing a relaxing escape from the city’s noise and heat. The historic 1920s building -- a former mansion of a Burmese governor -- is a colonial gem from a bygone era. Rooms are spacious and classy, with modern amenities like flat-screen TVs and free minibars that are restocked daily. Though it's close to several restaurants, the hotel is not within walking distance of the downtown area, but free bikes are provided.
The 24-room Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel is a small luxury property that was once the residence of Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma, and now is one of Luang Prabang's premier hotels, close to restaurants and shops. Rooms are spacious, bright, and furnished with modern amenities. Several have large clawfoot tubs, and there are terraces looking out at the lovely garden. It has a swimming pool, a spa, and an upscale Lao and Indochinese restaurant, the Elephant Blanc. Despite being on a busy road, the hotel feels private and tranquil.
The five-room Villa Saraswati is an upscale, intimate, and adult-only bed-and-breakfast located in a quiet village a 15-minute drive from Ubud. Lovely rooms blend classic Balinese design with modern accents. One room has an expansive wraparound balcony, another opens directly onto the pool deck, and four have outdoor bathrooms. Public spaces are relaxing and elegant, and the poolside dining pavilion serves all meals, including an excellent breakfast with signature banana pancakes.