Our cheesiest of all holidays approaches steadily.
Get it wrong, and you’re Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams breaking up in the world’s saddest hotel in the Poconos. Get it right, and you are a superstar.
Here’s your guide to the latter, with five of our favorite, most subtly romantic hotels around the Bay Area.
No heart-shaped hot tubs. Plenty of five-star firepits.
Image from Santa Cruz
Together for... Two months
Vibe: Mid-century modern meets surfin’ safari
The plan: Drinks at the firepit, more drinks at the pool bar, maybe a little surfing if the mood suits?
In brief: This is a super-style-y hotel right on the water, in the reliably fun escape to the south that is Santa Cruz. If the weather doesn’t suggest getting in the water, get on it — maybe with a kayak tour with Venture Quest through Monterey Bay?
Image from Auberge du Soleil
Auberge du Soleil
Together for... One year
Vibe: Napa splendor
The plan: Who’s in the mood for “a warm cabernet mud body masque”?
In brief: This Napa resort is a paradise for spa lovers — if that’s less your vibe than your plus-one's, be sure to consider biking the still-in-development Vine Trail. About 12 miles are finished now; in time, it’ll stretch 47 miles from Vallejo to Calistoga. The “Restaurant,” meanwhile, has maintained its Michelin star for 13 years.
Image from Inn at Newport Ranch
The Inn at Newport Ranch
Together for... Five years
Vibe: Super-cozy redwood-luxe
The plan: Pacific views? Check. Fireplaces? Of course. Hot tubs? Ditto.
In brief: For once, the ever-variable Mendocino coast weather will be decidedly on your side: mid-February here is made from ocean-gazing from beneath the comfort of some heavy wool blankets.
Image from Bardessono
Together for… 10 years
Vibe: As if if you lived on a very luxurious vineyard but don’t actually have to do any work making wine
The plan? Wine-massage-wine-massage-fireplace
In brief: Easy luxury is the brief here, and given the location right in the middle of Yountville, you won’t need to move once you arrive at the hotel: Bouchon Bakery and French Laundry are both within walking distance, which should resolve your lunch and breakfast concerns.
Image from Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe
The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe
Together for… As long as you can remember
Vibe: Luxe skiing and high-end gather-’round-the-firepit snacks
The plan? Literally whatever you feel like, together or alone, possibly including s’mores
In brief: There’s plenty here for everyone to do as they like — whether that’s ski, swim, soak (in the hot tub), spa, shop (in nearby Northstar Village) or lay on the bed and look at the snow. If the great reward of a long, loving relationship is extreme comfort, this is the place to make it happen.
Main image form Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe