Top 12 places for romancing - ranked by visitors
Pierre Gaillard, chef of La Fontaine Krakow Restaurant, serves up authentic French cuisine in Old Town Kraków (Stare Miasto) amidst ancient cellar chambers and an elegant courtyard in a 13th century house off Rynek Główny (Main Square) on Sławkowska Street. La Fontaine is one of the best French restaurants in Krakow not only for its rustic-elegance (white linen & wrought iron; exposed rock walls, domed brick ceilings, stone floors), but due to Pierre’s creations. The menu includes wild boar with cèpe, duck filets with wild mushrooms, roasted goose with mango-peach vinaigrette and pâtisserie favorites like millefeuille, St Tropez tarts with Chiboust crème, profiterole cream-puffs, ice-cream soufflé, mousse with Calvados & crêpes. La Fontaine restaurant is open from noon to 11pm.
Down an alley along the Chao Phraya River sits Arun Residence; a Sino-Portuguese wooden house (ca.1920), transformed by Dr Piyanuch into a boutique hotel, alfresco restaurant & rooftop bar, with teak furniture & colonial charm. Two terraces offer dramatic views of Wat Arun, and when illuminated at night, the porcelain encrusted pagoda radiates a golden glow across the water. That alone could grant The Deck status amongst the most romantic restaurants in Bangkok, yet the cuisine, if possible, rivals the view with tamarind king crab, pomelo salad, duck confit, New Zealand lamb and desserts like panna cotta lod chong and crème brulée. Exotic vistas, gourmet dishes and old-world Thai grace is reserved for those who can find their way to The Deck Restaurant Bangkok.
The inventory list of King Louis XI of France records his purchase of a billiards table and billiard balls “for pleasure and amusement” in his court. These kings of France kept up with this tradition, since it is documented that Marie Antoinette, from the era of Louis XVI, was also a keen billiards player. Napoleon Bonaparte was another mainstream French enthusiast. It was another Frenchman who was responsible for the invention and perfection of the leather cue-tip. Captain Mingaud, Imprisoned in the French Revolution, and having access to a billiards table from his cell, he even extended his incarceration so that he could complete his billiards cue task. The leather cue-tip was perfected by 1823, and by then chalk was already used to improve friction.
Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, is a curious place: indulging itself in its gloomy past, the city can seem rather melancholic with its perpetual grey sky and frequent showers. Yet Edinburgh also has a very different side that lets people discover the fire in their hearts. Such a place is La Tasca – the award-winning Spanish restaurant in Scotland’s capital. Situated in the city centre close to Edinburgh castle, tourist attractions are a walking distance away. What could be better than warming up in La Tasca after a shopping spree with sexy music, delicious sangria and exquisite tapas? Apart from pampering its visitors with great food, the restaurant also offers weekly Latin dance nights in its Mediterranean interior. A perfect place for romancing!
Sometime in the 15th Century in France, the continuous rain and drizzle of a temperate climate, resulted in an outdoor lawn game, much like croquet, being brought inside and palced on a green covered table. A croquet-style mace (club) was used to shove balls around, and plank boards were placed lengthways, and acted as banks to contain the balls on the table. When a ball lay against a bank, the mace was turned around and the blunt end of the handle was used to strike that ball. The boards were also used to bounce the balls off, which became known as “bank shots”. These days there are many Filipino maestros who have mastered these shots over 500 years after the Europeans first tried them out. The game is played on all sorts and sizes of tables in the Philippines.
A “rajwadi” Indian wedding begins with “tilak” (a sandalwood and musk-scented vermilion mark on the forehead) and “aarti” (the passing of lamps, incense and flowers around guests) plus a palanquin marriage procession. The bride & groom, bedecked in red, purple and indigo, embellished with gold jewellery, surrounded by regal decorations under a “mandap” canopy, meld into a sensory feast – a banquet served on leafs in manuhar tradition. Nuptials unfold amidst fire, beating drums and dancers in Rajasthani & Malwi style, at Rau, Rangwasa Village. And for the honeymooners, a romantic “basera” cottage set amidst a 28-acre retreat in one of the few Rajasthani-theme resorts in India. Royal wedding rituals thrive at Nakhrali Dhani Rau near Indore city in Madhya Pradesh, India.
India is great. Over a billion people, and 28 states, yet Karnataka is one of my favourites...which brings me to its capital - Bangalore. Unlike other bustling metros, an exclusive calm prevails over everything else in the city. Don’t get me wrong, honking yellow autos, determined scruffy beggars, and random floating garbage are still prominent features of the scene. However within all this chaos, shiny buildings and busybodies, there’s an unidentifiable romanticism that fills the air. I visited one place, called Rain Tree Cafe, that proved my escapist theories of this green and flowering city to be more than a mere fantasy. Raintree Cafe & Boutique are situated opposite the Windsor Manor Bangalore, in the Vaanthnagar district – an area also known for boutiques.
It was noon when we arrived, and immediately we lay splayed flat under thatched umbrellas in front of what would become our favourite Beach Shack: Swallys, in Khobravaddo (behind Villa Goesa – a Baga Beach resort). This Baga Beach shack, though just a hut with red plastic tables, was perfect. We sat back, played footsie with the sea, and flipped through an endless menu that offered almost every cuisine under the sun. I ordered fresh-squeezed pineapple juice and Kim, my partner in crime, chose tandoori paneer (marinated cheese baked in a clay oven), which Biltoo, our server, recommended. It was cheese heaven! After filling our bellies (a little more than necessary), we headed to Swally’s private beach, settled into lounge chairs, and began soaking up the sun.
The eight meter masts and sails above the deck of a nineteenth century ship replica are unmistakable on the Puerto Banus waterfront at Muelle de Ribera. While the wood and forged iron reproduction has a swashbuckling air of high seas adventure and romance, the secret to Astral Cocktail Bar’s charm isn’t the architecture. Its best attributes aren’t apparent until you climb aboard, perch yourself atop a buccaneer’s stool, or get nestled into a cozy nook, browse the menu and notice that the ship’s galley doesn’t specialize in food. The kitchen is dedicated to creating the freshest, fruitiest, juiciest, sassiest, sumptuously delicious cocktail concoctions on the Costa del Sol.
Mist in the morning, warmth by day; cool and quiet by night – in the heart of an Indian jungle with elephants, Bengal tigers, spotted deer, mongoose and reuse monkeys roaming the neighbourhood. The air’s scented with wilderness and fragrant spices from chef Negi’s cuisine served at private tables in the woodland. There’s a canopy bed in a villa; a cottage or safari tent to snuggle in after dark; romance from the bygone era of adventures with regal comforts in untamed surroundings. Linen on tables, lanterns by a pool, heated bottles under blankets and…quests for pugmarks and listening for animal calls. It’s Jims Jungle Retreat – one of the romantic Jim Corbett resorts inside India’s oldest nature reserve, Jim Corbett National Park. And getting there’s just half the fun!
Chokhi Dhani means “fine hamlet” in Marwari - a Rajasthani dialect. Arriving at the facade of the resort (on Tonk Road Via Vatika, about 18 km from Jaipur city), guests are welcomed in royal style with dhol (a drum) and tilak (a mark on the forehead with turmeric & vermillion paste). Designed to replicate a typical Rajasthan village, the staff is dressed in ethnic attire: women in vibrant ghagra-cholis and men in white dhoti-kurtas and brightly coloured jackets. Guests can choose to stay in a royal cottage or haveli style suite, taste Rajasthani manuhar cuisine, ride a camel or bullock cart, witness live folkloric dances, and have a blacksmith forge little trinkets. Chokhi Dhani Jaipur takes visitors on an exotic journey into a Rajasthani village in a nutshell.
An English version of billiards was reckoned to be around by the 14th Century. In those good old days Bill had a table down the road where mates played in Bills yard ...hence billiards! However, the French word ʹbillartʹ meaning a wooden stick, or ʹbilleʹ meaning a ball, have more definitive claims to the origin of the word billiards. Either way, during the 16th Century the cue stick was introduced with a better streamlined shape than the back end of a mace for striking balls. BUT initially women were not permitted to use this piece since it was reckoned they would be prone to tearing the green surface cloth. These days in Manila there are hundreds of excellent women pool players and in 2009 a Filipina Rubilen Amit won the Womenʹs World 10-Ball Championship.