After a day out in the snowy Adirondacks, you pull up two chairs and a bottle of Cognac by the crackling fireplace at New York's Whiteface Lodge, where a golden glow suffuses the dining room.
Courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
If you've been stuck in the winter doldrums, nothing will change your outlook on the season faster than a dose of heartwarming fireside romance-and that doesn't require booking a trip some place frigid. We've road-tested hotel fireplaces the world over, from the California coastline to Chile's starkly beautiful Atacama Desert. The most bewitching include historic hearths whose stones could tell a thousand stories as well as contemporary fireplaces in urban boutique hotels.
Some hotels treat guests to a gas fireplace in the privacy of your room, while others use a roaring fire to make a bold design statement at the center of the lobby or restaurant. Then there's the hip, art-filled Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It's most famous for the spa, which sports its own apothecary-and its own fireplace.
"The fireplace area in the lounge is a favorite spot for couples, who enjoy quiet, private time together before and after a couples' massage or a hammam experience for two," says Alondra Saldarriaga, manager of Spa Matilda. "The ambience is so intimate and romantic, with many candles burning, that one guest proposed to his girlfriend there." Her answer? Si, of course.
The love stories date back centuries at Ireland's Ashford Castle, which was once the Guinness family estate. "The Ingelnook wooden fireplace surround has two Irish mythology figures carved into the wood," explains Paula Carroll, Ashford's director of sales and marketing. "These two figures are Diarmuid and Grainne, who were involved in a love triangle with Fionn MacCumhaill." The imposing fireplace has inspired modern-day lovers-and also witnessed many proposals.
Whether your idea of the perfect fireside tryst involves snowy slopes or the African savanna, there's just something about snuggling up with your loved one while gazing into the flames and nursing hot chocolate-or something a wee bit stronger-that sets the mood, on Valentine's Day and every day.
Read on for the hotel fireplaces that are heating things up.