Honeymoon Guide: Movie-worthy escapes

Set the scene for your new life together by channelling the magic of your favourite silver-screen moments at these honeymoon destinations

  • Story by Photo Stephen Tilley & Words Trudie McConnochie

If ever there's a time for you to feel like a celebrity, it's on your honeymoon. These locations provided the backdrop for some of the greatest love stories in cinematic history, so they're ideal destinations in which to begin your own picture-perfect plot with your man.

Kenya Out of Africa (1985)

Why we love it: Robert Redford and Meryl Streep’s intoxicating romance was set in Kenya, and if you only have time to visit one African nation, make it this one. From lush rainforests and rugged beaches to rolling savannahs, it's a jewel in Africa's crown. The safaris alone are worth the trip. Seeing the ‘big five’ animals – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinos – in the wild is an indescribable experience, and will make you feel as if you’re starring in a film from decades past. Tsavo National Park offers excellent safaris, and be at Masai Mara National Reserve in August to see the annual zebra and wildebeest migration from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. It's a sensational sight. When you’re ready to take your focus off nature and turn it to your beloved, book into The Cove, a luxury treehouse hotel in Mombasa where you can indulge in spa therapy and star-gazing on the private deck. This coastal city, full of plush beach resorts overlooking the Indian Ocean, played a part in a real-life Hollywood love story. Diani Beach is the first place Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were photographed together, and the couple stayed at Mombasa's Alfajiri Villas during their holiday. Dusty Nairobi isn't renowned for its beauty, but its Fairmont The Norfolk hotel is. The walls of this historic building are adorned with Out of Africa sketches by artist Timothy Brooke, who created them during his time working as an extra in the film. And on the subject of colonial African accommodation, the Mount Kenya Safari Club – a venue frequented by Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby – has been converted into a hotel. Of course, when you visit, you and your husband will be the stars. Visit tourism.go.ke.

North Italy Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Why we love it: When it comes to romantic tales, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet is the dreamiest of them all. Even if your husband doesn’t appreciate the Shakespearean magic of this classic plot, you’ll both have an amazing time in northern Italy where it was set. Beautiful Verona takes centre stage. The 13th century feuds of the city’s ruling Scaligeri family inspired Shakespeare’s play which the movie is based on, and on the balcony of the Casa di Giuilietta (Juliet’s house), you can re-enact the star-crossed lovers’ famous scene. Rub the breast of Juliet’s statue for luck and scribble a loving message to your new husband on the graffiti-strewn walls (don't be deterred by the anti-graffiti signs – this is a must-do for every visitor).
Stay at classy Due Torri Hotel Baglioni, or try the more reasonably priced Hotel Milano. From July to October, the city’s amphitheatre – less dramatic than Rome’s Colosseum but very impressive – hosts an opera season. Can it get more romantic than Italian opera under the stars? Actually, it can. A 90-minute train ride will take you to the canal city of Venice, where a gondola trip will give you a memory to treasure. With rates beginning at around $160 for a 40-minute ride, it’s not cheap, but it is worth every penny.
Accommodation in Venice is pricey too, but Hotel Flora is affordable yet charming. If you can splash out, the luxurious Hotel Gritti Palace has fabulous views.
Nab a souvenir at the Rialto Bridge markets, admire Venetian glass blowers’ craft on the island of Murano and take photos on the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the old prison to the Palazzo Ducale. The bridge is considered a monument to romance for its association with famous inmate Giacomo Casanova. You'll get lost in Venice, which is essentially a maze dotted with meaningless street numbers. Keep a cool head and avoid squabbles – they're the only thing that could spoil the loved-up tone of the trip.Visit venice-tourism.com.

Ireland P.S. I Love You (2007)
Why we love it: This tear-jerker was mostly filmed in County Wicklow, south of Dublin, and those who managed to tear their eyes away from gorgeous film star Gerard Butler (a big ask) would've been equally enamoured of the picturesque countryside. With stunning landscapes on tap, walking is a hugely popular tourist activity in Ireland. If you prefer more speedy transportation, take in the sights by hire car. Before you head for the rolling hills, book a few days in the good-times capital. Dublin is one of the most expensive continental cities, and the Clontarf Castle is the finest accommodation the Euro can buy. Between pub visits, stop into Kilmainham Gaol, north of the River Liffey. It’s an unusual place to find romance, but on display is a heartstring-tugging note from 1916 Easter Uprising leader Joe Plunkett to Grace Gifford, whom he married four hours before being executed. It reads, ‘I love you and you only and will never love anyone else.’ The most breathtaking countryside is the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, featuring the Giant’s Causeway, an awesome mass of hexagonal columns formed by a volcanic eruption. Head south from Dublin to Monart, a lavish spa in Wexford, before venturing to Blarney Castle for a lip-on-rock encounter with the Blarney Stone. It certainly won’t be the best kiss you have on honeymoon, but legend holds that it will help you become more eloquent. September honeymooners can catch the Galway International Oyster Festival on Ireland’s west coast, but the town oozes craic (fun) year-round. Here, stay at the classy G Hotel and buy a claddagh ring, which you’ll wear facing inwards on the left hand, to show your heart is off the market.
Visit discoverireland.com and discovernorthernireland.com.

Los Angeles Pretty Woman (1990)
Why we love it: The modern-day Cinderella story about love between a prostitute and a wealthy businessman cemented the City of Angels’ image as a place where happy endings happen. And strolling down the Hollywood Walk of Fame hand in hand with your new husband, you’ll feel as it you have yours sewn up. In LA, superficiality rules and everybody wants to be famous, which makes it a fascinating destination. To live out your secret fantasies of fame, drink at Britney Spears’ regular haunt, The Chateau Marmont; party at Viper Room, once co-owned by Johnny Depp; and eat breakfast alongside the likes of devoted customer Cameron Diaz at Cecconi's. As far as accommodation goes, the Beverly Hills Hotel, where everyone from The Beatles to Beyoncé Knowles has stayed, is the place to see and be seen. For a more eerie star experience try the Roosevelt Hotel, which is said to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe. Boarding a Starline tour to see stars’ homes is a must-do, as is a visit to Universal Studios. The rides will leave you digging your nails into your man’s hand, and the studio tour of well-known sets such as Desperate Housewives’ Wisteria Lane will enthral you. If you know Pretty Woman by heart, you’ll delight in visiting the Regent Wiltshire Beverly Hills Hotel, where Vivian and Edward stayed. Those American-sized food portions will play havoc with your figure, so exercise is in order. One of LA’s excellent walking tracks winds through Runyon Canyon Park. The trail offers fantastic views of the city and the Hollywood sign. Alternatively, hire a bike in Venice Beach and cycle to Santa Monica. Visit discoverlosangeles.com

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