Cities to fall in love with (again)


By Amanda Morison

Photography by Michele Rossetti/Getty Images

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May 2017

You might have ticked the classic capitals of romance off your list years ago in the early stages of your love story, but there’s an undeniable charm to seeing them again with fresh eyes. And when you book your special city break with British Airways Holidays, you can rest easy knowing that every detail of your trip will be taken care of, from convenient flight times to our selection of hand-picked hotels – ensuring your new holiday memories are just as precious as your first. From Vienna to Venice, travel editor Amanda Morison picks five romantic cities to rediscover.

Venice

That this dream-like city feels like a mirage isn’t so surprising. It’s made up of 117 islands linked by canals and bridges, where magnificent 16th and 17th century palazzo and piazzas shimmer in the sunlight or appear to entirely float during a downpour.

Your first memory:

Slipping into a vaporetto water taxi to get to your hotel from the airport and taking in your spectacular new pastel-hued water world.

The new moment you’ll never forget:

Rise and shine before sunrise to explore St Mark’s Basilica without the crowds as it starts to turn golden in the sunshine. After a coffee in the square – there are plenty of options: the 300-year-old Caffe Florian is consistently good – get teary eyed during ethereal mass (09:00 Monday to Saturday; 10:30 on Sundays). For the best views, but with none of the crowds churning up Campanile di San Marco, head across the water to the tower at San Giorgio Maggiore.

Where to stay:

Ruzzini Palace Hotel has enough Murano chandeliers and Baroque-style glamour to fulfill any Venetian fantasy, but it’s located on Campo Santo Maria Formoso away from the main tourist drag.

Rediscover Venice

  • The impossibly romantic cobbled streets of Paris’ Montmatre neighbourhood © Kirill Rudenko/Getty Images.

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  • The grand and glamorous lobby of Banke Hotel, Paris.
  • The Eiffel Tower is synonymous with romance in Paris © encrier/Getty Images.

    We’ll always have Paris

    “I first met my now-husband in a city wine bar on a Friday night. By the Saturday morning we were in Paris. I didn’t even know his surname then, but we returned to Paris for our silver wedding anniversary this year.” – Domenica De Rosa, author

    Unforgettable Paris holidays

Paris

Like Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, most of us will “always have Paris” because the City of Lights is one of the first points of call for a romantic weekend away as a couple. The Eiffel Tower is consistently at number one in top ten lists of locations for marriage proposals in the world, and French gastronomy is taken so seriously that Unesco granted it ‘world intangible heritage’ status.

Your first memory:

Sitting Amelie-style in a gilded café drinking thimble-sized espresso and planning whether to climb through Montmartre to the Sacré-Coeur or explore the Clignancourt flea market, just outside the 18th arrondissement.

The new moment you’ll never forget:

Romantics love exploring Paris arm-in-arm, and now that the Voie Georges-Pompidou is closed to cars, getting about on foot is even easier. This Seine-side two miles stretches from Jardins des Tuileries to the Bastille, and is like strolling along a film set. And be one of the first to enjoy a new landmark concert venue. Opening on the Seine, eye-catching bubble of La Seine Musicale sits on an island to the west of Paris, and is home to a 1,150 classical auditorium and 6,000-seat pop and rock venue. Expect everything from French icon Michel Sardou to West Side Story.

Where to stay:

A little trot from Galeries Lafayette and located in a Haussmann-era building, the glamorous Banke Hotel features a grand cupola-domed lobby and carpets so deep you’ll lose your heels. Ask for a room with a view of the Sacré-Coeur.

Fall in love with Paris again

Vienna

Steeped in imperial history, this city of palaces and grand cobbled streets is made for rambling. Its greatest hits include the Spanish Riding School, where elegantly white Lipizzan stallions dance in perfect synchronization, the Vienna Boys Choir, and splendid Baroque architecture. The locals are famously formal, and even younger residents sport traditional dirndls and lederhosen on high days and holidays. Supremely civilised.

Your first memory:

Perhaps getting lost in one of the city’s palaces (the summer residence Schloss Schonbrunn has 1,441 rooms) or recovering in an elegant kaffeehaus (coffee house), which have a place in Viennese culture akin to pubs in Britain.

The new moment you’ll never forget:

Going underground, specifically in one of the city’s many cavernous wine cellars. At Palais Coburg over 60,000 wines from four centuries are divided into six rooms with such agreeable specialities as ‘Champagne’ and ‘Rare wines’. Book a tour and experts will take you through every decadent sip.

Where to stay:

Old and new collide in the heart of Vienna at DO & CO Hotel, a sinuous, postmodern glass and steel building that sits opposite the soaring spires of St Stephen’s Cathedral. It offers sleek luxury and three floors of restaurant and bars, including the chic sixth-floor Onyx Bar.

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  • Get lost in Vienna’s Schloss Schonbrunn © Scott Wilson/Alamy.

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Copenhagen

If the everyday grind is taking its toll on your relationship, you’ll be smiling in Copenhagen. This city is always enviably high on happy places to live surveys and is undeniably cool and stylish. Pastel-toned houses line the cobbled streets, and beautiful beaches, tree- and lake-filled parked are only minutes away.

Your first memory:

Aside from the Little Mermaid statue, it’s design, design, design. Most first-time visitors bring an empty suitcase in which to take home directional fashion and interiors souvenirs. Strogen is the world’s longest pedestrian street and home to some of Denmark’s famed fashion and interiors designers, such as Norgaard Paa Stroget.

The new moment you’ll never forget:

Stumbling upon the latest foodie hotspot together in the Kodbyens, the old meatpacking district, where the city’s trendy new restaurants, bars and clubs are joined by the Kodbyens Mad & Marked food market in the summer months.

 

Where to stay:

Fittingly, in this most artistic of cities, the SP34 Hotel was designed with the help of 21 international contemporary artists. Located in the Latin Quarter, it’s friendly and relaxed and offers great service in its three restaurants, all of which are reliably packed with locals. Don’t miss a burger and cocktail in the Cocks & Cows.

Plan your Copenhagen city break

 

  • Live the high life at Sixty Soho, New York.

    I heart New York

    “My partner has been ill lately, so spending some quality time together in New York was a great way to make lasting memories. My favourite part was visiting Central Park – the best things in life really are free…” – Catherine, British Airways customer, Rugby

    Stay at Sixty Soho

New York

It’s little surprise that this is the city that never sleeps, because you need every available hour to make the most of its ever-changing delights, from Broadway shows and world-class shopping to its trend-setting food scene – but this just gives you both the perfect excuse to visit time and time again. One thing that won’t fail to ‘wow’ you every time is its skyline – a heart-stopping sight, whether it’s your fifth or fiftieth visit to the city.

Your first memory:

Feeling both energized and completely exhausted after climbing the Empire State Building, whizzing in a yellow cab, walking round Central Park and learning how to navigate the gridded street system. You also can’t fail to be moved by one of the world’s largest natural harbours, looked over by the famous Statue of Liberty, which once welcomed so many visitors and new inhabitants.

The new moment you’ll never forget:

Give yourself a view to remember from the rooftop at legendary hotelier André Balazs The Standard, High Line.The design of the sunken bar makes the most of the view, and there are two glass terraces, one with a glass floor. If your visit coincides with a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, move mountains to get tickets. With some of the most passionate fans of any sporting team, you can’t fail to get swept up in the excitement. For the full authentic feel, grab a hot dog from Nathan’s in the stadium, or try the Bronx Draft House nearby and choose from 20 beers on tap.

Where to stay:

Sixty Soho offers expansive (by New York standards) suites, lofts and chic rooms kitted out with spoiling Dean & Deluca-stocked mini bars. You’ll also find one of the buzziest rooftop bars in the city (open in warmer months) and Jordan Frosolone’s Italian fabulous restaurant inside the hotel, open all year.

Relive your New York love story

Whether you’re looking to customise your travel plans exactly the way you want them or just want peace of mind knowing that your precious time away won’t come with any hidden costs, British Airways Holidays is here to take the stress out of holidays – helping you turn a great trip into a truly unforgettable one.