Valentine’s Day travel: Hotel recommendations in California, abroad

Valentine’s Day approaches. Whether you can make it across town or across the ocean, here are some romantic recommendations for every budget.

Close to home

Hotel Indigo, Santa Barbara

For an affordable, hip escape, try Hotel Indigo in the heart of Santa Barbara’s burgeoning arts district, across the street from the Funk Zone and its restaurants, boutiques and Urban Wine Trail. Coolest of all, the hotel is a satellite gallery for the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. Rooms and public spaces display a revolving exhibition, curated by the museum, showcasing murals, framed art and sculpture. On-site is the Blue Tavern restaurant, owned by mod-Peruvian celebrity L.A. chef Ricardo Zarate (Mo-chica, Picca, Paiché). The Indigo is walking distance to the beach, and every room is pet-friendly. Doubles from $180 a night.


Oceana Beach Club Hotel, Santa Monica

If getting out of town is unrealistic, how about the quiet end of Santa Monica? The Oceana Beach Club reopened last year after a major renovation and is everything a Southern California beach hotel should be: chic, colorful and friendly. It has a pool in the central patio and views of the palms and waves of Santa Monica Beach. It also has Tower 8, a restaurant run by two-star Michelin chef Josiah Citrin. Even the cocktails are trendy: Try waking to a Cucumber Basil Bloody Mary delivered to your room. Once up, do yoga on the bluffs with a private instructor, then ride the hotel’s bikes to Abbot Kinney Boulevard for the ultimate urban shopping experience. Doubles from $410 a night.

Pier South Resort, Imperial Beach, San Diego

Opened just last month on San Diego’s dazzling Imperial Beach, this resort is affordable but has the accouterments of a luxury lodging. All rooms are 650-square-foot modern suites (most have a 180-degree ocean view), and there’s a pool and rooftop patio overlooking the water and the pier. You can treat yourself to the spa after a day of cycling, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and all the other de rigueur resort activities. The restaurant, Sea180°, has a Baja-Med theme with fresh seafood and shared plates. Doubles from $179 a night.


Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort, Oxnard

Less than 100 miles from Los Angeles, the Mandalay Beach Hotel is a higher-end offering from Hilton’s Embassy Suites. It sits on 81/2 acres of lushly planted oceanfront property with an expansive swimming pool, water features and tasteful beachfront rooms. Every room is a suite; a cooked-to-order breakfast and evening cocktail hour are included in the price. AARP and AAA members get a discount. Doubles from $149 a night.

Farther afield

Harmony Hotel, Nosara, Costa Rica


You’ll need longer than a weekend, because the Harmony is a sophisticated, peaceful retreat where surfers and yoginis can tune in and drop out. It’s a two-minute jungle walk to some of Costa Rica’s best surfing on Playa Guiones, and at the hotel there are at least three yoga and meditation classes a day in the open-air yoga studio. There’s also a Healing Centre with spa treatments that incorporate fresh, local fruits and plants. Sit at the palapa juice bar, lounge by the pool, shop the stylish shops in the little town of Nosara or stay active with surfing, yoga and adventure activities such as zip lining and off-roading. Doubles from $300 a night.

Tadrai Island Resort, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji

The motto at Tadrai, one of the newest five-star properties on the Fijian tropical luxury scene: “You deserve to live the dream.” It has just five 1,000-square-foot villas — for adults only. All are beachfront and über-private, and all have a plunge pool, an outdoor shower and a stereo system. The staff is willing to meet any reasonable demand: Mention you prefer fresh grapefruit juice with your top-shelf vodka, and the fruit will arrive by boat from the town of Nadi by cocktail hour. Tell someone you are interested in hand-carved souvenirs, and the artisans will be transported to you from another island. And if you want to escape other humans, the staff will pack you a picnic and drop you on a deserted beach for the day. Ask to eat alone on the beach, and you’ll dine at a candlelighted table for two beside your own bonfire. Villas from $3,000 a night. Includes food, alcohol and all activities except diving and spa treatments.

Leela Palace, New Delhi


It may seem far-fetched to go to India for romance, but Leela Palace is one of the dreamiest new hotels on the planet. Sparing no expense, the owners hired craftsmen from all over the world to construct a modern-day palace. Everywhere you look there’s something of beauty: inlaid tables, hand-woven carpets, silk pillows, vases filled with hundreds of fresh tuberoses. With anticipatory service, world-class restaurants and an extraordinary collection of contemporary Indian art, the Leela would have impressed even the snootiest maharajah or Mughal emperor. And in today’s world, it has answered the demand for a fresh translation of traditional Indian opulence. Make sure you eat at Megu, its fine Japanese restaurant, then pour a ladle of rose water over the head of the giant crystal Buddha while wishing that you get to return some day. Doubles from $296 a night (includes the best breakfast buffet you’ve ever seen).