Stay sexy: 10 of the most romantic hotel rooms in Asia
Longing for a secluded getaway for two? Samantha Brown offers 10 of the region's hottest hotels for couples
IF YOU'RE LOOKING for an excuse to choose a holiday destination based on a fabulous hotel rather than a checklist of dull sightseeing essentials, Valentine's Day provides just that. When else are you allowed to just, well, hang out in your room with your significant other? We've scoured Asia to find hotels offering that extra special reason to spend your holiday inside.
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
You'll need a fat wallet for it, but in Cambodia you can't pass over Song Saa Private Island because, well, did you not read "private island"? Set in the secluded Koh Rong archipelago, stilted villas made from sustainable materials such as bamboo and stone, spread out across the sparkling azure waters lapping the connected islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong.
Clamber directly into the ocean to spot turtles, seahorses and fish, then splash around in your private pool while gazing out to sea. Water lovers will literally be in their element.
songsaa.com; Songsaa Island, Koh Kong; villas from US$1,336 a night
Kanawa Beach Bungalows, Indonesia
If the idea of a private island appeals, but your budget doesn't stretch that far, head to Indonesia's Kanawa Island. There may only be a basic resort - with no fans and cold water - but there are three beaches.
It's all very Robinson Crusoe, with powdery white sand, rocky hills traversed by goats, and no roads. Climb to viewpoints strung along the spine of the island: at the final resting point, a little abandoned shack makes a perfect spot to pop the question as a glowing orange sun burns into the horizon. Stumble directly from your bungalow into tropical waters full of turtles, sharks, and colourful fish.
kanawaresort.com; Kanawa Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia; US$33
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
Although they are often overshadowed by beach resorts in Thailand and Indonesia, Vietnam's resorts offer great romantic settings.
Sandwiched between an arc of pristine sand and jungle-clad mountains, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay offers seclusion in a setting best described as barefoot luxury. The luxurious villas, either perched on the hilltop or set on rocks by the sea, emphasise serenity. Book a couple's treatment in the spa before dining on succulent lobster. You can eat overlooking the bay, or the candlelit wine cave for a memorable meal.
sixsenses.com; Ninh Van Bay, Khanh Hoa; from US$800
Bann Makok, Thailand
Ko Kut is home to many resorts, but Bann Makok offers an alluring off-beach alternative. Why would you stay in a wooden shack on a mangrove-shrouded river, when you could stay on one of the island's dusty white beaches? Because Bann Makok is quite simply the most romantic place on this island in the Gulf of Thailand.
Oversized rooms - each unique - are fashioned from recycled wood; open the louvre and watch the river ebb by from the comfort of your bed. Retreat to the massage chamber to be rubbed down with warm oils while listening to the thump of a fishing boat or the splash of a kingfisher.
bannmakok.com; Ko Kut; from 2,800 baht (HK$656)
Hotel de la Paix, Laos
Step back to an era of sepia-tinged, adventurous romance with a stay at one of the 23 suites in Luang Prabang's Hotel de la Paix. Built on the site of a 100-year-old fort and boasting a dramatic mountainous backdrop, French colonial charm infuses this intimate resort set in tropical gardens.
Unesco-protected buildings, big courtyards, and canopy beds and fireplaces lend an intimate, romance-novel atmosphere to this sanctuary. You can stay in and soak up the minimalist vibe, although you're just five minutes away from the excellent French and Lao restaurants of Luang Prabang.
hoteldelapaixlp.com; Ban Mano, Luang Prabang; from US$420
23 Love Lane, Malaysia
This used to be a rundown flophouse that guidebooks described as "dilapidated". But restoration has made 23 Love Lane one of Penang's most romantic heritage houses.
Some of the lodgings, which are spread across a clutch of buildings inside a high-walled garden, date back to the 1800s. The garden lends itself to wistful afternoons - complimentary teas are served in the afternoon - and lazy chairs beckon under the eaves. It's a seductive spot to while away an evening with a chat under the soft hues of the lanterns and stars.
23lovelane.com; Georgetown, Penang; from US$150
Design Hotel Jade, South Korea
When real estate reaches a premium in Asian cities, designers start thinking outside the box. At the 38-room Design Hotel Jade in Seoul, that means losing walls between the beds and jacuzzis in colourful, futuristic suites.
From a glowing lavender-lit pool in one room, to a mural declaring "I love you" in another, the accents at this offbeat hotel are certainly designed with couples in mind.
Each room has its own bold look, making this an affordable option for design-conscious guests looking for some lovin' in the city.
29-49 Changcheon-dong, Seoul; from US$82, tel: +82 2 362 8877
Karma Kandara, Indonesia
Karma Kandara perches on the soaring limestone cliffs of Bali's southern Bukit peninsula, with commanding views of the Indian Ocean. The resort offers impeccable villas, but it's the ocean panorama of the private spa deck which grabs the attention. Book in for a package treatment that includes time in the infrared detox sauna and open-air Himalayan crystal salt pool. Have your massage in a room with open windows, so you can hear the thundering sea as you're lulled into a trance-like state, or head down to the beach to try the Sea Spa Tent.
karmakandara.com; Ungasan, Bali; villas from US$1,140 a night
Aman at Summer Palace, China
Standing by the east gate of the World Heritage-listed Summer Palace, this monastic-like retreat of symmetrical lines and curved roofs has rooms and suites that echo the courtyard style of the palace.
Think shutters and screens, secrets and revelations; this is a retreat for sophisticated lovers seeking an elegant sanctuary with classic Aman style.
There's a huge underground spa with private rooms for couples, and a private door for guests to access the palace itself sets a tone for adventure.
amanresorts.com; Summer Palace, Beijing; from US$760
Loy La Long Hotel, Thailand
Bangkok's quirky Loy La Long Hotel is a great place to watch the world float by with a lover. Perched in the heart of the capital's atmospheric Chinatown, and overlooking the Chao Phraya River, it occupies a wooden house more than 100 years old.
Ask for the ground floor, river view "black room". Classic antique fittings are dotted throughout, the bathroom has a view, and a broad, low-slung bed will have your sweet nothings interrupted only by the river's waters lapping nary a metre below you.
A floor-to-ceiling glass frontage begs you to leave the curtains open all night to catch the breeze.
loylalong.com; Sampanthawong, Bangkok; from 2,900 baht