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Romantic Places to Stay

Robert and Charlene Cassell of Columbus, Ohio, discovered their passion for travel while honeymooning in Niagara Falls 56 years ago. Today that shared passion is stronger than ever. Here, the Cassells offer their take on the most romantic places to stay.


Europe

France

Le Beau Manoir

We love this Paris hotel for its convenient location near the Place de la Madeleine and Rue Faubourg Saint Honore and for its relaxed decor—rough-hewn beams and stone walls. After checking in, head to Fauchon (26 Place de la Madeleine) to taste the best pain au chocolat—a little pillow of puff pastry filled with warm, gooey chocolate—and tarte au citron, a tangy lemon tart—we've ever had. 6 rue de l'Arcade, 75008, Paris, France; telephone +33 1 53 43 28 28; fax 33 1 53 43 28 88;
info@hotelbeaumanoir.com.

Grand St. Michel

Even twenty-somethings can afford to stay in this small Loire Valley inn—rates are about $60 a night. Our room was simply decorated and the cuisine, while tasty, was not innovative. But the setting is breath taking. Request a room on the second floor so you can look out the window and watch as the moon slips out from under the clouds to illuminate Francois I's grand Chateau de Chambord—the largest in the Loire Valley and arresting in the moonlight. Grand St. Michel, 41250 Chambord, Bracieux, France; telephone +33 2 54 20 31 31; fax +33 2 54 20 36 40.

Chateau les Crayeres
We had our most romantic dinner here, on the English-style patio. Chef Didier Elena's specialty, poularde de bresse a la vapeur de champagne, is an unforgettable dish. As the sun sets, sip a pastis. The chateau itself is a graceful turn-of-the century mansion in Reims, the city where all of the kings of France were crowned. You can tour some of the most famous champagne caves—Piper-Heidsieck, Veuve-Clicquot, and Taittinger among them—to see how the bubbly drink is made. 64 Boulevard Henry Vasnier, 51100 Reims, France; telephone +33 3 26 82 80 80; fax +33 3 26 82 65 52; e-mail crayeres@relaischateaux.com.

Domaine de la Rhue

When in the south of France, you may be tempted to stay in a grand chateau—there are so many—but a night here will change your mind. It's cozy—the stone rooms, decorated in fine wood furnishings and rich fabrics, occupy what was formerly a 19th-century stable. At night you can throw open your windows and let the fresh air stream in. We'll never forget glancing out of our window at dawn and seeing our montgolfiere (balloonist) neighbor launch a rainbow of hot-air balloons. 46500 Rocamadour, France; +33 5 65 33 71 50; fax +33 5 65 33 72 48; e-mail
domainedelarhue@wanadoo.fr.

Manoir de la Roche Torin

We've had two particularly memorable visits here. Ask for a room that overlooks Mont St. Michel, which is stunning when lit at night. Or stay in a small garret on the third floor. When it rains, drops hit the skylights and lull you to sleep. 50220 Courtils, France; telephone +33 2 33 70 96 55; fax +33 2 33 48 35 20; e-mail
manoir.rochetorin@wanadoo.fr.

England

The Pelham

You might pick this small 19th-century hotel in South Kensington, London, for its ideal location, near the Victoria and Albert Museum and Harrods, because the lower-level restaurant Kemps is considered one of the finest in the area—and is so convenient in case of rain. Who wants to get soaked while searching for a good meal? But for us this hotel is a reminder of Ray Shirley, a memorable hotel driver. He showed us the typical neighboring tourist sights: Cotswolds, Churchill's family home at Blenheim, and the university at Oxford. But he also made an offer we couldn't refuse—to drive to a few of his favorite spots, which proved more engaging. 15 Cromwell Place, London, SW7 2 LA; telephone +44 20 7589 8288; fax +44 20 7584 8444; e-mail
pelham@firmdale.com.

Lords of the Manor Hotel

We could live here. This quiet, 17th-century English country house in Gloucestershire, with its acres of rolling fields and trickling stream, is a true escape from the modern world. Stay in the part of the hotel that was once an old barn and granary and rise early to glimpse horsemen galloping by, just as their ancestors probably did. Spend the day strolling around Gloucestershire, but be back in time for full tea on the patio, which includes an assortment of scones, cakes, and cucumber sandwiches. For dinner, try the roasted chicken with fennel noodles and mushrooms followed by the rhubarb souffle with vanilla ice cream, served in a dining room with mullioned windows, candlelit tables, and vases of fresh flowers. Gloucestershire, GL54 2JD, England; telephone +44 1451 820243; fax +44 1451 820696; email
enquiries@lordsofthemanor.com.

One Thirty Queensgate

When in London, you must see a show, and these flats are a ten-minute tube ride from the theater district. After checking in, walk to Harrods's food court to pick up hors d'oeuvres—ham and cheese croissants, veggie pizza, mixed veggie salad with a raspberry vinaigrette, and apple and almond tarts. After your show, you can share a private after-theater supper by candlelight. 130 Queensgate, London SW 7, 5LE England; telephone  +44 20 7581 2322; fax +44 20 7823 8488; e-mail
onethirty@compuserve.com.


North America

The United States

The Greenbrier

The West Virginia inn gets all of the press, as notables such as Princess Grace of Monaco and President Eisenhower have stayed there. But the cottages that encircle the inn are ten times more romantic. Equally posh, these quarters offer Greenbrier luxury in what becomes your own little world. Cap off your summer visit with a private carriage ride through the woods. 300 West Main Street, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; 800 453 4858 (U.S. and Canada).

Walden Country Inn & Stables

Named for Henry David Thoreau's legendary retreat, the inn and barn are part of a thousand-acre compound in Ohio that resembles a small village. On the eve of our 52nd wedding anniversary, we dined by candlelight in the 175-year-old barn, with its original beams, siding, and silos. Their fresh steamed New England mussels, mariners-style, is a must-try. We'll never forget the surprise that we discovered in our suite after dinner: soft music, flickering candles, scattered rose petals around the Jacuzzi, and a bucket of chilled champagne by the fireplace. 1119 Aurora Hudson Road, Aurora, Ohio; telephone 888 808 5003 (U.S. and Canada); fax +1 330 562 8001.


*Editor's Note: Menu items often change according to season.




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