Bu­dapest, Scot­land, New York and Mon­treal are four desti­na­tions we’re cur­rently lov­ing for ro­man­tic travel.

Weddingbells (Toronto) - - Contents - McGill

Bu­dapest, Scot­land, New York and Mon­treal are four desti­na­tions we’re cur­rently lov­ing for ro­man­tic travel.


This cen­tral Euro­pean city is quite sim­ply a sym­phony for the senses; a place as charm­ing

as it is modern and ex­cit­ing. With its daz­zling ar­chi­tec­ture and bur­geon­ing food and fash­ion scenes, Bu­dapest is poised to be­come the next Paris—mi­nus the pre­ten­sion.

Nick­named the spa cap­i­tal of the world for the hun­dreds of ther­mal and min­eral springs that run be­neath the city feed­ing its nu­mer­ous bath houses, re­lax­ation is an in­te­gral part of daily life in Bu­dapest. For cen­turies lo­cals have been “tak­ing the wa­ters” to cure ev­ery­thing from hang­overs to arthri­tis.

Bu­dapest is also a place where derelict build­ings are be­ing trans­formed into trendy ruin bars—another of the city’s claims to fame (hence the afore­men­tioned hang­overs!).

An av­er­age sum­mer af­ter­noon might in­clude a trip to the Széchenyi Ther­mal Bath, one of the largest bath houses in Europe with 21 pools and 11 saunas, fol­lowed by lunch at a Miche­lin-starred restau­rant (there are sev­eral to choose from) serv­ing modern takes on Hun­gar­ian clas­sics like goose liver and goulash, and lo­cal wine spritzers on a sun-speck­led ter­race on the shores of the Danube.

The ro­mance of Bu­dapest is un­de­ni­able, and at the heart of this is the city’s con­nec­tion to its mu­si­cal her­itage. Hand­some, cap­ti­vat­ing pi­ano vir­tu­oso and com­poser Franz Liszt is a na­tional hero (even the in­ter­na­tional air­port bears his name) and, in some ways, Liszt has be­come a muse for the city, which shares his fa­mous char­ac­ter­is­tics. Nowhere is this more ev­i­dent than at the Aria Ho­tel, a lux­ury prop­erty in the city cen­tre in­spired by mu­sic. De­signed to re­sem­ble a lav­ish Hun­gar­ian palace, the prop­erty fea­tures four wings, each ded­i­cated to one of four ma­jor gen­res of mu­sic: clas­si­cal, opera, con­tem­po­rary and jazz. The Aria is also sit­u­ated di­rectly be­side the fa­mous St. Stephen’s Basil­ica and of­fers un­par­al­leled views of the iconic church’s dome and bell tower from its rooftop bar. High Note SkyBar is the only year-round full-ser­vice rooftop gar­den ter­race in Bu­dapest and boasts creative cock­tails and a menu of light bites con­cep­tu­al­ized by Ger­beaud, one of Hun­gary’s most fa­mous culi­nary brands. The ho­tel even em­ploys a mu­sic di­rec­tor to pro­vide guests with ad­vice on cur­rent cul­tural and mu­si­cal ac­tiv­i­ties in the area.

Whether wan­der­ing Bu­dapest’s cob­ble­stone streets, tour­ing the bustling mar­ket halls or en­joy­ing an evening at the iconic 19th-cen­tury opera house, it’s easy to lose your­self in the quiet rhythm of this place and al­most im­pos­si­ble not to fall in love with what you dis­cover.—Jen O’Brien

new york

The Big Ap­ple is a city that is al­ways elec­tric and evolv­ing. It only takes a New York minute to feel caught up in the city’s en­ergy once your feet hit the streets to ex­plore its many neigh­bour­hoods and bor­oughs—from Soho to the Meat­pack­ing District, Chelsea to the newly hip Mid­town. It’s the pace of the city and all the amaz­ing food, en­ter­tain­ment, shop­ping and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences that make it such a ro­man­tic spot.

When it comes to choos­ing your hon­ey­moon ho­tel, a prop­erty of­fer­ing an in­ti­mate, quiet and luxe stay is likely top of your list and we have found the ul­ti­mate spot: the Whitby. Opened in Fe­bu­rary 2017, the Whitby is a sis­ter prop­erty of the Crosby ho­tel, both Amer­i­can out­posts of the Lon­don-based Fir­m­dale Ho­tels. The sig­na­ture of Fir­m­dale is the in­cred­i­bly eclec­tic-yet-cozy stylings of in­te­rior de­signer Kit Kemp, who co-owns Fir­m­dale with her hus­band, Tim. The cou­ple’s phi­los­o­phy: “Ho­tels should be liv­ing things not stuffy in­sti­tu­tions.” This is ex­actly what you will en­joy at the Whitby.

Tucked away in the heart of mid­town at West 56th and 5th Av­enue, the ho­tel is truly a sanc­tu­ary in one of the buzzi­est parts of Man­hat­tan (you will ac­tu­ally find your self breath­ing a big ‘ah­h­hhh’ the mo­ment you en­ter the lobby). In­cred­i­ble art pieces and fab­rics cre­ate a colour­ful cozy lobby, lounge, bar and restau­rant on the main floor. Spread over 16 floors, each of the ho­tel’s 86 rooms are in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed by Kemp, and boast floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows for in­cred­i­ble city views and a feel­ing of airy dreami­ness. For a just-mar­ried splurge, book a ju­nior ter­race suite where you can en­joy ro­man­tic break­fasts in an oa­sis of zen in the big city. Other plea­sures to en­joy at the Whitby: tra­di­tional af­ter­noon tea and a retro film screen­ing in its pri­vate the­atre. Once you check in, you won’t want to leave! The Whitby is a won­der­fully im­mer­sive, lux­ury ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence that will def­i­nitely leave you pos­i­tively smit­ten.—Ali­son


If you are con­sid­er­ing a hon­ey­moon at home, the city of Mon­treal is per­fect thanks to it’s Euro-vibes and charm. For ro­mance, Old Mon­treal’s cob­ble­stone streets can’t be beat— take a wan­der through this his­toric neigh­bour­hood and ex­plore all its nooks and cran­nies packed with in­ter­est­ing cafés, bistros and ar­ti­san shops. Another must? A trip to the top of Mount Royal for a breath­tak­ing view of the city be­low. No visit to Mon­treal is com­plete without sam­pling such culi­nary de­lights as bagels, smoked meat and pou­tine.

Cur­rently top­ping our radar as the place to stay is the newly re­vamped Fair­mont Queen El­iz­a­beth ho­tel. The prop­erty closed for one year to un­dergo a top-to-bot­tom reno, re­open­ing in July 2017 with a modern, mid-cen­tury in­te­rior that is funky and fab­u­lous. Our choice for the ul­ti­mate stay at the ho­tel is Suite 1742, which was made fa­mous in 1969 when John Len­non and Yoko Ono made it the site of their sec­ond Bed-In for Peace.

Pre­serv­ing the orig­i­nal char­ac­ter of the suite was para­mount. Fur­ni­ture was po­si­tioned in the same way John and Yoko had it set up for theBed-In—with the bed placed in front of the suite’s liv­ing room win­dow. Above the bed are re­pro­duc­tions of the Bed-In’s fa­mous hand­writ­ten mes­sages, “Hair Peace” and “Bed Peace”. The suite’s modern and eclec­tic decor is in­spired by the places the cou­ple lived or vis­ited, in­clud­ing Lon­don, New York, Tokyo and New Delhi.

The suite is home to a host of orig­i­nal and dis­tinct art­work to give guests a fully im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. In­stal­la­tions pro­duced and de­signed by Mon­treal art di­rec­tion agency MASSIVart found in Suite 1742 in­clude a cabi­net con­tain­ing pho­tos, videos and his­tor­i­cal items. The suite also has a vir­tual re­al­ity an­gle—you can don head­sets placed on the night­stands next to the bed, which im­merse you in John and Yoko’s world. We vote giv­ing peace a chance and check­ing into this iconic suite—it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence that’s bound to be al­most as spe­cial as your wed­ding day it­self.—A.M.


Thanks to Out­lander, Scot­land is def­i­nitely hav­ing a mo­ment. The ad­ven­tures of time-trav­el­ling Claire and her High­lander love Jamie beau­ti­fully show­case the coun­try, one of the most stun­ning and wildly ro­man­tic desti­na­tions in the world. We love the city of Glas­gow as a base for your Scot­tish ad­ven­tures. (We also have thoughts on where to plan a per­fect des­ti­na­tion wed­ding!)

Glas­gow is the largest city in Scot­land and its most colour­ful. The port city lo­cated on the River Clyde is fa­mous as the cul­tural hub of Scot­land and the UK. Glas­gow is home to stun­ning Vic­to­rian and art nou­veau ar­chi­tec­ture, in­cred­i­ble gal­leries (Kelv­in­grove Art Gallery and Mu­seum is an ab­so­lute must), and thriv­ing the­atre, dance, mu­sic and food scenes. It is a city that is eas­ily walk­a­ble, which lends it­self per­fectly to ro­man­tic ur­ban ad­ven­tures.

A bliss­ful stay for your hon­ey­moon is the Prin­ci­ple Blythswood Square ho­tel, which is lo­cated on a quiet street in the heart of the city. The ho­tel’s Ge­or­gian town­homes date to the 1800s and have been con­verted into a su­per-chic, luxe bou­tique ho­tel that fuses modern de­sign with his­toric de­tails. It is also home to one of Glas­gow’s top spas, which of­fers an amaz­ing hy­drother­apy pool, crys­tal steam room and ex­ten­sive treat­ment menu for post-nup­tial in­dul­gence.

If you are think­ing of a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding in Scot­land, per­haps in a cen­turies-old his­toric cas­tle, there is a dream venue lo­cated an hour from Glas­gow. Borth­wick Cas­tle (where we shot on lo­ca­tion for our Fall & Win­ter 2016 is­sue,) is one of the finest sur­viv­ing ex­am­ples of me­dieval ar­chi­tec­ture, and has been lov­ingly and lav­ishly re­stored into an in­cred­i­ble be­spoke event venue. The cas­tle was built by Sir Wil­liam de Borth­wick and has a sto­ried his­tory, in­clud­ing play­ing host to Mary Queen of Scots and her hus­band, the Earl of Both­well, dur­ing her reign in the 16th cen­tury.

What’s mag­i­cal about Borth­wick Cas­tle is how the au­then­tic­ity of the 600-year-old space has been pre­served through thought­ful de­sign— the vibe is pure lux­ury, with rich fab­rics, colours, tex­tures and in­cred­i­ble be­spoke fur­nish­ings fea­tured through­out. For wed­dings, Borth­wick can ac­com­mo­date up to 80 guests in the mag­nif­i­cent Great Hall. Lo­cated sev­eral wind­ing stair­cases above on the cas­tle’s top floor is the Gar­ri­son, a dra­matic and cozy space to say ‘I do.’ And if you want to know what it’s like to sleep like a king and queen, Borth­wick has got you cov­ered. Trust us when we say a stay in one of the cas­tle’s plush bed­cham­bers will be a life­time mem­ory. All 10 sump­tu­ous bed­cham­bers are de­signed to show­case the his­toric cas­tle’s de­tails.—A.M.

ali­sOn Mcgill

Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from High Note SkyBar. Shack up with Mick Jag­ger in the Aria Ho­tel’s comtem­po­rary wing.

Soak in lo­cal cul­ture with a heal­ing dip in the pools at Széchenyi Bath.

A mas­sage at Har­mony spa is the per­fect an­ti­dote to jet lag.

Un­wind with a glass of wine in the Aria’s lav­ish Mu­sic Gar­den.

A Ter­race Suite at The Whitby.

Mid-cen­tury modern touches in the lobby of Fair­mont Queen El­iz­a­beth.

The de­sign of all rooms at The Whity is luxe and eclec­tic and will make you feel right at home.

The bright lights of Times Square and Broad­way.

Suite 1742, made fa­mous by the Len­non-Ono Bed-In, is the per­fect hon­ey­moon choice. Restau­rant Rosélys of­fers chic French din­ing.

The beau­ti­ful Blythswood Square Ho­tel in Glas­gow is a serene and luxe hon­ey­moon stay.

The Earl of Both­well bed­cham­ber at Borth­wick Cas­tle.

Wed­ding­bells shot on lo­ca­tion at Borth­wick Cas­tle for our Fall & Win­ter 2017 is­sue!

Rooms are chic and modern at Blythswood Squre ho­tel.

The Great Hall at Borth­wick Cas­tle.

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