Magazine article Sunset

Do Not Disturb; Top 20 Inns (All under $250!) That'll Fan the Flames for a Romantic Weekend

Magazine article Sunset

Do Not Disturb; Top 20 Inns (All under $250!) That'll Fan the Flames for a Romantic Weekend

Article excerpt

IN THE WEST, we've got a leg up on romance. For one thing, we've got natural beauty galore. But we're also a breeding ground (forgive us) for free thinkers like University of Washington sociologist and sexologist Pepper Schwartz, author of more than two dozen books on love and sexuality. We asked Shwartz for her pointers on how to craft a romantic escape.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

3 golden rules for romance

Make it beautiful It's hard to hold on to negative feelings in front of the grandeur of nature, or in a beautiful room that says, "Aren't you lucky to be here?" Beauty reduces stress, allowing your brain to produce happy hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin.

Make it new Adrenaline makes the heart grow fonder, so create interest by changing things up. Choose an activity that requires teamwork, such as a rafting trip or an unfamiliar hike. The act of doing these things together creates a bond and makes the moment feel charged.

Make it interesting Communication is one of the keys to sexuality, romance, and relationships. See a foreign film read a book, take a class, go on a road trip. Anything that gives you new material to discuss and ponder together is fair game.

KORAKIA PENSIONE, PALM SPRINGS

$159 Grab the glass of mint tea that awaits you in your Moroccan-or Mediterranean-style room, then head out through French doors onto your bougainvillea-edged patio to sip and stare at the San Jacinto Mountains. Later, go for a swim in one of the inn's two torch-lit pools under clear desert skies, or catch an outdoor movie. From $159, including breakfast; two-night minimum on weekends; korakia.com

* Make it new Take a 21/2-hour guided hike to scenic Tahquitz Canyon ($13 entrance fee; 760/416-7044).

--KATHLEEN N. BRENZEL

$179 Waters Edge Hotel, Tiburon, CA

Throw open the bayside door of your tranquil coffee-and cream-colored room to hear the clang-clang of rigging knocking against masts on boats below. Look across the sparkling bay to San Francisco and think about how nice it is to be here, out of reach, together. From $179, including continental breakfast; jdvhotels.com/waters_edge

* MAKE IT NEW Arrive by boat instead of driving. A ferry ride from San Francisco drops you a few doors from the hotel. The salty air on deck lets you know you're really getting away ($9.50 one-way; blueandgoldfleet.com).

-LISA TROTTIER

$135 Hotel McCall, McCall, ID

An urban-chic hotel plunked down in the midst of mountain scenery. Make plans for the next day's playtime as you stare from your comfy leather couch at huge, glacier-cut Payette Lake and its surrounding ponderosa pines and snowy slopes. From $135, including breakfast; hotelmccall.com

* MAKE IT NEW Drive to Ponderosa State Park and ski an easy mile to the Blue Moon Yurt, where you'll sit down to spiced wine and a candlelit meal. Torches light your way back. $90 per person; reservations required; Blue Moon Outfitters, 208/634-3111.

-LAURA STAVOE

$195 The Inn at Langley, Langley, WA

Find your own recipe for romance here, literally. The six-course meals served by Seattle-bred celebrity chef Matt Costello are reason enough to stay here (did someone say chocolate sponge cake with cardamom mango sauce?). Spend the day kayaking or hiking in search of birds and seals on the waters of Saratoga Passage, or simply gaze out at the water as you lie by the wood-burning fireplace. From $195, including breakfast; innatlangley.com

* MAKE IT NEW Bring bikes (perhaps a tandem) to explore the area. The inn offers biking maps of the island.

-JESS THOMSON

$135 Hacienda del sol, Taos, NM

Hunkering down in this B&B is an experience in total immersion: in Taos's storied history as a high-desert art outpost, and in the stunning topography that surrounds it. French doors open onto the B&B's best features: the view of Taos Mountain looming above Taos Pueblo, and an open-air hot tub for stargazing. …

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