What better way to celebrate a summer-splendour wedding than by escaping to Europe for a snow-sprinkled honeymoon? Caroline Botting rounds up the continent's cosiest three getaways.
Norway’s Finnmark county shares the same latitude as Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, and its most bustling hub is Alta. It’s here you’ll witness one of the most breathtaking events of the year, the magical aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. What could be more memorable than seeing the world’s most spectacular natural light show while wrapped in your man’s arms? Top off an incredible evening with a night at Alta’s Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. Made from snow and ice, the hotel can only be enjoyed during the depths of winter, as come spring, it melts away. It’s freezing inside, but you’ll stay snug sleeping on reindeer pelts, zipped up inside Arctic-grade sleeping bags. Adventurous food-lovers will enjoy the region’s local delicacies, including dishes made with reindeer, grouse and salmon. To taste seafood straight from the ocean, book a king crab safari. Brave the chilly waters and join the divers who catch these magnificent crustaceans – or enjoy watching from the boat or shore. A succulent feast of crab meat follows. Alta provides an array of physical activities, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and dog sledding is an experience that’s not to be missed.
This winter getaway would suit thrill-seeking honeymooners keen to go on a journey of discovery.
Chill factor: Temperatures reach an average low of -11°C.
Something to warm your heart: Sip a shot of blue vodka at the Igloo Hotel, then snuggle up under a reindeer pelt.
Lower Slaughter, England
With its doll-like villages peppered with thatched cottages, stone buildings, stately homes and castles, the Cotswolds is somewhere you can really unwind. This charming part of England is equally as picturesque in winter as it is during the heady days of summer. Think countryside strolls with frost crunching underfoot, and pints, bangers and mash at the local pub. The Cotswolds region is vast but Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire is an idyllic destination. Its rather grim-sounding name stems from the old English word for a wetland, ‘slothre’, where the village lies – but this place is far from mucky. In fact, it epitomises old-world charm. The village’s Copse Hill Road was voted the most romantic street in Britain but, actually, you could take your pick from any one of the quaint roadways. Cute limestone cottages, secluded inns and cosy restaurants dot the village, which is split by the Little Eye Stream. During winter, snow flurries dust the town, transforming it into a fairytale settlement where it appears time has all but stood still. No building work has taken place here since 1906! Visit the equally delightful neighbouring towns, including the market village of Stow-on-the-Wold, and Bourton-on-the-Water, with its elegant low bridges and pretty parks and gardens. A cold winter’s day can be warmed up with a visit to the village of Tetbury, near Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’ home, Highgrove. It’s packed with antique stores and its excess of delightful tea shops makes it the perfect place to enjoy a warm scone with a hot brew in hand.
This is a relaxing midwinter escape that conjures up the romance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Chill factor: The weather won’t get much colder than 0ºC.
Something to warm your heart: Feast on a meal of comfort food at the local pub, in front of a roaring fire.
Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen Valley is a breathtaking place for an out-of-the-way honeymoon. Gorgeous villages with storybook-style chalets stud the area, which gives visitors access to some of the world’s best winter activities – including tobogganing, and hiking to see the region’s many waterfalls – all set among picturesque mountains. Mürren and Gimmelwald are our choice of romantic spots. They’re just a 30-minute walk from each other – which is perfect, given that in this part of the Alps, cars are prohibited. Accessible only by cog railway or cable car, Mürren is situated high above the valley. If you and your groom are keen to live the Bond lifestyle, take the dramatic ride up to the world’s finest revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn Peak. The restaurant was the main filming location of the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and is a great place to practise your sexiest Bond accents. Snow fans will rejoice in the 52km of ski runs in the area. And after a hard day on the piste, you’ll revel in the comfort of a toasty-warm chalet. Strip off your layers in front of the roaring fire, then relax in a scented bath. It’s worthwhile going on a peaceful wander to the equally enticing village of Gimmelwald. But be sure to stock up at Mürren’s local store before you trek into the old-style Swiss village – there aren’t any shops here, though you may find fresh fare from local producers.
Mix it up with action on the slopes and romantic hours holed up in a quaint chalet.
Chill factor: Alpine temperatures can drop as low as -2°C.
Something to warm your heart: Give in to the sensual pleasure of feeding each other schnapps and cheese fondue.