Must-Avoid Spot: New England B&Bs.
Why: Because the postcard romance, wall hangings of hand-stitched lovebirds, and canoodling couples on every chintz-covered couch are all reminders you’re looking for love. Not even the chocolate-chip pancakes will help.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Groovy Southwestern spas known for their (cough, cough) group activities, like Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, N.M. After a weekend spent hot tubbing and sleeping in an Airstream trailer (the most far-out of 13 suites), you’ll be feeling some good vibrations. For the best karma, bring single friends.
Must-Avoid Spot: Candlelit restaurants.
Why: It’s one thing to be out with your true love, her eyes aglow in the reflected light of a flickering flame, but quite another if you’re at a romantic restaurant with a roommate, friend, or sibling. Plus, those burning candles are a regrettable reminder that no one’s heart burns for you. Steer clear.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Nightclubs with flattering lighting. For excellent dancing, people-watching, and appearing in your best single light, head to Miami, renowned for its nightclubs with throngs of scantily clad singles. A prime example: the 40,000-square-foot Mansion, decorated to resemble the South Beach version of its name, with Roman arches, scarlet-hued couches, shiny celebrities, and cool lights — in this case, sleek laser ones that rhythmically light up the dance floor.
Must-Avoid Spot: Cozy ski lodges.
Why: Two words: cuddle trap. What with their hot crackling fireplaces, fuzzy wool blankets, and steamy cups of hot chocolate, these rustic abodes practically force guests to snuggle — and woe betide the lodger with no snow bunny of his own.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Chairlifts with cuties. Singlehood doesn’t make skiing off-limits. The trick? Hit slopes frequented by the unattached, like Jackson Hole, Wyo. In pursuit of the greater good, we tracked down where the hotties congregate: The Granary, a cozy Teton slope-side bar usually packed with sexy cowboys; the new, mountainside Four Seasons; and the smaller Rusty Parrot, with locally crafted furniture and a solicitous vibe. Shy and living on the East Coast? There’s Black Mountain, NH’s Chairlift Speed Dating event.
Must-Avoid Spot: Elegant chocolate shops.
Why: Chocolate on Valentine’s Day is practically an American institution—as wily wooers know. If you’re lovelorn and somehow stuck in a chocolate store, enjoy your own box of bittersweet bites. Ha!—you won’t have to share.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Casual coffee joints, where many singles give in to a different caffeine-induced vice and hang for entire afternoons, often immersed in books that offer a conversational opening (“How about that—I love Chuck Palahniuk, too!”). Even better are coffee shops-cum-bars; as the sun sets, you can take the relationship to the next level. A good example: Halycon, a lounge-y hangout in Austin, Texas, with an espresso machine, well-stocked bar, and cheery green couches.
Must-Avoid Spot: Hotels with no televisions.
Why: Because chances are that anyplace advertising itself as being unplugged from the grid (no television, no Internet) will be full of travelers who are freed up to concentrate on life’s, er, simpler pleasures on Feb. 14.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Tricked-out temples of technology. In standard W hotel rooms, for instance, guests can watch movies on giant flat-screen TVs instead of staring at photos of an ex, surf the Internet rather than call an old girlfriend, and otherwise repress their heartbreak taking advantage of the hotel’s iPod docking stations, DVDs, CDs, and PCs. And what better place to geek out than Dallas, a modern city that’s warm in winter?
Must-Avoid Spot: Fancy flower shops.
Why: Well, because they’ll be crammed with people buying blooms for their sweethearts, obviously. But if you find yourself there, assemble a single-person’s bouquet with Adam’s needles — white blossoms with spiky stems — which apparently signify “a friend in need.” (That’s you, in need of a partner.)
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Places where flowers grow. A vase of blooms is nothing compared to a landscape dotted with them, especially in the case of Big Sur, a breathtaking stretch of terrain running alongside the Pacific. Inject some literary sex ed into your trek and stop by the Henry Miller Library, a memorial for the eponymous 20th-century Tropic of Cancer author, or celebrate celibacy piety at the Tassajara Buddhist Retreat, the oldest Zen monastery in the U.S.
Must-Avoid Spot: Secluded resorts.
Why: “Searching for paradise?” read the ad. Why, yes, thinks the singleton. “Experience privacy and vacation bliss on our sparkling white sands,” it continues. Sounds lovely, reflects the solo traveler. “All-inclusive luxury package includes romantic champagne breakfast for two.” You get the idea.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Crowded, diverse locales where the fun is all-inclusive, like Las Vegas. You get the appealing everything-is-taken-care-of features of a resort sans the sense of being trapped on an island of love. Crash a bachelor/ette party and whisk away the most attractive guest for lobster at David Burke Las Vegas. And, for glitz that evokes the glamour of rock-and-roll singles, book a room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino—newly chic with a change of ownership.
Must-Avoid Spot: Waterfalls on tropical islands.
Why: Because a thundering waterfall is a Harlequin novel come to life. Call it His Secret Cascade: “There was something about this part of the tropics that made Jane’s pulse skip a beat ... but soon she realized that she was the only person at the waterfall without a man. The other couples were eyeing her strangely, and she vowed never to book a flight to a tropical island again.”
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Chilly party towns where you must cuddle to stay warm. Take Reykjavík, Iceland, where the nearby Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters offer a steamy way to thaw an icy heart — i.e., meet attractive Nordic singles. Talk a good game over Reyka vodka in the cozy Kaffibarinn or while listening to a live band at the ever-popular Nasa, and perhaps you won’t snooze alone at 101 Hotel—hip yet cozy, and located in the thick of the action.
Must-Avoid Spot: Picturesque streets with horse-drawn carriages.
Why: At least in fiction and film, couples in carriages are always professing their love. That’s why ambling alone over cobblestoned streets on Valentine’s Day can only come to no good. If you hear a clip-clop, turn the corner.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Scenic cities with bikes — and we don’t mean bicycles built for two. Rent your own two wheels and ride freely, the wind in your hair, and explore every nook and cranny of heart-poundingly beautiful towns like San Diego or Amsterdam, the most bike-friendly town on the planet.
Must-Avoid Spot: Tall, iconic buildings.
Why: The scene: a skyscraper, a woman, and a man. The plot: thwarted love. The ending: the lovers meet at the top, of course, whether it’s King Kong and Fay Wray or Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, to be swept away by dramatic sunsets, sweeping views, and the feeling of being above all those single mortals.
Where Singles Should Go Instead: Nowhere — there’s no place like home. Think of it as a chance to celebrate the fact that no one’s nagging you to clean up, redecorate, or, worst of all, change the channel. While other people are outside, perhaps forced to navigate icy sidewalks in high-heeled shoes, you’re relaxing on your couch watching your favorite movie. Even Cupid’s jealous. Too bad he has to work all day.
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