As the sun beats down on the languid blue water and the yellow stones that clad the harbour, I catch myself for wondering for a moment if I actually hopped on the plane to Monaco by mistake. Especially after spying the strip of designer stores - Gucci, Yves St Laurent, Cartier - with their tasteful matching awnings.
In actual fact, I have just arrived at the Regent Porto Montenegro, just a short drive from Tivat airport after a fairly nippy three hour flight from London.
The hotel is brand spanking new and the cornerstone of the recent redevelopment of Kotor Bay, bringing together Montenegro’s gorgeous historical architecture - think churches marooned on little islands and rustic walled towns - with all the modern trappings you could need for a just-the-two-of-us getaway.
The spacious suites are a case in point, playfully decorated with a nautical theme (and balconies that face out onto the marina - hello, sailors!), but also stocked with L'Occitane beauty treats, Nespresso machines, and a bed that’s so comfy I’m convinced it’s witchcraft.
It’s probably fair to say that Montenegro won’t feature on most people’s romantic destination bucket lists. And that’s a shame. The sun is so generous (even in September, when You & Your Wedding visited), the countryside so vast and varied and the wine sensational. It’s also perfect for couple’s who perhaps don’t see eye to eye on sun lounging versus wilderness activities - there’s something for everyone in this modest Balkan state.
For wine lovers
Montenegro is all about the wine. Further along the bay of Kotor is the Savina Monastery, a tiny vineyard run by husband and wife team Gordana and Zoran. It’s not just the award-winning wines they’ve got to boast about: the fields are laden with olive and fig trees as well as grapes, all of which feature as part of the degustation tasting session on this tour.
For a bit of contrast, head from Montenegro’s smallest to Europe’s largest vineyard: Cemovsko Field on the edge of Lake Skadar, operated by the country’s premier wine producer, Plantaze. The sheer volume of grape vines lining the field as you approach the main building is breathtaking, and the tasting sessions located in Cemovsko’s vast caves are an atmospheric experience.
The region’s indigenous wine, Vranac, is a full-bodied and complex red, and is not to be missed out on.
For glamour seekers
There are plenty of ways for couples to spoil themselves absolutely rotten without stepping foot out of sun-soaked Tivat. We can vouch for the Regent’s spa, with massages that will transport you to another plain, while the hotel’s dining options are also of a fantastic standard. Truffled eggs, saffron-spiked scallop risotto and cooked-to-perfection steak are just a few examples of the meals that passed these lips on my trip.
There’s more to Tivat than the hotel, of course. My personal favourite of the restaurants we visited, Byblos, serves up mezze featuring the full spectrum of Lebanese flavours, from delicately spiced lamb to pomegranate infused dips. After dinner, move over to the Arabian-style tents for a shisha, where you can channel your inner Princess Jasmine.
For days when you don’t want to do anything more than lie on a sun lounger and be waited on, there’s the PMYC yacht club, where you can dip your feet into the lux pool, glass of Prosecco in hand.
Montenegro is home to one of the last rain forests in Europe, and one of the largest canyons in the world, so for couples looking to pack a bit of exercise and adventure into their trips, Montenegro is the place to do it. From thrilling cycle rides along the hair-pinned road from Kotor to Cetinje, to traversing the city walls of the old town - including the 1,400ish steps to reach the medieval fortress - you’ll be spoilt for choice.
On our trip, we hopped aboard Regent’s vintage-style Italian speedboat. One look at the wooden Riva boat was enough to convince me that I was a modern-day Rita Hayworth, so I took my spot accordingly on the chic sunlounger pads on the back of the boat. My advice is to hold on for dear life, then enjoy the unobscured views from the back of the boat as you zip around the bay. We hopped between the islands, stopped off for a seafood lunch at Hotel Conte, on the edge of Perast, and took a detour to see the abandoned Club Med resort on Sveti Marko island, with its 500 Tahiti-style huts, which has laid dormant since the ‘90s.