'Fly and flop' honeymoons are over – now it's about having a unique story

Harriet Jones
How do you fancy celebrating your nuptials by getting 'lost' in Iceland's remote Westfjords? - francesco ricca iacomino

There has been an undeniable change in what couples want from their honeymoon.

According to luxury tour operator Scott Dunn, “the new wave wants to push boundaries, asking after heli-skiing in Antarctica or polar scuba diving”.

It’s not just the adventure market – even traditional honeymoon travel agents see the change. Turquoise Holidays says: “We’re seeing a rise in people wanting ‘something new’ – hiking through New Zealand or staying at a grizzly bear lodge in Canada.”

We’re not just talking bucket-list ticking: the cash-rich, time-poor want adventure in spades. When operator Black Tomato launched its Get Lost service (think being dropped into a wild landscape by helicopter and navigating your way out) it wasn’t expecting newly-weds to be such a big market.

The most popular so far? Getting “lost” in the remote Westfjords of Iceland with glamping gear before being whisked to a plush mountain cabin to spot the Northern Lights, with meals from a top chef.

Slow travel is a popular honeymoon choice, such as romantic train journeys through Peru (on the Belmond Andean Explorer, pictured) Credit: RICHARD JAMES TAYLOR

The world's greatest honeymoon hotels

Whether firms are generous enough to allow sabbaticals or people feel it’s worth the risk to leave jobs, the “career-break-moon” is on the up.

Steph Wilde, 33, and Ben Twineham, 34, sold their flat and left jobs to travel for three months. “We blew up our lives to have an unforgettable trip,” says Steph. “We didn’t backpack – we planned it with Trailfinders and stayed in nice places”.

Trailfinders has seen a spike in this sort of trip: “a honeymoon is the perfect excuse to take these gap year-style breaks with a luxury twist”. For some it’s not just about staying in luxe hotels – they seek more authentic experiences.

Helen Casey and Sholto Thompson, both 34, took sabbaticals for a self-drive tour of Africa.

“There were moments setting up camp when we thought we were mad, but we wanted to find that buzz that only off-the-radar travel can give you.”

Slow travel is popular too. Romantic train and riverboat journeys are having a resurgence. "It offers a different perspective on a destination, often veering off the usual tourist trails,” says tour firm Abercrombie & Kent.

Cruise liners or Interrailing this is not – think exquisite Orient Express trains by Belmond (the Andean Explorer, Belmond’s latest offering in Peru, has its own spa), or 20-suite boats like floating boutique hotels, such as the Aqua Mekong, from which you cycle in bankside villages before using the on-board plunge pool. Slowing down can mean getting involved in one place, such as helping on an estancia in Argentina.

For a quirky staycation, try the Pen Y Bryn treehouses – "its surroundings are wild, but inside it’s a cosy pod of loveliness"

Britain's most romantic hotels

Staycations are on the rise too. VisitEngland reported that four million more short breaks are taken in England now compared with 10 years ago – but it’s a certain type of trip honeymooners are seeking.

They want a mini-moon with a vintage vibe; “there’s a hankering for one-bedroom boltholes that deliver the simplicity and joy of childhood summer holidays, but with slick style,” says Sarah de Vere-Drummond, co-founder of newly launched boutique rental site Kiphideaways.com.

Her choice? “The Pen Y Bryn treehouse in Snowdonia. Its surroundings are wild, but inside it’s a cosy pod of loveliness.” Other properties that deliver on this trend include retro-looking beach huts at the Cary Arms in Torquay or indulgent glamping at The Private Hill in Malton, North Yorkshire.

At the other end of the scale is the buddy-moon. That’s right, a honeymoon with your friends. It may sound bizarre, but it’s a “shared experience” – instead of bringing stories home, you’re living it together.

Influencer Diipa Khosla and Oleg Buller rented an island in Goa, India, for 22 friends. “Oleg and I had travelled so much on our own – it’s so rare that you can be somewhere exotic with 22 of your closest friends. It felt more special.”

Buddymoons are most common after weddings held in Europe. “People will have their three-day wedding at a venue and then book a villa nearby for 12-20 guests for a multi-generational holiday,” says CV Villas.