Tuesday 2 February 2016

A definitive guide to the best Valentine’s Day getaways

Love is in the air and with Valentine’s Day almost upon us, what better time to whisk your loved one away on an enchanting break for two. If you're reading this with a feeling of foreboding as you’ve yet to book that romantic surprise for the one you love, it's not too late to save the day in spectacular fashion - fear not. From cute cottages to luxury hotels, here’s my definitive guide to the cream of Valentine’s Day love nests. 

Seaham Hall, County Durham

Situated in a remodelled historic Georgian family estate, Seaham Hall is the perfect escapism for two, combining 18th century grandeur with contemporary designs, modern guest rooms, and a sprinkle of sensuality. Head to the Serenity Spa for head to toe hedonism where you will find extensive treatments and therapies on offer. Then lunch in the orientalesque Ozone restaurant, overlooking the hotel gardens before a pause in the Zen room, intended for no other purpose than the tranquil contemplation of your treatment. And if you can tear yourselves away from the sensual surroundings, head to the ancient stones of Hadrian’s Wall nearby.

0191 516 1400
Room rates from £225

Drunken Duck Inn, Lake District
The Drunken Duck is the kind of pub you dream about finding. It’s cosy, approachable and boasts a view you won’t find in many corners of the globe. Set amongst the beautiful Lake District, the Drunken Duck is one of the most celebrated restaurants in the North of England, boasting its own brewery selling its own ale, and a hotel of seventeen softly sophisticated rooms – few of the many reasons why booking in advance is always required. The true appeal of the Drunken Duck Inn remains the ambience, style and attitude of this idyllic little English pub making it the perfect retreat for some relaxed romance.

01539 436347
Room rates from £110

Babington House, Somerset
There are many historic country houses that have been converted into hotels but never like this. Instead of antiques, Babington house has broken all the rules introducing modernity to the countryside with a design that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Check in for a weekend and enjoy two restaurants, a wood-fired pizza oven, gym, two pools and treatment rooms. The spa, housed in a series of wooden cabanas has the exclusive Cowshed beauty products on offer. What once was the library is now home to a fabulous cocktail bar that won’t close until the last guest has gone to bed. It extends onto the terrace enclosed in an orangery with view of the hotels own swan lake. The guest rooms are simply bespoke beauty all with a large flat screen TV, 600 channels and signature power showers; just some of the Babington House signature room facilities. With detail second to none, Babington house provides a beautiful county venue with a slice of indulgence.

01373 812266
Room rates from £225

Hotel Tresanton, Cornwall
With St Mawes locals frequenting the restaurant so regularly, and Cornwall now a top holiday destination it’s difficult to get a table at this hot spot…and that’s not all the Tresanton has to offer. This is simply the right hotel in the right place and with particular sensitivity to appropriateness, atmosphere, service and of course the food, it goes beyond any hotel experience. The guest rooms are furnished in light, neutral tones that continue the clean-cut, tactile signature style of the Hotel Tresanton. Set bang in the middle of St Mawes, the Tresanton is part of the scenery. With idyllic views and a restaurant that’s one of the best places to eat in Cornwall you’re loved one will be anything but disappointed.

01326 270055
Room rates from £230

Hotel Yasmin, Prague
For a taste of Sex and the City, look no further than Hotel Yasmin. Every piece of decor is fabulously contemporary including a unique foyer of olive walls, silver lights and what can only be described as giant 10-foot tangerine-coloured cats’ tails. A cobblestoned fairytale rich in culture and counterculture, Prague is an architectural medley of antique churches, art nouveau facades and Bohemian pride. It’s transforming warehouse districts, with new bars and galleries, clubs and chic restaurants, it really will put a spell on you.

+420 234 100 100     

Room rates from €90

Dar Darma, Marrakech
Nowhere is exoticism better showcased than in the ochre-and-rose-hued North African hive that is Marrakech. There is something hugely romantic about disappearing through an unmarked door in the medina into a cool hotel or ornately tiled cafe. Dar Darma is a quirky, private riad in the heart of the Medina boasting striking, contemporary interiors, 300-year-old zouak ceilings and faded antique textiles. This Moroccan boutique stay offers a mountain-view roof terrace perfect for lazing together, glass of wine in hand, while the hustle and bustle carries on in the kaleidoscopic souks below.

+39 02 66 99 27 204   
Room rates from €160

Ca Maria Adele, Italy
Venice and Valentine’s Day have more in common than the letter 'V'. Both ooze romance in that slightly over-the-top sort of way which we all love to indulge in sometimes. Step outside this baroque gem of a hotel and you’ll find gondolas floating along the adjacent canal and all those twisting alleyways where so many have proposed on a whim. For a romantic getaway you’ll never forget, check into Ca Maria top-floor suite, overlooking Giudecca island and the church of Madonna della Salute, where you can split your time between lounging à deux in the kingsize bed, or doing the same in the African wood-covered Jacuzzi right next to it.

+39 41 52 03 078
Room rates from €198

Ann's Hill, Cumbria
There'll be a few hundred brownie points on offer when your Valentine claps eyes on Ann's Hill, a listed, sumptuously decorated dower house in Cockermouth, Cumbria. Enjoy the champagne and chocolates that await you every morning (all included in the price!) before ascending the spiral stone staircase to your bedroom. Enjoy a canopied bed covered in gold and black satin and a ceiling hung with a chandelier. And then there’s the bathroom with ruby-rich walls and a Victoria and Albert double-ended slipper bath centre stage. A breakfast basket will be delivered each morning so soak up a late rising before walking up the nearby Fells.

01900 827838
Short break rates from £330

Astoria7 Hotel, San Sebastián
If it’s Basque beauty you’re after this Valentine’s Day then San Sebastián, located on the shores of the Bay of Biscay, is worth a visit. And the film-star fabulous Astoria7, a motion picture of a boutique hotel, is the place to stay. Every room is dedicated to a movie legend - go to bed with Glenn Close or Julie Christie and enjoy bright interiors and retro furniture. For a truly romantic stay, it’s got to be The Alfred Hitchcock suite located on the top floor. With its own ceiling-stowed projector and screen, as well as a separate lounge, large balcony and a cinema library it’s most definitely worth some brownie points. With more Michelin stars than any other city, San Sebastián is a hot spot for food lovers and is lovely in February with few tourists and mild weather. Work up an appetite with a walk along the palm-studded Playa de la Concha then head to the old town to feast on Basque tapas.

+ 34 943 445 000     
Room rates from €93

Gravetye Manor, Sussex
Gravetye Manor, with over 400 years of beeswax polish and log fires as a dwelling, is a retreat designed for two. They don't make Elizabethan manors like they used to, and if they did, you can bet it would be filled with a spa, gym et al! At Gravetye you can be promised something reassuringly traditional without being stuffy. Wooden floors creak with age, tradition is celebrated and lighting is as discreet as the service. The remote control in the bathroom is for the Roberts radio – no plasma screens in site. Only eight miles from Gatwick Airport, it's also an ideal stopover if you're flying out of the UK. Not that you'll hear a plane or car because Gravetye is hidden within 1,000 acres of forest and William Robinson-landscaped gardens. And the oak-panelled restaurant has a Michelin star. So if it’s idyllic escapism you’re after you’ll find it at Gravetye.

01342 810567          
Room rates from £225

The Five, Paris
We all know Paris and romance is a cliché, but when celebrating Valentine's Day you might as well indulge. And for an intimate and sexy getaway look no further than the Five Hotel. The name is a reference to its location tucked away in the 5th Arondissement in the Latin Quarter so expect plenty of late night posturing in the cafes and bars the district is most famous for; sex and the city is in this hotel's DNA. On arrival you’ll be offered one of five Diptyque scents for your room, very ooh la la. If you really want to impress book room 603 which comes with a swinging bed suspended by cables from the ceiling, a Jacuzzi and a roof terrace while other rooms feature fibre-optic canopies to create the feeling of sleeping under the stars. What possibly could be more romantic?

+33(0) 1 4331 7421       

Room rates from €225

Tigerlily, Edinburgh
Tigerlily is all about romantically coloured pink rooms, a decadent love den, funky bar, award-winning restaurant and cool nightclub. So if you're feeling light-hearted and in love this is the love spot for you. A converted Georgian townhouse with a sensible façade that belies the slight madness within, Tigerlily's style is all about opulence; orange and pink carpets, huge chandeliers, over-the-top bedrooms with pre-loaded iPods, large bathrooms, Designers Guild smellies and real flame fires activated at the flick of a switch. The bar's cocktail list is encyclopaedic so to soothe sore heads the morning after how about breakfast for two at Eteaket Tea Boutique? Relax in contemporary interior and assorted vintage china pieces in this dainty, romantic setting. Tuck into croissants and scrambled eggs on toast, and share a pot of rose flower-blossom tea with a stack of homemade scones.

0131 225 5005
Room rates from £175

Hotel du Vin, York
Hotel du Vin in York is part of the award-winning chain with a lie-back-and-do-nothing atmosphere. The hotel follows the same attractive format, turning an atmospheric building, in this case, a Grade II-listed building dating to the early 19th century, into a relaxing den with leather sofas, enormous beds and state-of-the-art bathrooms. The bistro serves comfort food, and every room is named after a wine house. All rooms have bathtubs, (check into the Big Suite and you get two side by side in the bedroom), a walk-in shower large enough for a football team and an eight-foot wide bed…enough said.

01904 557350             
Room rates from £130

Drakes Hotel, Brighton
Located on the first floor of this luxurious Regency townhouse, room 104 has to be the finest bedroom in Brighton. It certainly has the largest bed and there is no way you’ll even come close to impacting on its seven-foot width. From your vast expanse of mattress (or from the bath, if you prefer), you'll also have impressive views of Brighton Pier and the English Channel through floor-to-ceiling windows. Slip between the Egyptian cotton sheets and the luxurious duck-down duvet, and make the most of all that extra space…

01273 696934     
Room rates from £82 

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