Whatever Chaucer said, January is certainly the cruellest time of year, but come the middle of the month our thoughts (mine anyway) inevitably drift away from post-Christmas blues and tax returns to February 14 and Valentine's Day, and the possibility of a weekend away with a loved one. The good news is that Britain not only has some of the most romantic spots on the planet to spend time with someone special, but that some of them also offer all manner of Valentine's Day deals and treats to entice your custom. Read on to discover some of our favourites...
One of our favourite places to stay in the whole of Norfolk, Narborough Hall could have been made with Valentine's day in mind. Its Valentine's Day package gives you the chance to enjoy a posy of flowers in room, afternoon tea on arrival, champagne cocktails and a candlelit three-course evening meal in their lovely restaurant and a Valentine's Day brunch the next morning. The gardens are gorgeous and there are only a few rooms so you can feel like you almost have the place to yourself.
Could there be a more romantic pace to stay than a mock French chateau, and this one in particular, overlooking the Menai Strait in Anglesey, has Valentine's packages that include a bottle of chilled prosecco, chocolates and strawberries in your room, a romantic tour of the chateau, dinner preceded by drinks and canapes and breakfast next morning – and of course use of all the hotel's facilities, including the hot tub and sauna.
The Valentine's Weekend at this Devon gastropub with rooms include 2 nights' accommodation and a bottle of champagne in their spacious and very comfortably refurbished rooms, plus a Valentine's Tasting Menu in their rather fabulous restaurant downstairs. You're also well located for Exeter, Exmouth and the whole of South Devon.
There's no more unique place to spend Valentine's Day weekend than at these converted sea forts in the Solent, where they have packages that include transport to and from the mainland, afternoon tea, dinner and pre-dinner cocktails and canapes, and breakfast the next morning. Bedrooms are large and sumptuous and the fort's facilities include a hot tub, sauna and a fire pit around which you can toast marshmallows and enjoy the spectacular views.
We reckon a romantic glamping escape in one of the stylish domes at Cosy under Canvas in Wales, with comfy beds, snug duvets, cosy rugs and fluffy sheepskins, might be just the ticket for Valentine's Day – and if you book before 14 February you will receive a 15% discount. They'll send you a voucher to give to your loved one on the big day wrapped in a presentation box with heart-shaped chocolates. Mention Cool Places and there will be some flowers waiting for you on arrival, while for an extra romantic treat you could book one of their wood-fired hot tubs – in which case they'll throw in a bottle of bubbly too.
With a fabulous waterfront location in the heart of St Mawes, this is a tremendous place for a very romantic Valentine's weekend in Cornwall, and they are offering two-night Dinner, Bed & Breakfast Valentine's breaks – staying Friday & Saturday night or Saturday & Sunday. You get a chilled bottle of sparkling wine and chocolates in your room on arrival, and dinner in their fab Upper Deck restaurant, including a tasty Valentine's cocktail followed by a three-course candlelit dinner with coffee. You can spend the weekend exploring the scenic Roseland Peninsular or just snuggled up by the fire in the cosy lounge, occasionally emerging to take the air in the village. Finally, if you fancy something a bit more unpredictable, their sister hotel, The Idle Rocks, also in St Mawes, is offering similar weekend DB&B packages, but with an intriguing Secret Menu, featuring local produce.
If you really want to get as far away as possible with your partner then this could be the place for you – a castle in the far north of Scotland with 3000 acres of its own grounds, its own beach and even its own pub. Valentine's packages include a night's accommodation, champagne and chocolates in your room on arrival, a 3-course dinner and Full Scottish Breakfast the next morning.
The jewel in the crown of the Rick Stein stable in Padstow, and as such a perfect place to escape to if you simply want a comfortable room in a beautiful spot with the guarantee of tremendously good food in the evening. They are doing dinner, bed and breakfast breaks that include champagne, truffles and a dozen red roses on arrival and dinner at Stein's original and fabled Seafood Restaurant.
This Leicestershire spa hotel has some great seasonal offers, including a 'Romantic Getaway' Dinner, Bed & Breakfast deal, which comprises a double room, all meals, a bottle of champagne and a couple of selected spa treatments, or a 'Cupid's Couples' spa day – both of which are available throughout February and March if you don't want be surrounded by canoodling couples!
They don't offer anything special for Valentines at the Angel but some people prefer that, and in any case the rooms are quirky, the prices keen and the food – at what is the original Yorkshire Dales gastropub – superb.
Most of the rooms at this contemporary Cornish bolthole have views of St Michael's Mount; they're also beautifully furnished, the welcome warm and the restaurant serves excellent food, making this a perfect choice for a Valentine's weekend escape.
The three beamed rooms of this ancient watermill are amazing in themselves but they are a truly romantic treat at this time of year, with polished wood floors and exposed stone walls to cheeky fabrics and designer bathrooms, and it's IPod-docked, wi-fi-ed, flat-screen-TV-ed and fluffy-bath-robed up to its eyeballs. Small but very special.
Another of our favourite small north Yorkshire guesthouses, a Georgian townhouse of lavish, theatrical elegance sitting above a magical, sheltered walled garden with views down to the River Swale and its waterfalls. The rooms are large, comfortable, and the whole place has the feel of staying with one of the richer, more culturally inclined of your imaginary friends.
They don't do Valentine's specials but the comfy rooms, good food and windswept views and walks of this cosy old Cornish inn are a perfect for an energetic Valentine's weekend away.
More murder mystery than classic romance, in that the house was once a favourite of Agatha Christie. But there's something about the traditional elegance of this Norfolk boutique hotel that makes us think of Brief Encounter. Always one of our favourites in the region, the food in the downstairs restaurant is fantastic, the welcome very warm, and they are offering special Valentine's Night short breaks, with a cream tea on arrival and an extra night free.
For some there's nothing more romantic than finding a great inn with beautifully appoointed rooms in a beautiful part of the country and hunkering down for a night or two. It's even better if the place you're in serves superb food, as well, preferably in a comfy candle-lit restaurant. Sounds like the Royal Oak, one of our favourites and only an hour and a half's drive from London!
Weather permitting, the glorious countryside of the Lake District can be enough of a Valentine's weekend treat. But coming back to the Brimstone after a hard's day walking makes it even better, with scones and tea or sizzling steak sandwiches waiting for you in the cosy lounge and reading room. There's also a pool, sauna and steam room for a different kind of relaxation, and the rooms are beautiful, large and very well-appointed, with baths big enough for two.
One of or favourite places to stay in Shropshire, and a perfect location for lovers, with beautiful rooms and wonderful food served in the lodge's grand Norman hall.
This is like having your own house by the seaside for the weekend – only better than you dared imagine, with its own pool and private cinema. There's also a couple-sized hot tub and hot shower on the terrace outside and you can order in food from the owners' tame chef.
The ideal adults-only getaway for two, these gypsy caravans make for a seriously sexy retreat in the Scottish Borders.