Top five romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day
by Dinah Hatch (January 2014)
Hooray, the most miserable month of the year is over and romantic Valentine’s Day beckons. Grab yourself some brownie points with your beloved by organising a cheeky romantic break – here’s my fave five luxurious hotels to wow your other half…
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Southam Road, Cheltenham
It’s hard to go wrong with the Cotswolds – when the winter sun slides across the honey-yellow centuries-old villages, you’ve got romance right there. Book into 16th century Ellenborough Park, ten minutes from Cheltenham Spa and sitting within oodles of rolling acres, for sleek Nina Campbell designed suites with gorgeous oak-panelling, four-poster beds, an Indian-themed spa to die for and a luxurious outdoor swimming pool if the sun makes an appearance. Whisper sweet-nothings to each other over dinner in the oak-panelled Beaufort Dining Room (there’s a brasserie too if informal’s more you) and don’t miss afternoon tea after a hand-holding walk through the grounds. What’s more, the hotel has a great two-for-one deal on in February offering two nights in a classic room with use of spa and leisure facilities plus full English breakfast from £290 all in.
One of the prettiest cities in Britain with a wonderful Roman heritage to boot, Chester makes for a super loved-up getaway (although I am biased as I married in the deeply romantic crumbling ruins of St John The Baptist Church overlooking the River Dee). Make a Valentine’s weekend of it at the Chester Grosvenor, the grand dame of the city’s hotels, where you can book two nights in a classic room with a half bottle of Taittinger Rose thrown in plus Rococo chocolates and a long-stemmed red rose ready for your partner for £499. Right next to the famous Eastgate Clock in the heart of the city, you’re close to hundreds of bars, restaurants and boutiques to explore – or you can just stay inside and eat Michelin-starred food in the wonderful private dining area Riedel Cellar if you book it ahead. The hotel has some lovely places to sup cocktails, take afternoon tea or settle down and read the papers in companionable silence – a couple’s delight.
Surrounded by Lakeland fells and sitting in pretty riverside gardens, the Rothay Garden Hotel is perfect for couples in love with the countryside and great food and drink. One of Cumbria’s newer hotels, all the rooms and suites look like something out of a Homes & Gardens shoot with gorgeous décor, smart furniture and fittings and lovely little touches like ethical toiletries. And I haven’t even mentioned the conservatory restaurant yet – guests who keep coming back here rave about the amazing dinner menu created by head chef Andrew Burton who has been at the hotel for 21 years and is one of only 300 Masterchefs in Britain. Expect handmade cheeses, home cured meats, Lakeland lamb and freshly-caught salmon. Meanwhile the hotel cellar extends to around 200 bins and reflects vintages from around the world. After an evening of indulgence, spend the next morning in the Riverside Spa with its stunning floor-to-ceiling windows letting you absorb the surrounding fells as you de-stress.
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