16 romantic retreats for Valentine's Day
Fancy a treat? Whisk yourselves away to one of these historic love nests for Valentine's Day
If you’re planning to whisk someone away for a Valentine’s escape, think beyond merely a change of scene. Whether you're searching for a room with a sea view or a luxury suite with a show-stopping four-poster bed, one of these romantic rentals is sure to appeal...
Best Romantic Retreats for Couples
The Summer Folly
Though it stretches to sleep four, this whimsical Lincolnshire holiday cottage – the final project of Blenheim Palace architect Sir John Vanbrugh – is a great proposition for two. With a frescoed sitting room and snug, a tiny scarlet-hued library, deep roll-top baths and arched Georgian windows, there’s much for history lovers to swoon over.
Fans of the great outdoors have plenty to keep them entertained, too. Set in the grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle, with trees dating back to the Domesday era, this curious folly comes with two patios, a walled garden bursting with flowers, and access to 3,000 acres of rolling green land to explore.
Spinks Nest Cottage
Taking its name from the old folk word for finch, this little brick-and-flint cottage is lined with a treasured collection of reclaimed and vintage materials. Exposed flint and lime-rendered walls, traditional Norfolk pamments and antique sanitaryware form an unfussy backdrop to fabrics and furnishings from Mulberry Home, Designers Guild and Woolroom, while underfloor heating keeps things toasty throughout.
Set in Hunworth, in North Norfolk’s Glaven Valley, the escapist scene is completed by a village pub and easy access to blustery coastal walks, as well as heritage sites such as the National Trust’s Sheringham Park.
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This pint-sized model dairy was built in the 1790s, in the grounds of Kent’s Cobham Hall, for aristocratic tea parties as well as producing butter and cheese.
Designed by influential architect James Wyatt in the style of a tiny chapel, with a bell tower and cloisters, it was recently restored by the Landmark Trust and converted into a holiday cottage; the building starred in the More4 TV programme, £1 Million Restoration: Historic House Rescue.
Now much warmer than the original cooling space, thanks to underfloor heating, the dairy’s dolls’ house feel is further heightened by coloured glass windows and vaulted ceilings.
Pretty Rye, on the East Sussex coast, is classic weekending territory, its cobbled streets and higgledy-piggledy houses home to antiques shops, restaurants and glimpses of history at every turn. Right in the town’s medieval heart, Little Cottage is part of a terrace of Grade II-listed properties.
The hideaway lives up to its name with one bedroom, a sitting room, a serene white bathroom and a beautiful custom-built kitchen (the splashback built from an old billiards table) squeezed into its tiny form. Floral cushions, gilt mirrors and a headboard fashioned from an old mantelpiece all add to the vintage charm.
Believed to be the oldest house in the Wye Valley, Monks Hall is set on the Gloucestershire side of the water, in the delightful village of Brockweir. A little way downstream is Tintern Abbey and the house is thought to have been built for the abbey’s monks in the 12th century, with living quarters above and an undercroft for animals below. Extended in the 14th century, the building is Grade II*-listed.
Fortunately the owner is a historic renovation specialist; modern comforts have been sensitively added, but the building’s old oak beams, 14th-century fireplace, whitewashed walls and original leaded windows remain intact.
Built at the behest of banker and MP William Cunliffe Brooks, in 1871–3, this two-person holiday cottage originally served as a gateway to Aberdeenshire’s Glen Tanar (and its 25,000-acre estate) before later becoming a working gatehouse.
Set by the River Tanar, surrounded by Scots pines, its latest incarnation has seen the addition of some contemporary luxuries, including a hot tub, superking-size bed and electric car-charging point.
Heritage is not neglected in the listed property, however, with fittings and furnishings by established British designers such as Araminta Campbell, GP & J Baker, Christopher Farr and Jane Churchill.
The Cookie Jar
At The Cookie Jar, a smart blue-hued boutique hotel in Alnwick set within a former convent, the star suite is The Chapel. As the name suggests, this is a hallowed Northumbrian space where guests get to drift off to sleep in a huge sleigh bed before wandering down, the following morning, to a breakfast of homemade granola, the full English or local Craster kippers.
The real USP, however, is the suite’s vast copper tub, set on a stage-like platform in the open-sided bathroom. Draw yourself a bath, then lie back and soak up the jewelled glow seeping through the suite’s stained-glass windows.
Check into Thornbury Castle’s Catherine of Aragon Suite and you get not just a show-stopping four-poster bed to sleep in, but one that’s squirreled away in a tower to boot. Fittingly for a stronghold built in Henry VIII’s reign – Thornbury is the UK’s only Tudor castle hotel – the focus at this Gloucestershire fortress is on indulgence.
The hotel reopened last year after a substantial renovation and its richly decorated interiors now pair history with 21st-century bling. Nowhere more so than in this lofty suite, where a huge stone fireplace and a bathroom big enough to swing a tiger are matched with a 10-foot wide blue-and-gold bed. Don’t be misled by the name; it was Anne Boleyn who visited Thornbury with Henry VIII, rather than Henry’s first wife.
Open for a decade now, the bohemian energy of Penzance’s Artist Residence is still palpable, but the original artist-decorated rooms have grown into a more sophisticated style. A serious collection of art lines the walls and there’s a shipwrecked vibe to proceedings, with mismatched wooden cladding, tea chests as bedside tables and framed vintage maps.
Modern castaways can enjoy plenty of luxury, too; rooms come with espresso machines, digital Roberts radios and Bramley bath products. For ultimate romance, make like an 18th-century sea captain and hole away in The Lookout, a third-floor suite with a gleaming copper tub, a private kitchenette and views out to sea. Enjoy the panorama with a cocktail on the balcony before tiptoeing inside to snuggle up by the log-burning stove.
Dunkeld House Hotel
If you’re looking to push the boat out this Valentine’s Day, a ship-shaped bed should do the trick. Moored up in the Bothy Suite at Perthshire’s Dunkeld House Hotel, this dramatic centrepiece is an unusual choice for a landlocked property. Especially one which is now fairly modern in style, despite having originally been designed for the Duke of Atholl at the turn of the 20th century.
It’s a haven for a weekend of pampering, though. And a great starting point for charting a course around the hotel’s 280 acres of heritage gardens and woodlands (or, alternatively, steering a steady course to the hotel spa).
House of Gods Hotel
Accessed via a cocktail bar along Edinburgh’s party-focused Cowgate, House of Gods is more bar with rooms than conventional hotel. With its mix of marble, copper and ruby velvet, the overall approach is ‘more is more’. Available in three categories of size and grandeur, the smallest, most affordable rooms are dubbed Cabins. Inspired by sleeping compartments on the Orient Express, these compact but opulent spaces still have room for oversized sleigh beds.
For marginally more than the standard room rate, you can upgrade to a Locked Up Like I’m Famous package and ‘live like the worshipped’ with chocolates, balloons, rose petals, a Civerinos pizza, midnight milk and cookies and morning mimosas all included. Plus unlimited prosecco delivered to your door by a 24-hour butler.
Attracting a list of illustrious visitors over the centuries, from Queen Victoria to The Beatles, this splendid country house is the cradle of one of the biggest scandals in British politics. It was at Cliveden’s outdoor swimming pool (the only remaining listed pool in Britain) that politician John Profumo spotted Christine Keeler taking a skinny dip – the rest, as they say, is history.
These days, couples staying at the Grade I-listed Italianate mansion can: take a house tour to admire treasures such as the 16th-century tapestries and restored butler’s bells, wander amid 376 acres of National Trust grounds or relax in the spa, tucked behind Cliveden’s walled garden.
Mint Croft Isle of Skye
For a romantic adventure, grab the map and binoculars from your room and explore the wild Waternish Peninsula in north-west Skye. Owners Shaz and Ali – artists, designers and contemporary crofters – have put their heart, soul and talents into this B&B on their six-acre croft.
Each of the two private suites is set in a traditional dwelling complete with modern luxuries; the furnishings are inspired by Highland terrain and traditions.
Fill up on a hearty breakfast, including organic eggs supplied by the resident hens, and stride out for a bracing morning among ancient landscapes before enjoying afternoon tea by the woodburner.
The Music Room
Surely a room that resembles a giant wedding cake is the ultimate in romantic interiors? It took 6,000 hours to restore this baroque garden pavilion, the sole surviving part of a grand house built in 1730. It’s thought that the name is a corruption of ‘muses room’, paying homage to the plasterwork goddesses who look down from the walls of the loggia.
The astounding interior was possibly created by stucco master Francesco Vassalli, who worked on several grand country houses in England. If the spirited muses inspire you to serenade your loved one, there’s a baby grand piano at hand.
St Winifred's Well
On the cusp of a hamlet and reached through the woods by foot, this spot has been a place of seclusion and reflection for centuries. It’s a tiny, restored, timber-frame cottage – a rare surviving example of a Tudor chapel – atop a spring dedicated to Saint Winifred, who was a revered seventh-century Welsh princess.
Built in the late Middle Ages, some of its features date from as far back as 1485. Over the years it fell to ruin before being brought back to life by The Landmark Trust. Should you start to feel too secluded, in nearby Oswestry you’ll find plenty of vintage and antiques shops.
The Pig Near Bath
If your idea of a romantic break revolves around long lunches, fabulous dinners and the occasional bridging snack, then this Georgian house hotel is for you.
The Pig prides itself on serving locally sourced, simple and delicious British food – what can’t be grown in the kitchen garden travels a maximum of 25 miles from field to plate. There’s even a larder in each bedroom containing more regional treats, perfect for a midnight feast.
For an extra-special stay, choose The Apple Store or The Hide in the garden; each is set over two floors, with a woodburner, freestanding bath and dreamy, rural views.