Here are the best love nests for you this Valentine!
1. Gravetye Manor, Sussex
Gravetye celebrates 50 years as a hotel this May, and over 400 years of beeswax polish and log fires as a dwelling. 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 and ye olde conference centre. At Gravetye, you get something reassuringly traditional without being stuffy. Wooden floors creak with age, chintz is celebrated and lighting is as discreet as the service. The remote control in the bathroom is for the radio – Roberts, of course – rather than the latest plasma screen entertainment centre. Being 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 in 1,000 acres of forest and William Robinson-landscaped gardens. And the oak-panelled restaurant has a Michelin star.
· gravetymanor.co.uk; +44 (0)1342 810567. Doubles from £225, room only
2. The Five, Paris
Paris and romance is a cliché, but when celebrating Valentine’s Day you might as well indulge. The shorter 2hr 15 minutes Eurostar journey time makes it a practical choice too. For an intimate stay (some of the rooms are on the small side), check into the new Five Hotel. The hotel’s name is a reference to its situation tucked away in the 5th Arondissement in the Latin Quarter, which means plenty of late night posturing in the cafes and bars the district is famous for. Sex and the city is in this hotel’s DNA. When you check in you’ll be offered one of five Diptyque scents for your room. Number 603 has a swinging bed suspended by cables from the ceiling, the suite has a Jacuzzi and roof terrace, while “scintillating” rooms have fibre-optic canopies to create the feeling of sleeping under the stars.
·thefivehotel.com; +33(0) 1 4331 7421. Doubles from euro165, room only. Returns with Eurostar from £59
3. Dominican Brussels
The Dominican, Brussels’ newest design hotel has got the Eurocrats talking. Located on the site of a former monastery on a quiet side street behind the Theatre la Monnaie, it’s all arches and velvet and suede banquettes. A pre- and post-theatre crowd is already making its presence felt in the bar and restaurant, where you can eat all day long, be it starters at the bar or breakfast at lunchtime. The best rooms are on two floors with a separate sitting room; while the Courtyard Suite has a seating area that juts over the restaurant. The Grand Suite has views of the Grand Place in the distance, just a five-minute walk away.
=·dominican.be; +32 (0)2 203 08 08. Doubles from €200, room only. For information on Brussels, visit belgiumtheplaceto.be. Eurostar offers returns from Brussels from £88
4. Tigerlily, Edinburgh
Tigerlily’s romantically coloured pink room Tigerlily can’t quite work out if it’s a decadent love den, funky bar, award-winning restaurant or cool nightclub. Fortunately, it does all four well, and is the ideal check-in if you’re feeling light-hearted and in love. A converted Georgian townhouse with a sensible façade that belies the slight madness within, Tigerlily’s style is opulence that hovers just the right side of camp: orange and pink carpets, huge chandeliers. The over-the-top bedrooms come with pre-loaded iPods, large bathrooms, Designers Guild smellies, and real flame fires activated at the flick of a switch. If only love were that simple… The bar’s cocktail list is encyclopaedic.
·tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk; +44 (0)131 225 5005. Doubles from £175, room only.
5. Escape, Llandudno, Wales
It’s fun having your expectations overturned, which is what Escape manages with most of its visitors. Llandudno is a sleepy seaside resort, complete with pier, that had its heyday when Queen Victoria still ruled the waves. You wouldn’t expect to find Wales hippest B&B here, with Conran love seats, leather sleigh beds, and suede chairs nestling against period fireplaces and traditional bathrooms – clawfoot baths with mixer taps and smart pedestal basins. Rooms 1 and 3 have whirlpool baths and views of beach and mountain. Children aged under 10 aren’t allowed to stay, making this an even more attractive bolthole for parents needing some quiet time.
·escapebandb.co.uk; +44 (0)1492 877776. Doubles from £85, B&B
6. Old Quay House, Fowey, Cornwall
Fine views from the terrace at Old Quay House Choose one of the rooms perched on the water’s edge in picturesque cobbled Fowey, and pray for a bit of wind and rain. What could be more perfect than being snugly holed up somewhere designed with romance in mind, with salty air lashing the windows? The Old Quay House has revamped its rooms to create the ultimate seaside retreat, with rooms that maximise light (some are in a creamy palette, others with vibrant purple walls), cream chairs and sofas and what must be the widest beds in Cornwall. If the weather’s good enough (or you’re just very brave, or in possession of a souwester) eat on the terrace overlooking the Fowey estuary, avoiding the dive-bombing seagulls.
·theoldquayhouse.com; +44 (0)1726 833302. Doubles from £160, B&B
7. 62 Castle Street, Liverpool
There’s a lot going on in this hit of a city (it’s had more UK Number One records than anywhere else, you know) now that it’s European Capital of Culture 2008. Ringo Starr kicked off the celebrations, and there’s plenty to come, but you could just swan around the all-suite 62 Castle Street, with rooms created from the grandiose spaces within a former bank. Expect lots of mahogany, plenty of hi-tech plasma screens, free Wi-Fi and glamorous wet rooms stocked with Elemis smellies. The restaurant buzzes with locals, and the cocktail bar is one of the city’s busiest.
·62castlest.com; +44 (0)151 702 7898. Doubles from £85, room only
8. Hotel du Vin, York
York is the latest opening for this award-winning chain with a lie-back-and-do-nothing atmosphere. The hotel follows the same attractive format, turn 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. Founder and former part owner Robin Hutson’s presence is still felt. A confirmed cigar addict, there’s a cigar shack (they’ll even trim your Havana) and fellow puffers will applaud the smoking bothy in the garden. All rooms have tubs, the Big Suite has two, side by side in the bedroom, a walk-in shower large enough for a football team and an eight-foot wide bed.
·hotelduvin.com; +44 (0)1904 557350. Doubles from £130, room only
9. The Little Domain
The Orangery in the heart of the Cotswolds Bless, all properties in the Little Domain’s self-catering porfolio are designed with couples in mind. What they lack in proportion, they more than make up for in intimacy and romance. Take the Orangery and Coach House, in Tetbury in the heart of the Cotswolds. Most properties in this neck of the woods celebrate traditional British style. Here you get the stamp of owner, designer and photographer Lena Proudlock: contemporary steel and white sofas, a wet room, and a huge four poster bed. The dining and living area is enormous, with underfloor heating and plenty of downlights.
· thelittledomain.com; +44 (0)1326 240028. From £150 a night. (Can only be booked when adjoining house isn’t taken)
10. The Lazy Fish, Cumbria, Boutique Getaways
This converted barn is filled with thrilling contemporary touches – an oval bath, separate wet room, and oversized beds. Atmospheric beams have been left untouched, and emphasise the sheer proportions of the living space – you could swing an army of cats here. The kitchen has black granite work tops and bar chairs for two, and if you’re feeling in need of more than emotional sustenance a private chef can be engaged to create the ultimate romantic menu. If you’d prefer more privacy, homemade meals can be left in the fridge for you to heat up. Either way, you’ll have worked up an appetite; the Lazy Fish is located in the heart of the northern Lake District, with all its walking possibilities.
·boutiquegetaways.com; +44 (0)17687 76179. Three-night breaks from £450, self-catering, including welcome pack with champagne