Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Here are the most romantic escapes in the UK and on the Continent—whether you want to go full roses-and-chocolate or just enjoy a nice mini-break.
This stately Yorkshire stay—in an impossibly grand 17th-century manor that was practically begging to be transformed into a luxury hotel—has had a seriously huge amount of money lavished on it, with the intention of giving God’s Own Country a flashy high-end retreat more often seen in other parts of Britain. The refurb saw the new Fountains Wing added to the existing building, bringing a little Roman-villa style to the 1680 structure. There are three restaurants, including a homecoming effort from superstar chef Shaun Rankin in the form of his namesake fine-dining restaurant in a duck-egg-blue drawing-room, where the tasting menu pays tribute to Yorkshire with charming dishes inspired by childhood trips to Whitby and miniature pots of beef tea served in one course that’s an ode to beef dripping. There’s also the excellent brasserie Fletchers, the star dishes at which are stone-bass with braised fennel and shellfish bisque, and a huge hunk of beef cheek with roscoff onion and barley. Whether you want to be saints or sinners is up to you: there’s the glamorous after-dark den Valeria’s nightclub, but also the elaborate Three Graces spa, where you can enjoy exquisite Ila and Natura Bissé treatments, one-to-one yoga and personal training. Other intriguing hi-tech attributes include a snow room, an altitude chamber and a cryotherapy cubicle.
For more information, visit grantleyhall.co.uk.
Until May 2018, the most famous thing about Cliveden was probably the Profumo Affair, but ever since the Duchess of Sussex decided to spend her final night as a single lady at the Astor family’s Berkshire bolthole, she put an end to that. The Palladian manor is about as perfect an English country pile as you can imagine, complete with a parterre, chapel and rolling acres of Constable-worthy, landscape-art-like grounds. The entrance hall has all the wood-panelled walls, ruby carpets, oil paintings and armour to appease history lovers (the house is a National Trust property), but it’s the drawing room, with its fireplace and high windows framing that hazy garden, that’s the cosiest. Romance is in the manor’s DNA: the 2nd Duke of Buckinghamshire had the original hunting lodge built for entertaining friends and mistresses. For meals, choose between the Dining Room for formal fine-dining (save room for the candy trolley) or the more laid-back Astor Grill, for the best Josper-grilled steaks in all of the Home Counties. Make sure you also leave time for a dip in the notorious outdoor pool, a Sarah Chapman facial (the only place you can have one outside of London) and a walk in those pinch-yourself-pretty grounds.
For more information, visit clivedenhouse.co.uk.
A country estate that’s within strolling distance of the sea, this Hampshire hideaway on the edge of the New Forest is one of the South Coast’s finest hotels. The most romantic rooms are undoubtedly the Treehouses, tucked away in the grounds, with hot tub-toting terraces, wood burners, freestanding bath tubs and kitchenettes so you really don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to. You probably should, though—the main hotel has a spa where you can enjoy Oskia and Natura Bissé treatments, an acclaimed restaurant where the kitchen garden’s produce is put to good use and charming afternoon teas.
For more information, visit chewtonglen.com.
In the heart of Bloomsbury and right next to Russell Square, this imposing hotel stands partly on the site of Emmeline Pankhurst’s home (thank you, blue plaque). Book a corner suite for romantic views out over London, freestanding bath tubs that fill up in seconds, bathrooms you’ll want to flat pack and reassemble in your own home and canopied four-poster beds. It may be a big building, but this is a hotel with a homely heart, and some serious intuition about what guests want (hello, free minibar snacks, an easy to use TV; goodbye, wasteful one-night slippers and miniature bath products). The grand, glamorous design has an old-fashioned air, with a sweeping entrance hall and an elegance overload in the leafy Palm Court. Neptune has all the peachy art deco vibes that you need over breakfast, or head to Fitz’s to admire the colourful curtain canopy during the free nightly social drinking hour.
For more information, visit kimptonfitzroylondon.com.
An especially grand hotel in a city of certifiable grandes dames, Le Bristol is a Parisian palace so fabulous it was used as the scene-stealing stay in Midnight in Paris. The heritage hideaway has many things it can brag about, including a three-Michelin-starred restaurant from the chef Eric Frechon (Epicure), a La Prairie spa (with added Bonpoint-branded crèche for the kids) and a dark, decadent bar with killer cocktails.
For more information, visit oetkercollection.com.
The hallowed garden at this Eternal City escape is possibly the most famous in Rome, a terraced sanctuary behind Via del Babuino, in between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. Even if you don’t feel especially esteemed, you and your partner will be in distinguished company, since former patrons include Hemingway, Picasso and Diaghilev. For added romance, opt for a room with a terrace and enjoy the ravishing Roman rooftop views.
For more information, visit roccofortehotels.com.
This grand Hampshire getaway had been in the works for seven years when it finally opened its doors last autumn, with the owner refusing to receive guests until it was just perfect. Good things definitely come to those who wait: the 18th-century building has not one but two Syke Gyngell-manned restaurants, a lovely little spa (and a bigger one with a pool coming soon), screening-room, gorgeous grounds and lots of dramatic drawing-rooms. Couples will love the disco-ball-enhanced Moon Bar, the decadent dinners at both Marle and Hearth, and walks through the extensive estate.
For more information, visit heckfieldplace.com.
Paris is always a good idea, especially for Valentine’s Day, and this Haussman hotel recently reopened in the eighth arrondissement. The elaborate restoration added custom-made furniture and colourful fabrics to existing period details, such as mouldings and marble fireplaces. High ceilings and huge windows are the norm—book wisely and you’ll be able to see the Eiffel Tower from your balcony.
For more information, visit slh.com.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK.