Be my Valentine…
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is definitely in the air. So where is the best place to whisk your sweetheart off to for a long weekend of lovin’?
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is definitely in the air. So where is the best place to whisk your sweetheart off to for a long weekend of lovin’? Paris may be the city of love, but it’s hardly original, and the sky-high prices for flowers, restaurants and flights may somewhat dampen the flames of desire. Here are some Valentine’s suggestions to fit any budget.
FIRST DATE: under £50
Hollywood romance in London
If you’re going to cosy up to your date at a screening of a classic romantic film, soft drink-stained seats at your local won’t cut it. Shell out for champagne and chic red leather at the Soho Hotel. Their Sunday afternoon film club features 90s ‘tart with a heart’ classic, Pretty Woman, complete with your choice of a three-course lunch, dinner or champagne afternoon tea.
£35 per person, February 13, film starts 3:30pm, www.firmdale.com, 020 7546 1007
Hot and sweaty in Bath
Splash out on a day trip to the gorgeous Roman city of Bath and enjoy the mineral-rich waters of Thermae Bath Spa. Get hot and sweaty with your sweetheart in one of four glass steam rooms infused with lavender, frankincense, eucalyptus and mint, or admire the stunning views of the historic city and surrounding hills from the open-air rooftop pool.
£25 per person for a two-hour spa session, open 9am – 10pm, www.thermaebathspa.com, 0844 888 0844. Trains from London Paddington cost from £9.50.
Love is in the air in Brighton
You won’t be able to join the mile-high club, but a scenic flight over the stunning south coast is bound to leave your beloved breathless. Brighton Scenic offers a 25-minute round-trip from Shoreham airport in their four-seat Cessna 172, taking in spectacular aerial views of the South Downs, the flamboyant Royal Pavilion, Brighton Pier, and the iconic skeleton of West Pier, which was destroyed by fire in 2003.
£48 per person for a 25-minute flight, www.brightonscenic.co.uk, 07918 902721. Trains from London Victoria to Shoreham-by-Sea cost from £5.
GOING STEADY: under £250
Make like Casanova in Venice
With its atmospheric alleys and winding canals, Venice is as seductive as its famous son, Casanova. Avoid the tourist rip-offs around St Mark’s Square and hunt out back-street bàcari, small bars full of locals sipping wine and grazing on local tapas. Try Cantina Do Mori (San Polo 429), a Venetian institution that dates back to 1462. It’s a short walk from here to the Rialto Bridge, where you can watch gondolas glide along the world’s most romantic waterway.
From £226 per person for two nights’ B&B at Duodo Palace Hotel, a four-star hotel near St Mark’s Square, with Directline Citybreaks (www.directline-citybreaks.co.uk, 0800 408 5621) including flights.
A love shack in South Wales
Create your very own love shack in the spectacular surroundings of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in South Wales. Cuddle up together during magnificent cliff-top walks, spot bottlenose dolphins off unspoilt sandy beaches such as Barafundle, and wander arm-in-arm around historic towns like Pembroke, complete with medieval Norman castle. The National Trust owns a number of romantic bolt holes in the area and regularly has special offers.
£166 for three nights (normally £208) at The Calf Cot, a whitewashed cottage with an open fire near Stackpole, with National Trust (www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk, 0844 8002070) until February 21. Car hire from £16 per day with Avis (www.avis.co.uk, 08445 810 147).
Spice up your love life in Marrakech
Wander the maze-like streets of the medina, soak up the atmosphere of the souks, and then retire to a romantic riad: a weekend in Marrakech is guaranteed to spice up your love life. Try a traditional hamman for two at Les Bains de Marrakech (2 Derb Sedra, Bab Agnaou), or take a hot-air balloon trip at dawn with Ciel d’Afrique (www.cieldafrique.info) for a bird’s eye view of the city’s minarets and surrounding mountains.
From £205 per person for three nights’ B&B at Villa Amira Et Spa, a four-star guesthouse with hamman, with Citrus Holidays (www.citrusholidays.co.uk, 0800 091 6330) including flights until February 28.
POPPING THE QUESTION: under £500
Tango and tapas in Spain
Forget Last Tango in Paris – if you really want to stir up some Latin passion, head to Spain to learn the sensual art of Argentine tango. Casa Media Luna is a secluded B&B offering tango tuition in the picturesque Andalucían mountains, with just two guestrooms. After class you can explore the nearby villages of Colmenar and Comares, or enjoy walking in Montes de Malaga National Park, then feast on tasty homemade tapas and local wine.
From £289 per person for three nights’ half-board at Casa Media Luna, including three hours of tango lessons, with Go Learn To (www.golearnto.com, 0844 502 0445) excluding flights. Fly to Malaga from £40.99 one-way with Easyjet (www.easyjet.com).
Long Arctic nights in Iceland
Baby it’s cold outside… but Reykjavik is pretty lively despite the long winter nights (with around five hours of daylight). The cool crowd flock to Kaffibarrin (Bergstadastraeti 1), the bar part-owned by Blur’s Damon Albarn. Then soak away their hangovers in the geothermal waters of the famous Blue Lagoon. Live out your James Bond fantasy on a snowmobile tour on Langjökull Glacier with Arctic Adventures (www.snowmobiletours.is), or head north for a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
From £329 per person for three nights: B&B at Fosshotel Baron, a three-star hotel including a half-day tour to the Blue Lagoon, with Iceland Air (www.icelandair.co.uk, 084 4811 1190) including flights until 31 March.
Star-crossed lovers in Verona
The city of Shakespeare’s legendary lovers, Romeo and Juliet, goes all out for Valentine’s Day, decorating the streets with thousands of red hearts as part of the annual Verona in Love festival (www.veronainlove.it). Make the mandatory visit to Juliet’s balcony (23 Via Cappello), then explore the historical city centre, dominated by the breathtaking Roman amphitheatre, and finish with a candlelit dinner at Locanda di Castel Vecchio (www.ristorantecastelvecchio.com) opposite the impressive castle.
From £332 per person for three nights’ B&B at Hotel Accademia, a four-star hotel in the Old Town, with Thomas Cook (www.thomascook.com, 0871 895 0055) including flights.