Sssh…a quiet word in your ear, if we may. Since we’re now in the age of experiences, this Valentine’s, rather than gifts, we’ve put together a few ideas to surprise your partner/wife/husband/lover/courtesan by whisking them off for a few romantic days. So dispense with the corny heart-shaped chocolates and rushed bunches of roses, and instead pack a bag for two…
The Ultimate Getaway at Four Seasons, Hampshire
This February, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire have put together the ultimate Valentine’s experience. Starting the day with a romantic horse-drawn carriage, ride across the property’s 500acre, 1000-year history estate nestled in the Hampshire countryside before impressing your other half with your skills on the skating rink and warming up with some rink-side hot chocolates.
After all that exertion, let your stresses melt away with a couples Spice Candle Massage before settling in for the romantic dinner to beat them all, on their very own canal boat where you can create your own bespoke menu. If that’s too much intimacy, there’s always something a little more down to earth in the Wild Carrot bar with specially created cocktails for ‘Me’ and ‘You’. www.fourseasons.com
Rolling in the Deep with Rosewood
If you’re inclined to go further afield, take your partner diving for buried treasure. Quite literally. Developed as part of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ truly one-of-a-kind travel experiences, you can search the Bahamian seas for a luxurious Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm watch hidden in the sands below. We’re not kidding.
Available exclusively through Rosewood Baha Mar, the action-packed Rolling in the Deep experience invites adventure seekers aboard the resort’s Eternity mega-yacht for the ultimate day of diving. Alongside a professional diver as well as a personal photographer and videographer, you can comb the Caribbean seas for their Ulysse Nardin timepiece, receiving a rare look at the most beautiful and secluded sites in The Bahamas. Alongside the scuba sessions, the package includes a four night stay in the resort’s Penthouse suite, with highlights including an exquisite dinner under the stars on the private rooftop terrace. With their magnificent memento in hand, return home via Baha Mar’s private jet to dine out on your underwater adventure for years to come. For more information and bookings, visit www.rosewoodhotels.com.
Pop the Question in Monte Carlo
Considering the ultimate proposal? Look no further than one of the world’s most exclusive hotels. Starting the experience in style, your helicopter transfer to the hotel awaits, to be greeted with a personalised welcome upon arrival, before being led to the magnificent Suite Carré d’Or where a number of surprises await, including welcome gifts and a bottle of chilled Dom P. In preparation of the big moment, a personal butler will serve a romantic candle-lit dinner on the star-lit terrace overlooking the Med. At the appointed moment, you’ll be guided towards the staircase to discover the text, ‘Will you marry me?’ projected on the bottom of the pool. www.metropole.com
Keep your Rome-ance on Record
A historic palace located in the heart of Rome, Palazzo Naiadi encapsulates the pure essence of a romantic getaway and, especially for this Valentine’s Day, the hotel can arrange your own private professional photoshoot with the city as a photogenic and romantic backdrop. After an initial briefing with the concierge to select your backdrop, you’ll be whisked off for a personalised photoshoot. To complete your stay, the hotel is also offering the Divine Valentine package, which includes a romantic candlelit dinner for two at Tazio Restaurant, with savings on spa treatments, bespoke cocktails and room upgrades. The Dedica Anthology is offering the Divine Valentine Package at Palazzo Naiadi from £431 per night based on two people sharing and the Romance on Record photoshoot for £406.
Float Away on Monkey Island
YTL Hotels’ wellness experts have created a spa experience to put others to shame with the innovative Floating Spa at Monkey Island Estate in Bray. The bespoke crafted barge boasts three indulgent treatment rooms, an airy and bright wheelhouse reception and an Elixir Bar, all moored on the banks of the island offering guests holistic voyages through the history of the island and the River Thames.
This Valentine’s, while soaking up the fascinating history of Monkey Island, couples can look forward to a one-of-a-kind treatment at the floating spa. The estate dates back 800 years, when it was founded by monks, and all treatments and experiences have been choreographed to fit the setting and concept, promising a truly special weekend away. The Floating Spa has exclusively partnered with British brand Moss of the Isles and wildcrafted pioneers, ISUN. Nightly rates at Monkey Island Estate start from £275, per room, per night in a Temple Room. www.monkeyislandestate.co.uk
Create Champagne Memories in the Swiss Alps
Popping open the bubbles may be de rigeur on Valentine’s but here’s a way to raise the bar. World renowned Grand Resort Bad Ragaz’s signature restaurant, Memories, has brought in Dan Roznov, aka The Champagne Spy, to lead you through a Champagne tasting experience, with a series of unique and rare Champagnes served alongside a seven-course menu.
Each dish will be crafted by Swiss star Chef Sven Wassmer, with his take on contemporary Alpine cuisine inspired by the forests, mountains and fields of the Alps. Flowing champagne, amid the flowing waters of the one of the world’s most exclusive thermal spas, a mountain backdrop? What more could you ask. Priced at £313 (395 CHF) per person for the eight-course Champagne tasting paired with a seven-course menu, plus a surprise flight, and 25% discount on accommodation following the event. www.resortragaz.de/en
Keep it Small, Retreat to a Country House
Lympstone Manor in Devon has launched its ‘Riverside Romance’ package – a one or two-night romantic getaway providing the perfect opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day. A short hop from Exeter with unrivalled views of the Exe estuary, the Grade II listed Georgian mansion is the ultimate staycation destination.
With Michelin-starred Michael Caines at the helm of the Manor, it is no surprise that exceptional food and wine are at the heart of the experience. One of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, guests are invited to indulge in Michael’s delicious a la Carte and Tasting Menu throughout the duration of their visit. In addition, the exclusive package includes a complimentary gin tray and morning tray delivered to guests’ rooms. For those extra special touches, the hotel will provide a bottle or half-bottle of Champagne (for one or two-night stays respectively), handmade chocolates and a bouquet of roses with a personalised card. Valentine’s Day packages start from £885. For more information and bookings, visit www.lympstonemanor.co.uk.
If You Can’t Get to Paris
Where better to head for the most romantic night of the year than the effortlessly chic Frenchie, from Paris’ famed chef Gregory Marchand. Seated in comfort in the heart of trendy Covent Garden, enjoy five clever French-meets-British dishes from their one-night only Valentine’s menu, including a glass of champagne, nibbles and petit fours galore. Think Foie gras presse, Yorkshire rhubarb, sorrel; Hand-dived scallop en croute, truffle; Carrot gnocci, yuzu, wild garlic; and a signature Frenchie tart of Banoffee, nutmeg, caramelized pecan. Prices start at £85pp. For bookings, visit www.frenchiecoventgarden.com.
And if you’re on a budget…
Romantic break on a shoe-string? Look no further. Swallow Cottage, near Lyme Regis, is a cosy single storey cottage with whitewashed stone walls and a number of original features. The accommodation is simple and comfortable, with a double bedroom with en suite, as well as an open plan living and dining area. The cottage comes equipped with a selection of DVDs, books and board games, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained for that understated take on the romantic break.
Perfectly situated for enjoying the coast or countryside on bracing February walks, for those looking to relax and unwind there is an al fresco dining area in the enclosed garden, and guests also have use of a heated swimming pool and hot tub – perfect for a rejuvenating dip after a long walk. Dorset Hideaways www.dorsethideaways.co.uk offers 4 nights at Swallow Cottage, Nr Lyme Regis (sleeps 2) from £254.