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A hotel stay for two is, in its very nature, romantic. A weekend away from normality can often present endless opportunities for amour. It’s not just about rose petals scattered on beds and treatments for two, but rather eating breakfast in a high-thread-count bed in white fluffy robes. It’s waiting until your fingers go wrinkly after being in a bath for hours, accompanied by chats and (ideally) champagne. It’s a sunset swim when there’s no rush to get to dinner. It’s a walk through a hidden glade when you have no phone reception. It’s reading a good book, shoes off, curled up top-to-tail on a fireside sofa together. It is ordering a dessert to share, even though you are both full.
What makes some properties a cut above the rest in the love stakes? We asked our hotel reviewers, based around Britain, from the Highlands to Cornwall, to give us their pick of the best. Of course, romance is subjective, but what unites all of the hotels chosen is their attention to detail – a private boat ride, say, a clifftop hot tub or a plate of fresh oysters – which makes them perfect for an extra-special, loved-up stay à deux. From a stream-side wooden hut to a classy spa retreat in the countryside, to decadence in a busy city, here’s our pick of the most romantic hotels in Britain, whether you’re marking an occasion or just looking to reconnect with that special someone.
The property began life as two Georgian townhouses in the mid-18th century and was rented by Lady Ann Bingham (whose sister married the first Earl of Spencer) before aunt and niece Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper occupied it between 1899-1914, when it became something of a literary hub. The pair, who were also passionate lovers, spent their days writing poetry and plays under the pseudonym Michael Field, alongside entertaining other verse-makers such as William Butler Yeats with gluttonous afternoon teas. No two rooms are the same and they are each named after Michael Field’s poems.; six have freestanding copper tubs. At the back is the hotel’s most prized feature: terraces, lawn and flowerbeds leading to the Thames’s towpath and the peaceful river beyond.
Anouska Hempel’s original boutique hotel, first opened in 1978, has faded over the years, but it still has a certain glamour and romance, while the bar, restaurant and Matthew Williamson-styled garden all make up a thriving West London scene. The glamorous and romantic bedrooms realise dreams of far-off places. The Hempel Suite/Corfu Suite, which is evocative of Provence or Greece, is popular with honeymooners: white linens, gossamer nets on the four-poster bed, mother of pearl furniture and trompe l’oeil walls.
There is titillation at every turn. The lobby is like a lothario’s library: while the Letters of Horace Walpole adorn the shelves, aubergine velvet pouffes with more tassels than a ra-ra girl skim the floors. The lounge on the other side of the corridor has a disco feel, with a mirrored ceiling speckled with orange LED lights. Despite all the crazy, quirky touches, the building, which was once a baptist church, still carries an air of magnificence. ‘Boudoir’ doesn’t do the bedrooms justice. Think a jazz-hands-waggling riot of tassels, parrot sconces, turquoise velvet screens and hummingbird lamps.
What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its famous garden, created by the property’s late owner Rosemary Verey. Soothingly furnished in cream and grey/browns, the 18 bedrooms feature artworks inspired by gardens and nature – a row of watering cans, a chandelier made out of flower pots. All offer slick accoutrements of Bose speaker and Nespresso machine as well as a host of carefully chosen books. Hidden in a garden dell is the uber-stylish spa, complete with outdoor hydrotherapy pool.
Thyme is a cluster of honey-stone properties in postcard-pretty Southrop. It is a dreamy, other-worldly haven, composed of various elements – a former rectory, an old farmhouse, cottages and barns – all beautifully restyled. Facilities are first-class, from the Meadow Spa with eight treatment rooms to the heated spring water swimming pool, tennis court, topiary-filled garden and ample grounds beyond. It is an epicurean delight. You dine in style at the Ox Barn, where the short menu changes daily and is very largely based on what’s available from the vegetable garden. Rooms are individually designed: Pinewood has a cinema screen, while English Rose is delicately decked out in subtle pinks and antiques.
This National Trust property, dating back to the late 17th century and set among 376 verdant acres on the banks of the Thames, is truly something special. There are lots of different features throughout the rooms so ask if you want a four-poster bed, a working fireplace, a free-standing bathtub or an outdoor hot tub. The pool – where the infamous Profumo Affair started – is a boon in summer, surrounded by loungers, with two hot tubs. Don’t miss champagne at sundown on one of the hotel’s vintage boats.
A refined country house without pretension in the heart of the New Forest. Facilities include bikes and boots for exploring; a lush spa with outdoor hot pool, indoor lap pool and hydrotherapy suite; an impressive treatment list includes relaxing Bamford massages and facials alongside improving Sarah Chapman skincare treatments. Delightfully decadent rooms are all universally equipped with baskets of magazines, walking guides, coffee machines, room pantries of snacks and supplies and luscious Bamford toiletries whether you opt for a starting price characterful eaves room with its floral wallpaper and country-cottage feel or a sleek forest suite with in-room roll-top tub. The food at Hartnett Holder & Co is unpretentious: think hearty plates of risotto, pasta and stews.
Billionaire Gerald Chan’s luxury country house, only an hour from London and surrounded by 400 acres of grounds, is something rather magical. There’s a sense of warmth, naturalness and flop-down homeliness that’s also artistic (fine 20th-century English pictures from Chan’s private collection); literary (a curated collection of books); earthy and artisanal (lime plaster walls in natural colours, linens, English oak floors, hand-crafted furniture, headboards and matting woven from sweet-smelling River Ouse rush). A small spa with three treatment rooms will be joined by a larger spa and infinity pool. Guests can enjoy wild swimming in the lakes, and walking, running and cycling on tracks across the estate. Rooms are the sort you just don’t want to leave.
The Gainsborough occupies a grandiose 1820s building that started life as a hospital, and then for many years was part of Bath’s art college. The Romanesque Spa Village is quite something. There are three substantial thermal pools in which to wallow – the largest set under a glass-roofed atrium – as well as saunas and a steam room, plus 11 treatment rooms offering a wide range of massages and Asian‑influenced therapies. The 98 bedrooms have an understated neo-Georgian look. Beige marble bathrooms come with underfloor heating; in three rooms you can run a bath with the thermal waters.
Sitting at the top of a tree-lined drive, Lucknam Park is a refined 18th-century pile set in 500 acres of tranquil parkland. Inside, a dignified quiet presides, in rooms where portraits look out from gold wallpaper and in the library, stocked with crinkly 19th-century books. The handsome spa is cut from polished cream stone. Its heated outdoor therapy pool overlooks trees, plus there are saunas, steam rooms and a Japanese salt room. Massages use ESPA products. Bikes can be borrowed and there is also a cookery school and an equestrian centre. For a special treat head to Michelin-starred Hywel Jones for an accomplished and enjoyable tasting menu.
Gilpin Hotel is a stylish gateway to the Lakes with a well-deserved reputation for being beautifully run. This is true relaxation, albeit in a convivial atmosphere. Book a spa suite, on the edge of the main hotel property; perfect for those who truly want to switch off in total privacy — and there are plenty of switches to help you do it, via your own hot tub, sauna, steam room and Sonos system for music. The floor-to-ceiling window means you wake up to views across the fells. Fishing, shooting, horse riding and mountain biking can also be organised on-site. The hotel has eschewed the classic Modern British or gastronomic tricks of other Lake District luxury hotels and brought in Asian and Indian themes at Michelin-starred HRiSHi and the more relaxed Gilpin Spice.
A relaxed country house hotel without the swags and fuss but with plenty of stylish warmth and comfort – and a Simon Rogan (of Michelin-star fame) restaurant. Close to the honeypots of Bowness and Windermere but cocooned in gardens and with stunning views, you need never leave. It’s a sprawling Edwardian house of whitewashed render and black-and-white timbered gables. Views through picture windows to the lake and fells are soporific. For real peace and privacy, opt for one of the six suites in the cedar-clad, chalet-style buildings set in the grounds, with floor-to-ceiling windows, the best glimpsing the lake through trees. Wander the 14 acres of grounds with croquet and boules pitches, small tarn and rowing boats, plus striking art installations.
A verdant, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The gardens, designed by Humphry Repton, have verdant glades, secret grottos, ancient trees, rose-wreathed arches, a shell house, formal parterre, and lawns that sweep down towards the River Tamar. Long corridors, hushed tones and wood-panelled walls studded with crests lend a collegiate feel, and there are two homely drawing rooms with roaring fires, ottomans, botanical paintings, plump sofas and bookshelves lined with classics. Room five is the most impressive, with a glamorous chaise longue, bird-themed wallpaper, roll-top bath and beautiful views.
No hotel in or around Lyme offers better views out across the west of the Jurassic Coast, in grey skies and sunshine. Throw open the windows for a delightful seaside breeze, or climb the garden’s folly tower for a private kiss. Direct access to the beach means barefoot walks across the golden sands is easy, or couples can stroll along the Cobb to relive a little of The French Lieutenant’s Woman (filmed in Lyme). Sundowners on the deck can be spectacular. It’s an easy walk to Mark Hix’s Fish House but really loved-up couples share fish and chips from one of the beachside kiosks.
The house, now extended and painted yellow by its current owners, is a quirky fantasy that reminds one, with its overlapping tiled Portland stone roof, of the witch’s gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel. It’s cosy inside, full of antiques and curios, and relaxing outside, with terrace, huge lawn and walled kitchen garden. All the rooms are delightful, many with interesting original features; two are delightful two-storey thatched follies overlooking the kitchen garden, and another is in a converted shepherd’s hut under the trees, with its own bathroom.
While many eco-hotels sacrifice style and comfort in pursuit of green credentials, The Scarlet more than lives up to the hype. The Ayurvedic spa has proved a big success and there are wide outdoor terraces on each level with designer loungers, log-fired whirlpool tubs, and a reed-filtered natural swimming pool. Rooms are all individually styled with luxurious sateen sheets on deep mattresses, blonde wood furnishings, oval baths – often in the bedroom itself – and powerful rain-showers. Most have a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that slides back to access outdoor space, all cleverly designed to give privacy.
Tresanton’s unique style is signalled from the moment you walk in. First of all there’s the terracotta Madonna and Child embedded in the wall above the door; then there’s the luxuriant sub-tropical vegetation, and the dizzying scent of exotic flowers; then the sea views from the tiled tables set out on the terrace. The hotel’s classic wooden yacht, Pinuccia, built in 1939, is available for skippered sails around the sheltered waters of the Fal Estuary and lovely Helford River from May to September. Thirty rooms in a terrace of five fishermans cottages and a stylish annexe, each subtly different, each with a sea-view, and 11 with their own furnished terraces or balconies.
The Lugger, a 17th-century old smuggler’s inn situated right on the waters edge of the peaceful fishing port of Portloe, offers a stylish yet homely retreat; walk the rugged South West Coastal Path, soak up the staggering views and enjoy the freshest local produce. So close to the sea that the air is salt-fresh, it provides a calm and tranquil setting for a romantic getaway or restorative escape, whatever the season. The bountiful fresh fish in Portloe is factored largely into the menus, with dishes including steamed monkfish, tomato and fennel salad with crab bisque, roasted miso cod, tempura red mullet, sesame carrot and pak choi and seared scallop.
Ecclesiastical elegance meets boutique verve at this former 12th-century chapel in the arty village of Bruton. The heavy oak front door is always propped open, welcoming locals to the bakery, wine shop, light-filled restaurant or downstairs clubroom, which often holds private screenings or readings. All rooms are different but share features such as cowhide rugs, leather, Egyptian cotton-dressed beds and monastic-like, grey-marble bathrooms – all but two rooms have a freestanding oval-shaped bath for two. Guests receive chubby, still-warm croissants each morning in a paper bag hung on their doors.
Lively but laid-back Babington House can make a fair claim to being the UK’s original trendy country-house retreat. One set of outbuildings includes sizeable indoor and outdoor swimming pools (both heated year round), a sauna and steam room, plus a cinema showing films every evening. The substantial, rustic-chic Cowshed Spa offers a wide range of treatments. There are 32 individually designed, rather gorgeous and very comfy bedrooms, many with working fireplaces. The three tranquil and slightly more modern split-level Walled Garden Rooms have tub baths intended for two on their terraces.
The Newt is one of the most exceptional country house hotels Britain has seen. Interiors are from co-owner and former editor of Elle Decoration Karen Roos, and there is plenty to admire, especially the simplicity: no curtains at the lovely sash windows, nor pointless cushions on the blissful beds; the rough-hewn walls of the natural, unadorned spa; the unfussy, almost Scandinavian style of the 23 bedrooms and bathrooms; the juxtaposition of modern and old. The centrepiece is the egg-shaped Parabola walled garden, now planted with a comprehensive collection of 460 trained British apple trees, of 267 varieties, arranged in a Baroque-style maze. The hotel has a spa with sauna, salt steam room and beautiful pool leading to a heated outdoor hydrotherapy pool.
A Michelin-starred restaurant-with-rooms with chocolate-box, thatched-pub looks and a bucolic farming-village location. Menus are punchy, robust yet skilfully balanced and as much about texture as taste: crab stick with seashore vegetables and avocado ice, perhaps followed by roasted lamb chop with truffled faggot or honey-roasted duck with tea-poached quail’s egg. Bedrooms are across the road in converted farm buildings. Each has a quirky feature: perhaps a pool table, piano or bath with a countryside view.
This fabulous boutique hotel is said to be a favourite of Cate Blanchett’s, and a seaside pad for both Kylie Minogue and Woody Allen. It spans two late-Georgian townhouses almost opposite the pier, and is packed with gorgeous bedrooms and Art Deco-style detailing alongside a cool cocktail bar and restaurant. Superior and feature rooms have freestanding baths facing floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can splash in the tub while enjoying the twinkly lights of the pier. Book the Cristal Suite for the ultimate romance.
The 900-year-old castle began life as a manor house for the Bishop of Chichester and was fortified in 1377. After the Civil War, cloth merchant John Butler acquired it and built the present brick and timber manor, and the barrel vaulted Great Hall within the castle walls. It stands in lovely grounds next to the parish church in the village of Amberley, known locally as the ‘pearl of Sussex’. This is a romantic place, though proposals are best made in one of the garden gazebos rather than in the staid, hushed dining room.
Hamptons cool meets quirky British seaside. The former 1960s motel is set back from a coastal road, on the other side of which lies Camber Beach, backed by high, grass-fringed dunes. Architecturally unchanged, the motel now benefits from a coastal garden, awash with gently swaying Verbena and Echinacea. The reception and restaurant continue the sleek yet laid-back Hamptons style: a chalkboard shows the daily weather forecast; guests are encouraged to grab complimentary flip flops and borrow wraps and towels to for the beach; and candles burn in glass storm lanterns. Massages are available in a beach hut.
This kooky 16th-century inn, on the Sussex-Kent border and within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has a curious offbeat charm. There are seven rooms in the main building, all individual and crammed with curious trinkets. In the garden, there are four lodges, all with pitched ceilings inspired by the local oast houses. Pour l’Amour is a cosy pine-panelled room with a reclaimed stained glass window; the Love Nest comes straight from the pages of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books, with curved wooden walls, a flock of cuckoo clocks, a terrace and a free-standing copper tub.
Bathe in a gold, claw-foot tub filled with tea-flavoured bubbles. Frolic through rhododendron-strewn gardens. Dabble in a spot of croquet on the lawns. It’s all possible at this five-star Jacobethan mansion. Rooms have a busy, countrified feel – think four-poster beds and ornate fireplaces. Bathrooms steal the show: the indigo mosaic tiling will transport you to a North African hammam, and the hot tubs with televisions add a sense of occasion. The outdoor pool is particularly special because it’s actually a natural pond – but one that’s big enough to do proper lengths in and is surrounded by neat rows of deck chairs.
This was Kent’s foremost rock ‘n’ roll venue in the Sixties and Seventies and the vibe has been preserved with a decadent, velvety feel in the series of cosy sitting rooms, the bar and the main house bedrooms: think Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithful, Biba. Go for a Hop Pickers’ Hut, ranged along the Nailbourne stream and accessed via a boardwalk. They are romantic little wooden boltholes which are beautifully finished (think Bakelite light switches and telephones, roll top baths, monsoon showers, wood burners). Kent is brilliant for locally sourced food and the huge kitchen garden here is already producing plenty of home-grown produce.
This was once one of the roughest pubs in Deal, but a complete reinvention under the auspices of an east London interior designer has seen it emerge as a chic seaside inn with eight cosmopolitan bedrooms and a restaurant serving classic-yet-modern British fare. Textiles and wallpapers come from Farrow & Ball, House of Hackney, Liberty and Designers Guild; pretty vintage furniture is mixed with resprayed and recoloured pieces, specially commissioned Indian rugs and contemporary art. Tracey Emin’s carpenter brother, Paul, created the bar. Order Pol Roger, served in classic champagne coupes.
This early 19th-century windmill turned cosy guesthouse is in a scenic coastal location, making it a fabulous base for walkers, birdwatchers and romantic couples. Not only does it have characterful rooms, hearty food and friendly staff, but guests are privy to superb views over reed beds towards Blakeney Harbour too. There are nine rooms including three in the circular tower of the mill: these have the best views and the most character. The ground floor of the mill is a circular sitting room with a wood burning stove where games, books and complimentary sherry are left out for guests.
This Manchester five-star enjoys a central location in a grand, Art Deco building designed by Edwin Lutyens that was formerly a branch of the Midland Bank. Opulence and bling rule here, from the gold-tiled private members’ club on the top floor to rooms where there’s everything you need and more. Original features such as huge windows, the old bank doors and the main staircase’s brass banister and terrazzo flooring are complemented by geometric monochrome carpets and 1920s-style black and white photographs. The 60 rooms and suites are dark and decadent with grey walls, large comfy beds, leather bed heads and faux fur throws. Old-fashioned metal binoculars are included in the rooms if you want to peer at all of the sights. If you’re dining at Honey, ask for a seat next to one of the arched windows for a great view of the city below.
This 16th-century farmhouse boasts a thatched roof, stone mullion windows, carved oak panelling, flagged stone floors and inglenook fireplaces. Five dreamy rooms nestle under the timbered eaves with sumptuous beds, antiques, rustic reclaimed furniture, patterned rugs, comfy chairs and artefacts trawled from art shows and antique fairs. Wild flowers, homemade shortbread, and a Roberts radio make it feel like home, plus there are romantic roll-top baths and rainfall showers. Join locals for a pint at the bar, read the paper or play cards around the fire.
Although a quiet, country-house setting, this Baroque-meets-Georgian mansion is shamelessly seductive. With swags and columns, brocades and velvets, rich colours and intimate corners, it is wildly opulent. Drama, theatre, romance and passion hang heavily in the air. Minimalism be damned; more is definitely more. It proves Oscar Wilde’s maxim that ‘nothing succeeds like excess’. Rooms are irrepressibly romantic in a husky-throated boudoir sort of way. If you’re hopelessly bathroom-obsessed, try the Owner’s Suite, where you can steep in a silver chariot bath.
This extraordinary collection of fantasy suites is the ultimate romantic hideaway: sumptuous, indulgent and slightly (delightfully) mad. The nine suites are an antique dealer’s dream: the rooms set-dressed with fascinatingly eclectic clutter; all jewel-coloured velvets, silks and brocades, carved wood, gilding and candle-light – think decadent ecclesiastical. Beds are dramatically draped or four-postered (or both); chin-deep bateau baths are perfect for sharing. Choose to breakfast in your suite and the hamper will arrive as if by a muscular mouse just inside your door at the appointed time in the morning; or you can watch owl-like from your bed while it is laid out on your dining table.
The essential ingredients are all there at this destination restaurant with rooms: attentive service, attractive rooms with mesmerising views and a talented young chef. The suites, designed to capitalise on the views, are airy, high-ceilinged and gently contemporary, with a Scandi-meets-Scotia feel to the decor. Have drinks in the attractive lounge/dining area with its cosy wood-burning stove, books, Lewis-men chessboard and telescope for bird, seal and star-spotting. For dinner, expect local beef in Skye craft beer accessorised with Isle of Barra snails, or crowdie (a Scottish curd cheese) with raspberries and fennel.
Queen Victoria said she ‘never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’ than Inverlochy Castle in 1873, and it remains as impressive as ever. Lying at the foot of Ben Nevis, girdled by a ring of highland peaks (particularly lovely when coiffed with snow), this is a place of quiet beauty. Activities including skiing, white-water rafting, off-road driving, stalking or fishing. Or you can row around the pretty loch, then sip a whisky in the billiard room or read by the drawing room fire. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu by Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr.
The delight is in the detail at this wildly romantic, fascinating passion project from international art dealers Hauser & Wirth. From William Morris to Timorous Beasties, interior designer Russell Sage has used sumptuous fabrics, acres of antiques and fine rugs. Queen Victoria’s watercolour of a stag’s head hangs companionably in the same space as Richard Jackson’s neon and blown glass antler chandelier. Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to one of the stage-set-style suites, all the bedrooms are themed, with glimpses of magnificent mountains. The Flying Stag public bar is jolly and noisy; Elsa’s Bar, pink and Art Deco, is named for fashion designer Elsa Schiaperelli. Do try the oysters cooked over head chef Magnus Burstedt’s prized wood fire.
The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds (including lawns, woodland and meadowland; a kitchen garden; and a walled garden) amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. You may wake up to the sound of a woodpecker. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Some rooms even have fireplaces.
Boats reflected in still water; strawberry sunsets lighting the mountains opposite; mist hanging in the valley at dawn: an ever-changing panorama can be viewed from the huge windows and sunny terrace of this peaceful and historic former rectory. There are four bedrooms: the two upstairs have huge bathrooms with free-standing Victorian baths. There’s even an outdoor hot tub. The terrace is the perfect place to enjoy the sunset over the lake with a Welsh gin & tonic. The locally-sourced menu changes daily.
A deliciously intimate, Grade II-listed hideaway on Snowdonia’s Llŷn Peninsula. Expect a heartfelt welcome, hands-down one of the best restaurants in Wales and gardens that burst into riotous flower in spring. Wild beaches, mountains and moorland walks await on the doorstep. Original features remain, such as the imperial staircase sweeping up to guestrooms. Throw open your sash windows overlooking the gardens and you might just hear the muffled bleating of sheep in the fields beyond. The little details matter: flowers on tables, candles lighting the way to the lounge before dinner, and the intricate, nature-inspired crockery by local ceramicist Ruth Gibson.