Scented candles, chocolates on the pillow, a rose-petal turn-down, heart-shaped scones even... When it comes to Valentine’s Day, some hotels have all the gimmicks. But the essence of romance lies in the place itself, the history, the atmosphere, the surrounding cityscape or landscape or the ocean view. Here is The Good Hotel Guide’s Editor’s Choice of the best hotels in the UK for a romantic break, from the intimate to the glamorous, champagne optional.
The Portobello, Notting Hill, London
Notting Hill abounds in 19th-century terrace houses such as this neoclassical beauty. Its 21 themed rooms are classed ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘great’ and ‘exceptional ‘. Some with four-poster, antiques and murals. You might choose the room where Kate Moss and Johnny Depp slept – and remember that the course of true love never did run smooth. Have Continental breakfast in the sitting room before heading for Portobello Road. Rooms from £195 (cooked breakfast extra).
020 7727 2777, portobellohotel.com
Burgh Island Hotel, Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon
Like an ocean liner sailing above the beach of a tidal island, this Art Deco hotel was a favourite with stars in the 1930s. Several of the 25 bedrooms are named for them – from Noël Coward and Josephine Baker to ukulele man George Formby. Black ties are encouraged at dinner, when a band sometimes plays. A sun lounge, Palm Court Bar and billiard room are part of the glamour. Auspiciously, an episode of TV’s Lovejoy was filmed here. D,B&B doubles, per room, £400-£640.
01548 810514, burghisland.com
The Old Rectory, Boscastle, Cornwall
Boscastle appeared as ‘Castle Boterel’ in Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes, and it was at this magically situated Victorian house that he courted his first wife, Emma Gifford, subject of his elegiac poem Beeny Cliff. The Searle family create a house-party atmosphere. The four bedrooms – including Emma’s Room, with antique carved bed - are traditionally furnished. There are eggs from the Rectory’s hens and ducks, produce from the walled kitchen garden. B&B per room £75-£110; dinner £17.50 by arrangement.
01840 250225, stjuliot.com
Linthwaite House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria
Built for a wealthy merchant in 1901, high above Lake Windermere, this extended Edwardian country house is run as a hotel with relaxed professionalism. The 30 rooms have restful, contemporary decor; the larger ones with views of lake and gardens. One has a veranda and outdoor hot tub. The peerless situation, modern cooking by chef Chris O’Callaghan and attentive service all win praise. Breakfast in bed is available until 10am. B&B per person £75-£281. Dinner typically £52.
015394 88600, linthwaite.com
Tor Cottage, Chillaton, Devon
A perfect hideaway in its own private valley, this B&B has five guest bedrooms – four with log fire, in converted garden rooms, including craftsman’s workshop and cart house. Laughing Waters is a New-England-style bedsit with steps down to a stream. Complimentary Devon fudge, fruit and sparkling wine are among the little extra touches. There’s kedgeree and local sausages at breakfast; picnic platters for supper if you will. Doubles £150-£155.
01822 860248, torcottage.co.uk
The Old Railway Station, Petworth, Sussex
From Anna Karenina to Brief Encounter train journeys famously lead to fateful meetings, and this B&B in a beautiful converted Victorian station has all the romance of a bygone age of rail travel. Eight of the 10 guest rooms are in Pullman carriages with Edwardian fittings and furnishings. Relax by a fire in the waiting room amid a wealth of memorabilia. You’ll be chuffed. Doubles £90-£240.
01798 342346, old-station.co.uk
Driftwood, Portscatho, Cornwall
This boutique hotel stands in landscaped gardens overlooking Gerrans Bay, with its own private beach and cove. The 14 bedrooms are individually furnished in contemporary style and restful shades. In the dining room, Chris Eden holds a Michelin star for his modern European cooking. Doubles £210-£305, dinner from £55.
01872 580644, driftwoodhotel.co.uk
Gilpin House & Lake Hotel, Windermere, Cumbria
The Cunliffe family’s country house in lovely grounds is praised for a happy atmosphere. Head chef Hrishkesh Desai oversees the modern, seasonal cooking. There are 26 guest bedrooms – six in Lake House, half a mile away, which opened in 2010, with private lake and spa. Just launched, five new cedar-clad spa lodges have been designed with couples in mind, with mood lighting, music system, oval stone bath, sauna and hot tub, within a walled garden.
015394 88818, thegilpin.co.uk
Ardanaiseig, Kilchrenan, Argyll & Bute
Antiques dealer Bennie Gray has filled his rambling 19th-century manor house on the shores of Loch Awe, with a mix of grand and eccentric pieces. Staff are friendly, the atmosphere unstuffy. The 19 bedrooms variously have loch views, four-posters, sofas, chairs, lamps, paintings, open fireplaces… Seasonal Scottish fare is served in the Long Dining Room. Landscaped grounds are planted with trees and shrubs of horticultural importance. Legend has it that the loch began as a magic well, which overflowed and drowned a sleeping nymph charged with watching it. How romantic is that! Doubles £218-£363, à la carte £40.
01866 833333, ardanaiseig.com
Moor of Rannoch Hotel, Rannoch Station, Perth and Kinross
There are magical views of Glen Coe, the Glen Lyon Hills and Schiehallion, Fairy Hill of the Caledonians, from this hotel on the edge of a wilderness by a station on the West Highland line. You could scarcely get more away from it all, with no Wi-Fi or mobile signal. Rooms are simple and stylish. There is a daily-changing menu of Aga-cooked dishes. Arrive on the overnight sleeper and you’ll be welcomed with breakfast. Doubles £115, set meals £24-£30.
01882 633238, moorofrannoch.co.uk