Top 10 unusual romantic escapes: From crofts and igloos to caves and houseboats

Liz Simpson, editor of boutique accommodation website, suggests unique Valentine's Day hideaways to quicken the pulse

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The Independent Travel

A dozen red roses, a box of chocolate and dinner with dozens more couples in a crowded restaurant? Yawn. What your partner really wants as a Valentine’s surprise is a night in a hotel with panache and imagination.

Croft 103, Scotland

What could be more romantic than complete seclusion? These two self-catering boltholes are at the very tip of Scotland, in a landscape of soaring mountains, aquamarine seas, and views that stretch for miles under a vast sky. Every bit as impressive as their setting, the crofts are completely private and set far apart. There are two clawfoot baths in each, one inside, one outside on your huge terrace so you can soak under a starry sky. In winter, you may even see the Northern Lights.

Port na Con, Laid, Durness, Sutherland IV27 4UN (01971 511202). From £242.

Iglu-Dorf Zermatt, Switzerland

Snuggle down on fur throws for a night on ice. This collection of igloos in the Swiss Alps is the stuff of fairytales. The bedrooms have murals carved into the icy walls (some of them rather risqué), sleeping bags that zip together, even Jacuzzis and views of the Matterhorn.

Rotenboden, Gornergrat Skigebiet, Zermatt, Switzerland (00 41 41 612 27 28). From Sfr518 (£491), half board.

Le Grotte della Civita, Italy

Ever slept in a cave? It’s more romantic than you could possibly imagine at this stunning hotel in the Unesco-listed troglodyte town of Matera. Flickering candles, roaring fires and central heating warm the 18 cave bedrooms; oversized bathtubs by Philippe Starck and handmade linens dress them beautifully. Suite 13 is my top tip – it forms part of a deconsecrated church, with angel-shaped indents in the walls. Just the place to get down on one knee...

Via Civita 28, Matera, Basilicata, Italy (00 39 0835 332744). From €140, B&B.

Metafort, France

The perfect place for starry-eyed lovers. The “Sous les Etoiles” room at this hilltop B&B in rural Provence near Avignon has a private roof terrace, and the bed is on a track so you can wheel it out to sleep under a blanket of stars. Back inside, there’s a Jacuzzi-bath big enough for two.

31 Montée du Vieil Hôpital, Méthamis, Vaucluse, Provence, France (00 33 4 90 34 46 84). From €190, B&B.

Argos in Cappadoccia, Turkey

A glorious jumble of ancient stone houses, caves and underground tunnels, this hotel in Unesco-listed Cappaddocia is unique. Sightsee from a hot-air balloon at sunrise, visit subterranean cities, rock churches and watch a Whirling Dervish ceremony, then return to the hotel for alfresco massages and a dip in the plunge pool in your splendid cave suite.

Uchisar, Nevsehir, Turkey (00 90 384 219 31 30). From €178, B&B.

The Caves, Jamaica

This extraordinary cliffside cluster of colourful rooms (try saying that after a few rum punches) in Negril is dazzling in all respects. Adults only, with blissful views, superb service and peaceful seclusion, it’s a place to recharge batteries and watch sunsets. For the ultimate intimate dinner, request a private meal; totter down the coral staircase and you’ll discover your very own private sea cave, crammed with twinkling tea lights.

Lighthouse Road, West End, Negril, Jamaica (001 876 957 0270). From US$480 (£320) room only.

Kalundewa Retreat, Sri Lanka

Deep in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, hidden among lush foliage and stilted over a lake, is this ultra-peaceful trio of chalets. Steel beams and panels of glass glint in the dappled sunlight; birds flit past in dashes of colour and frogs croak contently. You’re rafted out to your accommodation, then left alone to enjoy your Jacuzzi and lake views, until you request a meal (boated in at your convenience and served wherever you like).

Kalundewa Road, Dambulu Oya, Dambulla, Sri Lanka (00 94 77 307 63 41). From US$258 (£172), room only. 

The Sarojin, Thailand

Service is with a capital S at this dreamy Thai beach resort in Khao Lak. Naturally there’s a super spa, double daybeds in a turquoise pool, and rooms are both elegant and spoiling. But the USP is The Imagineer, who tailor-makes activities “just for two”. Having spent years as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, he’s full of dramatic and exciting inspiration: go diving at sunrise, dine by a secret waterfall or bamboo raft down jungle rapids and drink champagne at the end.

60 Moo 2 Kukkak, Takuapa, Thailand (00 66 76 427 900). From TB7,150 (£145), B&B.

Lotus Houseboat at Neeleshwar Hermitage, India

I defy you to find a more beautiful craft than Neeleshwar Hermitage’s Lotus Houseboat. Book it exclusively (there are two teak bedrooms, with baths and showers) and take a two-night cruise through Kerala’s tranquil backwaters, before returning to the hotel for a few days of Ayurvedic R&R.

Neeleshwar, Malabar, Kerala, India (00 91 124 236 7088). From R12,017 (£130), full board.

Bamurru Plains, Australia

Getting here is no easy feat, but the remoteness of this retreat, at the edge of Kakadu in Northern Australia, is its appeal. It’s a place to switch off completely. Luxury here is exhilaration: a 180-degree view of wildlife from your bed – and just netting separating you from it; whistle-stop air-boat rides, and scenic helicopter rides to an isolated beach for a romantic beach picnic at sunset.

Kakadu, Northern Territory, Australia (00 61 2 9571 6399). FromA$1,100 (£565) full board.

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