Between the sheets: the UK's hottest hotels

So you want to book some time alone with the one you love? No need to wait till Valentine's Day, says Alison Tyler. Here are eight reasons to get down and dirty any weekend of the year

From aphrodisiac baths to leopard-skin beds with matching handcuffs, hotels are becoming scandalously sexy. Today you are more likely to find bathtubs big enough for two sitting brazenly in the bedroom than a trouser press. And when it comes to the minibar, forget peanuts and Perrier; aromatherapy oils - Kama Sutra kits and mood-inducing candles are the order du jour as hotels start to cater for a younger, cooler crowd looking for luxurious "lost weekends".

From aphrodisiac baths to leopard-skin beds with matching handcuffs, hotels are becoming scandalously sexy. Today you are more likely to find bathtubs big enough for two sitting brazenly in the bedroom than a trouser press. And when it comes to the minibar, forget peanuts and Perrier; aromatherapy oils - Kama Sutra kits and mood-inducing candles are the order du jour as hotels start to cater for a younger, cooler crowd looking for luxurious "lost weekends".

Tapping into the trend is Mr and Mrs Smith (£19.99, Spy Publishing), a guidebook of the best hotels in the UK for a dirty weekend, right down to the raunchiest room. "There's definitely a move towards making hotel experiences more sexy, which clearly indicates that hotels recognise their customers want to make their stays more romantic," says James Lohan, one half of the couple behind Mr and Mrs Smith. Check out the latest seductively modern escapes that are putting the "hot" into hotels.

Best boudoirs

The Grove, Chandler's Cross

The hotel: This is one sexy hotel. How sexy? Within 10 minutes of arriving we put the enormous and flamboyant feather-topped four-poster bed to good use. Grand and groovy, cosmopolitan and quirky, it is definitely more S&M than M&S. From the animal-print carpets and deep aubergine corridors to the selection of secret snugs and seductive salons, this hotel screams "let's get it on".

The X factor: The ultimate take-me-to-bed boudoir, the Duchess of Clarendon Suite is elegant and refined. The bedroom sits in a circular annex at the front of the house and the heavenly bed takes pride of place in the window. The original fireplace and antique sofa make the living room roaringly sexy. By contrast, the state-of-the-art bathroom contains a sumptuous marble bath with a glass front - it holds not one, but four people. Intimate details include a "get kinky kit" in the minibar and telescopes by the baths letting you peek on people in the gardens.

The room to book: 25 - the Duchess of Clarendon suite, and 45, where the bath sits in its own, extremely decadent semi-circular, velvet-clad room.

The price of love: Rooms from £282 per night; room 45, £999; 25, £1,057. The Grove, Chandler's Cross, Hertfordshire (01923 807807; www.thegrove.co.uk).

Myhotel Chelsea, London

The hotel: New York glamour meets English country house bohemian. For good measure the whole place, including the Jinja Spa, has been feng shui-ed.

The X factor: We stayed in one of the hotel's red rooms, situated right behind the bar for easy access after flirtatious cocktails. "Isn't this the kind of room that you'd normally rent by the hour?" enquired my other half. True, the brazen, scarlet room has a slightly sleazy edge - a polar bear shag throw and erotic photographs complete the stylised porn-pad effect. But let's not beat around the bush, why else would you book this room if not for a hot night of passion? And in that respect, it meets all requirements.

The room to book: The Ruby or Scarlet rooms behind the bar, which are the only rooms to get cocktail bar room service.

The price of love: Red Rooms cost £264 per night. For more girlish decadence book the Valentine's Brief Encounter package, £350, which includes a studio room (pink and floral), a bottle of pink champagne, a "seduction box" and breakfast in bed. Myhotel Chelsea, 35 Ixworth Place, London SW3 (020-7225 7500; www.myhotels.co.uk).

Best beds

The Portobello, Notting Hill

The hotel: This boho "belle époque bordello" hotel is the stuff of rock'n'roll legend. The Portobello is hippie-ish and laid-back, full of antiques yet crammed with the latest technology, too. Regulars include film directors, musicians, models and artists; well, it is in Notting Hill.

The X factor: The 8ft round bed in the centre of room 16 is so striking that Robbie Williams tried to buy it: he obviously had a good time. This is also the room in which Johnny Depp and Kate Moss are said to have filled the antique roll-top bath with champagne. With A-list celebrity alumni like that, you can't help but feel special.

The room to book: Room 16, aka the one with the round bed. Room 13 is also pretty darn hot, and features a princess-and-the-pea-style four-poster, complete with steps up to it.

The price of love: Rooms from £160; the Round Bed Room is £200 a night. The Portobello, 22 Stanley Gardens, London W11 (020-7727 2777; www.portobello-hotel.co.uk).

The Hempel, London

The hotel: Anouska Hempel's paradoxical temple to minimalist Zen is hidden behind its discreet, west-London, townhouse façade, giving it an instantly illicit feel. The rooms are super-sleek, with natural tones - minimal but hot.

The X factor: You'll see why this room is called the Lioness's Den as soon as you enter the bedroom. The bed is suspended from the ceiling by bars and looks rather like a cage - cue the Myla handcuffs. It might sound precarious, but trust me, it's really sturdy, though the experience of waking behind bars may be a little disconcerting for some.

The room to book: The Lioness's Den.

The price of love: The Lioness's Den is £928 a night. The Valentines' package, £275 plus VAT, includes a luxury double room and champagne breakfast in bed. The Hempel, 31-35 Craven Hill Gardens, London W2 (020-7298 9000; www.the-hempel.co.uk).

Best baths

Babington House, Frome

The hotel: This cool country retreat has just completed a seductive refurbishment, adding va-va-voom to its bedrooms which now feature deep reds, plums and sensual velvet drapes, while also creating a new "adults only" martini bar on the first floor.

The X factor: A romantic roll-top bath at the foot of your bed, showers big enough for two, an outdoor hot tub on your balcony, and organic aromatherapy products with evocative names such as Horny Cow, Frisky Cow and Dirty Cow. This is the sexiest bathing experience that I have ever come across and the products were still masculine enough for my man. He was especially impressed by how the stereo system pumped music straight into the shower - the male measure of a sexy hotel always lies in its technological capabilities.

The room to book: Room 6 has the outdoor hot tub, room 5 has a free-standing bath in the bedroom, and room 2 features a walk-in shower with a dinner plate-sized showerhead.

The price of love: Rooms from £215. Babington House, Frome, Somerset (01373 812266; www.babingtonhouse.co.uk).

The Lowry, Manchester

The hotel: Clean and contemporary, the Scandinavian-style rooms come in male-friendly neutral tones and have a delicious design emphasis.

The X factor: Why run your own bath when a bath butler is on hand 24 hours a day to run a libido-enhancing tub for you, surrounded by aromatherapy candles. Try the Rose Garden with rose petals or the Bubbly Bath which is topped up with champagne (bath butler service costs from £5). It gives room service a whole new meaning.

The room to book: Opt for one of the riverside rooms, which overlook the river Irwell and offer great city skyline views. The Presidential Suite, £1,050, houses a baby grand piano - perfect for big romantic gestures.

The price of love: Rooms are from £155 per night. The Lowry, 50 Dearman's Place, Chapel Wharf, Manchester M3 (0161-827 4000; www.roccofortehotels.com).

Added extras

Hotel Pelirocco, Brighton

The hotel: The UK's sauciest hotel has 19 themed rooms created by fashion designers, musicians and other industry insiders from Rough Trade records and Asian Dub Foundation, to Hysteric Glamour - it is more naughty shag-pad than romantic escape.

The X factor: The wild and kitsch Betty's Boudoir, which is dedicated to the 1950s pin-up Betty Page, comes complete with leopard-print, kingsize bed - with matching handcuffs attached. Extras don't get much more exotic then this.

The room to book: Betty's Boudoir, or try the Nooki room, inspired by the eponymous adult game and featuring a neon "sex" sign.

The price of love: Double rooms from £85 a night. Betty's Boudoir costs £130 a night. Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton (01273 327055; www.hotelpelirocco.co.uk).

Cotswold House Hotel,

Chipping Campden

The hotel: Gorgeously romantic, this country hotel combines English cottage style with sexy rooms and sophisticated-yet-sultry silk throws on the beds.

The X factor: Design your own room to suit your mood before you arrive: whether it's fluffy pillows, a magnum of Krug, the Romance Bath Experience with strawberries, aphrodisiac bath oils, chocolates and flowers or just toast and tea, the your-wish-is-my-command room menu has it covered.

The room to book: Rooms 1, 21 and 25 in the main house or any of the candle-lit cottage rooms that have log fires.

The price of love: Rooms from £110. Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire (01386 840330; www.cotswoldhouse.com).

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