Updated: 02/02/2011 12:10 | By pa.press.net

Spark a holiday romance

Best for... historic lovers


The Black Swan, Helmsley.

The Black Swan, Helmsley.

Best for... historic lovers

Where: The Black Swan, Helmsley

Feeling every inch like the setting for a Miss Marple novel, this sophisticated yet homely boutique hotel is perfect for a romantic couple who like the finer things in life - but never go on holiday without taking their hiking boots and a camera.

Timeless and elegant, this architectural gem - with its open fireplaces, sumptuous sofas and soft lighting - stares out on the astonishingly pretty North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley, with the ruins of 12th century Helmsley Castle and the town's Walled Gardens begging for exploration.

It's also home to one of the country's finest tea rooms, which does a brisk trade in exquisite afternoon teas during the day. Meanwhile, the 2 AA Rosette Rutland Restaurant has developed an enviable reputation.

:: Doubles start at £253 per night on Saturday February 12, including dinner, bed and breakfast. If you can get away on February 13 or 14, make use of the Come in from the Cold offer, where doubles start at £140 per night DBB.

Best for... making an impression

Where: Coworth Park, Surrey

If you're planning to pop the question, or simply want to spoil your better half rotten, make a beeline for the Dorchester Collection's latest opening, set in aristocratic Ascot.

Already a hit with the country-loving jet set, this boutique bolt-hole has its own stables and a polo centre. If galloping across the 240-acre estate doesn't appeal, take a dip in the eco-spa pool, where music is pumped through underwater speakers, or enrol in a floristry class and learn how to create your own bouquet.

Choose between two restaurants for dinner: The Barn offers dressed-down bistro dishes, while Restaurant John Campbell is the fine dining option. Both score high in the style stakes.

As for romantic spots, there are plenty to choose from: enjoy a cocktail under the dazzling 'Love' light installation in the mansion house bar; go searching for deer in the surrounding woodland; or just relax in your private roll top bath with a glass of champagne and toast your temporary five-star status.

:: Packages start at £690 plus VAT per room for a two-night stay with dinner in The Barn on both nights and chocolate, champagne and flowers on arrival. For more information, visit www.coworthpark.com.

Best for... wining and dining

Where: Chester Grosvenor, Chester

There are plenty of ways to woo a loved one, but food and drink are always a good bet. If you're looking for somewhere to take a special dinner date, try the Chester Grosvenor.

Owned by the Duke of Westminster, and built in 1865, this five-star hotel treats all its guests like royalty.

After a relaxing night's sleep and breakfast in La Brasserie, go for a romantic stroll around the city's Roman walls - some of the best in Britain - and along the River Dee. The cathedral, with its beautiful wood carvings, is worth exploring, as well as the city's maze of cobbled streets.

When you've had your fill of shopping in Chester's famous two-tier boutique Tudor shops, head to the Grosvenor's thermal suite and soak your tired feet in the foot spa or go for an Elemis massage.

Round off your stay with a meal in Michelin-starred restaurant Simon Radley or the more casual - but equally outstanding - La Brasserie.

:: An overnight stay on February 14 with a selection of Valentine's treats starts at £299 per room. For more information, visit www.chestergrosvenor.com.

Best for... romantic walks

Where: Wyck Hill House, Cotswolds

For a relaxed and easy romantic getaway, this country manor in the Cotswolds ticks all the right boxes. Although within easy reach of public transport - the nearest rail station is Moreton-in-Marsh - it still feel a thousand miles from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The hotel dates back to the 1700s, and sits in 100 acres of rolling hills and fields.

The area is popular with walkers and cyclists and there are a number of routes to explore.

Alternatively, spend a few hours browsing the antique shops in Moreton-in-Marsh, working up an appetite for cream tea at the award-winning Marshmallow Restaurant and Tea Room. The home-made scones are delicious!

If that sounds too strenuous, relax on the hotel's terrace and admire the views before dinner. The food here is excellent and the staff incredibly welcoming. In fact, there's enough to keep you happy all weekend without having to leave the hotel grounds.

:: A two-night Valentine's Break (booked between February 11-14) starts at £195 per person including dinner, bed and breakfast. Book through www.bespokehotels.com.

Best for... amour abroad

Where: Hotel Notre Dame, Paris

It may be something of a cliche, but there are endless opportunities for romance in Europe's leading city of love.

Classic couples can zip to the top of the Eiffel Tower and admire the Parisian skyline or exchange sweet nothings on the cobbled streets of Montmartre.

Creative types, meanwhile, should visit the Wall of Love in Place des Abbesses, which features declarations of love in more than 300 languages, or take a ride on the fairytale, Tim Burton-esque, Le Manege Carre Senart merry-go-round at art centre Centquartre (www.104.fr).

For an intimate and relatively inexpensive break, book a room at the three-star Hotel Notre Dame overlooking the famous cathedral.

Sandwiched between souvenir shops, it's easy to miss. But once inside, a narrow, brightly-carpeted stairwell leads to a kaleidoscope of rooms created by fashion designer Christian Lacroix.

There's no restaurant at the hotel, but for good, well-priced dining options try brasserie Aux Lyonnais or fish restaurant Rech. Both are owned by multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse (visit www.esprit-bistrot.com).

:: The hotel still has availability for February 13 and 14. Doubles from £145, excluding breakfast. Book through www.mrandmrssmith.com. Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris with return fares from £69. Visit www.eurostar.com or call 08432 186 186.

Best for... intellectual love

Where: The Varsity, Cambridge

Previous tenants of this university city may have discovered gravity and split the atom, but they never quite cracked the boutique hotel - until now.

Much like the city itself, this 48-room hotel is elegant, aspirational and beautifully executed. Discretely tucked away in the centre, it is ideally located for a weekend of romantic walks around the colleges and whimsical punting excursions.

Every room takes full advantage of the magnificent Cambridge skyline, with the top-end suites glassed from floor to ceiling. But while the views might be medieval, the hotel itself is utterly modern and luxurious, providing a thoroughly decadent urban retreat.

Styled by young British designers, The Varsity's rooms are enticingly furnished, with reclaimed teak pieces from Indonesia, richly textured sofas and chairs covered in Welsh fabric, with hints of retro British cool in the form of cool ornaments.

And just to keep the spirit of Cambridge alive, each of the rooms is themed by college: the Somerville room, one of the first women's colleges, has a photo of a lady in bluestockings, and the Homerton room a picture of a couple dancing in front of Latin American-style tenement buildings (former student Julie Covington scored an international number one with the song Don't Cry for Me Argentina).

:: The hotel still has availability for February 11-14. Bespoke Valentine's packages, which can include breakfast in bed with Buck's Fizz £7 and an in-room sharing platter, £30, start from £160 for a two-night stay. Visit www.thevarsityhotel.co.uk or call 01223 306 030 for more options.

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