You're falling in love and you're in Britain. Time to seal it with a kiss. We've got plenty of special places for anything from a shy, impulsive peck to a full-on breathless lip lock.
And don't worry about being caught out on a typically rainy day. Just think of some of the most romantic kisses in modern cinema - Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany's; Andie Macdowell and Hugh Grant at the end of Four Weddings and a Funeral (filmed under a leaden London sky in Greenwich, by the way). My point exactly.
These, then, are my favorite spots:
01 of 06
If you like your romantic canoodling with a frisson of naughtiness, this is the place for you. Spring Cottage, hidden away in the woods on the Cliveden estate is an unbelievably pretty, lakeside accommodation outfitted with everything you need for a very private, luxury escape.
It was built as a summerhouse for a countess in 1813. But its sexier claim to fame dates from the 1960s when Russian spies, government ministers and two "party girls", Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, played forbidden games there and brought down the British government of the day.
You can steal kisses in this very secluded cottage for as long as you like - as long as you're prepared to splash out almost £2,000 a night for it. It's part of the Cliveden Hotel in Berkshire, once home to Nancy Astor and her husband, Waldorf Astoria (yes, Waldorf Astoria was a real person).
02 of 06
In a Boat House Fit for Marilyn Monroe
The Boat Shed at the Ardanaiseig Hotel in Scotland is about 500 meters away from the main hotel and its only windows face out on glorious Loch Awe. The house is outfitted in a contemporary mid-century style - lots of lucite, chairs to sink into, Murano glass vases everywhere you look. There's a small kitchen - though you're more likely to have a hotel butler do the finishing touches to a meal sent down by the hotel chef than do any cooking yourself.
But the real show stopper for romantics is the balcony bedroom high up in the space created by the cathedral ceiling. Its glamour decoration just cries out for a platinum blond dressed in bias cut white satin - which actually dresses the bed in this royal blue room. When you wake up in the morning, you and your partner can cuddle and enjoy the view.
In 2016 you can have a fabulously romantic night in here for about £350.
03 of 06
Hidden in Cozy Sand Dunes
Hideaway from gusty sea breezes and have a private romantic moment in the sheltered hollow between grass-covered sand dunes. If you are lucky it will be sun-warmed. Otherwise, bundle up warm and enjoy the rustling salt grasses and call of seabirds overhead while you get to know each other better.
Do be discreet though. The famous nude beach at Norfolk's Holkham Bay was temporarily suspended in 2013 because of too much hanky panky going on in the dunes. Don't worry, you don't have to wear your birthday suit to enjoy the fabulous dune system that backs the beach featured at the end of Shakespeare in Love.
Other beaches backed by beautiful dunes include:
- Camber Sands near Rye has paths that meander through 40-foot dunes.
- Formby Sands, near Liverpool, has some of Britain's tallest dunes, as well as easy woodland walks through scented pine forests to miles of sandy beaches.
- Braunton Burrows in North Devon is a massive dune system and site of special scientific interest accessed from Saunton Sands beach in Devon.
04 of 06
Britain's ancient woodlands are rare and quiet forests that have been growing relatively undisturbed since 1600 (1750 in Scotland). They are often laced with winding footpaths that follow sparkling streams or that have been worn into the ground by centuries of woodsmen and migrating deer. Perfect for strolling hand in hand under cathedral-like aisles formed by ancient trees.
The Woodland Trust maintains a list of 1,000 ancient woodlands all over the UK that are free to visit - even in major cities like London and Edinburgh. Wherever you are in England, Scotland or Wales you can find a quiet woodland spot to steal a kiss.
In the spring the forest floors are dotted with the nodding white flowers of wild garlic or carpeted with bluebells. In winter, if you are lucky, you may find the dark green leaves and white berries of mistletoe strung along the branches of otherwise leafless trees - a natural invitation for a smooch.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
On the Cerne Abbas Giant
The very respectable National Trust, who manage this ancient monument, describe the Cerne Abbas Giant primly as "A huge outline sculpted into the chalk hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas representing a naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant."
The Trust discourages walking around on this chalk carving, but for centuries, couples hoping for a bit more spice in their relationships have been drawn to amorous encounters near the Giant's most upstanding feature. If you are tongue-tied on Valentine's Day, consider that some pictures - even ancient ones carved out of chalk - can speak a thousand words.
06 of 06
On Waterloo Bridge
This is my favorite spot. It's free, it's open all hours and you don't have to climb up high to enjoy it. The views from Waterloo Bridge are so glamorously London that you cannot avoid being caught up in their magic.
Look east and you are facing the iconic view of St Paul's Cathedral surrounded by the towers of the City of London. Look west (actually, southwest, because the Thames makes an almost 90-degree bend here) and you are facing the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the spidery cable stays of the Golden Jubilee pedestrian bridges next to Hungerford Bridge.
You cannot get more romantically London views than these. Go during the day and you can find yourself alone together amid the rushing crowds. At night, you may actually be alone - or nearly so. Walk over the bridge after a performance on the Southbank or a night out in the West End and the Thames twinkles with reflections of the glowing views along its banks.