With the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle set for May 2018, romance is high on Britain's agenda. The UK is full of romantic wedding and honeymoon settings—castles and stately homes, dramatic beaches, Scottish lochs. If you've thought of planning a wedding in the UK but not the honeymoon to follow, think again. Britain has some lovely, indulgent places where you can get away from it all, together. Check out these favorites.
Before people started labeling hotels "boutiques" if they had Egyptian cotton sheets and different color schemes in each room, the expression was tinged with glamour and romance. Boutique hotels were quirky, luxurious hideaways known to connoisseurs and cognoscenti.
Blakes Hotel, in the fuzzy borderland between Chelsea, South Kensington and the Earls Court, was that sort of secret, decadent place when it opened 1978. It still is.
One of the world's first boutique hotels, it was designed by socialite and one-time Bond Girl turned designer and hotelier Anouska Hempel and she filled its themed rooms with silken wall hangings, Indian antiques and collectibles and Swedish beds said to have cost tens of thousands of pounds.
It's popular with the kinds of celebrity guests who value privacy. The Beckhams, Leonardo di Caprio, Lady Gaga, Robert de Niro, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss and Quentin Tarantino have all been guests. And that same privacy is a real boon for honeymooners who simply want to enjoy each other in the most indulgent surroundings.
You can pretend to be Josephine Bonaparte in the room named after her boudoir, or have a fiery night in the Cardinal Room, completely decked out in red (it's not for nothing that some people call this London's sexiest hotel). The all white Corfu Suite, pictured here with its private entrance through the hotel garden, is dressed in billowing gauze and decorated with mother of pearl furniture. Its four-poster is especially romantic swathed in white gauze.
Facilities are not elaborate. There's a well-regarded restaurant and separate bar, plus access to a private members health club nearby. But the central location is convenient for London's theaters, restaurants, shopping, museums and sights and the concierge staff is famous for being able to make your dreams come true.
And, you might want to stroll over to Kensington Palace, in Kensington Gardens, home of Britain's latest royal couple, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard: London
One way to get away from it all is to simply get above it all. As of 2018, the Renzo Piano-designed Shard is Europe's tallest building. And one of London's newest luxury hotels, the Shangri-La, occupies floors 34 to 52.
Because of the shape of the building (The Shard says it all), every room is slightly different. All are furnished in a simple, but stylish contemporary mood with luxury materials and clean lines. The main decor feature is London itself. The rooms are wrapped in floor to ceiling windows that make London the star. Key landmarks and features—the Thames, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, St. Pauls Cathedral, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf—are part of the ever changing vista.
It's a long way down but if you are on honeymoon, you really never have to leave the hotel. There's a 24-hour concierge service, 24-hour in-room dining, a classy Asian restaurant on the 35th floor and a buzzy bar on the 52nd. You can have in-room spa treatments and your own butler in the high end suites. If you begin to feel a bit to shut in, head over to the 52nd floor gym where there's a horizon pool that's like swimming in the sky. In fact, if we're not mistaken, we think they call it the Skypool.
And for really private luxury, how about lounging in your own top of the world bath like the one pictured here.
AddressTewkesbury Park, Lincoln Green Ln, Tewkesbury GL20 7DN, UK
The recently refurbished Tewkesbury Park is a family owned enterprise atop the highest hill around and surrounded by a golf course. Even if golf isn't your game, the views of the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds can be sensational in good weather.
What makes this such a special place for a honeymoon is the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff. Everyone here seems intent on making you comfy and happy. You can even bring along your pooch—the hotel just won a prize as Fido's Favorite. It's mostly dog-friendly, though the most glamorous suites—like the Lord Hastings pictured here—are not.
The hotel has a small but pretty spa with a heated pool and a competent kitchen with dinner served in an orangerie. Chef Patissier Dinesh, cooked for the Queen and delivered the best desserts we ever tasted (seriously).
One reason for a short honeymoon here is the chance of getting married in a 900 year old church. Tewkesbury Abbey, a magnificant Norman church about half a mile down hill from the hotel, was once a great Benedictine establishment. These days, it's simply the very grand but also very local Church of England parish church. If you plan your wedding well ahead, you might be able to have it there. And, since they don't seem to mind pets in the Abbey, maybe Fido can be your ring bearer.
No time to organize that? Don't worry, you can have a civil ceremony at the hotel.
If you've always dreamed of staying in a historic mansion, a honeymoon at the glorious Grade 1 Listed Rushton Hall, in Rushton, Northamptonshire, is total fantasy fulfillment. The enormous 15th and 16th century house is straight out of bodice ripper central casting.
The house has a complicated history, tied up with the English Civil War, the Gunpowder Plot and secret Catholics. It even has a priests hole. The Hope family, for whom the Hope Diamond was named, once owned the house and the jewel, now part of the British crown jewels, was probably kept here.
Don't worry if all that history leaves you cold. You can simply sink into luxury here. Large beautiful suites, extensive, landscaped grounds and an island in a lake on which sheep graze as if posed for a painting by Joshua Reynolds.
In addition to a kitchen with three AA rosettes, there's a modern spa with a generous, 18 meter pool. And when you are ready to rejoin the world, there's plenty of Northamptonshire attractions nearby.
Talk about fantasies. Amberley Castle is the real deal—a Norman Bishop's Palace that originated as a wood-framed hunting lodge almost 900 years ago. The land grant it stands on is even mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Surrounded by the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park, the castle is set in a quiet corner of Sussex behind original stone walls and an impressive portcullis entrance.
It retains many original features but also has everything you need for a modern stay, including a 7-course modern British tasting menu served in a dining room with a barrel vaulted ceiling that dates back to the 12th century.
The hotel can cater for a small wedding or, for ultimate honeymoon glamour, you can arrive from your wedding venue by helicopter.
The Isle of Eriska is just that, a hotel on an island. It's connected to the mainland, near Oban, by a wooden causeway that rackets away like a cannonade whenever a car crosses it (one of the hotels few quirky aspects). It has a small beach, a golf course, several woodland walks to the island's hilltop viewpoints and a leisure center with spa treatments, a small gym and a big, sunlit indoor pool.
In most respects, this is a luxury hotel with a decent kitchen in the Scottish, 19th century baronial style. What makes it a standout for honeymooners are its spa suites and self-catering cottages—separate from the main house, luxuriously appointed with glorious views of the West Coast of Argyll and equipped with private hot tubs.You can join the hotel's house party atmosphere and take your meals in the main house or indulge in real honeymoon treatment and have them brought out to your private retreat.
Ardanaiseig Hotel, on the banks of Loch Awe in Scotland's Western Highlands, has collected massive galleries of award plaques and framed certificates for its place as one of Scotland's most romantic hotels. The restored Victorian boatshed that serves as its honeymoon suite is probably why. The self-contained accommodation, separated from the main hotel by enough of a distance to require the golf cart they generously supply, features an open plan living, dining, sitting room with a galley kitchen, a glass wall overlooking Loch Awe and a cathedral ceiling. The spacious, galleried sitting room is filled with shimmering reflections off the loch.
Leave the curtains of the glamorous sleeping gallery open when you go to bed and wake up to a glorious view of Loch Awe and the mountains, including Ben Lui, beyond. From the Boatshed you will rarely see another soul. The mountains of Argyll and Bute might as well be your private playground.
Great sea views from every room, a restaurant with an accomplished way with fresh caught fish, and an outdoor, heated horizon pool in which to hang out over Saundersfoot Harbor and Carmarthen Bay—what more can you ask for?
St Brides Spa Hotel in southwest Pembrokeshire, Wales, sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking a huge, golden sand beach. Forget about calling in the Feng Shui expert. All they had to do was point all the rooms in the direction of the sea and the endless horizon. To break the marine monotony, the little pastel-colored village of Saundersfoot climbs up from the beach as if arranged for a painting.
But it's not all just about the views, is it? The spa and pool at St Brides (good name for a honeymoon hotel, no?) are superb. Lots of thermal treatments, scented steam, salt infusions, a herbal rock sauna. Or you can skip all the healthy stuff and just spend quality time in the heated, outdoor hydrotherapy pool.
AddressLlanerchaeron, Ciliau Aeron, Lampeter SA48 8DG, UK
The thing about honeymoon hotels is there are so many other honeymooners and loved up couples. If you're the sort who prefers to get up early and listen to bird song, a cottage hidden in the woods or beside a cold, rushing river may be more your honeymoon style.
Abermydyr, a National Trust cottage on the banks of the River Aeron, is part of the Trust's Llanerchaeron estate in South Wales. The Trust calls it the ultimate woodland retreat and it is certainly is the very definition of picturesque. It's a pretty yellow, restored 19th century cottage with Gothic windows and a slate-tiled roof. It's well located for walking the beautiful South Wales coast. You'll have to cook for yourself but you may get to fish for your own supper.
Once the home of contemporary artist, George Chapman, It is believed to have been designed by Regency architect John Nash - who also designed Buckingham Palace - to house the Llanerchaeron estate's coachman.
When you tire of getting cozy around the woodburning stove, you can visit Llanerchaeron free during its normal opening hours.
Would most newlyweds launch themselves into their lifelong voyage surrounded by reminders of doom? Apparently, quite a few would if the early success of the Titanic Hotel in Belfast is anything to go by. The hotel, in the heart of Belfast's new Titanic Quarter, occupies the former offices and drafting office of Harland and Wolff, the Belfast shipbuilders who created the tragic vessel.
The hotel, beside Belfast harbor, attempts to recreate the glamour and excitement of the pre-1912, Edwardian era when what was planned to be the world's greatest ocean liner was launched on her first—and last—voyage.
Hotel design echoes the era with white tile and chrome bathrooms, art deco "staterooms" and "cabins", Titanic monogrammed robes and slippers and fevered, "eve of destruction" romance.
It's also probably the most glamourous hotel Northern Ireland has ever seen. If your ideas about the Titanic have been shaped by the Kate Winslet-Leonardo di Caprio film, this hotel will furnish you with lots of luxury blended with melancholy.
AddressSlieve Donard Hotel, Downs Rd, Newcastle BT33 0AH, UK
Slieve Donard is a magnificent Victorian pile on the south coast of County Down about 30 miles south of Belfast. It dates from the days when resorts were built on a grand scale. Well maintained over the years, it has recently seen the addition of a modern spa with a glam, 20 meter pool overlooking the golf links and the beach. It was named Irish Hotel of the Year in the 2017 Irish Hotel Awards.
Some rooms in this hotel may seem a bit old fashioned but the real romantic glory of Slieve Donard is the surrounding landscape. Named for the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, it sits, surrounded by lawns and gardens, between the Mountains of Mourne and the Irish Sea.