Some traditions never get tired. If you have a thoroughly modern relationship, maybe it's time to throw a few more traditional romantic ideas into the mix, perhaps even a bit of retro style. Flowers and candy have always been nice and candlelight dinners still have their special place. But cast your eye over a few more romantic things to do in the UK this Valentine's Day.
Have a Brief Encounter
AddressCarnforth Station, Warton Rd, Carnforth LA5 9TR, UK
Carnforth Station in Lancashire stood in for Milford Junction in that classic British weepie, David Lean's Brief Encounter. The station has recently been refurbished, with full respect to its position as a historic cinema location and you can meet up under the clock featured in the film.
- Plan a train journey to Carnforth Station, the Brief Encounter location.
- Buy Brief Encounter direct and catch up on this most British of love stories.
Or, have a more modern brief encounter of your own at London's newly refurbished St. Pancras International Station. Meet by Paul Day's 30-foot tall statue, The Meeting Place, then drink champagne at the world's longest champagne bar, on the station platform.
AddressBirmingham B18 6LE, UK
...and have it custom made in Birmingham's amazing Jewellery Quarter. At least 40% of the jewelry made in the UK -- including much that finds its way to the exclusive shops of London's Mayfair -- is made in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter. The area is full of designer-makers (some trained in the district's own jewelry college) working out of small, glamorous shops. They can create a piece to your own specifications, usually for much less than you might expect to pay for custom work. A unique piece of jewelry is a very special gift for anyone.
The Cerne Abbas Giant could well be the sexiest ancient monument in the British Isles. Best let the National Trust, that most respectable of British institutions, describe him - "A huge outline sculpted into the chalk hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas representing a naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant."
Childless couples and those hoping for a bit more spice in their relationships have been drawn to amorous encounters near the Giant's most upstanding feature. In the past, some even spent the night there. 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.
You just can't move without bumping into a castle or a castle ruin somewhere in the UK. More amazingly, loads of them have been turned into unique luxury hotels. Imagine a room in a turret with ancient stone walls, a roaring fire, baronial hangings all over the place. Of course, nowadays, most Castle hotels are a bit more of the boutique hotel genre. But you'll still find four-poster beds, gorgeous bathrooms, historic landscaped views, moats, battlements and lots more to keep those romantic fantasies going.
The nice thing about walking along a beautiful beach is that it's just as romantic in cold - or even stormy weather - as on a bright sunny day. The UK has some really gorgeous beaches, carved out by wind, by the glaciers of the ice age and by long distance Atlantic currents. In fact last year, The National Trust of Wales named some of the top landscapes to pop the question, and most of them were beaches.
Book the Honeymoon Suite
Why should Valentine's Day be the only time you run off for an intensely romantic break in a lovely, glamorous room or suite? And why should honeymoon suites be reserved for honeymooners? The most romantic places are full of other loving couples around Valentine's Day. Sort of like joining a club and where's the private, intimate romance in that? Book a romantic break for some other time - honeymoon suites are very reasonable in mid-winter or early spring - and give your significant other the reservation, tucked in a box of chocolates, perhaps, as a Valentine's Day gift for the future. Some very romantic places we've liked:
- The Boats House at Ardanaiseig Hotel
- Holbeck Ghyll
AddressMaidstone ME17 1PL, UK
The English are great creators of elaborate hedge mazes and they're not just family attractions. Back in the heyday of English maze design, three or four hundred years ago, mazes were places for flirtation and secret lovers trysts. Go when the kids are in school and you'll have plenty of private time for snogging (that's British for smooching), between thick walls of yew hedges. Try one of these:
- Leeds Castle: Called the Loveliest Castle in the world, it has a dense yew maze with an exit through a romantic shell grotto.
- Hampton Court Maze: Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat got lost in this 300-year-old maze.
- The aMazing Hedge Puzzle: A 20-year-old maze in a classic, Labyrinth of Love design.
- The Hedge Maze at Longleat: Go when the kids are in school to enjoy this elaborate, modern maze.
Vacation rental - or self-catering - is not just for families and groups. Cottages in the country can be great hideaways for couples. Think of it, all by yourselves beside a roaring fire, beautiful views, loads of privacy. Read through the offerings of some of our favorite vacation rental listing companies; we've come across some real romantic gems.
...or tulips, poppies, peonies, orchids - any one of thousands of gorgeous displays at the Chelsea Flower Show. It may not be scheduled until May but the tickets are already on sale online by Valentine's Day at the Royal Horticultural Society's website, Why not tuck a pair of flower show tickets into a fresh bouquet of English roses (maybe tuck in some plane tickets too!) for a romantic surprise.
England's Lake District is unfailingly romantic at any time of year; its varied landscapes, hills and fells, and dramatic lakes, softened by wintry mists or shrouded in snow are ideal backdrops for getting cozy with someone special.
Windermere is, arguably the most romantic of all the lakes, surrounded by woodland gardens and heathery hills dotted with sheep. And don't think the innkeepers and restauranteurs of the area don't know it. Every February, they lay on special treats and deals for Valentines and lovers.Try one of these:
- Wrap up warm and snuggle up together on a Lake Windermere cruise. Steamer cruises on the deep dark waters run throughout the winter.
- Take a hand-in-hand woodland stroll through the season's first carpets of snowdrops at Holehird Gardens near Windermere, with gorgeous views of the lake.
- Run away to the wonderful Arts & Crafts period hotel, Holbeck Ghyll, overlooking the lake across gently undulating fields. You can plan your wedding while dining in the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant.