From villages that are straight out of a fairytale to unique cottage hideaways, you'll find that there's no shortage of romance throughout the United Kingdom. Whether you enjoy spending time in the countryside or hitting the pavement of a big city like London, there are countless activities, events, and places to stay or visit that are perfect for rekindling a spark with that special someone. Skip the chocolates and roses and try one of these unique things to do instead.
Have a Brief Encounter
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. 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.
At least 40 percent of the jewelry made in the United Kingdom, 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.
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."
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, many of them have been turned into unique luxury hotels. Imagine a room in a turret with ancient stone walls, a roaring fire, and 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 UK has some 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. A few of the most popular include Watergate Bay, Saunton Sands, Compton Bay, and Sandsend.
Book the Honeymoon Suite
Book a romantic break any time of year (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. Classic London city hotels like The Connaught, the Dorchester, and the Goring are charming year-round.
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. Leeds Castle has a dense yew maze with an exit through a romantic shell grotto, while the 300-year-old Hampton Court Maze is where Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat got lost.
Roses, tulips, poppies, peonies, and orchids are 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 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 lovers.
Brecon Beacons National Park, in South Wales, is a stunning national park that's also home to an International Dark Sky Reserve. When the skies are clear at night, you can grab a blanket and cuddle with your romantic partner while taking in some of the most incredible celestial sights anywhere.
Bristol is famous for its International Balloon Fiesta, held during four days in August. During this time, you see hundreds of colorful hot air balloons take to the skies or view the city from your own private balloon.
Norfolk is famous for its lavender and is home to the National Collection of Lavenders, where more than 100 acres of the fragrant herb grow in abundance. Grab your beau's hand and enjoy these colorful meadows!
For a bit of romance in Cambridge, rent a "punt," a traditional flat-bottomed boat not unlike those that ply the canals in Venice. You can either take the boat out by yourself on the lake or hire a navigator in case you'd rather enjoy the sights alongside your loved one.
Idyllic Dartmoor is home to the Emsworthy Mire, a moorland nature reserve where thousands of bluebells flowers every spring. There are few better places to have a picnic as you listen to birds chirp around you.
London has a few different ice rinks during the winter months, but few are as romantic as Somerset House. The neoclassical landmark is illuminated from below as skaters of all ages and ability levels glide around on the ice. Whether you're a pro or just starting out, it's the ideal setting for winter romance.
Bibury is an ancient village situated along the banks of River Coln. It was once described by poet William Morris as "the most beautiful village in England," a designation we're inclined to agree with! You can rent one of the idyllic stone cottages for a stay or simply walk around.
Fans of Harry Potter will recognize the iconic steam train that makes its way throughout Scotland. Take a trip over the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Inverness to feel like you're living part of the movie and feel the romance of a past era.