Enjoy a couples’ massage in Brighton, join a cooking class for two in Surrey or cruise along the romantic canals of Bruges.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while a good old romantic dinner at home may be enough to celebrate your love for one another, venturing further afield could offer just the excitement you need to make the day — and night — truly count.
If you didn’t get a chance to book a trip to a far-flung paradise or even Paris, worry not; we’ve found six easy-to-reach places to visit that could be ideal for a last-minute Valentine’s getaway, complete with sumptuous dinners paired with Champagne and chocolates, serene spa rituals and stargazing from your very own eco-pod.
Spoil yourselves to a relaxing coastal escape to Brighton
A quiet stroll on Brighton’s pebbled beach, complete with ice cream from the local ice cream truck, should be enough to bring you and your significant other closer. Still, there are plenty more romantic experiences to be had here: from feasting on oysters and Champagne at Riddle & Finns to booking a couples’ massage at The Treatment Rooms. Thrill-seeking couples may also unleash their inner child on a spine-tingling ride at Brighton Palace Pier, or climb up to 450ft on top of a giant glass viewing pod, admiring the splendid views of Brighton and the coastline.
And if you’re looking for a romantic hotel experience, Drakes would be ideal. Choose from a number of deluxe, sea-facing rooms with bathtubs for two, and packages involving roses, chocolates and Champagne or prosecco (starting from £50).
Visit Surrey for a fun cooking class for two
Looking for a foodie experience to impress your boo? The Gordon Ramsay Academy’s Valentine’s Dinner cooking class will see you two getting creative in the academy’s kitchen in Surrey, cooking up an indulgent dinner for two.
Check in at reception on 14 February at 6pm to enjoy a glass of fizz together, and let the cooking games begin: your chef teacher will teach you and your group’s other couples how to pan-fry duck breasts (or other meat), how to make charred chicory and creamy bean puree, as well as a sauce to pour over and a gooey chocolate pudding to share, ending the class on a super-sweet note. All ingredients and equipment are provided, along with soft drinks and a glass of wine or beer, while your creations are available to take home with you.
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Get pampered with spa treatments in Bath
There’s probably no better place to treat you and your partner to some pampering spa treatments than Bath. This historic UK city is renowned for The Roman Baths, the ancient site that served as a spa centre in the Roman times, complete with swimming pools, changing rooms and sauna-like hot rooms. While you can’t dip into the now covered-in-algae Great Bath, the city’s thermal springs still feed Bath’s modern spas.
There’s a wide range of day spas to choose from, including the impressive Thermae Bath Spa, which will give you access to natural 35.5C waters in the form of indoor pools and the spectacular, open-air Rooftop Pool — perfect for gazing at the Bath skyline while enjoying a warm soak.
Or you can opt for a luxury stay at the NO.15, BATH hotel. Part of the boutique GuestHouse Hotels chain, the property has launched its ‘Loved Up’ experience, running from 10-15 February. This includes a bottle of sparkling wine waiting in your room upon arrival, a 90-minute signature ritual for two at The Spa (choose from a eucalyptus-infused foot treatment and a bespoke facial), a five-course Valentine’s dinner (think Stokes Marsh Farm fillet of beef, pommes Anna, wild mushrooms and Madeira sauce, followed by dark chocolate and orange Battenberg with salted caramel ice cream), and cocktails at the bar.
Spend the night in an eco glamping pod in Lake District
How about declaring your love for one another under the stars, surrounded by never-ending nature? Virgin Experience Days’ One Night Eco Glamping Pod Break will give you the chance to enjoy camping in style, sleeping in your very own pod at the 100% carbon-neutral Quiet Site in the Lake District. The tent has room for two adults and two small children, which will make having this large space all to yourselves even more special.
Aside from being equipped with a carpeted floor and wooden interior, the pods come empty, but there are a few facilities to use on site, including a shop, a play room, free wi-fi, a bar, showers and baths — pretty much everything you need for an amazing glamping experience. Each pod is designed to accommodate the unpredictable British weather, with ventilation for the hot days and lamb’s wool insulation for the colder weather. Just remember to bring your desired camping gear (including beds and bedding, but no tent), and get ready to take in the outstanding Lake District views.
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Be transported to Shanghai in the heart of London
Ran out of time to book a long-haul trip to China? You can now treat your partner to the entire Shanghai experience without having to leave the UK. Park Chinois in London’s Mayfair will transport you to 1930s Shanghai through gilded ceilings and ruby red velvet banquettes. The restaurant’s Salon de Chine is the perfect setting to enjoy Chinese delicacies and share a platter of Duck de Chine or Chilean Wagyu Short Ribs with Black Bean Sauce.
On Valentine’s Day, you can also head to the lavish Club Chinois downstairs, for live music and dance performances (acts to be announced), as well as a dedicated V-Day menu; think Italian Red Prawn with Kai-Lan, or Braised Supreme Seafood with British Clam, Sea Bass, Blue Swimmer Crab and Sakura Shrimp. Complete the scrumptious dinner with the heavenly Toi et Moi sharing dessert —made from chocolate mousse with cognac and orange, and a light raspberry and rose mousse with lychee centre, served with two chocolate hearts filled with chocolate and chilli ganache.
Step into a fairytale with a visit to Bruges
If you’re longing for a last-minute trip outside of Britain, Bruges is your safest bet. Hop on just a two-hour Eurostar train ride to Brussels followed by a one-hour train journey to Bruges, and you’ll soon be gazing at chocolate-box medieval houses as you’re cruising down the Brugge-Zeebrugge Canal. Glide along carefree, amid beautiful swans, just before paying a visit to the local chocolate shops that sell everything from truffles and pralines to caramels and chocolate figurines. Dumon Chocolatier and Jean de Bruges are good places to start.
Then, head to Bruges’ Market Square to take a 30-minute horse-drawn carriage ride around the city. Cosy up under your blanket and let the sound of the horse’s hooves lead you down cobblestone roads, past ancient bridges and peaceful canals. Finally, don’t forget to cross Meestraat Bridge — this idyllic bridge (which also featured in the 2008 film In Bruges) is thought to grant couples who cross it eternal love.