The UK's top romantic destinations

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Get that lovin' feeling

Whether you're looking for a romantic retreat or a naughty night away, our round-up of lovey-dovey locations will get you in the mood

Anglesey, Wales

Forget a single cellophane-wrapped red rose and the surf 'n' turf special at your local steakhouse. Why not woo as young royals do on the Welsh island of Anglesey? With 125 miles of craggy coastal walks, chalk cliffs studded with white sandy coves, and views across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia, Anglesey is the perfect place to romance your own duke or duchess.

First stop is Llanddwyn Island, home of St Dwynwen, considered to be the Welsh St Valentine and patron saint of all lovers. The story goes that her heart was broken when her beau, Maelon, was turned to ice by her father, after which she lived out her days in solitude as a hermit. Take a flask of whisky-laced hot chocolate and raise a toast to her as you watch the sun set from Pilot's Cove, undoubtedly the most romantic of Anglesey's beaches.

Spot guillemots, puffins and razorbills at the South Stack Lighthouse or have a Milk Tray-man-moment and charter your own speedboat for a frothy whiz along the Menai Strait. Stop off at one of the many unspoilt beaches for a romantic picnic à deux, or visit the colony of contented seals lazing about on Puffin Island. Back on dry land, potter hand-in-hand around the antique shops and local art galleries of Beaumaris, Anglesey's candy-coloured seaside resort.

Eat and Sleep

Have a cwtch (Welsh for cuddle) in one of the two Victorian kissing rooms (tiny snugs with red velvet banquettes) at Château Rhianfa, a romantic Loire castle-style hotel on the banks of the Strait. Or, for a more Downton-esque tryst, opt for Tre-Ysgawen Hall, a sprawling grey-stone mansion house with four-poster beds and velvet chaise longues.

Both Charles Dickens and Dr Samuel Johnson were regulars at the 15th-century Ye Olde Bull's Head Inn in Beaumaris. But the chances are they never dined on fine local sea bass or Anglesey salt marsh lamb in the enchanting Loft Restaurant amid the inn's ancient oak eaves. In Wales, ice cream is the food of love. Order a sundae with two spoons at the Red Boat ice cream parlour, where proprietor Tony makes the most heavenly home-made gelato in irresistible Ferrero Rocher, gin and tonic and jelly bean flavours.


Bakewell, Derbyshire

The Peak District's patchwork green hills, heavy stone viaducts and friendly market towns are as quintessentially English as Jane Austen herself. Legend has it that Austen wrote much of Pride and Prejudice right here in Bakewell's Rutland Arms, and the town's cobbled streets and flint-stone cottages are still steeped in Austen's heritage. Chatsworth House and gardens, said to have inspired Pemberley (Mr Darcy's home), is a short drive away, and Haddon Hall, the 12th-century mansion house which has made many appearances in screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and The Princess Bride, lies five miles south.

Hire a bicycle made for two from Hassop Station (no trains; it's a café now) and cycle the Monsal Trail, a cycle path that follows the disused London-Midland railway line through the Derbyshire Dales via the tunnels of Chee Tor and Cressbrook, and the amazing Headstone Viaduct. Don't forget to stop off for a rejuvenating pint of the local Peak Ale at the Packhorse Inn in Little Longstone.

Book a box in the beautifully ornate twin-domed Victorian opera house in the nearby town of Buxton for an evening of upscale entertainment. Or simply grab a couple of puddings from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop and have an impromptu picnic on the banks of the River Wye.

Eat and Sleep

Feast on Derbyshire beef with allotment veg at the 17th-century Red Lion Inn about 10 miles to the east of Bakewell. It's an independent gastro pub with winged leather armchairs, antique candelabras and no fewer than four blazing log fires. If you're too stuffed to move, then spend the night in a luxury suite with views across the Peak District at the adjacent and aptly named Peak Edge Hotel.

Hold hands over pig's head terrine or estate-shot pheasant at the acclaimed Devonshire Arms at Beeley on the Chatsworth Estate; or play Lord and Lady of the Manor in a private apartment atop the glorious Hunting Tower, also on the Chatsworth Estate. Of course, true Mr Darcy fans should really stay at the Rutland Arms in Bakewell.

Loch Awe, Scotland

If it's atmosphere you want, you can't beat Loch Awe in the Western Highlands. Snowflakes flutter in the winter air, while a silvery mist rolls down the furrowed banks of Ben Lui and across the slate-grey waters of the loch. In medieval times, lovelorn clansmen would present a heart-shaped Luckenbooth brooch to the object of their affection to stake their claim and protect them from evil. While jewellery is still more than acceptable as a romantic gift, grand gestures can also really work their magic. Hire a rowing boat from the Ardbrecknish boat sheds in Dalmally and row across the lake to the ruins of 15th-century Kilchurn Castle.

Wrap up warm for a rummage through the rugged oak forests of Inverliever and Inverinan in search of pine martens and red squirrels, or perhaps even the occasional stag peeking through the bracken. This being Munro country, you can hit the heights with your beloved with a hike up Ben Cruachan, one of five Munros (mountains above 914m) in the region. 'Bag' the 1126m peak and you'll be rewarded with cloud-grazing views across to the Isle of Jura and Ben Nevis.

Eat and Sleep

Spend the night in the Boat Shed, a modern, secluded suite in the Ardanaiseig Hotel's former boathouse on the banks of the loch. Located 200m from the main house, the dramatic view from the bedroom's floor-to-ceiling glass wall certainly puts the awe into Loch Awe. The main house is a more baronial affair, with four-poster beds, overstuffed sofas and a malt whisky lounge. Or, if a highland log cabin is more the sort of thing to bring out the romantic in you, the Sloy comes with an utterly charming loch-side hot tub built for two. Traditionalists can enjoy champagne and oysters on the banks of Loch Fyne at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar a 20-minute drive away.

Salisbury, Wiltshire

Salisbury is one of the UK's prettiest cities and perfect for an understated weekend of romance. Its narrow medieval streets are lined with wonky, black-beamed Tudor buildings, and tiny cobbled annexes hide whimsical tea rooms and ancient oak-beamed inns. The Haunch of Venison on Minster Street is a fine example. Dating back to 1320, its chequered tile floors, wood-panelled lounge and pewter bar transport you back in time. Head to the cavernous chapel of the Gothic Salisbury Cathedral, where you can read original Magna Carta documents and climb the 332 steps of the tallest church spire in Britain.

Eight miles north of the city on the edge of Salisbury Plain is Stonehenge. Standing immense and silent, this neolithic stone circle is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been shrouded in mystery for thousands of years. It attracts dozens of coach tours each day, so book an out-of-hours visit and get access to the inner sanctum. Time it right and you could catch the sun rise or set over the stones for a truly romantic epiphany.

Back towards the city, Old Sarum, the iron-age hill fort and site of the first ancient settlement here, is a pretty 30-minute walk through woodlands from the city. It's quiet, wildly atmospheric and lacking the crowds that descend daily on Stonehenge.

If you are a fan of romantic movies, then Salisbury Odeon is the place for you and your sweetheart to catch the latest romcom. Dating back to the 15th century, the neo-Tudor frontage, arched timber roof and stained-glass windows have helped secure its reputation as one of the most romantic cinemas in the world.

Eat and Sleep

Head to Rollestone Manor, a Grade-II mansion house near Stonehenge. Opt for the Cardigan room with a four-poster bed and an antique roll-top bath with views over the gardens. If you can handle the pressure of staying in Love Lane, a quaint Victorian cottage close to the city centre offers the ultimate romantic address.


Known as 'the city of dreaming spires', the eternally romantic Oxford has been knocking out poets and novelists by the dozen since time began. Secure your beloved's heart for ever by reciting romantic odes on a literary walking tour of the city. Or head to Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, where charming young undergrads will chauffeur you in a private punt along the River Cherwell. Score extra Brownie points if you pre-book a bottle of chilled champagne and a picnic basket to enjoy as you float past the Botanic Garden and Christ Church Meadow, where Lewis Carroll is said to have dreamt up the idea for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

If the weather's not up to outdoor pursuits, a visit to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is a lovely way to spend a few hours. Or how about taking in a concert at the Sheldonian Theatre? This beautiful Grade I-listed building is the university's official ceremonial hall and makes a very romantic setting. For an alternative evening of passion, whisk your beloved to a lock-in at castle-turned-prison-turned-hotel, Malmaison.

Eat and Sleep

For a grand romantic gesture, you simply can't fail with a night in the exquisite Blanc de Blanc suite at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, just 10 minutes away by car. Sip vintage champagne in front of a roaring fire before dining on Blanc's renowned Noix de St-Jacques and Raviole d'Homard in his two Michelin-starred restaurant.

Back in town, check in to the Old Bank, a luxury boutique hotel in the grandiose setting of Oxford's old Georgian bank. Grab a bottle of champagne and sneak up to the rooftop terrace for atmospheric views as the sun sets over the circular dome of the Radcliffe Camera, part of the famous Bodleian Library. The hotel offers free guided walking tours of the city and university colleges, which start at 2pm every day.

If the weather's nice, escape the hustle and bustle of the city and lunch on the terrace of the Cherwell Boathouse, where chef Nick Welford serves up locally sourced ingredients like braised blade of Oxfordshire beef and seared wood pigeon.

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