From a palatial Italianate mansion in parkland on the Thames to a loch-side Scottish hunting lodge, via a picture-perfect Cotswold village and the wilds of Romney Marsh, The Good Hotel Guide recommends 10 of Britain’s best hotels for Valentine’s Day.
CLIVEDEN HOUSE HOTEL, TAPLOW, BERKSHIRE
William Waldorf Astor once owned this Italianate ducal ‘summer palace’ above the Thames. He shipped in from Rome the Fountain of Love and a balustrade from the Villa Borghese, installed the Rococo French dining room, then made a gift of the lot to his eldest son, Waldorf, and Waldorf’s bride, Nancy Langhorne. In the 1950s the walled outdoor pool would set the scene for the Profumo affair. Rooms, some with alfresco hot tub, are furnished with antiques and original artwork. Pleasure grounds and woodlands are in the care of the National Trust. ‘Romantic indulgence’ packages include red roses, champagne, and use of the spa.
B&B £445–£1,535. Tasting menu £98, à la carte £73. Romantic indulgence package £325 per person. 01628 668561, clivedenhouse.co.uk
THE ROYAL CRESCENT HOTEL AND SPA, BATH, SOMERSET
Behind the honeyed facade of adjoining town houses at the centre of this sublime Georgian crescent where Jane Austen would walk after church, this five-star hotel offers views across the city to the fore, with a manicured acre of garden behind. Interiors blend heritage colours and antique furnishings with modern comforts and original artworks. A ‘totally indulgent’ Valentine’s Day package includes chocolates, champagne, and unlimited use of the Spa and Bath House with hot tub and vitality pool. There is fine dining in the Dower House restaurant, or book ahead and come by for a decadent afternoon tea.
B&B from £330–£960, à la carte £72, tasting menu £82,Valentine’s weekend D,B&B package £940 for 2 nights, afternoon tea £37.50. 2 nights min stay Sat. 01225 823333, royalcrescent.co.uk
LIME WOOD, LYNDHURST, HAMPSHIRE
At the heart of the New Forest, where deer, cattle and ponies roam, every modern comfort is laid on at this updated Georgian lodge, favourite haunt of celebrities. You’ll find a beautiful spa, Italian-inspired cooking by Luke Holder and Angela Hartnett, roaring log fires in welcoming lounges. Even ‘cosy’ bedrooms have a king-size bed, a bath with forest views and a separate shower. Most romantic are the cabins built out over a lake, with a balcony on three sides, triple-aspect picture windows, and an alfresco bathtub.
Room £345–£1,250. Breakfast £22, à la carte £65. 1-night bookings refused most weekends.02380 287177, limewoodhotel.co.uk
BARNSLEY HOUSE, BARNSLEY, GLOUCESTERHSIRE
Fires burn in snug lounges, there’s an in-house cinema and a room for every budget at this 17th-century Cotswold stone manor house and its sister and neighbour, The Village Pub, each supplied with coffee machine, fluffy robes and upmarket toiletries. Most romantic are the ‘secret hideaway’ Potting Shed suite with private garden and wood-burning stove, and the Rosemary Verey Suite with a bath tub for two, a garden-inspired four-poster and a courtyard conservatory and grotto. It was Verey, who, with husband David, from the 1950s, created the magical gardens. Produce from the potager appears on Francesco Volgo’s enticing seasonal menus.
B&B double £280–£650 (pub from £109), à la carte £45 (pub £35). 01285 740000, barnsleyhouse.com
LANGAR HALL, LANGAR, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
You can sleep in Barbara Cartland’s old room at this apricot-washed Georgian mansion set in parkland in the Vale of Belvoir, or maybe go for Bohemia, with poetry on the walls and a canopy bed. When the late Imogen Skirving first opened her home to paying guests, she wanted them to feel they had been invited to dinner by dear friends, and her granddaughter Lila Aurora runs the place in that spirit. Raise a Bellini in the bar. Dine on such dishes as home cured goose ham, foie gras, cep, wild garlic capers; roast Belvoir partridge; vanilla cheesecake, passionfruit, coconut sorbet.
B&B £150–£225, dinner (Fri, Sat) £54.50, other nights £39–£44.50. 01949 860559, langarhall.com
HOTEL ENDSLEIGH, MILTON ABBOT, DEVON
In landscaped parkland laid out by Humphry Repton, with the River Tamar running through, this cottage orné was built by Jeffry Wyatville as a fishing lodge for the Duke of Bedford and his Duchess, Georgiana. She bore 12 healthy children then moved in her young artist lover, Edwin Landseer. Hotelier Olga Polizzi’s unerring sense of style is everywhere apparent. Bedford room has a fireplace and original hand-painted wallpaper. Panelled public rooms have antiques and roaring fires. Locally produced, fished and foraged food, beautiful walks, birdsong, champion trees and a star-filled night sky are among many glories.
B&B £205–£460, Valentines dinner £65. 1-night bookings refused Fri, Sat.01822 870000, hotelendsleigh.com
ROMNEY BAY HOUSE, NEW ROMNEY, KENT
Built for Hollywood actress Hedda Hopper by Clough Williams-Ellis, this house stands isolated between the English Channel and golf links. All around lies the wild, evocative landscape of Romney Marsh, haunt of writers and smugglers, with its little stone churches, stoic sheep and whispering reeds. Within, the ambience is welcoming, with cheery log fires. A four-course set dinner of local produce is cooked by chef-proprietor Cinton Lovell and served by candlelight. Clinton’s wife, Lisa, is the perfect hostess. Choose a sea-view four-poster room, wake to a sunrise, spy France through the binoculars provided.
B&B double £110–£164, dinner £49. 01797 364747. romneybayhousehotel.co.uk
THE GORING, LONDON
Your budget might not run to the sumptuous suite where Kate Middleton spent the night before her wedding, but even the Goring’s smallest bedrooms have bespoke furniture, 24-hour room service, mood lighting, Italian linen… This Edwardian hotel is the last of its kind in London to be run by the founding family, and its surprisingly large garden is a green oasis. You can eat Richard Galli’s Michelin-starred food in the David Linley-designed dining room, seafood in Nathan Outlaw’s Siren – or just drop in for afternoon tea, or for cocktails in the bar with resident pianist.
Dine-and-stay packages from £520, afternoon tea from £50 (£62 with a glass of Bollinger). 020 7396 9000, thegoring.com
COES FAEN, BARMOUTH, GWYNEDD
In woodland gardens overlooking the Mawddach estuary, with views of Cader Idris, this adults-only hotel is a stunning conversion of a Victorian lodge. A glass staircase is set into the hillside. Each of the six bedrooms, designed to make the most of the view, has its own unique feature – an ash-wood bath on a slate plinth; a cedar and Welsh slate steam room; velvet armchairs and private widescreen cinema with electric blackout blinds; a hot tub on a private terrace… Dine on Tuscan inspired cooking of local Welsh ingredients in Môr restaurant. Bring the horses – they have stabling.
Fixed-price menu (Wed–Sat) £45–£55. 01341 281632, coesfaen.co.uk
SHIELDAIG LODGE, GAIRLOCH, HIGHLANDS
You follow a winding single-track road and pass between gateposts topped with stone eagles, to find this loch-side Victorian hunting lodge surrounded by gardens on a 26,000-acre estate. Bedrooms furnished with antiques have a view of the loch or the walled garden. Some have an in-room roll-top bath. Best is the four-poster suite with a bay window looking out over the water. In the liberator bar there is a choice of 250 whiskies. In the dining room, locally reared meats, estate game, fish and shellfish from the loch, and home-grown produce appear on Jerome Prodaunu’s menus. Romantic-break packages including flowers, chocolates and champagne are available.
B&B £220–£320, fixed-price dinner £39, tasting menu (on request) £59, ‘romantic getaway’ 1-night D,B&B from £450. 01445 741333, shieldaiglodge.com
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