independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Love at first sight

With Valentine's Day almost upon us, the boutique hotel experts at Mr and Mrs Smith give Weekend the lowdown on their top romantic European weekend getaways

Le Relais

Valentine's Day should be so much more than just a card, a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers from the garage. If you really want to impress the special someone in your life, whisk them off on a romantic weekend break to one of these sizzling hotels.

Le Relais de Franc Mayne, Bordeaux, France

Fancy an elegant escape in a stately setting? This chateau is the place. You can lounge in one of the nine antique-packed rooms, splash in the natural swimming pool below the cedar trees, and partake of the local produce. With seven acres of vineyards, this boutique hotel is also a working winery.

Price: Doubles from €220 per night, room only

Hotel Yasmin, Prague

Prague is an archetypal chocolate-box picture of a city, but with plenty of impish Czech twists to keep it interesting – there are few places where just strolling down the street can be inspiring.

Just steps from Wenceslas Square, Hotel Yasmin does quirky with significant aplomb (there are 10ft cat tails decorating the lobby, which certainly makes for a conversation starter).

Rooms are modern but welcoming, and the restaurant offers a range of cuisines, including a choice of Japanese, Korean, German and Czech. You can even grab some Mongolian noodles.

And best of all, when the sun's out, you can dine in the beautiful courtyard garden.

Price: Doubles are from €95 per night, including breakfast

The Crown, Amersham

For down-to-earth dallying, try the Crown, a rustic pub with rooms whose recent re-design was overseen by Ilse Crawford –think clean lines and classic, contemporary interiors. The main building is a 500-year-old coaching inn in the market town of Amersham, with a restaurant offering farmhouse food and a menu that changes daily (herbs and vegetables are grown in the kitchen garden).

Choose Room 12 for an insight into the inn's fascinating history. Inside you will find a section of hand-painted wall dating from 1550 that's under National Trust protection.

Price: Doubles from €199 per night, room only

Ohla Hotel, Barcelona

Valentine's weekend, Catalan-style, is best spent nibbling on top-notch tapas as you gaze into each other's eyes (or check out the charming waiter; the choice is yours).

The inventive cuisine and eye-candy in Ohla's two restaurants aren't the only draws, though – there's also the darkly stylish design, the spectacularly central location and the fantastic city views from the rooftop plunge pool.

Price: Doubles from €231 per night, room only

Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh

If you're romancing on the Royal Mile, this one's a winner. Go all-out and book Room 507 on the top floor – its Victorian window has first-class views of the castle.

In the heart of Edinburgh's old town, the hotel has glamorous interiors decked out in Missoni prints. And the restaurant, Cucina, is bright and bustling.

Price: Doubles from €249 per night, room only

Dormy House, Cotswolds

This converted 17th Century farmhouse is the ideal country hideaway. It boasts 40 good-looking guest rooms, but once you're tucked up in your four-poster you'll feel like the only guests in the house.

With the new spa, the hotel is set to become one of the hottest new destinations for relaxing a deux. Still in the top three most popular destinations for Smith guests, the Cotswolds is hard to beat.

Price: Doubles from €303 per night, room only

Hotel de Nell, Paris

Parisian chic is the order of the day at this minimalist masterpiece and everything about it says elegance (including the staff).

The sleek rooms are almost entirely white and the overarching feeling when you step into the lobby is one of serenity and style. There's a small private spa treatment room if you're in need of a pick-me-up and the restaurant, La Regalade Conservatoire, is well-known among locals for its modern, bistro-style cuisine.

Price: Doubles from €304 per night, room only

Imani Country House, Portugal

Just an hour's drive from Lisbon, this is the ultimate calm countryside hideaway.

It's an intimate escape with seven bedrooms, but there's plenty of room to roam and relax – seven acres, in fact. So stretch your legs and explore. You're more likely to run into the hotel's flock of sheep than fellow guests.

Price: Doubles from €170 per night, room only

Floroom, Florence

If you're whisking someone lucky away for the weekend, where better than Italy? Choose one of Floroom's two locations on either side of the Arno, and you'll be bang in the heart of the Florentine fun, with the Uffizi, Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti all within strolling distance, but it won't break the bank, either. Decor in each bedroom is simple but stylish – neutral tones complement striking prints and intriguing accessories. There's no restaurant, but the apartment owners will happily point you to intimate eateries.

Price: Doubles from €140 per night, including breakfast

Andaz Amsterdam

If you're seeking a romantic city hideout from which to watch the world go by, book the 'Alice in Wonderland'-inspired Andaz's Canal View Queen Room 209, which has the best views over Amsterdam's iconic waterways.

It's a great pick for a classic break with a twist: it's in the middle of the canal district, so you'll be perfectly positioned for exploring the city, but it's also a cool, relaxed place to while away the weekend without wandering outside (don't miss the downstairs spa).

The restaurant is a big draw, and the open kitchen means you can watch the chefs cook your eggs to perfection each morning – unless, of course, you'd prefer breakfast in bed.

Price: Doubles from €325 per night, room only

Book your boutique hotel with Mr & Mrs Smith for the best available rates, money back with every booking and a little something extra on arrival. Visit mrandmrssmith.com/valentines for live availability over the Valentine's weekend

Irish Independent

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