Love a good bargain
Win your Valentine's heart without breaking the bank
It's that time of year when love's young dream needs to ditch the dreaming for a day and dig into the pocket instead to show their other half how much they really mean to them.
Valentine's Day may be simply another Hallmark holiday to you, or a bit of a laugh, or you're excitedly awaiting a certain question to be popped, but whatever you want on Wednesday, there are options for everyone, and perhaps a reminder that love doesn't have to cost a fortune!
A survey from discount supermarket Aldi has revealed that only 56pc of us consider ourselves romantic and one in four spends less than €20 proving it. Of course, gifts aren't everything: the panel shows lots of lovely ways to profess your affection if you're short on cash. A heartening 72pc claimed a Valentine's Day card meant more than an expensive gift and simply cooking a romantic meal for two can up the love stakes. Among women's least appreciated gifts are petrol station flowers and kitchenware, the survey warns...
For full on splurging, it's hard to beat Michelin starred l'Ecrivain in Dublin, with an €80 pp six-course menu including foie gras (01-6611919), while Fade Street Social is hosting two menus (€55/€70 pp) for the special day (01-6040066). Piglet Wine Bar (01-7079786) has an anti-Valentine's 'Seven Lustful Sins' seven-course dinner for €55 available on Taste.ie for those flying solo, while Veggies get treated to top nosh in Cork's Paradiso restaurant. Oysters in Galway's Oscar's (091-582180) should help the gastronomic juices, along with the romantic ones.
There is still lots of availability if you want to head away. The quirkiest option has to be 'Cottages for Couples' near Skibbereen, with a range of kitsch one-bed cottages and tree-houses with outdoor hot tubs. (028-22957, prices from €139 per night). Dromoland Castle is a luxury choice, with a special Valentine's Day package from €370 pps, including two nights bed and breakfast, afternoon tea, champagne and chocolates along with an activity like falconry, or the spa.
Carton House in Maynooth has a dinner, bed and breakfast deal with Prosecco for €268 per couple and you might get Rob Kearney thrown in for good measure, given it's the Irish rugby team's training ground.
The Ice House in Ballina is most unusual, with stunning views, outdoor hot tubs and a super restaurant in the cellar. It has deluxe double rooms from €180 B&B.
For something more unusual, the OPW lets out State-owned properties including gate lodges and castles for surprisingly good deals (irishlandmark.com). For the ultimate in remote romance, try the SJ Schooner Lighthouse on the Donegal peninsula for €343.25 for two for the weekend.
Lidl has a great meal deal offer for €15 for a choice of one main dish, one side and one dessert along with a bottle of Prosecco and a gift box of homemade Áine chocolates. Kevin Dundon offers lots of romantic recipes on SuperValu.ie.
If you're a traditionalist you can spend as little as €3.99 for a rose in Aldi, which also has top-end bouquets from €39.99.
Dublin Florist Appassionata has online deliveries for its 'Your Tuliptastic' bouquets for €50, or a Pink Bouquet plus candy for €60. Avoca's house florist 'Joeanna Caffrey' bouquet is €45.
Marks & Spencer has 'I love you' lollies for just €2.49, while 'Prosecco and rose love heart jellies' are €4.50 a pack. Aldi has Roisin's handmade chocolates for €9.99 and a wine lover's sale in progress for a special tipple. Avoca's hot-chocolate spoons are gorgeous at €8.95 for three.