Everyone has their own idea of that perfect, romantic Valentine's Day setting - that special atmosphere that sets their heart a-flutter and their head spinning with possibilities. It could be a chic eatery, a buzzing hotspot, or the dining room of a Michelin master. It's all about finding the ambiance that's just right for you whether that's being at one with nature or being pampered at a five-star hotel. So, if you want to know the best place to take your Valentine this year, here are my picks for the 20 Best Romantic Spots in 2020 for wining, dining and popping the question
You can't get much better than Dublin's Best Restaurant 2019, with the double whammy of having Ireland's Best Chef 2019 cook your dinner. Olivier Meisonnave's atmospheric Georgian basement on Upper Pembroke Street, with Graham Neville at the stove, is a true jewel. Sophisticated and elegant, it's a favourite of big hitters who love its understated charm. Its Valentine's five-course menu at €79 includes a glass of the superb Champagne Delamotte.
The ultra chic five-star Dylan Boutique Hotel, located in the heart of D4, has a Romantic Escape with overnight accommodation and breakfast, a bottle of Prosecco and strawberries on arrival, a romantic three-course dinner in its superb Eddison Restaurant, and a late checkout. Don't miss the glorious Ruby Room for cocktails first. From €329 for two.
The urbane Giorgio Casari charmed the birds off the trees at the original Unicorn restaurant, and he's doing just the same at Gigi on Ranelagh's main drag. You'll find delicious pasta, delicious wine, and delicious fun! Mains, €16-€28.50.
It's intimate, it's romantic, it's a sophisticated little bit of Paris meets D4. Nick Munier is in his element, meeting and greeting, while Chris Fullam serves some of the coolest small plates in the city. Try a Perroquet cocktail - Ricard and mint syrup. Les Petits Plats, €6-€14.
Cosy up in the ridiculously atmospheric tunnel of this fabulous Italian restaurant, owned by Michelin-star chef Ross Lewis. It's located under the bridge on Clanwilliam Terrace, with the Dart making its rolling music overhead. Pizza, pasta, salumi, secondi, from €15-€25.50.
Sole on South William Street is a sophisticated seafood/grill restaurant with a feel of Madrid or Paris. And, really, could there be anything more romantic than sharing a French-style seafood tower, laden with Howth's smoked Irish organic salmon, prawn cocktail, rock oysters, pan-roast crab claws, west Cork mussels and Irish lobster? From €75-€115 for two.
With the best heated terrace and garden room around, Suesey Street is a hidden gem in Dublin's South Georgian Quarter. With TV host John Healy to welcome you, and new head chef Cathal Dunne, it also has a great-value Supper Club 2020 three-course menu at €89 for two, including a selected bottle of wine.
THE LEGAL EAGLE
Gather your briefs and take a stroll down by the Liffey to this wonderful gastropub on Chancery Place, where you can snuggle up in a cosy corner with its Irish oyster selection; and some Skerries razor clams with queenie scallop, black pudding and boxty with seaweed butter. Bar bites, small plates, large plates €4-€38.
A sleek, sophisticated spot, by former Etto head chef, and Chef of the Year 2018, Barry Sun Jian, in a cool little townhouse in Blackrock. With superb service led by Darren Darcy, ex L'Ecrivain, Barry Sun's food, and foxy music, you can't go wrong. Share a cote de boeuf for two at €64.
THE WESTBURY HOTEL
With Grafton Street on its doorstep, the gorgeous five-star Westbury Hotel has a Romance in the Heart of Dublin package to include a bottle of Champagne, strawberries and chocolate on arrival, overnight accommodation, with a rose-petal-adorned turndown, and breakfast in bed, from €335 per room per night. Have a cocktail in The Sidecar and dinner in the fabulous Wilde restaurant.
The Blue Haven Boutique Hotel, right on the main drag of beguiling Kinsale, has a great-value Valentine's offer of one night's B&B, a glass of Prosecco and cookies on arrival, a romantic dinner for two in their Rare restaurant, and great music in the bar. From €111 per person sharing.
CASTLE LESLIE ESTATE
A world of its own on 1,000 acres, which Samantha Leslie has turned into a paradise for all to enjoy, and with a family history that includes prime ministers and princes, Co Monaghan's Castle Leslie is endlessly fascinating. With its Roses and Romance package, enjoy Valentine's night in the Castle or Lodge from €320 for two, including dinner in Snaffles restaurant.
Head for Harvey's Point Hotel on the shores of Donegal's Lough Eske, where a two-night Valentine's break in a palatial suite includes Prosecco and a chocolate fountain on arrival, and an intimate Valentine's dinner, plus the wonderful General Manager Noel Cunningham to oil the wheels of your stay. Two nights' B&B plus one dinner, from €516.
This utterly romantic castle will have you dreaming about Knights of
the Round Table. Its one-night Valentine special, on the Friday/Saturday, includes a sumptuous dinner, plus a bottle of bubbly and a single red rose on arrival. From €378 per couple.
If you're lucky enough to get a reservation, there's something super romantic about the stark wooded setting and the over-the-fire cooking at the fabulous new Lignum (Latin for wood) in Bullaun, Co Galway. Five/seven-course tasting menus, €65/€90.
LIMERICK STRAND HOTEL
Throughout February, the Limerick Strand has a unique take on Valentine's, with Galentine's & Malentine's Day packages, catering for groups who want to girl it up or bro-down with friends over great food, cocktails and various other activities. Both packages include one night's B&B at €100/€108 per person sharing, respectively.
MUCKROSS PARK HOTEL
Right in the heart of Killarney National Park, the Muckross Park's two-night Valentine Package will see you embarking on a romantic jaunting trip; availing of unlimited spa access; indulging in a five-course gourmet dinner while being serenaded by a violin player throughout - and of course, there's accommodation and breakfast. From €700 per room.
THE PULLMAN RESTAURANT
Set in two exquisite, historic Orient Express dining carriages in the grounds of Galway's five-star Glenlo Abbey Hotel, the Pullman is one of Ireland's most unique dining experiences. Superb two/three-course menu at €61/€69; plus a one-night B&B Old Fashioned Romance package with romantic perks, from €304.
THE BOATHOUSE BISTRO
Overlooking the rippling waters of Kenmare Bay, this 19th-Century boathouse on the Dromquinna Manor Estate is the perfect place to croon True Love. Great cocktails, service and lots of chic, casual seafood and steaks. Mains €15.90-€29.90.
THE LODGE AT ASHFORD
Offering stunning views of Lough Corrib and cutting-edge food from chef Jonathan Keane in its Wilde's restaurant, head west for the Love at the Lodge package, which includes a two-night stay, a romantic three-course dinner for two, a movie with popcorn, snacks and Valentine's cocktail, plus complimentary green fees for the Estate's nine-hole golf course. Available February 13-15, from €550 per couple.