10 Best: English love nests
As spring bursts forth, take a trip across the Irish Sea for a cosy weekend in the countryside. Hayley Spurway suggests 10 perfect places for loved-up couples to get away from it all.
Swap the hustle and bustle of daily life for a peaceful hamlet in the heart of Dorset’s countryside near Milborne Wick. At The Pavilion, getting away from it all needn’t mean curling up under a faux-fur throw and doing nothing at all. Here you can gorge on local produce from the farm shops, unwind in the sauna and steam room, and enjoy a bit of exertion as you stride out into your verdant surroundings, spin off by bike ride or tone up on the Power Plate.
Whether or not you exert yourself first, there are few better places to chill out than this light-filled pad decked out in bespoke furnishings, ultra-modern luxuries and the latest audio-visual entertainment. Make a bucket of popcorn and lounge in your private cinema, kick back and enjoy your surroundings from the roof terrace or watch the world go by from a stone grotto by the millstream.
Basics: Sleeps four (plus two small children).
Cost: Three nights from €756 or €126 per person.
Nr Whitby, Yorkshire
Light the candles, put on some music, slip into a cosy bathrobe and snuggle up by the fireside. You won’t have to lift a finger.
Home-cooked food can be delivered at your request, and if you order a hamper crammed with local produce, bubbly and chocolates, you’ll be reluctant to go out once you’ve set up house in your cosy abode with its mezzanine sleeping level.
But staring out to Robin Hood’s Bay (above), you might just be tempted to step outside and boost your appetite for romance with a windswept walk and a pint of Yorkshire ale. And if you can’t muster up the energy for a coastal ramble, at least you can enjoy a blast of briny air from your sea-facing terrace.
Basics: Sleeps two, self-catering in style.
Cost: Three nights from €329 or €164 per person.
THE TIDE MILL
A backdrop to the marina, the changing tides of the estuary, and the call of sea birds: this is a waterside retreat with a romantic edge.
Laid out over three floors that climb above water level, this cosy 18th-century cottage is brimming with coastal character, nautical paraphernalia, antique furnishings and a lick of contemporary style. Sink into an armchair in the first-floor lounge and gaze out over the boats and the River Deben, or step outside and witness Suffolk's famous 300-year-old Tide Mill, enjoy waterfront dining options and explore the gems of historic Woodbridge.
Basics: Sleeps up to four (self-catering).
Cost: From €456 for a three-night weekend or €103 per person.
Wake up to birdsong in a lovingly restored cottage nestled in the Cotswolds. Whatever the weather in the countryside of Painswick, curl up by the log fire at night, or in the sun-filled conservatory by day.
Dating back to the 1890s, this former worker's cottage exudes a period ambience with its traditional furnishings and antique treasures. With the Cotswolds rolling out from the doorstep, there is little you need other than your walking boots -- and perhaps a stash of fresh produce from the local farm shops if you intend to bypass the local pubs and cook a romantic dinner in-house.
Basics: Sleeps up to four.
Cost: From €653 per week or €163 per person.
If you like your romantic breaks quintessentially seaside-style, bag this fisherman's cottage just footsteps from the beach and enjoy the fusion of traditional character updated with modern luxuries.
Pack up a picnic and have an old-fashioned day out on the beach, source some of Kent's famous oysters (and put them to the aphrodisiac test) or dine out under the stars on your beach-side terrace.
Outside, the olive trees pickled with tiny white lights create a magical al fresco dining area -- and what with a selection of jazz music to chill out to, breathtaking views of the sunset and a garden that leads to the pebbly seashore, you have little choice but to be swept away into an ambience of romantic relaxation.
Near the town of Deal.
Basics: Sleeps up to five.
Cost: From €721 for three nights or €144 per person.
With room for a family of six, bag this country cottage for just two and you've something of a palatial love nest in the Welsh countryside. If you're equestrian types, you can bring your own horses and enjoy wild rides into the woods and hills; even if you're not, don't forget your walking boots -- on the doorstep, you have the Vale of Usk and walking country extraordinaire.
While the great outdoors and the isolation of your hilltop bolthole are its major calling cards, there is plenty inside that make Valley View the perfect lovers' retreat.
Claw-foot baths, under-floor heating and a log burner create a cosy environment to come in to, and a welcome hamper of wine, homemade bread and local treats can be upgraded with the provision of homemade meals ready to pop in the oven.
Basics: Sleeps up to four adults and two children.
Cost: From €521 for a three-night weekend or €86 per person.
THE SAIL LOFT
Sink into the roll-top bath and witness breathtaking coastal views without getting out of bed. Pure romance for couples, this converted barn in Trebarwith Strand sits atop verdant cliff pastures that gaze out to staggering coastal scenery and world-class sunsets.
Sink into squishy sofas and enjoy contemporary country living, or sit out on the teak decking for al fresco dining and a sun-downer in the fresh sea air. With homemade meals delivered to your door, everything is at your fingertips, but you'd be missing out if you didn't explore beyond the granite walls of this contemporary barn conversion. Cornwall's north coast beaches are a short hop away for a spot of surfing or wild coastal walks.
Basics: Sleeps up to four.
Cost: From €1,645 per week or €411 per person; three-night stays also available.
THE RIVER CHAPEL
Whisk your lover away for a stint of contemporary living in a romantic waterside location. Where is it? A converted chapel cottage sitting in a quiet spot on the riverbank, yet within walking distance of Truro -- Cornwall's vibrant city with its boutique shops, beautiful cathedral and array of tempting eateries.
The neutral décor lets the watery scenery burst in through the windows and do the talking, and swanky features include a stainless steel and ash staircase to the raised dining level. Under exposed white beams awaits a king-size bed, ambient lighting and a deep, curved bath, but the real appeal has to be the view to the boats sailing by, long leisurely walks along the creek and fine-dining opportunities.
Basics: Sleeps two (self-catering, with home-cooked food delivered by arrangement).
Cost: From €603 per week or €301 per person.
LOE POOL STUDIO
Wonderfully situated to explore some of Cornwall's coastal gems, Loe Pool Studio near Helston is an idyllic lovers' hideaway. Original antique furnishings add a traditional twist to seaside-inspired decor with striped cushions, nautical trinkets and contemporary artwork. If you catch the Cornish summer, light the potbelly barbecue and lap up the rays from a deckchair in the courtyard. Or venture out to spot wildlife around Loe Pool and feel the sand between your toes on the nearby beach.
Grab local produce from farm shops, get home-cooked meals delivered or dine on fresh seafood by the harbour at Porthleven.
Sleeps: Two (self-catering; home-cooked meals by arrangement).
Cost: From €263 for a three-night weekend or €87 per person.
Oozing with country character, this traditional stone cottage is enveloped in lush countryside, just half an hour from the wild coastline of north Devon in South Molton.
Step out in your walking boots or stay in by the fire; this is a haven for couples looking to get away from it all. Freewheel into verdant surroundings (bikes are provided), tramp into the woods or catch the sun in the white flower garden, then come inside and unwind from your day in the claw-foot bath. There are cream teas, fine dining and everything in between just a short drive from your cottage, but there's no need to stray from your romantic abode -- get creative in your country kitchen or call on the local caterers to cook up a storm.
Sleeps: Three (self-catering with local caterers available).
Cost: From €433 per three-day weekend or €144 per person.
These properties can be booked from Unique Home Stays, an exclusive collection of private house accommodation across the globe, from romantic cottages to designer mansions. For bookings, see uniquehomestays.com or call 0044 163 788 1942.