Take Three: Castle Hotels
If you want to be treated like royalty on a romantic getaway, then you can't beat a hotel set in a lavish castle.
Where: Cong, Co. Mayo
Why: Dating back to 1228, Ashford Castle (pictured above) is a magnificent marriage of old and new - a luxuriously modern hotel set in a historic and grand building. The sprawling castle is positioned right on Lough Corrib, with a view that has stayed the same for the last six thousand years. With such beautiful waters right on their doorstep, it's no surprise that the lake is at the heart of many of the activities available for guests. You can take a trip on a traditional wooden boat, partake in a bit of fishing or get the adrenaline pumping with some wake boarding. If you fancy something more fitting to your setting, you can opt for a spot of archery or clay pigeon shooting.
How: Double rooms start at €350 with breakfast.
Where: West Sussex, England
Langley Castle Hotel
Where: Northumberland, England
Why: Langley is a 14th century fortified castle, which fulfils all the romantic notions of what a medieval bolt-hole should be. You can curl up on a window seat, set into stone walls seven-feet thick, or lounge on a lavish four-poster bed. The rooms are shrouded in rich fabrics of deep burgundy and gold, and some are adorned with a grand open fireplace. The Greenwich Room is a particular show-stopper, with a chandelier hanging over a deep window seat, and a super king four-poster. If you don't stay in the castle itself, where there are nine guest rooms, you'll sleep within the grounds in a listed building, with views back to the castle. There's a fine restaurant, complete with a roaring fire and stained glass windows, where you can tuck into local game and hearty fare fit for a king.
How: Rates start from £155 (€195). Fly to Newcastle with Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) or Ryanair (ryanair.com)
Why: Everything about Amberley Castle evokes the spirit of a fairytale fortress. Ivy climbs the thick stone walls that protect the castle within, and the entrance is marked by an imposing portcullis. When the guests are tucked safely into their four-poster beds, and the suits of armour keep watch from their posts, the risk of invasion is nil (unless you count stray peacocks wandering into the room). The 60-foot high curtain wall enclosing the castle is dotted with towers, and there are 12 acres of beautiful gardens to explore, where you'll also find the resident alpacas and peacocks. The rooms are less fussy than other traditional properties, with muted palettes and crisp white linens. Some have fireplaces, or whirlpool baths, and one even has access to the 14th century tower. There are two dining rooms, both warmed with a fire in winter months, with original features dating back hundreds of years.
How: Rooms start at £165 (€207). Fly to nearby Gatwick with Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com)
NB: All prices subject to change/ availability.