Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on the tourism and travel industry, it also did its best to throw cold water on romance.
With couples living apart having to resort to ‘Zoom dates’, singles unable to get out and mingle, and even cohabiting partners having nothing much more than Netflix and chill as a date night option, it’s fair to say that Cupid’s bow and arrow hasn’t seen much action over the past 18 months.
Which is all the more reason to make an extra special effort with your special someone now that COVID restrictions have been lifted. And what better way to catch up on some long overdue ‘us’ time than by booking a romantic break away, just for two?
You could, of course, opt for the standard and well-trodden romantic break formula - a nice room in an upmarket hotel, with a posh dinner included and perhaps a bottle of something sparkling sent up to the room. Or you could go the Airbnb route, scoping out a cutesy cottage in the country somewhere that you can have all to yourselves. A hot tub is a definite bonus.
But as your next just-for-two getaway is likely to be your first one in a while, why not break with convention and aim for something a little out of the ordinary? Look a little further than the mainstream booking sites and you will soon see that the UK is full of quirky, fabulous, occasionally off-the-wall accommodation options that are ideal for a short break neither of you will ever forget.
Whether it’s treehouses, boats, historic forts or enchanted gardens, you won’t struggle to find a love nest with a difference tucked away in some gorgeous corner somehwere. Here are some of our favourites.
Dutch Barge, Chertsey, Surrey
There’s something about the idea of sleeping on water that is wonderfully romantic. The location of this tastefully appointed former working barge has more than a whiff of romance about it too, in a private marina on the Upper Thames between Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace. You can enjoy the royal treatment yourself with a private onboard hot tub, and there is plenty to keep you occupied off the boat too, with kayaks, pedalos and bikes for hire at the marina.
Beach Hut, Carswell Cove, Devon
Seaside escapes don’t get much more scenically romantic than this. Tucked away in its own private cove, The Beach Hut affords breathtaking views of the South Devon coast, your own private beach and a nautically-inspired timber and stone interior, complete with a wood burner and a double bed on a mezzanine deck. Oh, and there is a wood-fired hot tub outside that offers perfect views of the sunset!
Treetops Treehouse, Chulmleigh, Devon
There are some fantastic treehouse accommodation choices dotted all over the UK that let grown ups feel all the excitement of being a kid again. But few reach the heights of the imperious Treetops Treehouse. Built in the boughs of a 250-year-old oak tree, this luxury treehouse looks like something that has come straight out of a fairy tale kingdom, complete with a delightful turret at the front! The interior is all timber and leather with a wood burner and a sumptuous roll top copper bath for a luxurious soak. And as the treehouse is in the grounds of the Fox and Hounds Country Hotel, you get access to all the hotel’s amenities, too.
The Enchanted Faraway Tree, Canterbury, Kent
This really is something out of the ordinary, a secret garden retreat inspired by Enid Blyton’s famous children’s novel! This isn’t so much a room or suite as a mini-complex that will transport you back to the realms of childhood fantasy. The piece de resistance is the sleeping bunk, a gorgeous round hut that is literally all bed with a glass domed roof so you can gaze at the stars. In addition, there’s a separate cooking and dining hut with a wood-fired range and an outdoors wood-fired hot tub, all set in your own private enchanted garden where you can easily forget about the rest of the world and get lost in eachother again.
The Gatehouse, Chepstow, Wales
If your idea of romantic has more than a touch of the historic weaved in with it, then The Gatehouse in Chepstow is perfect. Originally built as the gatehouse for a fortified estate on the disputed Welsh Marches in 1270, this stone building has been lovingly restored and has bags of character. The open plan indoors makes use of original beams and mullioned windows, and features a mezzanine bedroom decked out in bridal white. There’s a wood burner and one of the towers is accessible for fabulous views of the surrounding Monmouthshire countryside.
Round House East, Veryan, Cornwall
No list of romantic escapes would be complete without a little thatched cottage action to throw into the mix. And if you’re looking for olde worlde charm for your romantic escape, thatched cottages don’t come much prettier than the Round House East. Tucked away in a picture postcard Cornish village, underneath the thatched roof you will find a tastefully appointed two up, two down cottage. The Grade II listed building is one of four in the village built in the 1820s by a local vicar who apparently made them round so the devil couldn’t hide in any corners - so at least you know you’ll have no worries there, then!
One final thing…
We’re all fed up of hearing about COVID, but we have to accept the fact that it looks as if it’s here to stay - and that means there continues to be an ongoing risk of it ruining our plans. If you book a special break for you and your loved one and then one of you tests positive, you won’t be able to go (without breaking the law, anyway). That means not only will you miss out on your long-awaited escape together, but you could also lose your money. Don’t make it a double whammy - take out UK travel insurance to cover yourself for COVID cancellations.