VisitEngland’s Katie Rowe recommends three loved-up breaks in some of England’s buzzing cultural hotspots…
A decadent affair in London
There’s nowhere quite like London for hedonistic weekends with the one you love. Sumptuous restaurants, hidden green spaces, designer shopping, cutting-edge art galleries, chic cocktail bars and sunsets over a vast sparkling skyline that are best viewed from Waterloo Bridge – the most romantic bridge according to The Kinks – are just a few reasons why London is the perfect catch when it comes to romantic breaks.
Fondle: Check into a hotel suite that was made with indulgence in mind. The Grosvenor Hotel pays homage to one of the most risqué characters of the 19th century with its recently created Cora Pearl Suite.
This courtesan boudoir is easy on the eye and oozes decadence in every way – from the ostrich feather trim cushions to the ‘infinity’ bath elevated on a marble plinth. Miss Cora Pearl was a scandalous courtesan from Paris, who booked a suite at the hotel in the 1870s, only to be refused entry when stories of her illicit lifestyle were exposed.
Frolic: Head out of central London and in the direction of one of the city’s finest parks. Richmond Park is one of the capital’s oldest and most romantic green spaces. While away the hours wandering through serene woodlands, spotting fallow and red deer and go in search of the magical Isabella Plantation, an ornamental woodland garden with a still pond cuddled by mounds of flowers. Finish off with tea, scones and sweet nothings in Pembroke Lodge, a Georgian mansion with views across the Thames Valley.
Feast: Continue your lavish loved-up London jolly with dinner at Les Trois Garcons. This chic yet peculiar East London restaurant is a treat for the eyes as well as the tongue. With glowing chandeliers, handbags dangling from the ceiling and a stuffed jewel-draped tiger here and a giraffe head there, it’s a decadent topsy-turvy taxidermy affair that Cora Pearl would have loved. Be sure to order the Tarte tatin for two.
Modern romance in Birmingham
England’s second biggest city might not spring to mind for a romantic getaway but if you scratch beneath the surface you’ll discover glorious Georgian architecture, cool art galleries, cavernous concert halls, restaurants galore and plenty of welcoming bars and pubs where you can party the night away. Add in miles of charming canals, world-class shopping and the iconic jewellery quarter and you’ve everything you need for a quirky loved-up holiday.
Fondle: Swish penthouse suite for two? Just minutes away from Selfridges and the Bullring, Staying Cool Apartments have a feel of understated glamour to them, with 1960s-style portraits on the walls and funky designer furniture.
There are plenty of gadgets to play with too, including a Gaggia espresso machine and a Mac computer. If you’d rather play with your other half instead, head outside to your open-air balcony and sip on your favourite tipple together while taking in staggering views of the city skyline.
Frolic: Snuggling up together to watch one of your favourite films is even more romantic in grand art deco surroundings. Book the leather sofa seats in the Electric Cinema and order two tubs of award-winning ice cream and a bottle of wine from the sleek bar or better still, use the waiter service and have it brought to you just before the film starts. One of Birmingham’s finest cultural icons, The Electric is the oldest working cinema in the UK and shows quality mainstream, independent, classic and foreign films.
Feast: Spice up your romantic break with an Indian feast. Birmingham is home to an iconic spicy shrine, better known as the Balti Triangle, lined with over 50 Indian restaurants. But if you really want to push the boat out, pop by Purnell’s. One of three Michelin star restaurants in the city, it takes a bold and modern approach to fine cuisine. Try “The Purnell’s Tour” – an eight-course extravaganza with the likes of venison rolled in liquorice charcoal on the menu.
Candyfloss kisses in Brighton
England’s much-loved bohemian beach town is one of the best places for a loved-up, sugar-rush weekend away. Since the 1960s mod invasion, starry-eyed couples across the land have made a dash to ‘London-on-Sea’ for fun and frolics on the pebble beach and the thrill of the rollercoaster rides towering over the glittering Victorian pier.
Fondle: If ever there was a hotel that summed up Brighton’s playful and quirky character, Hotel Pelirocco is it.
Couples feeling particularly risqué can book the Play Room, a suite made with the “dirty weekend” in mind. Lavish and deeply indulgent, it has an eight-foot round bed with a mirror above, a pole dancing area, giant plunge bath and its own entrance to the street. If you want something a little tamer but still sexy, check into Betty’s Boudoir, a kitsch and glamorous double dedicated to British pin-up Diana Dors.
Frolic: Nose around the Royal Pavilion. Once a regal bachelor pad to George IV, discover more about this wonderfully exotic royal palace with an audio tour that will have you gasping and gawping from beginning to end. Next, flounder about like love-sick teenagers with rides on the waltzers and then tuck into fish ‘n’ chips while watching the sun melt into the sea on Brighton Pier.
Feast: Woo your loved one with hoards of artisan chocolates at Choccywoccydoodah. A famous cocoa treasure trove filled to the rafters with elaborate chocolate designs, with everything from chocolate-shaped gnomes to white chocolate love birds tempting passers-by. Psst…They do bespoke wedding cakes too!
Check out more sexy city break ideas at www.visitengland.com/morecultural.