WHY WE LOVE IT – Here in the North East, we’ve got some truly spectacular coastlines and seaside resorts. Two of our favourite locations are Bamburgh and, a little further down the coast, Seahouses. Stroll along the beach, gazing out at the waves and trying to stop the seagulls from stealing your chips.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND – You can’t come to this part of the world and not visit the iconic Bamburgh Castle. Visible for miles around, the place is steeped in history and makes for a really interesting day out. Or, if you’d prefer something indoors, check out the Grace Darling RNLI Museum. Once you’re finished with your culture for the day, challenge your significant other to a game of air hockey in the arcades – it’s not true love, if they don’t let you win.
WHERE TO EAT – You’re at the seaside, you have to go for fish and chips. Lewis’s Fish Restaurant in Seahousesserves the classic British dish in its purest form – with a slice of bread and butter and a pot of tea. Alternatively, the Potted Lobster in Bamburgh specialise in seafood dishes made with locally sourced ingredients – try the freshly dressed local crab salad served with warm baby potatoes – or, for something more continental, Élan Pizzeria in Seahouses makes fantastic artisan pizzas where we recommend the marinara pizza.
WHERE TO STAY – The Bamburgh First Collection from Grace Darling Holidays has a number of lovely cottages available to rent if you want the freedom of a self-catering trip, while the St Aidan Hotel is a fantastic bed and breakfast with comfy rooms, hearty breakfasts and a fine bistro serving evening meals on selected evenings. Or if you fancy staying in a classic inn, The Bamburgh Castle Inn – actually in Seahouses – has comfy rooms, hearty pub food and a great beer garden.
WHY WE LOVE IT – What’s not to love about the hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolitan city? Manchester is one of the UK’s top city destinations and is full of things for couples to do, great places to stay and restaurants serving top-class food.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND – Head to Heaton Park which stretches across 600 acres for a long, romantic stroll with your partner – he can act all manly and insist he rows the boat on the lake until she gets sick of his flailing about and takes over. Once back on dry land, take to the UK’s longest real snow slope at Chill Factore and race each other to the bottom. Loser buys dinner.
WHERE TO EAT – The five-star Wing’s Restaurant is located close to Albert Square in the city centre and serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine. Hide away in one of its cosy booths and enjoy an exotic meal together. Or, for a really trendy night out, head to Australasia for cocktails, live DJs and a menu made up of dishes from exotic locales from California to Cambodia.
WHERE TO STAY – The King Street Townhouse is a self-styled ‘baby grand hotel.’ This means it’s smaller than others, but no less refined. We love the Infinity Spa Pool with its views out over the city. Alternatively, keep in touch with the latest trends and stay in a boutique hotel and Victorian gin pub at The Abel Heywood – this place is right in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter meaning you’ll be surrounded by shops, restaurants and entertainment throughout your stay. Or for an extra touch of romance and opulence, book yourselves into the Penthouse Suite at the Velvet Hotel and enjoy its modern design, roll top free standing bath and huge LCD TV.
THE LAKE DISTRICT
WHY WE LOVE IT – From Windermere to Grasmere, Ullswater to Ulverston, the Lake District has some wonderful spots for a romantic retreat. There are quaint B&Bs and luxury hotels to stay in, and no end of things to do. Those who enjoy getting outside will love going for walks up the area’s many mountains, while those of a more indoor persuasion will enjoy the numerous pubs, restaurants, spas and museums to be explored. What could be more romantic than strolling hand-in-hand through miles of unspoilt countryside, without another human being in sight?
WHAT WE RECOMMEND – You don’t have to spend all your time staring into each other’s eyes. Aside from the obvious Lake District activities, we recommend the Castlegate House gallery in Cockermouth for art-lovers and the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Ulverston for those who get a kick out of classic comedy.
WHERE TO EAT – If you’re going to do a Valentine’s holiday, do it properly and push the boat out for dinner by heading to Simon Rogan’s legendary L’Enclume – an excellent restaurant in Cartmel with two Michelin stars. You’ll be blown away by the food served here, made using organic fruits and vegetables grown on the restaurant’s 12 acre farm.
WHERE TO STAY – There are some truly fantastic places to stay in the Lake District. Try The Lake District Hotel Group’s Inn on the Lake at Ullswater – book one of eight Luxury Collection Lake View Feature rooms to really treat yourselves. Alternatively, if you fancy a little bit of pampering on your break, the Armathwaite Hall Country House & Spa with its luxurious treatments and outdoor hot spa pool could be more to your taste or try the Wildsmith Hotel Group’s Ryebeck Country House & Restaurant for a spot of afternoon tea.