Treat your favourite foodie to a romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day (or any day, for that matter!), whether it’s a weekend getaway to a b&b in the UK with a personalised breakfast hamper; a romantic weekend break in Italy for a slice of la dolce vita; or even a bungalow fit for couples perched on stilts in a lagoon in The Maldives.
Here are our favourite romantic breaks for foodies…
Romantic hotels in the UK for a weekend getaway
For a cosy romantic country getaway – Artist Residence, Oxfordshire
In a sleepy village in rural Oxfordshire Justin and Charlie Salisbury, the duo behind quirky Artist Residence hotel group, have restored a 16th century Cotswold-stone farmhouse and opened it as their fourth property, Mr Hanbury’s Masons Arms.
A community-focused pub, with five perfectly put-together bedrooms upstairs, Mr Hanbury’s (the name is a fictional nod to colourful characters associated with the pub historically) is split into two areas – a cosy bar area with a classic pub menu (the heart of South Leigh village life) and a more sophisticated dining room where guests can enjoy a fine dining menu beneath up-cycled crystal decanter lamp shades.
Enjoy a nightcap of punchy cocktails livened up with homemade concoctions – Campari is infused for five days with coffee beans and homegrown strawberries to add sweetness to a seasonal negroni, and whisky is blended with liquorice syrup and Cornish pastis to create a smooth Old Fashioned-style digestif.
Unique rooms have romantic touches –book the Farmhouse Suite to enjoy the ginormous free-standing copper bath to sink into with Bramley bubble bath. Relax in the spacious room with a check-list of boutique hotel luxuries – JazzFM fluttering out of Roberts radios, white-tiled monsoon showers and minibars stoked with Rococo chocolates and more.
There are plenty of romantic walks through tranquil countryside and picturesque villages to work up an appetite before heading back for hearty comforting lunches.
For a romantic getaway on a vineyard – Tinwood Estate
Snuggle under cosy fur blankets on a wooden deck perched on the edge of a vineyard and sip on sparkling English wine and dig into a breakfast hamper packed with croissants and fresh fruit at this English vineyard in West Sussex, four miles from Chichester, and only an hour out of central London.
King-sized beds are made up with fine Egyptian cotton linen and the lodges are peppered with one-off pieces of furniture sourced by Jody. Sleek, open bathrooms have his-and-hers stone basins, and both gigantic walk-in showers and two-person Jacuzzi baths.
One of the biggest draws of this secluded spot is just that; there is little around but well-tended vines tailing off into the horizon (you can see the Isle of Wight on a clear day). Wrap yourself in a plush cotton robe and venture out to wallow in the barrel sauna that sits in a clearing beside the lodges. Waiting the 15 minutes it takes to warm up gives you the perfect excuse to try the estate’s sparkling and red wines.
Back at Tinwood, breakfast is a real treat. With a gentle knock at the door an unseen house elf drops off a hamper at your preferred hour. Boiled eggs come in little eggcups alongside jars of fruit salad, and kilner-style bottles of orange juice nestle in beside warm croissants, yogurts and cereals. Fire up the Nespresso machine or pop open a bottle of Tinwood’s sparkling, and carry your basket out onto the raised decking for breakfast overlooking the vines.
For a romantic staycation in a Champagne bar – Kettner’s Townhouse
Want to stay overnight above a Champagne bar? Kettner’s Townhouse on Romilly Street in Soho, London, celebrates its past as a champagne bar – glide into the late-night lounge and sit at the marble-topped walnut bar under red lampshades to enjoy flutes, coupes and cocktails of R de Ruinart, Krug, Bollinger and more (read our expert guide to Champagne here).
The champagne bar stays open until late, so huddle up and gossip about secrets from the hotel’s history. Otherwise, housekeeping provides fresh ice in decanters every evening for you to make up a stiff drink on your own cocktail trolley (or make one of our favourite cocktails here).
Book one of the hotel’s luxury boutique rooms so you don’t have to go for after your Champagne. If you want to wallow in a freestanding bath tub, book one of the ‘medium’ or ‘big’ rooms. These also boast super king-size beds and huge bathrooms with double sinks and walk-in rainforest showers.
All rooms, no matter the size, cater to every whim, making for an extremely luxurious stay – jazz flutters from Roberts’ radios, copper towel rails warm fluffy white towels, and an almost overwhelming array of Cowshed bath and shower products await in the rainforest showers (cleansing toner, deodrant and lip balm as well as the usual staples). Hot water bottles and eye masks, phone chargers and hairdryers are all supplied, too, hidden away in cotton bags in dressers.
For a bargain romantic getaway – The Wash House, Suffolk
Orford, a little town on the Suffolk coast, is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. It’s home to a bakery, a seafood restaurant and a travelling fish ’n’ chip van that settles outside the castle every Wednesday. A few local pubs offer bedrooms, but for something unique, romantic and appropriately foodie, try The Wash House Studio, an old red-brick wash house fitted with a foldaway double bed, ensuite bathroom, small seating area and underfloor heating.
It’s compact, but cosy and stylish, with a collection of antique books, and beautiful views from its French windows. Upon arrival we were welcomed with gooey homemade brownies (you can buy more at the country market every Saturday), and breakfast is delivered to your door in a gingham-covered hamper. Start with local apple juice (from High House Fruit Farm, less than three miles away) followed by yogurt and homemade blackberry and apple compote (made using fruit grown in the garden), hard-boiled eggs, croissants and sourdough toast from Orford’s fabulous Pump Street Bakery. What better way to kick-start a day of exploring this picturesque corner of Suffolk?
For a romantic city escape – Hideout, Hull
Paris, Rome, Venice…when you think of a romantic retreat, Hull might not spring straight to mind. However, Yorkshire’s maritime port enjoyed a tourism boost when it took on the mantle of UK City of Culture 2017 and there’s no sign of that waning just yet. Not least because there’s so much to do in the city, particularly for foodies. Savour a Hull pattie (this deep fried herby mashed potato is served at just about every fish ‘n’ chippie in town), stop in for a local craft beer at the Atom Brewery and peruse the street food stalls at Trinity Market.
Make a weekend of it by booking in at Hideout, where 15 self-catered apartments are on a par with boutique hotel bedrooms. Their sleek, eco design each incorporates a kitchen for when you’d rather stay in. Request a hamper of locally-sourced goodies delivered straight to your room, or pop downstairs to BE Coffee for a proper Flat White.
Romantic hotels in Europe for a weekend getaway
For a ski break – Maiensässhotel Guarda Val, Switzerland
Set high in the hamlet of Sporz, at 1,600m above sea level, this hotel gazes out over the jagged peaks of Graubünden. Opt for a sharing-style meal (called “gnuss”) at the atmospheric (if unfortunately named) restaurant, Crap Naros. Dishes include local rainbow trout with almond and parsley butter, and moreish dried meats from the Brigger family, who have been curing meats in the area for several generations. Bedrooms are in the traditional vein, all timber beams and open fires, with quaint names such as Herdsmen and Dairymen. They’re scattered across 11 historic wooden huts and barns, some almost 300 years old. The hotel also houses Maiensäss Kitchen, a Michelin-starred restaurant where you can try everything from wild garlic soup to oxtail ravioli and currywurst.
For a hands-on foodie escape – The Guesthouse, Vienna
With the help of Terence Conran this former youth hostel, on the same square as the Vienna Opera House, is now a sleek, design hotel. One of its best features is an award-winning wood-stove bakery so expect the very best Viennese pastries for breakfast. Glittering palaces, classical music and exceptional art (from Klimt’s Kiss at the Belvedere to Wes Anderson’s curatorial debut at the Kunsthistorisches Museum) make Vienna ideal for a grown-up weekend away.
Foodies can sign up to a cooking class with Bianca, a locally-run workshop that takes you straight into the world of Austrian cuisine; shop at the market before returning to the kitchen to learn how to prepare paprika chicken stew, spaetzli (dumplings) with salad and proper apple strudel before sitting down to enjoy the feast.
For a Parisian getaway – Anran Apartments, Paris
Weekend like a true Parisian at this romantic bolthole in the Marais. A former printworkers’ atelier, arrive through a leafy courtyard to find your home-from-home on the first and ground floors of the building, complete with a proper chef’s kitchen with gas stove and copper pans.
Bring your basket to blend in with the locals queuing at the local boulangerie for baguettes then explore the nearby markets on Place de Bastille (Thursday and Sunday) and Les Enfants Rouges – beloved of the BoBo’s or ‘bourgeois bohemians’ (Tuesday-Saturday) before returning chez vous to cook up a French feast.
For a secluded yurt getaway – Fireflies and Figs, Abruzzo
The atmospheric setting of Fireflies and Figs’ yurts in Abruzzo’s mountains is as much a part of the appeal as the accommodation itself. Take time to pull a bottle of wine out of the makeshift wine cellar built into the ground, sit out on the terrace and soak up the peaceful surroundings. As darkness steals away the stunning views, the resident fireflies carefully creep up on us until we are surrounded by the ethereal glow of hundreds of tiny flickers.
For breakfast, climb up the steep track to the main house. Breakfast is served in a pergola perched on the very edge of the valley. You may well find a ginger cat snoozing gently next to wooden tables laid with turquoise crockery and freshly baked goods – homemade banana bread and brown seed bread with honey from the neighbours. Freshly squeezed melon, apple and ginger juice and golden granola are also on offer fills us up, along with a main dish of the day – perhaps scrambled eggs with crisp bacon or silky porridge with freshly sliced strawberries.
You can even ask Fern and Jono to pack up a picnic for you and head out on an adventure to one of the forest-lined lakes in the surrounding valleys.
For a room with a view – Santa Clara 1728, Lisbon
There are just six bedrooms at this beautifully-restored eighteenth century palace, in Lisbon. Preferring to call itself a casa rather than a b&b it’s perched on one of Lisbon’s seven hills, which means you can wake up to views over the Pantheon and the Targus River before heading down to a homemade Portuguese breakfast served at a long oak dining table.
Return from a day spent eating and exploring in time for tea at 5pm (think traditional orange cake) and then retire for a soak in a vast, free-standing limestone bathtub. In autumn 2018 the casa also launched Ceia, meaning supper, a formal tasting menu-style supper offering from acclaimed Portuguese chef, Pedro Pena Basos; 13-15 courses are available from Wednesdays to Saturdays for up to 14 guests.
For a night on the water – SWEETS Hotel, Amsterdam
You can sleep quite literally on Amsterdam’s canals with the city’s latest hotel concept; SWEETS transforms disused canal bridge operator cabins into unique suites that sleep just two. Despite being part of one hotel, the rooms are scattered across town with each quirky space occupying its own prime location; open your curtains to boats bobbing past the windows and bicycles whizzing along adjacent towpaths.
These so-called ‘bridge houses’ don’t have kitchens but they do come with mini-fridges, teapots and coffee machines, and you can order a typically Dutch breakfast box of boiled eggs, fruit, bread rolls and fresh orange juice to be delivered to the doorstep in the morning. Use the bespoke in-room tablet to pick a restaurant for dinner from the excellent local area guide.
For a slice of la dolce vita – Borgo Egnazia, Italy
Borgo Egnazia, or ‘village Egnazia’, is quite literally that: a network of streets and piazzas that lead to restaurants, swimming pools, gardens and golf courses. Now a hotel, it’s a self-contained bubble of luxury in Puglia, built entirely from tactile tuff stone.
Food is a priority, with six restaurants that pay homage to the Puglian tradition of timeless, simple, thrifty food. From grilled octopus at the sophisticated Due Camini, where vaulted ceilings twinkle with illuminated glass bottles, to rustic orecchiette or pizza at Mia Cucina and fresh seafood at beachside restaurant Pescheria da Vito, it’s easy to stay within the Borgo idyll – although if you’ve got a car, it’s also worth visiting the charming whitewashed town of Ostuni half an hour away.
For a beachside Valentine’s – Santorini, Greece
Santorini is the poster-boy of the Greek islands: blue domes, white windmills and pastel houses line soaring cliffs. The island is also one of Greece’s culinary hot spots, with the volcanic mineral-rich soil producing superb wine, the ideal foil to traditional local dishes like chicken souvlaki and tomato fritters.
The loveliest part of the island is the pretty cliff village of Oia, home to a complex of studios, suites and villas, Esperas. Sunbathe, read and watch the ships come and go until dinner at Dimitris Taverna, a simple, bright fish restaurant on the quay where you can dine while watching the sunset.
You get a different flavour of the island high up on Oia’s cliffs. Here, Lycabettus claims even more spectacular views with tables that seem to float over the sea. This is Santorini fine dining, with a seven-course degustation menu that offers dishes such as sea urchin risotto, scallop carpaccio and lamb with rosemary, all matched with Santorini’s superb wines. During the day, hire a car and follow the maroon Wine Road signs from Sigalas vineyard in the north of the island to Hatzidakis in the south. There are 12 private wineries on Santorini, and they’re all keen to explain how they grow and harvest grapes.
For romantic seafood dinners – Menorca, Spain
You could even squeeze this one into a weekend getaway. Clean turquoise waters, golden beaches and picture-perfect homes dotting the coastline – it’s easy to see why tourists flock here. But unlike other parts of Spain, this small Balearic island has managed to stay relatively unspoiled. Hotel Petit Maó recently opened in the island’s capital, Maó, minutes from the town’s heart on a street leading down to the busy harbour. It has six spacious bedrooms, and breakfast is made by the hotel’s owner, Nina; soft buns coated in powdered sugar, fresh fruit, toast served with wafer-thin slices of mahón, salty sheets of air-cured ham and sieved tomatoes with Spanish olive oil.
As in mainland Spain, tapas is big here. The most famous dish is caldereta, a Menorcan lobster stew that’s cooked and served in an earthenware pot. At cool, late-night café Pipet & Co (00 34 971 36 63 68) eat sobrasada (cured sausage), drizzled with honey, and spread on toast – and don’t miss Mestre D’Aixa (00 34 971 96 68 01) for its Galician ‘old cow’ sliced wafer thin and topped with mahón cheese, caramelised onions, herbs and breadcrumbs (you roll them together like a cigar). Or head to Es Mercadel, in the centre of the island, to fill up on brossat (a sweet bread/cheese pudding), and rubiol (the island’s version of empanadas) at Casa Sucrer. In between eating, go gin tasting at the last remaining distillery on the island, Gin Xoriguer, for a taste of the island’s many herbs.
For a romantic foodie ski trip – Grossarl, Austria
An hour south of Salzburg, Grossarl is ideally placed for a romantic weekend in the mountains. Stay at the Grossarler Hof a comfortable base with striking views. Luxurious facilities include a steaming outdoor whirlpool and Finnish-style spa, but the hotel retains the charm of a family-run chalet. The breakfast table is piled high with alpine cheeses and traditional jams, and dinner options include paprika-rich meat stews topped with fried eggs and sharp pickles, and comforting buttered späetzle (soft egg noodles) countered with bottomless glasses of floral grüner veltliner.
Higher up the mountain, schnapps is the drink of choice, with many of the huts distilling their own. Stop off at Muhlwinkelhutte in Dorfgastein for käsekrainer (grilled sausage stuffed with cheese), or Gehwolfalm for tiroler gröstl (potato, onion, bacon, sausage and fried egg). Sauerkraut is optional, but why wouldn’t you? After a day on the slopes, book a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride under the stars to the Aschaustüberl restaurant in Hüttschlag. Warm up with mulled wine round an open fire, then order the bauernbratl, traditional local dumplings, and kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake) with apple purée.
For a hip weekend getaway – Casa Bonay, Barcelona
Hip Casa Bonay is a renovated mansion that makes other foodie hotels seem dull by comparison. Traditional hydraulic floor tiles are mixed with Gaudí’s iconic paving stones, adding a hint of edginess to its ground floor coffee bars and restaurant, and the stylish, pared-back bedrooms redefine luxury. Start your day with an antioxidant juice and a mango chia seed breakfast bowl from Mother’s in-house juice bar, followed by a cold-pressed coffee lovingly crafted by Satan’s Coffee Corner.
Think light, bright, Asian-influenced dishes for lunch at another in-house dining option, Elephant, Crocodile, Monkey, which transforms into an innovative bistro by night, serving sharing plates of wondrous dishes like fried oysters with fennel salad and black garlic aïoli, and year-old, dry-aged beef tartare with mulato chilli and egg yolk. Sip vermouth on the wood-decked roof terrace before dinner, then hit one of the jewel-coloured velvet sofas in the hotel’s bar, Libertine, for expertly mixed cocktails.
If you do want to head outside, make the most of the crisp, sunny winter days with lazy paella lunches al fresco, or there’s Barraca’s sun-splashed first-floor dining room with views of the Med. At night, convivial Can Cisa Bar Brutal is the place to work your way through local natural wines paired with superlative tapas.
For a weekend of candlelit fine dining – Crillon Le Brave, Provence
Hilltop Crillon Le Brave is a vision of Provençal style; a clutch of honey-hued, pastel-shuttered houses surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. Now a gourmet hotel, its chefs gather pork from the Ventoux, asparagus from Mormoiron and trout from the river Sorgue. While they transform it into elegant dishes, spend your time playing boules in the terraced garden, relaxing by the pool or in the tiny spa, or exploring further afield: Avignon is a short drive away.
Inside the eight village houses that form the hotel, 28 rooms and seven suites have glorious views of the Rhône valley or Mont Ventoux, and are decked out in chic, country style with painted furniture and a smattering of antiques from nearby L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Whether you opt for Jerome Blanchet’s fine-dining restaurant (and dishes such as young pigeon cooked two ways with a crumble of sweet onion and peach flavoured with verbena), or rustic Bistrot 40K (produce from within 40km of the hotel), the focus is on seasonal and local ingredients. One of the highlights of a stay, however, is breakfast on the hotel’s sunny terrace – a gourmet spread featuring fresh fruit, local cheeses, croissants and homemade granola laid out on a rustic farmhouse table. In between meals, borrow one of the hybrid bikes to explore the villages and vineyards of the Ventoux.
For an undiscovered foodie getaway – Lake Bled, Slovenia
Peace, quiet and unspoilt countryside makes Slovenia one of the most romantic places to visit in Europe. The best starting point is Lake Bled, a serene, mirrored lake set against the snowy peaks of the Julian Alps, with a tiny island in the middle that you can row to. Admire the blue waters from Bled’s clifftop castle then stop for lunch at its restaurant.
Decoration-wise, it feels Scandinavian – clean, with candles and tiny bouquets of alpine flowers on white beech tables. The menu is also fuss-free and natural: try a Gorenjska salad with young lettuce, fennel, green apple, buckwheat porridge and sour cream; a platter of local cheeses or buckwheat dumplings with tarragon in a rich porcini sauce.
To get the real Slovenian experience book into a farmstead or homestead overnight. They’re run by locals and are usually basic but charming – Ročnjek farmstead in the village of Gorjuše, a 30-minute drive from Lake Bled, looks like a mountain log cabin, with a paddock outside and rooms that mirror the alpine theme.
Dinner is served in a sweet house-on-the-prairie-style room, decorated with pretty cotton curtains and a beautiful ceramic stove. And it is unmissable. We expected nothing more than a platter of cold meats were served home-smoked trout with a kind of horseradish bread sauce; soup made from mushrooms foraged in nearby Pokljuka forest; a salad of wild dandelions, eggs, local olive oil and balsamic vinegar (remember how close to Italy Slovenia is); homemade struckli, with layers of soft, dough-like pastry and cream cheese; lamb chops cooked with flaked almonds; sweet, rich fillets of locally-shot deer; and slow-cooked beef tomatoes with braised fennel.
It was also the perfect excuse to head out for a moonlit, post-dinner, walk.
Romantic hotels further afield for a luxurious getaway
For a blow-the-budget romantic getaway – The St Regis, Malaysia
Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in Malaysia ideal for a romantic getaway, known for its picture-perfect beaches, romantic hotels and unspoilt nature; think waterfalls, jungle and mangrove forests. The St Regis resort sits in an idyllic cove on the southern tip of Puala Langkawi, the largest island in the group, and this romantic hotel’s design blends European and Middle Eastern influences with local art.
Breakfasts here are epic. The buffet offers every imaginable option – think freshly pressed juices, sushi and a dim sum station as well as more familiar Western options – and there’s also an à la carte menu with specialities like local lobster omelette, croissant French toast and shakshuka. For lunch and dinner, head to the beautiful Kayaputi restaturant, which stands on stilts in the sea. Sip cocktails on low sofas or suspended hammocks, with the sun setting around you. Much of the food is inspired by local flavours – dishes like sambal skate fish with rice cracker and coconut flakes are presented in delicate, perfectly crafted portions.
If you can drag yourself and your other half away from the beach, the St Regis also offers a bespoke Geo Forest Safari, which takes the form of a speedboat ride down the local Kilim river surrounded by wildlife, followed by a trek through caves of stalagmites and stalactites.
For a private bungalow retreat – Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives
The Maldives may be geographically spectacular, but they’re not known as a gourmet hot spot. Recently, though, there’s been a shift towards more local and sustainable cooking, with Gili Lankanfushi leading the charge. Food isn’t just an afterthought at this island resort, but a real focus. Like many Maldivian retreats, the majority of ingredients have to be imported, but the chefs here are passionate about local sourcing.
Regional fish is a highlight of Gili Lankanfushi’s menus, and guests are welcome to tour the resort’s organic market garden and witness the impressive range of vegetables, salad leaves and herbs that the team have managed to propagate in the island’s recalcitrant sandy ground. Hotel buffets will never seem the same after you’ve sampled the highlight of the island’s culinary week, the Asian Street Market. This string of authentic food stalls is held on the beach every Thursday night, replete with billowing smoke, flaming hobs and a procession of Malaysian skewers, Japanese pancakes, Vietnamese pho and Peking duck.
All of the resort’s 45 bungalows perch on stilts over a crystal-clear lagoon and, while chic, they have a Robinson Crusoe feel – think lots of wood, breezy lounging spaces and open-air showers. Relax on your private deck and watch fish dart through the electric-blue water beneath, or plunge into the Indian Ocean and snorkel around the reefs.
Words | Daisy Allsup, Alex Crossley, Charlotte Morgan, Aoife O’Riordain and Laura Rowe