Not a natural-born romantic? These famous couples ought to give a few ideas for whisking your other half away on a romantic getaway this Valentine's Day…
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed at Thornbury Castle during their honeymoon. Why not follow in their footsteps – minus the sticky end. Take a tour of the elegant garden and 500-year-old-vineyard or have dinner in one of four lavish dining rooms, choosing from modern dishes and traditional favourites, created using ingredients from the castle’s gardens and local suppliers. After feasting like a king, sleep like one too in a majestic bedchamber where you can sink into a plush four-poster bed and admire Tudor tapestries and ornate ceilings.
Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire covers 900 years of history but it’s perhaps most famous for one royal romance in particular. Queen Elizabeth I’s close friend, and some say her secret lover, Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester transformed the castle and grounds to receive the queen in 1575. You’ll see that the Tudors definitely knew a thing or two about grand gestures as you admire the same sweeping vistas the Queen saw atop the tower that was built especially for her visit and meander through the majestic gardens, shimmering with a marble fountain and a bejewelled aviary.
Pay tribute to one of the world’s greatest romantics at the very place where he fell for his ‘Bright Star’ in the well-heeled suburb of Hampstead. John Keats lived at what is now known as Keats House from 1818 to 1820, with Fanny as his next door neighbour. This was his last place of residence in England before the ill-fated poet, aged just 25, left for Rome hoping the warmer climate would help his tuberculosis. Although the pair never married, their love fuelled many of Keats’ most famous works including 'Ode to a Nightingale'. Today, the house displays a remarkable collection of love letters exchanged between the pair, as well as Fanny's engagement ring, locks of their hair, and paintings and books in which Keats has written some of his poems – including the final version of Bright Star.
Jane Austen was so taken with Chatsworth that it’s believed to have inspired Mr Darcy’s residence Pemberley in her novel Pride & Prejudice. It’s no surprise then that the majestic Derbyshire estate took a starring role alongside Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation of the book. All you need is a little imagination and you’re Jane Austin’s Lizzy Bennett soaking up the grandeur of Mr Darcy’s Pemberley. Stay at the Devonshire Arms on the Chatsworth estate and continue your regency romance overnight at an 18th century coaching inn where Michelin-star fayre can be enjoyed amongst hefty oak beams and rustic stone walls.
The sweeping moorlands and unpredictable weather of West Yorkshire’s wild countryside added even more drama to Emily Brontë’s tempestuous tale of star-crossed lovers whose unfulfilled romance still pulls at the heartstrings. Head for the moors surrounding Haworth – a charming mill town home to the Brontë Parsonage Museum – which Brontë depicted so vividly, and amble across brooding pastures as you make your way to Top Withens, often thought of as the inspiration for the Wuthering Heights farmhouse. From here it’s not hard to imagine Cathy calling out Heathcliff’s name. You can also enjoy the beguiling landscapes of Brontë Country on a steam train journey with Keighley & Worth Valley Railway which stops at Haworth.
Pay homage to romantic classic Brief Encounter with a trip to Carnforth Station in Lancashire. The refurbished refreshment room – where actors Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard sipped tea together in the 1946 film – is visited by romantics across the world who want to have their own ‘encounter’and revel in the nostalgia wartime drama over a cuppa. Stay at the nearby Longlands Inn, not only is it a great base for visiting the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland, this hotel’s rooms also ooze romance with sumptuous wallpapers and Egyptian cotton-topped beds.
This A-list couple have put a quaint country village just a few miles from Reading well and truly on the map, and while you may not be able to splash out on a £10m country estate perched next to the Thames, you can still feel like celebrities with a stay at The Great House nearby. This country house hotel was recently given an ultra-modern facelift, meaning you can relax atop a king-sized bed surrounded by envy-inducing modern décor you’ll want to replicate back home. Follow your overnight stay with a prosecco brunch at the Italian-inspired Coppa Club.
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