Delightfully dirty weekends away for couples
Katie Rowe recommends three loved-up breaks in some of England’s cultural hotspots…
A decadent affair in London
There’s nowhere quite like London for hedonistic weekends with the one you love. World-class restaurants, hidden green spaces, cool cocktail bars and sunsets over a vast sparkling skyline best viewed from Waterloo Bridge – London's most romantic bridge according to The Kinks – are just a few reasons why London is the perfect place for a twosome.
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 Cora Pearl Suite. The courtesan's 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. Call the Grosvenor Hotel to find out more.
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, then go in search of the 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.
Continue your lavish loved-up London jolly with dinner at Les Trois Garcons. This 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.
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 mod invasion in the 1960s, 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 rollercoasters rides towering over the Victorian pier.
If ever there was a hotel that summed up Brighton’s playful 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 and a giant plunge bath. If you want something a little tamer but still saucy, check into Betty’s Boudoir, a kitsch and glamorous double dedicated to British pin-up Diana Dors.
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 the tip of Brighton Pier.
Woo your loved one with hoards of artisan chocolates at Choccywoccydoodah, a famous cocoa treasure trove filled to the rafters with elaborate chocolate designs, tempting passers-by with everything from chocolate-shaped gnomes to white chocolate love birds. Psst…They do bespoke wedding cakes too!
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, art galleries galore, cavernous concert halls, a mouthwatering food scene and plenty of independent bars and pubs where you can party the night away.
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, head outside to your open-air balcony and sip on your favourite tipple together while taking in panoramic views of the skyline.
Snuggling up together to watch one of your favourite films is even more romantic in art deco surroundings. Book the leather sofa seats in the Electric Cinema and order a tub 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.
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. Alternatively, if you fancy pushing 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 featuring the likes of venison rolled in liquorice charcoal on the menu.