by Stella Magazine Writers, The Telegraph, February 1, 2019
Petrol-station flowers and chocs? Pfft, you can do better. This Valentine’s whisk your loved one away for a weekend of pure bliss.
Baglioni Hotel Luna, Venice
Best for… culture vulture casanovas
The low-down: Steeped in history, slap bang on the banks of the Grand Canal and a mere minute away from St Mark’s Square, you could not ask for a better hotel for a visit to this magical city of love. The building has been everything from a convent to an aristocratic palace; these days, the rooms are just traditional enough and its floors are stuffed with antique furniture and stunning Murano chandeliers. It also has its own pier so guests arrive in pure James Bond style by water taxi.
Out and about: How long have you got? Many major must-dos are around the corner from the hotel, including the magnificent Doge’s Palace. Modern art lovers should visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (tip: queue early), which houses masterpieces from Picasso to Pollock and Dali to Kandinski in the magnificent Grand Canal palazzo where she once lived. And for the best view? Head for the rooftop of the achingly chic department store, T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, for the most stunning panoramic vista across the Grand Canal. The best bit? It’s totally free.
Stella loves:The hotel’s award-winning Canova restaurant. Bag a table outside if it’s warm enough, sip an Aperol spritz, feast on local dishes such as seabass-filled ravioli, and stare at the wonderstruck tourists taking gondola selfies.
Rooms from £213 per night, including breakfast. Call 00 39 041 9655930 or visit baglionihotels.com/venice
Read the full review: Baglioni Hotel Luna
Yarrow Cottage, Cotswolds
Best for… loved-up long-weekenders
The low-down: With its log-burning stove, enormous copper roll-top bath and super-king-size bed, this thatched cottage is the perfect romantic bolthole. Set deep in the countryside, there are walks aplenty, or just stay indoors and have an intimate meal for two in the beamed dining room, surrounded by candles. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, and there’s a pretty enclosed garden.
Out and about: Daylesford Organic farm is a 10-minute drive away in Kingham, with a shop selling an enormous range of produce from local cheeses to gin and wine. For culture, visit Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
Stella loves: The Bamford products in the bathroom. And the well-stocked pantry, with vodka and whisky.
From £210 per night (three-night minimum stay). Call 0208 740 3097 or visit beachspoke.com
Gara Rock, Devon
Best for… chic country types and stressed-out city workers
The low-down: Feel the stress melt away the minute you walk through the doors of this hotel. Perched on top of a cliff with hard-to-beat sea views, it lulls you into daydream mode within seconds. The design is urban chic, with exposed pipes, mismatched sofas and beached wood. It’s ideally positioned for a bracing coastal yomp, but afterwards hunker down in the cinema room for a film, or head to the spa with heated pools inside and out.
Out and about: There are plenty of hidden away coves and beaches in easy reach. For cream teas, pubs and restaurants, the town of Salcombe is a 45-minute walk (the long way), but Gara Rock offers a handy jeep shuttle service if you’re too tired to hike back after all those scones.
Stella loves: The cosy Cinema Room, complete with footstools, snug armchairs and film screenings five times a day.
From £175 per night, b&b. Call 0333 370 0555 or visit gararock.com
Le Relais de Chambord, France
Best for… a touch of class
The low-down: This sumptuous but laid-back hotel looks fit for a king. It’s located in former kennels overlooking a vast and spectacularly ornate château, two hours from Paris . Borrow an electric bike and explore the grounds, then book a spa treatment à deux. To really sweep your other half off their feet, the hotel can arrange hot-air balloon rides over the grounds.
Out and about: The Loire Valley is full of castles – head first to Château de Chenonceau, which is an hour’s drive from Chambord and is as beautiful as it gets. The town of Blois, much closer to Chambord, is also ancient and gorgeous, with a popular Saturday morning food market.
Stella loves: The hotel’s outdoor hot tub facing the Cosson River, where you can while away an afternoon wallowing in the bubbles.
From £144 per night, b&b. Call 00 33 2 54 81 01 01 or visit relaisdechambord.com
Read the full hotel review: Le Relais de Chambord