Star trails - Classic British Hotels

How to add sparkle to your romantic break – stargazing to Stonehenge

Surprise your partner on your romantic break away with one of these 10 thoughtful gestures…

Romantic gestures needn’t involve flashy gifts and fireworks. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a big difference, like taking time out for a picnic, gazing at the stars together, or exploring an art gallery hand-in-hand. We’ve come up with 10 perfect romantic gestures for your getaway…

1. The hotel: Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, Lake District (Windermere)

The gesture: Romantic boat ride

A great romantic gesture is all about putting down the phones, switching off the TV and slowing down to focus on each other. Spend a leisurely day with your partner on beautiful Lake Windermere. Book a Freedom of the Lake cruise and you’ll have a full 24 hours to explore Britain’s longest lake. You can also add a return ride on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway. Look out from the train windows to the stunning Levens Valley and all the way to the Southern tip of Lake Windermere.

2. The hotel: Chase Hotel, Wye Valley (Forest of Dean)

The gesture: Float up and away

If your other half has a head for heights, surprise them with a hot-air balloon ride during a stay at the Chase Hotel. Wye Valley Aviation is an experienced hot-air balloon operator who will whisk you up and away for a journey over the meadows, woods and valleys of the gorgeous Wye Valley, which straddles the English-Welsh border and is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Make room on your mantelpiece for another picture frame, because the balloon ride for two also includes in-flight photography to capture your special moment.

3. The hotel: Dartington Hall Hotel, South Devon (River Dart)

The gesture: Movie night

Trade up from a trip to the multiplex. Movie buffs will love cosying up in front of a film at the unique Barn Cinema. This sensitively restored 14th Century barn is now an independent cinema nestled in the grounds of the Dartington Hall estate in Devon. Cinephiles of all stripes should find something to watch: the Barn Cinema has screenings on every day, with a carefully-curated programme of arthouse, world-cinema, live theatre screenings and blockbusters.

4. The hotel: Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, Dedham Vale, Essex-Suffolk

The gesture: Romantic stroll

Walk hand-in-hand to St Mary’s Church, one of Suffolk’s finest churches. This is a stroll to impress an art-loving partner: St Mary’s appears several times in paintings by John Constable. The Suffolk-born romantic artist loved to paint the area around Dedham Vale, and these days the area is referred to as Constable Country. The earliest parts of the church date to the 13th Century. It was largely rebuilt in the 15th and is now Grade I listed.

5. The hotel: Imperial Hotel, Llandudno (Promenade), North Wales

The gesture: Ride with a view

Take a romantic trip on the Llandudno Cable Car. The primary-coloured cars of this 1960s cable car glide above the Welsh seaside resort, over its Happy Valley Gardens and up to the summit of Great Orme. Once you’ve reached the top of this limestone headland, you’ll enjoy spectacular views over the bay of Llandudno and out across the Irish Sea, taking in nearby Anglesey. Facing inland, you can see the peaks of Snowdonia to the south.

6. The hotel: Milford Hall Hotel & Spa, Salisbury (City Centre)

The gesture: Proposal amid the stones

Stonehenge has been voted the most romantic place in England. This might be hard to picture if you’ve only visited at midday, surrounded by coach-loads of tourists. Instead, plan a romantic visit for when the site opens, at 9am or, better still, at sunset or dusk (Stonehenge closes at 8pm). With fewer people around, you and your loved one can really take in Stonehenge’s mysterious beauty. Walk around the Neolithic stone circle hand-in-hand, and you’ll realise that Stonehenge is the perfect backdrop to a romantic gesture or even a proposal.

7. The hotel: Gliffaes Country House Hotel, Brecon Beacons, South Wales

The gesture: Stargazing in the Brecon Beacons

Get back to nature with a night of stargazing in the Brecon Beacons. This Welsh national park is one of the best places to spot stars in the UK. In fact, it’s been designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve, meaning the whole park is protected from light pollution. Plan your stargazing trip using the Brecon Beacons website, which has a list of the best spots to see constellations including the Milky Way and, on rare occasions, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Up the romance factor by packing a hamper with provisions for a night picnic, including a mini bottle of Champagne.

8. The hotel: Hintlesham Hall Hotel, Ipswich, Suffolk

The gesture: Art and culture fix

Taking time to experience art and culture together is a wonderful way to enhance your romantic bond. Christchurch Mansion is the perfect spot for an afternoon date. This beautiful Tudor house in Ipswich boasts one of the country’s most impressive collections of Gainsborough and Constable paintings, as well as rotating exhibitions. Hintlesham Hall has an important art connection itself. Richard Lloyd, a successful lawyer, bought the estate in 1747. He was a patron of Gainsborough’s, and a Gainsborough portrait of Lloyd’s children hangs in the National Gallery.

9. The hotel: Hythe Imperial Hotel, Golf & Spa, Kent Downs, Kent Coast

The gesture: Snuggle up in the Champagne Bar

A trip to the local pub is all well and good, but for a special occasion, it has to be Champagne. Treat your partner to a glass (or two) of fizz in the stunning Moet & Chandon Champagne Bar at the Hythe Imperial Hotel. The Champagne menu includes bottles of KRUG Grand Cuvee and Dom Perignon 2004 Vintage Rosé. Nibble on local rock oysters or smoked duck and watermelon skewers from the tapas menu and enjoy the sea views of the English Channel as you snuggle up. Consider this as you sip: A recent study by the University of Michigan indicated that couples who drink together tended to become closer over time than those who don’t.

10. The hotel: Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Powys, Mid Wales

The gesture: Secluded picnic for two

Surprise your other-half with a picnic with a twist. Head down to the boathouse by Lake Vyrnwy Hotel in North Wales and hire a 2-person canoe. We can arrange a luxury picnic hamper ahead of time, complete with chilled Champagne. Help your partner into the canoe and let them enjoy the ride as you take your time paddling to one of the lake’s secluded coves for a very special picnic.

More important than any gesture, of course, is the person you’re spending your time with. Surprise that someone special in your life by dedicating your time to them on a romantic break – perhaps the most romantic of all gestures.

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