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Renaissance Chancery Court, London
The Renaissance is almost at odds with its Holborn surroundings. In a bright, bustling area of London, you enter the hotel through a beautiful classical courtyard, complete with uniformed doorman (I have never seen anyone so adept at hailing a cab). A quick Tube-ride from Soho and the main shopping areas, the Renaissance makes a great London base. But what makes it such a good option for Valentine's is the spa. Situated downstairs it really is an oasis of calm. All dark wood and tasteful lighting, at it's heart is a well-sized relaxation room with beds so comfortable I was asleep within 10 minutes. We tried out the couples' massage, a first for both of us. The room itself is set out with the two beds, a steam room and a toilet/shower, with plenty of room we didn't feel as though we'd been squashed in. When the massage began I was a little distracted by having a man next to me, worrying that he wasn't enjoying the 'girlie' treat. Soon, though, my therapist's magic hands had me forgetting all about his presence and when the hour was up, I felt incredibly relaxed. The therapists then left us to chill out in the steam room and we shared a gorgeous fruit plate. Afterwards, we were so blissed out that we skipped dinner, settling for a cocktail in the hotel's Edwardian-style CC Bar. Perfect for men who are spa 'first-timers' and the perfect base for a fun London weekend.
Pennyhill Park, Surrey
The imposing drive up to Pennyhill is a good start. A country house that's been extended and modernised, it sprawls out amid beautiful parkland surroundings. The rooms are traditionally decorated, but pleasingly large and will mod cons such as under-floor heating in the tiled bathrooms. The spa here is incredible (and we don't use that word lightly). Housed in a separated building, it's great for you because of the range and quality of treatments on offer, and great for the boys because of touches like the heated indoor-to-outdoors pool (you swim through a special hole in the wall), crystal-lit chambers and even an ice wall. We had separate treatments (I don't like to be distracted from my relaxation), but my partner said his head massage was out-of-this-world and was easily able to entertain himself while I indulged in a full-body massage.
After a swim in the huge indoor pool to wake us up, we dressed and headed for dinner at the Michelin Star Latymer restaurant. This was my boyfriend's highlight. We opted for the seven-course taster menu, which opened our eyes (or rather mouths) to foods we'd never tried before, but didn't leave us feeling bloated. We can't wait to go back.
The Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury
Although The Vineyard claims to take its inspiration from the grape fields of California, the hotel maintains the feel of a rural English hotel. We headed straight to the spa to unwind. As well as offering a range of treatments, theres a tranquil heated indoor pool, spa bath, hydrotherapy pool, steam room and sauna. After making full use of the facilities, we headed rested and relaxed to the hotel bar for a pre-dinner aperitif. A glass or two of vintage bubbles later, we settled in for a delicious dinner and Michelin star-winning chef Daniel Galmiche didnt disappoint. We feasted on pressed terrine of duck liver foie gras, steamed John Dory and bitter chocolate box for dessert, while our sommelier helped us choose from the selection of over 2,000 wines. A lovely weekend treat for two.
51 Buckingham Gate, London
We chose this Westminster hotel for a much-needed romantic break because of its impressive history (can you detect the male influence in this decision?). Built during Edwardian times, its location made the townhouse a popular political meeting place during the First and Second World Wars. Nowadays, although it looks suitably grand and imposing, things at 51 Buckingham Gate are a lot more lighthearted and luxury focused. When we checked into our suite it was one of those moments where you look at each other in glee. Modern and opulent, we couldn't resist texting friends pictures of the huge bath. After a trip to the sauna and steam rooms, we headed up to our room to be met with a glass of Champagne, strawberries dressed in chocolate and a bath scattered with petals. Later, we headed to the Quilon restaurant for a truly incredible meal, well worth the Michelin star it has been awarded. We'll remember our stay for a long, long time.
Champneys, locations nationwide
Offset with 170 acres of gardens, Champney's in Tring is a stately home with a sauna, steam room, outside jacuzzi, swimming pool, gym, spa and extensive grounds. Our room was perfect large, spacious, with a king-size bed and (to my delight) a freestanding bath. When it came to food, my boyrfriend was relived to discover that here healthy still meant delicious we both tucked into a steak and still felt virtuous. Over the weekend we went on a long bike ride together (something weve never done before), tried out some classes (yoga and spinning) and spent time in the spa. We also booked in for a joint massage in the couples treatment room, which was soothing after all our exercise endeavours. We left feeling utterly relaxed, refreshed and, dare I say it
Old Course Hotel, St Andrews
If you live in Scotland or fancy taking a trip there for Valentines then head to the picturesque Old Course Hotel in St Andrews (well, if its good enough for Prince William
). It's great for couples because as well as a luxurious spa which offers men's treatments theres a golf course and five restaurants to choose from. If you can persuade your boyfriend, book the Romantic Break. For £594 (yes, that's per room, per night) you get two nights stay, a full Scottish breakfast each morning, a bottle of champagne, chocolates and flowers on arrival and use of all the Kohler Water Spa's facilities (the spa was voted Scotlands Leading Spa Resort three years in a row by the World Travel Awards). Slightly more affordable is the Valentines Romantic Experience. Book a one night stay in a luxury room (from £225 per person) and enjoy a candlelit couples massage in the privacy of your room, complete with a post-treatment bath featuring candles, rose petals, chocolate-dipped strawberries and chilled champagne. They still have availability for this weekend so do some serious V-Day hinting tonight.