It’s that time again: the supermarkets are all taking on a creeping rosy hue; the confectionary aisle is expanding and the red roses are in bloom. Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us.
Disclosure: I’m not such a fan of Valentine’s Day: I’ll happily skip the heart-shaped chocolates and overpriced set menus in favour of a night in building a pillow fort. But I digress: love it or hate it, Valentine’s is here again.Whether you’re jetting off with a lover in the first flushes of romance, or escaping the onslaught of pink branding and me-to-you bears, there’s no denying that it’s a good time to head off to distant climes. Need some inspiration? Look no further – here are my top 5 perfect hideaways (and all doable within a weekend!)
What’s a Valentine’s roundup without Paris? This is the city of love, and of cliches: laduree macarons nibbled whilst wandering the jardins tuileries, flaky croissants dipped into decadent hot chocolates from Angelina, hand-in-hand strolls alongside the Seine… you’ve seen the Instagrams, I’m sure. This beautiful city has no shortage of romantic pied-a-terres, with chic (albeit petit) studios aplenty on Airbnb, and an abundance of romantic hotels for those with a little weightier wallets. Le Reserve may be the ultimate chic romantic escape…
There are few spots as idyllic (or photographed) as the blue domed roofs and white walls that cling to the steep caldera walls of Santorini. In the heat of summer, the beautiful narrow cobbled streets become congested with donkey-riding tourists clutching their cameras and jostling for the best sunset shots. In the off-season however, the magic is no less potent (and you might just have it all to yourself). The tiny town of Oia (pronounced Ee-ah) is home to the heart-breakingly beautiful Fisherman’s Cave House. Enjoy (or knock back) a shot of Ouzo in the rooftop plunge pool, or enjoy the freshest of seafood as the sun sets below the Caldera. I’m not sure I would be able to leave.
There’s nothing wrong with a little staycation: you get to avoid the airport queues, nasty in-flight meals and currency calculations, and spend more time snuggled up in a beautiful little hideaway in your own city. Granted, you won’t be able to buy a suitcase-worth of mini-Toblerones in duty free, but hey, we can’t have everything. Every internet wanderluster worth their salt knows that the St Pancras Clock Tower is the only place to stay in London – if you can get it. It looks like Hogwarts (so no-one will judge if you just stay in with a butterbeer and the Harry Potter boxset).
For the ultimate rustic retreat, look no further than the snow-dusted pine forests of northern Sweden. The iconic Treehotel offers an alpine hideaway beyond compare: six unique, quirky little treehouses hidden amidst the greenery and silence of the forest. All you need to add is a loved one (or a great book) and some wine. Or akvavit, if we’re keeping it Swedish.
Abandoning Europe’s ancient charms for a moment, why not consider a Valentine’s break in Morocco? This intoxicating country has a huge amount to offer, even in a weekend: a short flight, fantastic food, deserts, rolling surf, pleasant heat and vibrant cities. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to destinations – opt for a riad on the windswept coast with its endless stretches of sand and laidback boho surfer vibe, or delve into the labyrinthine bazaars and souks of Marrakech (try La Mamounia or El Fenn for a truly luxe escape). If you head into the city, be sure to keep an eye on the rooftops: the very best bars are hidden away above the hustle and bustle.
Where will you be this Valentine’s Day? x