IT’S HARD TO believe but Valentine’s Day is almost upon us again, the day when, tradition has it, the birds get together to choose their mate. Presuming you’ve chosen yours, why not make like a lovebird and treat them to a romantic break? We’ve rounded up 14 lovey-dovey options in honour of February 14th.STAR GAZING IN WEST CORK
Those old romantics down at Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa in west Cork have a come up with a package perfect for starry-eyed lovers. Its romantic Star Gazer deal will pack you off for a night-time tryst on the beach with a star map and telescope tucked into your picnic basket.
If it rains you can always search the skies from the privacy of your balcony which, let’s face it, is probably better than being one of a dozen self-conscious couples picnicking on a beach at night pretending to have an interest in astronomy.
The Star Gazer package includes two nights’ B&B plus picnic for €185 per person sharing midweek, or €225 at weekends in February.
NUMBER’S UP IN CLARE
Do numerologists have a romantic streak or do they think love is just a numbers game? In either case they may be attracted to Inchiquin House in Corofin, Co Clare.
In honour of February 14th, the owners of this Georgian self-catering property are offering a 14 per cent discount on bookings made for either the weekend before or after Valentine’s Day.
You also get €14 off the price of optional extras such as a visit to a local beauty salon, golf game, lunch at a local restaurant or dinner prepared and served by the property’s resident chef – so you’re not really self catering at all.
There are all the usual suspects, too, in the form of chocolates and strawberries plus pink Champagne.
A weekend’s booking costs €1,200, or €1,032 including discount. The house sleeps 10 so bring the price down even more by rounding up four more couples to share.
HAPPY EVER AFTER IN SLIGO
For all sorts of added-value treats, check out the Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa in Sligo. Its Happy Ever After package – and what pair could resist such a promise – has all the elements of a fairytale romance, including a windswept horse ride on the beach, candlelit meal and pampering spa treatments afterwards.
The hotel has teamed up with Island View Riding Stables nearby, which will bring you and your partner for a two-hour beach and bog ride, overlooking Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle. On return to the hotel you get three hours in the spa, including hot oil massage and facial treatments.
The two-night package, which includes B&B and dinner, costs €225 per person sharing. The happy ever after bit is free.
12 TREATS IN GALWAY
It’s back to numbers at the Twelve in Galway’s Barna, which is always good for interesting offers. In this case, its Valentine’s Lovebomb Surprise has 12 different romantic elements, starting with – deep breath and fingers at the ready for counting – a petal-strewn bed, bottle of bubbly, red iced muffins, lovers’ picnic, candlelit dinner, framed caricatures of you both, in-room spa treatments, Love Potion cocktails at the bar, a discount voucher for a local jewellers (just in case) and a gift rose at departure.
Okay, so that’s only 10 but they include the hotel itself as number 11, and treat number 12? Well that’s down to you.
The price of this loved-up overnight package, which is available only on February 14th, is €450 per couple.
VALUE VALENTINES CROSS COUNTRY
Meanwhile, back in recession country, the Best Western chain of hotels has what may be a very standard Valentine’s package but, if you’re on a budget, is also one of the best-priced ones around at just €99 per person for two nights’ B&B, including one evening meal plus a bottle of bubbly and chocolates on arrival.
Better still, there are Best Western hotels across the country, including three in Dublin and others as far flung as Wexford, Derry, Cork, Portrush, Limerick and Killarney, and all offer the same rate, so you’ve loads of options.
CASTLES FOR KEEPS
Castles are always a good bet at Valentines, what with featuring so heavily in fairytales and all. Kinnitty Castle, near Birr, is perfectly Gothic and has the added advantage of being at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, so you can walk up an appetite by day.
The standard Valentine’s package costs €80 per person, including B&B and a four-course dinner, which is a great price. Ratchet up the romance by upgrading to one of its baronial rooms for an extra tenner a head, which includes a petal-strewn bed.
At these prices however, it’s worth pushing the boat out because, for an extra €20 a head, you get one of its larger state rooms.
TREASURE IN DONEGAL
Harvey’s Point Hotel in Donegal is hosting a Lover’s Walk treasure hunt, in which couples staying at the hotel can roam the woods in the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains in search of bottles of bubbly, red roses and chocolates, cunningly hidden in its bowers and glades.
The hotel is also offering tea and crumpets in the guestrooms in the afternoon, in recognition of the numbers likely to be opting for a siesta. For those whose love for one another has endured, there will be a special prize for the most senior couple attending its Valentine’s Night dinner.
As well as all of the above, the package, which takes place on the weekend before Valentines, includes two nights’ accommodation, Prosecco and chocolates and costs €199 per person sharing.
MUSIC IN ROSSCARBERY
If music be the food of love then the place to go is the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, west Cork. The hotel, which is close to Clonakilty, is offering a dinner and opera experience from the Drawing Room Opera, featuring mezzo soprano Liz Ryan and tenor Paul Linehan, accompanied by Andrew Synnott on piano and special guest, Hungarian violinist Istvan Barnacz.
The programme promises to be a lively and entertaining mix of popular music, performed as you dine and takes place on February 18th, the Saturday after Valentine’s. One night’s B&B, dinner and opera tickets costs from €95 per person sharing.
QUESTION POPPING IN DUBLIN
If you plan on taking the opportunity to pop the question this Valentine’s Day, check out the I Do package at Dublin’s Dylan Hotel, which should up your chances of getting a “yes”.
The five-star boutique hotel is taking advantage of the fact that 10 per cent of couples in the western world get engaged on Valentine’s Day – the cheesy 10 per cent, obviously.
To this end, it is offering a package that includes champagne, rose-petal bath and turndown, dinner for two plus, and this is the
good bit, a chauffeur-driven ride to Paul Sheeran’s Jewellers off Grafton Street, where you will get a consultation, plus a €500 voucher for an engagement ring.
Given that the package costs
€510 per room, it’s like getting the room for a tenner, so you can start your married life as you’ll have to go on – thrifty.
DESERT DELIGHT IN MOROCCO
What could be more romantic than a few stolen Arabian nights? UK firm Specialist Morocco has plotted a three-day Valentine Lovers Sahara Escape that will see you whisked into the wilderness, or at least, into a luxury tented camp in the middle of the Sahara.
Your destination is the south of Morocco, in the region of the southern Draa Valley,
where your camp consists of eight “walk-in” sleeping tents, eight private bathroom tents
and a large salon tent for meals prepared by Berber chefs.
You’ve got to make it to Marrakech under your own steam, although the company can help with flights and hotel accommodation.
By day, there are 4x4 tours exploring oases; by night, candlelit dinners in the dunes. Not quite so romantic, there’s an optional camel trek. Tour-only is £695 per person.
CRUISE CANOODLING IN LONDON
How about whisking him or her to London for a night out? City Cruises is promising to spread ripples of romance across the Thames with its night cruise this Valentine’s Day.
Beginning at Westminster Pier, guests are welcomed on board with a glass of bubbly, to be followed, as the boat heads down to the Thames Barrier, by a three-course meal with wine, a live band and dancing.
The Thames is lovely by night, with illuminated monuments along the river bank providing a stunning backdrop for a romantic evening. The three-hour cruise costs £80 per person and it provides the perfect opportunity to check into the gorgeous Corinthia Hotel afterwards, where, at the time of writing, rooms are available on Valentine’s from £299 per couple.
SINGLES CELEBRATION IN MAYO
If there’s one day of the year singles hate, it’s Valentine’s, which is why it’s great to find a package celebrating singletons as the Ice House in Ballina is doing this year with its singles-only event. Its Singledom Package includes cocktails, chocolate-dipped strawberries, therapists (of the spa, not the shrink, kind) plus a chance to enjoy the hot tub with the other celebrating singles, all for €165.
BUTLERS IN CORK
Anyone visiting Cork city would be hard pressed to find a better location than the Imperial Hotel but the package it has put together is so full on, you’ll find little reason to leave your room.
Stay in the four-star hotel’s Penthouse Suite on Valentines, with your own private roof-top terrace and a bottle of bubbly and a bunch of romantic DVDs laid on.
No need to hack it with all the other canoodling couples for dinner, either, as your personal butler will sort out an intimate meal for two in your room, with candles, soft music and silver service. For dessert you’ll get your very own chocolate fountain.
The package includes a 30-minute treatment at the hotel’s spa (left), plus Aveda toiletries in your room. At €499 per person sharing, let’s hope there are plenty of them.
For regular romantics, the hotel has two nights’ B&B including dinner for two, Champagne and chocolates in an ordinary room from €129 per person sharing.
Indulge in a three-day Valentine Lovers Sahara Escape that will whisk you off on an adventure to a luxury camp in the Sahara
Of course, they don’t call London the City of Love do they? Indeed, they don’t call Las Vegas that either but that hasn’t stopped the US city borrowing some of Paris’s clothes this Valentine’s Day.
Travel company Sunway is offering a “Romance of Paris, in Vegas” package which will see you fly with Delta Airlines, stay four nights in the four-star Vegas Paris Hotel, including breakfast, from €729 each.
You’ll be walking through the Arc de Triomphe, strolling past the Louvre, and enjoying the hotel’s French garden and Paris Spa, all in average temperatures of about 17 degrees, a tad warmer than its French namesake. And, being Vegas, for those feeling lucky in love there’s a casino too.
Of course, you could just go to Paris, France. Travel Counsellors has a well-priced three-night package departing either Dublin or Cork on February 12th, staying at the four-star Royal Elysees Hotel, priced from €335 per person sharing, including return flights, and B&B accommodation.