This Valentines Day, you and your lover can hide away in your very own gypsy caravan, brightly painted and located by a babbling brook at Tor Cottage in Devon "“ just one of the inspired romantic break ideas to be found on www.romancesouthwest.co.uk. This new website from South West Tourism features cosy cottages, plush hotels and a multitude of outings to sweep your lover, Mr Darcy-style, off their feet.
The region's natural wonders and justly famous food are waiting to spoil you both rotten: oysters are a South West speciality so make a culinary pilgrimage to Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow to partake of their lust-inducing properties. Or fly a kite together on the private white sand beach at the Island Hotel in the Isles of Scilly, renowned for its ultra-fresh local seafood and dramatic sea views. Later, you might catch the full force of an Atlantic storm while you cosy up in your comfortable colonial-style room.
For some Jane Austen-style flirting, 18th Century Ston Easton Park near Bath has an abundance of whimsical details in its classic grounds – including a ruined grotto fountain and romantic Palladian bridges over the river Norr "“ not to mention exquisite rooms filled with period features for the true genteel country house experience.
The perfect treat for a petrol-head husband can be supplied by Berrybrook Motors "“ explore the lanes in a classic shiny red Morgan Roadster V6, finishing up at Combe House, the fabulously secluded Elizabethan manor retreat where Arabian horses roam the grounds. Inject a bit of sparkle with some stargazing: Devon boasts some of England's darkest night skies.
Busy urban couples will adore Charlton House in Somerset, a super sexy rural retreat owned by the designers behind Mulberry accessories, complete with a crystal-encrusted spa. Book a 'couples retreat' for a night of TLC on the inside and out, including simultaneous massages in your suite followed by a gourmet blow-out dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant.
For a little James Bond glamour, don a tuxedo and little black dress and take a power boat cruise on the river Fal in Cornwall, or a distinguished jaunt along Dorset's famous coastline in the private yacht owned by the chic, Rhode Island-style Harbour Heights Hotel at Sandbanks in Poole, a.k.a. Millionaire's Row.
The South West's glorious landscape and many castles have provided the backdrop to countless literary and historical trysts: step back in time and snuggle up in a four-poster bed at Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire, the only Tudor castle of its kind to be opened as a hotel, where legendary lover Henry VIII went a-wooing Anne Boleyn, peeking through arrow-slit windows to the gardens below.
The website doesn't just feature ideas for breaks, however: you can also order unique West Country gifts such as winter-flowering narcissi from the Isles of Scilly, or fresh Dorset cream truffles from Chococo, whose 'chilli tickle' variety is bound to supply the lust factor. The site is ideal for those who have just pledged their troth, too, as you can search for the dream wedding venue, including many of the National Trust's fine stately homes.
Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of South West Tourism said: " As well as being a stunning part of the country, South West England is now home to some truly iconic hotels and world-class restaurants so visitors can be confident that a break in the region will be a real treat. As Britons spend more and more on romance "“ the average cost of a UK wedding is now Â£16,000 "“ we wanted to ensure romance in South West England was on everybody's radar. We've made the job of searching for the right treat easier by developing this initiative to help visitors find the properties and businesses whose speciality is to create a Valentine's Day every day of the week."
For more on England at ITKT