January 27, 2012 9:58 pm

The expert selection: Romantic hideaways for two

Five British bolt-holes perfect for Valentine’s day, ranging from a windmill tower to a converted stone tool shed

Alastair Sawday is founder of Sawday’s, a publishing house that has produced 24 guidebooks specialising in characterful places to stay, including hotels, country inns, cottages and campsites. Here, as Valentine’s day approaches, he picks five romantic British bolt-holes for two. Prices are given per week but short breaks are also available.

Long Barrow Windmill, North Whilborough, Devon

The views from this beautiful white windmill tower stretch 20 miles across the glorious South Hams to Dartmoor. The tower stands in its own five-acre field and has four floors, linked by a slender handmade staircase. The bedroom is on the first floor, the bathroom on the second, and the top floor is a living room with wrap around windows. It has been a labour of love for owner Vince Hallam, who restored it from a 200-year-old ruin. Supremely romantic on a stormy winter’s night and equally as lovely on a crisp sunny day, this comfortable yet quirky resting place offers perfect peace in the Devon countryside. Details: North Whilborough is about four miles south of Newton Abbot; from £400 per week; www.devonwindmills.co.uk

The Studio, Allt Dinas, Conwy

This snug Snowdonian retreat was once home to Victorian artists inspired by the magnificence of the setting. It’s all about the walking here, whether it’s a serious hike up Snowdon, a scramble on Tryfan, or a leisurely amble to the picnic bench with views along the Lledr Valley. After a day stretching your legs, cook up a romantic meal in the cosy kitchen and stretch out in front of the fire. The bedroom is on a mezzanine above, the result of the entire building being constructed around a vast boulder. Details: Allt Dinas is just outside Betws-y-Coed, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park; from £320 per week; www.snowdoniaaccommodation.co.uk

Ivy Cottage, Brinsop, Herefordshire

Hidden away on an ancient estate, this remote bolt-hole is small and sweet. Outside its timber frames suggest medieval roots; in fact it’s a mere 300 years old. The interiors are definitely 21st-century, though; downstairs, a cool little kitchen flows into a sitting room with a wood-burner. Venture out on the terrace and there’s a hot-tub to splash around in and a fire pit to warm up next to. Details: Brinsop is seven miles north-west of Hereford; from £675 per week; www.brinsopcourt.com/ivy/index.aspx

The Old Nail Shed, Sawdon, Yorkshire

The name may not inspire romance but this converted stone tool shed, once part of a blacksmith’s forge, might. It’s been beautifully revamped and is now sleek in wood and steel, with floor-to-ceiling windows that give views of the sunset over the hills. It’s a sophisticated space, the comfy side of minimalist, and the freestanding bath under starry spotlights is meant for sharing. If you can drag yourself out you’ve got Scarborough’s seaside close and the whole North York Moors National Park on your doorstep – plus a terrific pub. Details: Sawdon is about 10 miles west of Scarborough; from £450 per week; www.theanvilinnsawdon.co.uk/oldnailshed.html

North Barn, Cornworthy, Devon

What could be more romantic than waking to the sound of the river lapping below your window? This is one of my favourite places in Britain and a perfect place to dawdle with your beloved. One wall is almost entirely glass, so the open-plan converted barn is bathed in light. Paint, sketch, read, walk or lie in bed all day and gaze at the River Dart and its bobbing boats and wading birds. At low tide you can pick your way along the foreshore to the restaurant at Tuckenhay. Details: Cornworthy is about six miles from Totnes; from £450 per week; no website, tel: +44 (0)1803 722384

For more on Sawday’s, see www.sawdays.co.uk

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