Forget an overpriced set menu at the local Italian and take your Valentine’s inspiration from our favourite settings for ‘dining à deux’. We’ve picked out some of the most romantic food experiences from across the globe, including glacier-gazing over lunch in Iceland, dinner on a deserted sandbank in the Maldives, and candlelit meals on a riad rooftop in Marrakech.
Glacier-glazing over lunch in Iceland
Iceland’s iconic Hotel Budir is set on a secluded bay on the dramatic Snaefellsnes peninsula, guaranteeing meals with a view! Gaze at the Snaefellsjökull glacier over lip-smacking lunches in the restaurant, watch seals cavort in the inlet from the bar, and tuck into dinner as the Northern Lights dance overhead. The imaginative cuisine is among the finest in the country, with plenty of local lamb and fresh fish. After dinner, retire to one of the 28 comfy bedrooms and sprawl out on the window seat with a glass of wine.
From £123 per room per night (tax included), based on 2 sharing on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
Private picnics by a Thai waterfall
Head to luxury resort The Sarojin on Khao Lak, Thailand, for a choice of unforgettable private dining experiences. Staff will set up a spot anywhere you choose, be it on the beach, in a poolside cabana or in the garden; they will even build a palm fence to separate you from the chef, and afterwards you’ll be given a spirit balloon to let drift away on the sea breeze. Perhaps most romantic of all are champagne picnics by a secret waterfall, with candles flickering all around. The food is a great mix of Thai and Italian, with a focus on seafood and fresh, local ingredients. Following your meal, adjourn to your beautifully furnished suite and take in the view of the Andaman Sea or Khao Sok National Park.
From £125 per room per night (plus 9% tax and 10% service charge), based on 2 sharing on a bed-and-breakfast basis. Rates include a bottle of sparkling wine, fruit and flowers on arrival, WiFi, shuttles into Khao Lak town, tea and coffee, water, and use of catamarans, canoes and windsurfers in the resort’s lagoon. Guests booking through i-escape also get a 30-minute spa massage.
Stylish self-catering in Scotland’s far north
Cooking and eating at Croft 103 is all about soaring views and uber-stylish kitchens. Set in a wildly beautiful location at the very tip of Scotland, these 2 1-bedroom cottages have sweeping vistas of water, mountain and sky, plus all the kit a foodie could ever need. Grill some fresh seafood (you can order in advance from the local fish van) to enjoy on your terrace, or arrange for delicious homemade meals to be waiting in your freezer on arrival. After you’ve dined, cuddle up in front of the wood-burner or soak under a starry sky in the alfresco bathtub; if you’re lucky, you might even glimpse the Northern Lights overhead.
From £200 per cottage per night (tax included), based on 2 sharing on an accommodation-only basis. Guests booking through i-escape receive a bottle of wine at the time of stay.
Desert-island dinners in the Maldives
The food at Soneva Fushi Resort & Spa wouldn’t be out of place in a top city restaurant, but add in the remote Maldives setting and you have a truly magical experience. As well as having 3 restaurants to choose from, you can book private lantern-lit BBQs on a sandbank, desert-island picnics where you’re left alone for 3 hours, and sunrise breakfasts on nearby Turtle Beach. Afterwards, lounge in your indulgent villa-style room and gaze out over the sea, go water-skiing and snorkelling in gin-clear water, or bliss out in the spa.
From £760 per room per night (plus 16% tax and service charge), based on 2 sharing on an accommodation–only basis. This includes non-motorised watersports (except scuba diving) and use of the tennis court, fitness centre and library.
Breakfast on a riverbank in Italy
Set on the banks of an enchanting river in the town of Valeggio sul Mincio, mid-way between Verona and Lake Garda, La Finestra Sul Fiume is a rustic 5-room B&B in a converted watermill. Breakfast here is a romantic treat, served under the willows at the water’s edge as swans and geese drift slowly by. Owner Pietro tailors the selection to guests’ tastes, but expect plates piled high with creamy Monte Veronese cheese, tender ham, pastries from the local bakery, and juicy grapes the size of plums. Come evening, sip aperitifs under a flaming sky then stroll into town to sample Valeggio’s famous tortellini pasta, cooked to perfection in family-run trattorias and delightful waterside restaurants.
From £119 per room per night (tax included), based on 2 sharing on a bed-and-breakfast basis. Guests booking through i-escape receive a free bottle of wine on arrival.
Rooftop romance in Marrakech
Riad Dar More, in the middle of Marrakech’s medina, is a wonderful setting for rooftop romance. Order in advance to experience dinner on the candlelit, petal-strewn terrace as the city sparkles below. The delicious local dishes include Moroccan salads, couscous and tagines, all exquisitely prepared and presented by the talented chef. The riad itself is a soothing sanctuary with a courtyard fountain, 5 beautifully decorated rooms and an imaginative mix of contemporary style and traditional artistry.
From £41 per room per night (tax included), based on 2 sharing on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
An intimate island idyll in southern Brazil
Luxurious and secluded Ponta dos Ganchos offers the opportunity to dine in romantic splendour on an island accessed by pier. There’s only one table (with a dedicated waiter and music), and the food is top-notch. The resort, located on a private peninsula near Florianópolis on Brazil’s southern coast, also has a thatched beachside restaurant and 25 beautiful cabanas, some with private plunge pools or Jacuzzis. For an unforgettable pre-dinner drink, paddle across the turquoise water to one of the nearby bars, illuminated by torches at night.
From £450 per room per night (plus 3% tax), based on 2 sharing on a bed-and-breakfast basis. Guests booking through i-escape receive a free welcome drink and fruit basket.
Other food for thought…
Song Saa, Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia – book a speedboat or a traditional longtail boat and head off for a private picnic on one of the beaches fringing the neighbouring island
Tiara Yaktsa, Côte d’Azur, France – watch the sun go down over the shimmering sea as you tuck into a delicious candlelit dinner at this glorious hilltop hotel
La Suite by Dussol, Rio de Janeiro – dine on the terrace of this glamorous clifftop guesthouse and watch the city lights twinkle across the water; it’s one of the most spectacular views in Rio
Sayari Camp, Tanzania – enjoy alfresco meals for 2 in the African bush at this luxury safari camp in the northern Serengeti
Grace Santorini, Greece – soak up staggering views of Santorini’s caldera over a champagne breakfast, then book dinner in a private poolside cave
137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, Thailand – staff at this luxurious hotel can provide private dinners, pack up picnic hampers and even arrange lunch on a hot-air balloon!
Relais Villa Vittoria, Lake Como, Italy – feast on wonderful Italian food on the lakeside terrace, or gaze into each other’s eyes at a private table under the jasmine pergola
Museum Hotel, Cappadocia, Turkey – tuck into traditional Cappadocian dishes at this cave hotel’s award-winning restaurant, or book private meals in the rose-coloured valley below