IT’S that time again when our thoughts start to turn to a romantic break as St Valentine comes calling.
Scotland handily is awash with escapes where you can enjoy a really special time with your loved one, whether you fancy the night away or a longer escape later in the year.
Kicking off in the capital, a brand new opening, The Edinburgh Grand, tempts. This stately New Town dame is seriously glamorous and you have the freedom here of luxury apartments.
The complex is also home to the renowned steak restaurant Hawksmoor – I’ve dined here and for me they serve the best steaks in the capital. The Register Club meanwhile is ideal for romantic cocktails to share. It’s all here in one spot.
Pushing south into the Borders, we come to the seriously glam Roulotte Retreat. Here in a sleepy meadow with a duck pond at its heart, just south of Melrose, lie a sprinkling of French roulottes.
Think luxurious railway suites rather than caravans as such. All have been spiced up by the creative owners with each boasting its own sumptuous feel and lush fabrics. They come complete with a wee kitchen, a decent shower and a proper big bed. Some even have their own hot tubs and they are great value too, from £135 a night.
In Ayrshire, whether you are a fan of the current US President or not, the romance of Trump Turnberry is undeniable. The hotel itself has been brilliantly brought back to its grand railway heyday best, while the new split-level honeymoon retreat down in that iconic lighthouse for my money may just be the most romantic luxury escape in Scotland. It’s just the two of you, the Atlantic and those big west coast skies.
Room service is the way to go here. They have a spa at the resort too.
Out on the remote Cowal Peninsula I’m a big fan of Portavadie. This marina has now become a destination in its own right with three restaurants and a spa. You can indulge in a treatment and then take a dip in their outdoor infinity pool right down on the shores of Loch Fyne. They have just added a new couples’ retreat to their accommodation range, which is the place to stay for romantic couples, with its own private outdoor spa pool. The sublime sunsets in this part of the world are a St Valentine memory that will linger on and on.
I’ll let you in on a wee secret here on the Cowal Peninsula – when you are at Portavadie make a trip out to Kilbride Bay if your idea of romance is a gorgeous beach. It’s a 20-minute walk in from the remote road, but well worth it to enjoy a beach where you will often be alone. Well, alone bar the odd seal or seabird and the epic views out to Kintrye and Arran. If you have a proposal in mind this would be an ideal spot.
Islands for me have their own inherent sense of romance and they don’t come much more dreamy than the Hebridean isle of Coll. Here the cosy Coll Hotel has just opened an extension that has made the most of the great location overlooking the waters and a sprinkling of isles towards Mull. The food and service from the Oliphant family are top notch. After a bracing stroll on one of Coll’s beaches you can dine by candlelight as you savour fresh Coll lobster, cooked with love, with a view of the isles.
Another island that has it all for couples in search of Cupid is the Isle of Arran. The ferry trip over is spirit-soaring as the Arran Hills rear into view and you stand at the bow of the CalMac ferry reliving Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s cinematic moment, this time on the Clyde.
If you are lucky you might even spot a porpoise or a dolphin as you swoon.
Arran also has beaches for hand-holding strolls and a wildscape alive with the likes of deer, seals and basking sharks. Then there are cosy cafes to hide away in and the pampering health spa and restaurants at the Auchrannie.
It is experiences like these that put Scotland up there with anywhere else in the world for romance.