If the thought of a public shaming to buy an overpriced rose for your dinner companion fills you with dread, or your well-travelled partner yawns at the mere mention of another trip to Paris, here are five ideas for romantic Valentine’s getaways that won’t turn in to a horrible cliché.
Easily reachable from Paris or Reims, a tour of the Champagne wine region is sure to cheer up even the most jaded Valentine. Stay away from the major brand names and instead visit some of the smaller winemakers. Many now offer dinner and accommodation so there’s no need to worry about driving after a heavy sampling session. Also worth a visit is the village of Hautvillers where specialist bars such as Au 36 offer food and wine tastings demonstrating how the blend of grapes affects the finished product.
Valentine’s Day is a relatively new arrival to Japan and seems to mostly revolve around giving chocolate. The twist is that chocolates are given almost exclusively to men from women. It’s not restricted to romantic interests either; women often give chocolate gifts to male colleagues, relatives and friends. Walk off the chocolate with a stroll around Tokyo Tower (based on the Eiffel Tower if you are still after that Parisian vibe) soak in a relaxing private onsen bath and feast on super-fresh sushi. The infamous “love hotels” with extravagant themed bedrooms might be just that extra something you’ve been looking for.
Get back to nature with a safari trip. Watching the sun go down over the African wilderness drink in hand and bird song in the air surely beats an overpriced set meal at the local restaurant. Fly in to Nairobi, Johannesburg or Lusaka to explore the Rift Valley, see incredible wildlife and marvel at Victoria Falls. Many safari tours can be combined with visits to glorious Indian Ocean beaches or adventure activities such as hot air ballooning, while accommodation ranges from 5 star lodges to wilderness camping, so every taste and budget can be met.
If your other half can’t get enough of Boardwalk Empire and classic gangster films then head to Chicago. In 1929 Al Capone was engaged in a turf war with various other gangs and mafias across the city, resulting the St Valentine’s Day Massacre, where 7 rival gang members were shot in broad daylight. The crime scene has since been built over so instead try a romantic stroll around Millennium Park, or check out the city skyline from Promontory Point, a quiet beach to the south of the city. Finish the day with a sunset cocktail at the 96th floor bar at the John Hancock Center.
Easter Island, Chile
When the thought of Valentine’s Day sends you running for the hills, why not head to one of the most remote islands on Earth instead? Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, around 2182 miles from continental South America, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui to locals) is one of the most isolated permanent settlements yet also has regular flights from Chile. Climb an ancient volcano, wonder at the mysterious moai statues or just snuggle up in a cosy beach hut as the waves crash outside.