Great ideas for making your Valentine’s Day break something special

If you’re planning a romantic holiday cottage break this Valentine’s Day, we have a few ideas to help make it truly special. Our lovely cottages are the perfect venue for quiet time away from the world that can allow you spend quality time together. If you want to add a little more spark to your time with us, try one of these.

Re-enact your first date

Depending on how successful your first date was, why not re-enact it while you’re away? Chances are that you will both have fond memories of it, which makes it a prime candidate for a romantic Valentine’s Day treat. If you can, go back to the same venue, order the same food, drink the same drinks and relive those good times.

Do something active

Activity produces endorphins which make you feel good. Incorporating some kind of fun activity into your Valentine’s Day break could make all the difference to how it goes. You could try ice skating, hang gliding, jet skiing, cycling, a long walk somewhere scenic or whatever you like. Spending time together doing something active is a great way to spend a day.

Get pampered

While not every man’s cup of tea, a massage and spa day is also a good way to reconnect. No woman can resist being looked after and pampered for a day so is a good way to get you in the mood. Why not try a couple’s massage so you can both enjoy being looked after for a while?

Stay indoors

Staying indoors can be fun too if it’s by choice. Get lots of food and drink, take some board games, a pack or cards or bring a few movies if you like. Turn off your phones, switch those laptops off and leave the world outside for a day. There’s nothing like doing nothing for a day to make you feel good. Many of our holiday cottages have real fires or log burners to add to the mood.

Dress up for a night out

Making a reservation somewhere nice nearby and dressing up for the occasion can make a very special Valentine’s Day. Many of our cottages are close to towns and villages, many of which will have a nice restaurant. Book well in advance as you know how busy they get. Make an occasion of it and have a great time. It’s what this time of year is all about!

The UK’s best Tudor attractions

With a renewed interest in everything Tudor thanks to the BBC’s The Tudors and Wolf Hall, we thought we would find out where in the UK you can get a real Tudor experience. We have scoured the land looking for authentic Tudor attractions that you can visit to get a real taste of life five hundred years ago. If you’re staying in one of our holiday cottages nearby, all of these are worth a trip.

This is what we found.

Hampton Court – Surrey

Hampton Court has to be one of the most famous Tudor locations in Britain. Once owned by Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, this is a truly magnificent palace. Built in the 1500s, the building is made up of several generations of extension from the Great Gatehouse to the Great Hall. Each is magnificent in its own right.

Hever Castle – Kent

Hever Castle was Anne Boleyn’s family home. It’s another 16th century building that has survived remarkably well and is open to the public. The castle is set in lovely grounds with a lake and rose garden. The castle itself feature about as much history as can be squeezed into a single building and is well worth a visit.

Thornbury Castle – Gloucestershire

Thornbury Castle was once owned by the Duke of Buckingham and was built around 1511 to resemble an old-style fortress. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were said to have stayed there for a while as guests. The castle is now a hotel and it is possible to stay the night in the room that is thought to have been where Henry and Anne stayed.

Little Moreton Hall – Cheshire

Little Moreton Hall is about as pretty as they come. It’s an enchanting Tudor manor house built in that typical timbered style. It has been lovingly restored to its former glory and is open to the public. This moated house has everything you might imagine a Tudor manor to have, a moat, mullioned windows, a great hall and lovely gardens. Visit it if you can!

The Vyne – Hampshire

The Vyne was home to one of Henry VIII’s favourites, Lord Sandys. This mansion is made of stone and brick and is thought to have been built in the 1520s. It includes a Long Gallery, Stone Gallery and the chapel Each features Tudor decorations including the Tudor Rose, carvings by Giovanni da Maiano and three excellent portraits in oil.

Those five attractions are probably the finest examples of Tudor life we have. If Wolf Hall has reignited your interest in this period of our history, we recommend visiting any and all of these. If you want to make a weekend of it, we have dozens of holiday cottages within easy reach of each!

How to spend your days when in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is a great place to spend a little time away from home. It’s only an hour from London, yet could be at the other end of the country. It’s quiet, civilised and offers a huge range of things to see and do. Renting one of our holiday cottages in Oxfordshire is a great way to explore England!

Here are a few things to see and do.

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is almost a thousand years old in parts and is spread out across the city. Some of the colleges are open to the public some of the time and are well worth checking out.

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum is one of many superb museums in the area but has a character all of its own. It’s a bit cluttered but is truly amazing to wander around. It’s free to enter and is one of the most fascinating museums anywhere in the world.

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is another Oxford-based museum that is one of the best examples of its type anywhere. You need a full day to really appreciate what’s here.

University Museum of Natural History

Another museum well worth your time is the University Museum of Natural History. Stuffed full of exhibits from across the ages, the museum is an easy way to lose a day. The building itself is fascinating too.

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is one of the most famous book repositories in the world and for good reason. The building is amazing, the sheer number and variety of books are too. Take a guided tour to get the very best out of this attraction.

Broughton Castle

Leaving museums and libraries behind for a while, let’s visit Broughton Castle near Banbury. It’s a fortified manor house built around 1300 and is open to the public. It’s a lovely, peaceful place that has feature in more than a few movies.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a fascinating walk into the past. The birthplace of Winston Churchill and current home to the Duke of Marlborough, the palace is a historic building with a lot to offer. Allow plenty of time to do it justice!

Those are just a few of the hundreds of places to see and things to do while staying in one of our holiday cottages in Oxfordshire. Each offers a little something different and is well worth your time. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

Top ten Valentines movies of all time

If your idea of a good Valentine’s Day is curling up on the sofa with the one you love, this is the post for you. Many couples who use our romantic holiday cottages have no big plans, no activities lined up or major events scheduled. Many just like taking time away from modern life to reconnect with the one they love.

Watching a romantic movie is one way of spending quality time. If you want to know what the top ten Valentines movies of all time are, this is it. Many of our holiday cottages have TVs and DVD players so you have no excuse!

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a classic chick flick. A single girl writes a diary about daily life as she fights her way through being single and fancying her boss. It’s funnier and more charming than it sounds.

Addicted to Love

Addicted to Love deserved more positive reviews than it received. It’s an amusing romp showing two people trying to get their respective loves back with predictable results. Matthew Broderick and Meg Ryan star.

My Best Friend's Wedding

My Best Friend's Wedding is another Valentine’s Day classic with Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney. These two make a deal to marry each other if they hit 28 without being hitched. Dermot meets Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts doesn’t like it.

The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer is typical Adam Sandler, a good natured movie with a little romance thrown in for good measure. Also starring Drew Barrymore, the movie is a bit odd in places but in a good way.


Singles is a good film about a group of people in their twenties who are trying to settle down. It’s quite illustrative and contains a few good tips for men.

French Kiss

French Kiss is about what a woman will do to keep her love. Meg Ryan is engaged to Timothy Hutton, who in turn falls for a French woman. Meg works with Kevin Kline to win him back. Some good tips for the boys in this movie!

Notting Hill

There can’t be many people in the UK who hasn’t heard of Notting Hill. It’s a romantic classic starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts that set women aflame when it was release. It should need no introduction.

Last Tango in Paris

Not only is this movie a good instruction manual for young men, it’s also a good film in its own right. Marlon Brando is at his screen shattering best in this and it’s well worth watching on Valentine’s Day.


Chocolat is a charming film starring Jonny Depp and Julliete Binoche about an unconventional woman who opens a chocolate shop in a traditional French village. It’s a great little film.

Love Actually

Love Actually follows eight couples in the period leading up to Christmas one year in England. It’s a classic RomCom and one most women will love.

So if you’re planning on taking time away in one of our romantic holiday cottages, you have a list of great movies to take with you. Enjoy your time together!

Great days out in Gloucestershire

Whatever time of year you visit Gloucestershire, there is always something to do. It’s a wide open and varied county with a huge range of towns, cities and attractions to keep you occupied. If you’re visiting one of our many quality holiday cottages in the county, you won’t be short of things to do.

Here are just a few ideas of things to do in Gloucestershire while in a holiday cottage.

The International Centre for Birds of Prey

We seem to feature a lot of bird of prey centres here on That’s because they seem widely appreciated by our customers. This one is no different. Based in Newent, The International Centre for Birds of Prey is an excellent example of somewhere that mixes preservation with entertainment. The owl nights are especially good!

Royal Forest of Dean

The Royal Forest of Dean is an amazing place to visit if you like walking, amazing scenery, have a dog or children you want to wear out. It offers something new every season, with spring and autumn being particular highlights. With marked trails and plenty of opportunities to explore, it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Especially if you have a nice warm holiday cottage to go home to!

Torbay Express

The Torbay Express is a step back in time that we should all enjoy at one time in our lives. It’s a steam train that travels across Gloucester, Somerset and north Devon. Options include short scenic journeys or a full five hour trip with dinner. It’s an excellent way to spend a few hours and get to see a bit of the west country at the same time.

Perrygrove Railway and Treetop Adventure

Another rail-based attraction in Gloucestershire is the Perrygrove Railway and Treetop Adventure. This attraction isn’t all about the trains, although they are a main reason for visiting. There is also a treetop adventure area where you can get a bird’s eye view of the woods, a hidden treasure area where children can explore and find real treasure!

Symonds Yat Rock

Symonds Yat Rock is a geological formation on the edge of the Forest of Dean. It’s enormous and accessible via forest trails that are fairly easy going. From the top of the rock you can see over the River Wye, the Wye Valley and the forest itself. It’s also a great place to watch birds of prey in action.

Those are just five of the hundreds of attractions in Gloucestershire. If you’re planning a holiday cottage trip to the area, each offers a great way to spend time. Enjoy them and let us know how you get on!

The origins and history of Valentine’s Day

Here at, we’re taking lots of bookings for romantic holiday cottages for Valentine’s Day. It’s a busy time for us, but we wanted to take a minute to think about the origins of this day. Where did it come from? Why do we celebrate it?

As far as we know, celebrations began in Roman times. The festival of Lupercalia was held in February on the 13th, 14th and 15th. This was a fertility festival, held to usher in the spring and healthy crops. Men would run around naked using dog or goat-skin whips to spank women to promote their fertility too.

Valentine was Bishop of Interamna who served in AD 197 under the Roman Emperor Aurelian. He was beheaded for reasons unknown. Another Christian Valentine, Valentine of Rome was also martyred for giving aid to prisoners during the reign of Emperor Claudius. He was said to have fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter and wrote to her signing off “From your Valentine.”

Then, around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. The day was to be a Christian feast day, ostensibly designed to “civilise” the still popular festival of Lupercalia.

The first mentions of Valentine’s Day and love, apart from the alleged love letters from Valentine, were from Geoffrey Chaucer. He wrote in his book “Parlement of Foules” in 1382 about the engagement of Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia. “For this was on St. Valentine's Day/ When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

Later, in France around 1400 AD, the High Court of Love was formed to manage affairs of the heart such as marriage, divorces and all manner of happenings. It was held on Valentine’s Day each year. Sometime later, the Duke of Orleans writes the first recorded Valentine’s love letter to his love when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London.

By now, Valentine’s Day is a firm fixture in the calendar, so much so that Shakespeare writes about it in Hamlet. “To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine.”

From then on, Valentine’s Day was a regular part of our year. The print press, the advent of the card, various publications of romantic rhyme writing and the Post Office all made sending cards and love notes easier. The rest as they say, is history.

So when you’re relaxing in your romantic holiday cottage on Valentine’s Day, just think. The holiday you’re celebrating is over 2000 years old!

Book a holiday cottage for Valentine’s Day before it’s too late!

We know Christmas and New Year are only a week or so behind us. We know you’re only just back to work. You might think that it’s way too early to be thinking of Valentine’s Day and that you want a week or two of normality before moving on.

However, we’re already seeing bookings on the rise for the weekend of the 14th and 15th of February. If you want to stay in a romantic holiday cottage somewhere lovely, you’re going to have to move fast!

Romantic holiday cottages

Even if you don’t buy in to the commercial side of Valentine’s Day, it’s too good an excuse for a romantic weekend away to ignore. Taking time out with the one you love, escaping somewhere nice and hiding away from the world for a weekend is a great way to spend quality time any time of year!

We have a huge selection of high quality holiday cottages spread across the UK and Ireland. From the beach to forest, valley to hills, we have something to suit. Quaint Cornish cottages, romantic Scottish retreats, stylish city pads or old world English charm. Whatever kind of holiday cottage you’re looking for, we have something for you.

What makes a romantic holiday cottage for Valentine’s Day?

There are several elements that makes a holiday cottage perfect for Valentine’s Day. One, location, two features and three, company. We can help with the first two, the third is up to you!

Location, location, location. It’s not only a very good TV show, it’s also an essential element in choosing your holiday cottage. Do you want to be somewhere secluded? Somewhere in the middle of the action? By the beach? By a forest? In the city? We have cottages that meet all these criteria. Just use the map to search.

Holiday cottage features add value and enjoyment to your Valentine’s Day. Want a holiday cottage with a log fire? Want one with a pool, hot tub or large garden? Want one where the dog can come too? We can help. We have hundreds of pet friendly holiday cottages with or without fires, pools and hot tubs.

A romantic holiday cottage for Valentine’s Day is only a few minutes away. Simply find the one you like, check availability and book. It’s as easy as that. They are going fast though so move quickly if you want to guarantee your romantic cottage for two!

Be prepared when using one of our holiday cottages for hiking in winter

The mild winter weather we’re enjoying right now is encouraging more people than ever to get outdoors and explore. What is usually a quiet time for holiday cottages is actually turning out to be quite busy. The usual winter hiking routes across the UK and Ireland are seeing more traffic too.

If you’re considering using one of our holiday cottages for a little winter hiking, here is a quick checklist of things you’ll need to take. The list is designed for those new to hiking or to exploring outdoors and includes everything you’ll need to stay warm, dry and safe.


  • Waterproof jacket
  • Walking trousers
  • Base layer
  • Backpack
  • Walking boots
  • Walking socks
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Map and compass
  • Food and drink
  • Mobile phone (GPS a bonus)
  • First aid kit


  • Gaiters
  • Walking poles
  • Torch
  • Sunscreen
  • Multi-tool
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra layers and socks
  • Camping equipment

It is essential that you’re prepared for your winter hike as chances are you’ll be far from civilisation. That means help will take a while to get to you. As you will be carrying most of this stuff, a balance has to be struck between packing absolutely everything and weight. That’s why we split this list into essentials and optional. In an ideal world, you would take everything on every hike, but that isn’t always practical.

Short hikes

For a short hike of up to 10-15 miles, it isn’t always necessary to carry kit spares, camping equipment, walking poles or sunscreen. However, if you’re driving out somewhere desolate and then going hiking, it might be worth taking some kind of shelter.

You should always carry plenty of water and some water purification tablets. You would be surprised how much water you lose when walking, even during winter. You still sweat and still burn liquids, so it’s essential that you’re able to top up as you go.

Longer hikes

For hikes over 10-15 miles, it’s always useful to have shelter, spare sunscreen, spare batteries and plenty of water. The army has a saying, plan for the worst, hope for the best. You should adopt that saying whenever you’re preparing for a hike. The more isolated your route, the more preparation you should undertake.

When staying out longer, food and drink begin playing a more important part. Proper hydration can prevent many injuries and incidents. Food replenishes energy as you go. Both could save your life. Pack as much as you can comfortably carry for a few hours and eat well before you leave.

We have some amazing holiday cottages in some of the best walking regions in the world. We want you to enjoy your time with us and if you prepare properly, you’re going to love it!

More Wonderful Winter Walks Part 2

Continuing on from our previous posts on Wonderful Winter Walks, we’re intent on helping you make the most of not just what could be on your doorstep when you stay in one of our lovely holiday cottages, but what the UK has to offer too. So here are a few more winter walks to work off that turkey!

Cairngorm National Park

The Cairngorm National Park is one of our newest parks, having been established in 2003. It’s also the largest, covering hundreds of acres of land that’s twice the size of the Lake District. There are 52 peaks here, many over 900m high.

As well as some stunning scenery, over a quarter of the UK’s endangered species can be found here, so if you’re into nature, there’s a double reason to visit!

The Malvern Hills

The Malvern Hills are located south of Worcester and while not our biggest area of outstanding natural beauty, is certainly one of the best. It’s also close to motorways and centres of population, making it ideal for a day out walking. Walking the Malvern Hills isn’t as challenging as some of the other places on here, but it’s still very rewarding.

The Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the more famous of our parks and not far from the Malvern Hills. Located in South Wales, the park is the natural border between England and Wales and includes some of the most challenging winter hiking around.

Here you can walk the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr and Pen y Fan. The Wye Valley offers some stunning scenery from atop the many hills and ridges, making for a very rewarding day out.

North Yorkshire Moors National Park

The North Yorkshire Moors National Park is another park surrounded by towns and villages, making for a very interest winter break or day out. This park is more rolling hills and valleys than mountains and crags but is no less rewarding for it. Miles and miles of trails cross this wild land and there are plenty of holiday cottages within a short distance too!

South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path isn’t a park or mountain, it’s a dedicated trail that covers almost the entire coast of Devon and Cornwall. It’s 630 miles in all, but it broken down into manageable chunks between seaside towns. We have dozens of holiday cottages in this part of the country so would make a great New Year getaway.

The path stretches from the edge of Exmoor National Park and covers all the south west coast round Cornwall to Poole in Dorset. It’s an epic place to walk!