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50 ways to treat your loved one in Surrey this Valentine’s Day

PUBLISHED: 09:23 11 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:03 16 February 2015

Give your loved one a taste of Downton at Byfleet Manor

Give your loved one a taste of Downton at Byfleet Manor

Various

If you really want to impress your other half this Valentine’s Day, a bouquet of flowers probably isn’t quite going to cut it – especially when there are so many other ways for romance to blossom in Surrey, as Viv Micklefield reveals here…

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2015

***

The scent of love...

Their colour, fragrance and sheer exuberance is enough to take your breath away at Kew Gardens’ Alluring Orchids festival opening on Saturday February 7. And things certainly get steamy after hours in the Princess of Wales Conservatory on Thursdays February 19 and 26 and March 5, when cocktails, botanical talks and music all add to this sensory cornucopia. Normal entry prices apply to daytime visits; tickets for ‘Lates’ are sold separately. To book,
call 0208 332 5655 or visit kew.org.

Or you could…

Visit the stunning landscape of RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking, which also has rose pruning workshops on Tuesday February 10 and Wednesday February 11. Tel: 0845 260900. Web: rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley

Explore the exotic woodland and ornamental wonders of The Savill Garden in Englefield Green. What is more, with free entry throughout February, there’s never been a better time to visit. Tel: 01784 435544. Web: theroyallandscape.co.uk

Escape to the elegant Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher, the retreat of dukes and the playground for princesses. Tel: 01372 467806. Web: nationaltrust.org.uk

A-maze yourselves within Hampton Court Palace’s world-famous yew hedge maze – or pop into the newly restored chocolate kitchens. Tel: 0844 482777. Web: hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace

Have fun playing giant games of noughts and crosses or ogle the treasure trove of antiquities at Ham House in Richmond. Tel: 0208 940 1950. Web: nationaltrust.org.uk

Discover Mrs Greville’s house parties of yesteryear at Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, where match-making flourished and the Queen Mother honeymooned. Tel: 01372 452048. Web: nationaltrust.org.uk

Catch a glimpse of Gertrude Jekyll’s parterre garden, recently replanted with traditional blooms, at Hatchlands Park, East Clandon. Tel: 01483 222482. Web: nationaltrust.org.uk

 

Magical relics...

From fairytale towers to exotic tents, Painshill Park’s creator, the Honourable Charles Hamilton, was a bit of a dreamer at heart. And the enchanting follies within his 18th century landscape garden in Cobham will send your imagination soaring too, with the Crystal Grotto its glittering piece de résistance. Tickets cost £7.70 per person. For opening hours, call 01932 868113 or
see painshill.co.uk.

Or you could…

Re-trace 900 years of history and the lives of Farnham’s Cistercian monks under Waverley Abbey Ruins’ starry skies. Web: english-heritage.org.uk

Admire Mary Watts’ exquisitely decorated Arts and Crafts inspired chapel at Compton. Tel: 01483 810235. Web: wattsgallery.org.uk

Take a twilight tour of Horace Walpole’s gothic castle on the Surrey borders, Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, which will be reopening its theatrical rooms again on Sunday March 1. Tel: 0208 744 1241. Web: strawberryhillhouse.org.uk

Follow the Wey Navigation from Guildford town centre to St Catherine’s Chapel. It’s a featured walk on the Out and About pages of the Surrey Life website.

 

Voyage of discovery

If it’s a touch of glamour and a dash of nostalgia you’re after, it’s hard to beat the magic of steam travel. This Valentine’s Day, step aboard at Addlestone or Woking station to enjoy a champagne five-course meal as the locomotive Mayflower pulls its elegant dining carriages on a round-trip over the South Downs. £199 buys this first-class seat with various ticket options available; call 01483 209888 or visit steamdreams.co.uk.

 

Or you could…

 

Steer a course for true love on a romantic narrowboat or take a punt along the River Wey from Farncombe Boat House. Tel: 01483 421306. Web:  farncombeboats.co.uk

 

Pedal along the Thames towpath on a tandem bicycle hired for two from Kingston’s YMCA Hawker Centre. Tel: 0208 296 9747. Web: cyclekingston.net

 

Take romance supersonic during a Concorde Champagne Day at Brooklands Museum in Weybridge with pre-flight reception, visit to the flight deck and three-course captain’s lunch on Sunday March 1. Tel: 01932 857381. Web: brooklandsmuseum.com

 

Sit back and enjoy the luxury of being ferried around Surrey in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce or a Mercedes-Benz stretch limo. Tel: 0208 398 8304. Web: classic-hire.com

 

Recharge and renew...

 

Okay, so a day of luxurious indulgence at Pennyhill Park Hotel’s Themis Spa comes at an eye-watering price, but what a memory. On arrival, each couple tucks into brunch with the Spa’s chef (valet parking takes care of your wheels) before entering a Rasul Mud Chamber where the traditional Arabic cleansing ritual leaves a feeling of calm relaxation. A cocooning two-hour full body aromatherapy massage and facial in a dual treatment room follows, with plenty of time left to explore the rest of the award-winning facilities, including the ice cave. It’s all topped-off with a sparkling afternoon tea, a hand, foot and scalp massage, and goodie bags of spa products to take home. Available weekdays until Tuesday March 31, an Ultimate Spa Day for Two costs £475 per person and is bookable on 01276 486150 or at thespa.uk.com_HOTELS/the_spa.aspx.

 

Or you could…

 

Hold hands and go for a bracing walk in the beautiful Surrey countryside. It’s still romantic!

 

Historic hideaways

What could be more romantic than being tucked up inside your own shepherd’s hut deep in the Surrey Hills? The one at Lockhurst Hatch Farm has plenty of mod-cons together with space for a double bed, sofa and wood burner. While the bathroom facilities may not be five-star – think compost toilet and an outdoor gas- powered shower – a freshly-made breakfast hamper delivers on style. Prices start at £70 per night. Call 01483 202689 or visit lockhurst-hatch-farm.co.uk/shepherds-hut.

 

Or you could…

 

Enjoy a stay at the Pugin designed Oxenford Gatehouse in Elstead. With plenty of room for two, it’s an architectural gem. Tel: 01628 825925. Web: landmarktrust.org.uk

 

Live the Downton Abbey life complete with roaring log fires and romantic meals cooked by your own personal chef at Dowager Violet’s sumptuous residence, Byfleet Manor. Tel: 01932 343346. Web: byfleetmanor.com      

 

Brief encounters

 

If the thought of a fizzing canapé reception and three-course meal before dancing the night away sends you immediately in search of a glamorous get-up, then join the guest list at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking. Their Valentine’s Masquerade Ball takes place on Valentine’s Day itself. Also on the same night is A Taste of Romance, the vineyard’s six-course restaurant menu paired with their award-winning wines. Tickets for these events cost £55 and £59.50 respectively. Alternatively, a Sparkling Winemaking Experience keeps love bubbling through the year. Call 01306 876616 or see denbies.co.uk.

 

Or you could…

 

Book into the historic Nutfield Priory Hotel near Redhill for a two-night Valentine’s break, which includes a tasting menu. Tel: 0845 0727485. Web: handpickedhotels.co.uk

 

Adrenalin rush

 

Falling head over heels is guaranteed when hurtling downhill at speeds of up to 25mph in a huge inflatable Zorbing ball. Two riders can either be harnessed in or there’s a ‘hydro’ freestyle experience that sees you both slip and slide your way to the finish line. From £49.99 per couple, Whyteleafe Zorbing Park is the UK’s largest. Check beforehand for restrictions on 0845 4303322 or at zorbing.co.uk.

 

Or you could…

 

Send a petrolhead for a spin around TV’s Top Gear circuit
at Dunsfold Park behind the wheel of a high-performance car. Tel:
0844 693 0106. Web: trackdays.co.uk/tracks/dunsfold_park

 

Take love to completely new heights by scaling the indoor climbing walls of Craggy Island in both Guildford and Sutton. Tel: 0844 880 8866. Web: craggy-island.com

 

Marvel at the amazing view from the top of the ‘coaster climb’ at Thorpe Park in Chertsey, which re-opens again in March. Tel: 0871 663 1673. Web: thorpepark.com

 

Prepare for lift-off from Shalford Park on a champagne balloon flight from March onwards. Tel: 01252 844222. Web: adventureballoons.co.uk

 

Animal magnetism

 

With names like Running Cloud and Napoleon, they’ll flutter their long eyelashes and it will be love at first sight on a Valentine’s Day llama trek through the Surrey Hills. Including lunch at The Merry Harriers in Hambledon, treks cost £75 per person with B&B options available. And if you can’t wait to meet-up with these gorgeous creatures again, there are more dates throughout the year with details at llamalove@btconnect.com and surrey-hills-llamas.co.uk.

 

Or you could…

 

Pop the question in an original way by having a magnificent bird of prey deliver the ring to your loved one during a wildlife encounter with Surrey Falconry. Tel: 07833 222395. Web: surrey-falconry.com

 

Celebrate your good fortune at the races. Sandown Park has a fixture on Friday February 13 and there’s twilight racing at Kempton every Wednesday. Web: sandown.thejockeyclub.co.uk and kempton.thejockeyclub.co.uk

 

Skipping a beat

As one of the world’s most romantic composers, Mozart has made hearts flutter for centuries. By candlelight, excerpts from some of his best-loved operas including The Magic Flute and Cosi Fan Tutte should sound even more sublime. The Epsom Playhouse hosts the European Baroque Ensemble and Singers on Thursday February 5 with tickets from £21.50. Call 01372 742555 or see epsomplayhouse.co.uk. 

 

Or you could…

 

Express your love by writing and performing a verse at the open mic poetry jam in Richmond on Monday February 9. Fittingly, there’s rosebud tea on the menu too. Tel: 0208 940 3521. Web: theteabox.co.uk

 

Let Shakespeare’s words inspire you when the RSC’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost is screened live at Farnham Maltings on Thursday February 12. Tel: 01252 745444. Web: farnhammaltings.com

 

Get swept-up in the smouldering tango of Strictly stars Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag when they bring their dance show to Woking on Sunday February 15. Tel: 0844 8717645. Web: atg tickets.com/venues/new-victoria-theatre 

 

Foodie heaven

Let’s face it, buying a box of Ferrero Rocher isn’t really going to cut the mustard. Instead, why not learn how to make your own chocolates? Whether its mouthwatering truffles or scrumptious cakes, master chocolatier Mark Tilling runs a range of courses. Join the one-day Chocolate School for beginners in Farnham on Thursday February 19. Costing £150 per person, it can be booked by calling 0845 6171812 or online at squires-school.co.uk.

 

Or you could…

 

Try your hand at creating authentic Japanese sushi. Yasu Minowa brings everything that’s needed to your own home for six people upwards. Tel: 01252 794336. Web: letssushi.co.uk

 

Shake-up the mood with some exotic flavour combinations as you learn to make delicious cocktails at Guildford’s Bar des Arts. Tel: 01483 453227. Web: bardesarts.co.uk

 

Scintillating views

 

And finally, whether it’s watching a breaking dawn or a rosy sunset, Surrey has many wonderful high spots. Perhaps one of these will become your special place: 

 

Box Hill

 

Epsom Downs

 

Hascombe Hill

 

Hindhead Commons

 

The Hog’s Back

 

Holmbury Hill

 

Leith Hill

 

Newlands Corner

 

Richmond Hill

 

St Martha’s Hill

***

Get in touch:

So what are you planning for this Valentine’s Day or what Surrey attraction has seduced you in the past? Let us know by joining our online community at facebook.com/SurreyLife and twitter.com/SurreyLife

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