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12 ridiculously romantic ways to spend Valentine’s Day in Kent

Forget the champagne and choose a sparkling English wine from the heart of the Kentish countryside to toast your Valentine. Leave the roses at the florist and let your loved one learn how to grow their own in a beautiful country garden. Many of Kent’s homegrown Valentine’s options offer a little twist on tradition that might just make your romantic gesture that little bit more remarkable.

If nothing but the best will do for your Valentine, why not book a night at a moated castle or in the shadow of stunning Canterbury Cathedral? Or perhaps you’d like to recapture the magic of the steam age by stepping aboard a Valentine’s Day special on one of the county’s heritage railways.

Of course, there’s plenty for traditionalists too, with Valentine’s meals and stays offered at some of Kent’s best hotels and restaurants where a glass of bubbly, a sumptuous meal and live music provide the perfect backdrop to a romantic evening with your loved one.

But if the thought of sharing your Valentine’s Day celebration is just too much – high speed rail services from London with Southeastern (www.southeasternrailway.co.uk) could have you holed up in a cosy hideaway with your love in less than an hour. Whatever you’re looking for this Valentine’s Day you’ll find something to suit in the Garden of England.

credit: Leeds Castle

credit: Leeds Castle

Here’s the Visit Kent Valentine’s dozen to inspire you…

  1. Spoil your Valentine with a sparkling English wine. With soil similar to that of the Champagne region in France, Kent vineyards produce an array of sparkling wines. Try the Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rose, Chapel Down’s Sparkling English Rose or Biddenden’s Pinot Reserve. And if wine isn’t your tipple of choice – how about distilling the spirit of February 14th with a Kentish vodka or gin from Copper Rivet Distillery, or Biddenden’s Red Love apple juice for the non-drinkers?
  2. Kentish afternoon tea or dinner and stay. Chapel Down’s sparkling Chalksole Vintage Reserve is the bubbly of choice for the Valentine’s Afternoon Tea at The Marquis at Alkham, near Dover. With a focus on seasonal, local produce and views of picturesque countryside, The Marquis is also a great choice for a Valentine’s dinner or lunch and they even have rooms available for romantic stays. Afternoon tea starts at £49 per couple, lunch is £45 per person, dinner £65 and two-night stays including one lunch or dinner, bed and breakfast start at £299. For full details visit http://www.themarquisatalkham.co.uk/valentines/
  3. Learn all about roses at Godinton House and Gardens. Why settle for a dozen red roses this Valentine’s Day when you could give the gift that keeps on giving? A lesson on how to grow your own! Book a place for you and your valentine on the All About Roses workshop at Godinton House and Gardens in Ashford and learn from their expert head gardener. The course costs £55 per person including a homemade lunch and refreshments and takes place February 18th. Booking is essential. For more information visit http://godintonhouse.co.uk/whats-on/
  4. A Valentine’s Day evening fit for a king… or queen! What could be more romantic and luxurious than a night at a moated castle? Both Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, and Hever Castle, near Sevenoaks, have dine and stay Valentine’s offers. Both include private tours of the castle, the chance to explore the grounds after normal visiting hours, a drinks reception, a sumptuous dinner with wine and music from a harpist as well as a one-night stay and breakfast. Leeds Castle from £555 per room, Hever from £205 per person.
  5. Dine in the shadow of World Heritage-listed Canterbury Cathedral. Celebrate with your loved one in one of the most romantic locations in historic Canterbury, the restaurant at Cathedral Lodge. Enjoy an arrival glass of sparkling wine, followed by a four-course Valentine’s dinner in the lodge’s modern restaurant. Make the night extra special with a stay at the lodge and enjoy breakfast there the following morning. Dinner £34.95 per person, Valentine’s overnight package: £189 per room. For more information visit https://www.canterburycathedrallodge.org/
  6. Recapture the romance of the railways. Step aboard, sit back, relax and enjoy a ride through the Kent countryside with your Valentine on the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Open a bottle of bubbly on a wine special at Spa Valley Railway as you drink in the views of the beautiful High Weald, or choose to dine at the romantically remote End of the Line restaurant in Dungeness after arriving courtesy of one of the small but perfectly-formed steam trains of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
  7. Explore a Valentine’s dove trail. Head to the National Trust’s Ightham Mote to enjoy a romantic walk with purpose around their peaceful gardens. The 700-year-old house is not open during the winter months but visitors can enjoy the gardens between 10am and 3.30pm. Valentine’s visitors are encouraged to try and spot the doves around the garden on the Mote’s Valentine’s Dove Trail. Visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote for more details.
  8. Prepare the perfect proposal. Take your love to new heights this February with a trip up the tower of St Peter’s Church, Sandwich. As you reach the top, huddle up together and stop to admire the wonderful views across Sandwich. St Peter’s are keen to point out that this historical building provides the perfect setting for a Valentine’s proposal or wedding, and will be running a prize draw for those who propose at the top of St Peters church tower to win free venue hire of the church for their wedding reception! For more information visit http://www.stpeterschurch-sandwich.org.uk/index.htm.
  9. Have a roaring good time. If you’d prefer to take a walk on the wild side, how about taking your Valentine to Port Lympne Wild Animal Reserve near Hythe? Treat your loved one to a delicious five course dinner at the Port Lympne Hotel. Enjoy a glass of bubbly on arrival in the Glyn Philpot bar, before dining in the dramatically decorated restaurant. Priced at £65 per person, including a beautiful rose, tables are available to book at 6pm or 8pm. For more information and booking, visit http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne
  10. Spoil your Valentine. Whether you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift to surprise your loved one or want to treat them to a shopping trip you’ll want to check out Ashford Designer Outlet’s. The shopping centre has special offers on accessories, beauty, lingerie and the perfect date-night outfits. Alternatively, head to Bluewater in Dartford with 300 stores and 60 restaurants to choose from.
  11. Enjoy a traditional candle-lit dinner. Kent is home to a host of wonderful hotels and there are some great-value dinner and dine-and-stay specials being offered this Valentine’s Day. For a seaside spot you could try The Sands Hotel in up-and-coming Margate, the Hythe Imperial Hotel for a six-course dinner or The Lodge at Prince’s Golf Club on Sandwich Bay. Over at Dover’s Ramada Hotel, live music and a disco after dinner will give you the chance to dance and you can kick off your heels in one of their well-appointed rooms if you choose to stay. The Hilton, Maidstone is also offering a three-course meal with a glass of Prosecco in their Seasons Restaurant and has a dine-and-stay option too, or you could book in at The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells where live music will accompany you as you eat.
  12. Cosy up in a romantic cottage for two. What could be more romantic than your own private getaway? How about Walnut Tree Cottage – a bolt hole near Faversham where you can get snug by the fire? It’s one of a number of properties for two from Mulberry Cottages. Kent and Sussex Cottages also have a collection of places that are perfect for couples including The Hideaway, a secluded cottage with a log-burning stove near Deal.
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