Say it with: Valentine’s day ideas in Herts
PUBLISHED: 10:36 09 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:02 09 February 2016
Steve Shipman Photography
Valentines can feel a bit pressured – you don’t want to make a fuss, but who doesn’t like being shown there’s love in the air? Here are a dozen ideas, both traditional and a bit more out-there, that will bring a smile to that special person
Auberge du Lac
Candles, red roses and gifts of chocolates complemented by a six-course romantically-inspired tasting menu in this intimate setting combine to make an enviable Valentine occasion. As an alternative to dinner, which is being served on February 12 and 13, a residential Auberge experience includes overnight accommodation in Melbourne Lodge followed by a full English breakfast.
For Valentine’s Day diners, Redcoats Farmhouse Hotel and Restaurant offers a rustic yet chic dining environment. The ancient building (above) is a rural retreat with modern standards set in gardens surrounded by countryside in Redcoats Green, near Hitchin. An accommodation package is also on offer so customers can stretch out Valentine’s Day and stay for the weekend.
Aubrey Park Hotel
A three-course dinner in the Brasserie is tempting enough, but opt to stay in this Redbourn hotel to take advantage of a massage in the comfort of a large, contemporary bedroom where soothing music is accompanied by aromatherapy diffusion. Relaxing, romantic and just the tiniest bit extravagant – great ingredients for any memorable Valentine’s Day.
The nature of this 600-year-old Grade II listed Buntingford building lends itself to romance. With exposed beams, the cosy, split-level restaurant oozes intimacy. Owner and chef Stuart Smith has a menu favouring English cuisine with a leaning towards seafood and locally-sourced meats. Look out for shared starters and homemade desserts too.
In leafy, historic Berkhamsted, Porter’s, one of the town’s latest and most reputable restaurants is promising a sensual Valentine’s Day atmosphere enhanced by thousands of soft fairy lights. There’s also a mouthwatering feast for diners, with fresh native live oysters, rib of rare-breed beef for two and passion fruit tart on the menu. porters.uk.com
An Italian chef, freshly prepared food and a glass or two or prosecco are surely some of the finest ingredients that together create a special meal. At Alloro, a family-run Letchworth restaurant, couples can savour the appetising courses in a warm, rustic environment where professional front-of-house service and a cosy ambience guarantees a night to remember. alloro.co.uk
If music be the food of love
Music in St Albans Cathedral stretches back centuries and on February 3 Tom Bell, organist at London’s St Michaels church, continues that tradition with a free lunchtime recital on the mighty cathedral organ. Soak up the history and bask in the magnificent sound.
For those who enjoy food shopping but prefer their goods and crafts to be locally made, head for Hatfield House Farmers Market on February 21. Between 10am and 2pm choose from an array of goodies including cakes, breads, honey and beer, all displayed in the historic Stable Yard in the grounds of Hertfordshire’s stunning Jacobean house.
Love vintage style? The popularity of all things retro is celebrated at Hitchin’s Church House on January 30 with A Vintage Affair. Together you can browse vintage homewares, recycled accessories and classic clothing. A must for couples with adventurous tastes. £1 entry fee.
A night time battle 150 years ago saw villagers tearing down iron fences in order to reclaim Berkhamsted Common following Lord Brownlow’s decision to enclose it for his own use. The story of the common, from ancient times to the present is being told in a free, daily exhibition displayed in Ashridge Estate’s Visitor Centre. See the exhibition and then take a walk in the beautiful grounds and surrounding woodland.
Dinner comes to you
Want fine dining, but without leaving the house? To accompany wine, candles and a glowing fire at home, Clive Marshall of Braughing-based chef-to-home service Intimate Dining recommends a three-course meal which can be pre-prepared: avocado and orange salad with fresh herbs and raspberry vinaigrette; Coq au Vin, green beans, straw carrots and mashed potatoes; and a deliciously decadent chocolate mousse for dessert. Sleepless in Seattle, the iconic rom-com, will provide the icing on the cake for a special night in.
Say it with flowers
Carpeted with acres of seasonal flowers, the winter woodland garden at Walkern Hall, once a medieval hunting park, is a picturesque venue for lovers of the outdoors. There is a modest entry charge of £4.50 with teas and homemade warming soup available and hellebores for sale. The estate in Walkern near Stevenage is open for the Snowdrop Festival on February 20 and 21. (See garden feature on p131 for more).