Perfectly Romantic Mini Breaks

Before Bridget Jones moaned about it many of us didn't even know what a mini break was, now the dream of driving out of town, preferably in something open topped, sporty and red, and off into some kind of enchanted pocket of loveliness for two has firmly taken root as a collective fantasy. Take note Knights On White Chargers, these are the perfect places to book for a mini break.

Nothing says 'out of town' like building-less views. Which are exactly what greets mini breakers gazing from the windows of Clavell Tower on Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset. Built in 1830 as an observatory and a folly, and now in the running to become a World Heritage Site, this tower stands alone against the wide sweep of ocean, a romantic Tuscan-esque structure and the inspiration for the P.D. James novel 'The Black Tower' and Thomas Hardy's Wessex Poems. And now fitted out just for two. 

Continuing the theme of tower-with-ocean-views, Martello Tower in Suffolk, is a mini break fortress in thick brick that looks like a four leafed clover in aerial photos. Built to fend off an anticipated attack by Napoleon in the early 19th Century, the moat and thick walls may not seem cosy and romantic until you're on the inside of them in front of the huge fireplace listening to the terribly exciting sound of the waves crashing outside.

Mini breakers staying at Ballyportry Castle - really a tower - in Ireland will be able to make as much noise as they will – it's been standing, solitary on this cliff top for more than 500 years, exposed beams, roaring peat fires and all. Called The Summer House, this building still qualifies as a tower for two. It's an odd building, originally built as an 'Elizabethan banqueting tower'. What mini breakers will want to know is that it's pretty, has pretty views, is quite a way from the nearest ears, and has a roof terrace, four poster bed and generous fire place.

If you're up to the stage of your relationship when you need a lovenest, there could be nothing more idyllic sounding than The Dovecote in Oxfordshire. An octagon of brick with a lantern roof that lets the light in, this dovecote was once the 18th century home of more than a thousand doves, now the 'potence' remains = a technical term for the ladder, now augmented with a spiral staircase, and the central post and loft, but the birds are gone and there's only space for two in the spa and double shower.

For a less literal nest, the Dunmore Pineapple is one of the most unusual converted follys for two in the UK. The owner and designer figured that if it's built to look like a pineapple you should call it a pineapple, and the roof of this ex-hot-house is a very literal reproduction of a giant stone pineapple. The interior is laid out over two floors, but you'll have to create your own steam, the hot house piping system has been shut down. If Buckinghamshire is closer, Blickling Hall's Jacobean Tower is another romantically renovated love nest, complete with roof terrace, plush, warm fabrics and views to the coast. The legends of a ghost in the hall will only serve to bring you closer as the sun sets.

Remote romance can be found in the Jura Lodge, on the isle of Jura, which has 25 deer for every person, and is part of a whisky distillery. Inside it looks like you imagine a hunting lodge to, with rich woods and traditional shades, populated with fat leather furniture, oils in the old fashioned pictorial sense and the heads of animals staring out at you from half way up the wall. There are only five en-suite bedrooms in the lodge and plenty of whisky.

If a mini break means not having to do anything for yourself then a castle hotel will be closer to the dream. You still get the four poster and spa, but chefs are on hand to feed you and someone else will get the fire crackling. Thornbury Castle was the mini break choice of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and you can sleep in their boudoir for around £300 a night. Thornbury is also the UK's only Tudor castle hotel. Amberley Castle used to belong to Elizabeth I and still has a moat and portcullis – stay up until midnight and watch it being closed for the night – but it's now much warmer and plusher inside. Leave your kids and your denim at home, the restaurant has a dress code. Or mini break in individualised four poster, stylish bathroom-ed luxury and comfort at Langley Castle or Grade 1 listed but super stylish Blencow Hall.

Not Quite as Mini Breaks

If you have more than a single night and can dash via the airport, you have some even more idyllic options. Le Pigeonnier in the south of France is another literal lovenest - this unusual 18th Century gite used to be a pigeon barn, before being turned into a light and airy, and very reasonably priced secluded retreat for two. The Windmill on Santorini has the luxury of a private jacuzzi and massage pool a few hundred metres from a sandy beach, all wrapped in whitewashed windmill shaped charm. Chateau de Mercues is a French caste hotel over looking its own vineyards; and La Tour de Calanca, a 15th Century tower with views over the bright blue Corsican coast with its own private beach, and Villa Bournella have almost legendary mini breaker status at the moment for privacy, luxury and generally being gorgeous. You could never have a bad break together somewhere this picturesque.

So far the break's been mini enough to fit into a long weekend, but if you have a bit longer then a dash to the lovely backdrop of the Italian lakes: Garda, Iseo and Como or a stroll along the Amalfi Coast is romantic mini break heaven.

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