Where’s the most romantic place to propose in the UK? England’s tallest Tudor gatehouse, Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester, comes close.
It has also been known to provide a white horse, full suit of armour and its lofty tower to help set the scene.
The Edwardian tea pavilion is even available as a secluded retreat with views over the rolling Constable countryside. The butler is no longer at your beck and call, but this private self-catering cottage, with original oak beams and wood-burning stoves, still exudes old-school luxury.
Carter’s Vineyards produces a range of award-winning, eco-friendly wines on its 40 acres, which are surrounded by wildflower meadows, lakes and woodlands. Picnics are welcome, too – as long as you don’t mind the company of kingfishers, woodpeckers and deer.
Where to eat
For a tantalising meal for two in a sixteenth-century timber framed house, Le Talbooth serves a range of local seafood.
Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, CO7 6HN (01206 322 367, www.milsomshotels.com). Mains start at £8.25 on the A La Carte menu.
Where to stay
The Stoke by Nayland Club
This venue boasts 300 acres of idyllic landscape and impressive facilities including a twin massage suite, Egyptian Rasoul mud-therapy treatments, on-site fishing, and two championship golf courses. Keepers Lane, Leavenheath, Colchester, Essex, CO6 4PZ (01206 262 836, www.stokebynaylandclub.co.uk). Doubles from £79 per night.
Colchester’s not far from the east coast, but for a warmer soak, Le Talbooth’s hotel sister, Maison Talbooth, has some stunning suites with their own hot tubs on private terraces. Milsoms Hotel is a lively gastrobar and the informal atmosphere make for a relaxing refuge.
Stratford Road, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, CO7 6HN (01206 322 367, www.milsomshotels.com). Doubles from £186 per night.