What's the attraction?
What is more romantic than cuddling up in a hideaway with room just for two? And why settle for a hotel room or standard cottage, when you can have something a little out of the ordinary? If a dose of stylish seclusion is on your agenda, there is an increasing array of diminutive boltholes with singular appeal to choose from, whether it's a sand-between- your-toes tropical islet, or a heated igloo surrounded by fabulous winter scenery.
Tree of love
Spending a night in a tree house has enduring romantic appeal, particularly when the tree house in question is a scaled-down replica of a French château, complete with turrets. There are three secluded tree houses set on the grounds of The Châteaux dans Les Arbres estate: the castle-like Montbazillac has bucolic views of the surrounding Dordogne countryside with its swishing meadows and thick forests. There's just one secluded room and an outdoor hot tub, however guests also have use of a communal pool and endless possibilities for walking and cycling. The tree house starts at £203 (about R2 500) per night through Canopy & Stars (01275 395 447; canopyandstars.co.uk).
Sleeping around (the UK)
There is very little to disturb the peace at The Boathouse, a charming one-bedroom cottage that overlooks its own loch on the Dundas Estate near Edinburgh. Three nights' B&B cost from £640 with Original Travel (020 7978 7333; originaltravel.co.uk). The Grove (01834 860 915; thegrove-narberth.co.uk) in Narberth is a sensitively restored 17th-century mansion and historic longhouse in the heart of Pembrokeshire. In addition to the country house hotel, there is also the cute Copper Beech cottage, which sleeps just two; four days' rental from £330. Hare Farm Hideaways (07802 979 348; harefarmhideaways.co.uk) is a rural idyll overlooking the Brede Valley in East Sussex. Its charmingly restored Victorian shepherd's hut is perfect for a getaway à deux. It costs from £100 per night. For a really luxurious sleepover check in to one of the new Treehouse suites tucked in bosky splendour on the grounds of Chewton Glen in Hampshire. Sycamore is the most private and breakfast can be delivered via a secret hatch. It starts at £310 per night with breakfast through Mr & Mrs Smith (0845 034 0700; mrandmrssmith.com).
Ice, ice baby
Snuggle up with your loved one in the snow. If sub-zero temperatures don't appeal, then the Swiss have come up with a hot igloo. Perched at an altitude of 2,727m at the Igloo Dorf camp (00 41 41 612 2726; iglu-dorf.com), in the shadow of the Matterhorn near Zermatt, this igloo-like tent is made from canvas, decked out with sheepskins and a wood-burning stove. Prosecco and nibbles are laid on and guides will take you for a nocturnal snowshoe ramble. The igloo costs Sfr698 (about R6 000) per night, full board, including activities.
Going to the chapel
La Cappella is a rather special one-bedroom hideaway near the pretty town of Sarzana on Italy's Ligurian coast. As the name suggests, it's a stylishly restored chapel with exposed brick walls and an arresting chequerboard marble floor. There's a small kitchen set in the erstwhile altar, but the real showstopper is the retractable roof, which makes sleeping under the twinkling stars a possibility. Fittingly, the dramatic Gulf of Poets, which inspired the likes of Byron and Shelley, is a short drive away. Weekly rental starts at €1,600 (about R16 000) through Merrion Charles (00 39 05 859 2098; merrioncharles.com).
Castaway in style
If you truly want to get away from it all, The Sarojin (00 66 76 427 9004; sarojin.com) in Khao Lak on Thailand's west coast offers the ultimate castaway experience. Couples staying at the resort get the chance to spend a night on their own on the powdery white sands of Ko Kho Khao in the Andaman Sea. Guests dine on the island's shores before retiring to a tent with the sounds of the waves to lull them to sleep. Six nights' B&B from £2,915 per couple, with transfers from Phuket, a Thai cookery lesson and a stay on the island. Flights extra.
In the lap of the gods
It can be a challenge to find attractive one-bedroom villas with their own pool in the Mediterranean, which is what makes The Stone House so special. With decor that could be splashed across the pages of an interiors magazine, this hideaway for two perches in the foothills of Mount Pantokratour in Corfu. There's everything you need at the house to never have to leave, including a pool with far-reaching views out to sea. But if you do, there is plenty to explore nearby including the stunning Arlaki Beach. Weekly rental starts at £1,500 through Scott Williams (01963 33046; scottwilliams.co.uk).
Pretty as a picture
Annes Grove is a mini gothic-style castle - actually a gate lodge on a historic estate - in the picturesque landscape surrounding Castletownroche in County Cork. Restored by the Irish Landmark Trust (00 35 3 1670 4733; irishlandmark.com), its simple interior is scattered with antiques. There is also a small kitchen, a living room with a wood-burning stove, a bedroom reached via a twisting stone staircase, and a pretty walled garden for al fresco dining in warmer weather. A three-night break costs from €320.
“The Villa Metato in Umbria is a gorgeous bolthole for two buried deep in the woods with the lovely town of Citta di Castello a short drive away. Inside is an open-plan living-dining-sleeping area upstairs and a kitchen downstairs - all of it livened up by the owners' colourful and light-hearted design touches. It's all very down to earth, fun and unfancy and, with its shady gardens and pool, it would make a blissful escape.”
Michael Cullen, editor-in-chief, i-escape.com. - The Independent