While some people prefer to avoid restaurants altogether on Valentine’s Day, for others it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a romantic evening out. For wine lovers, finding venues with a great selection of bottles is an added bonus.
Whether you’re after prestige Bordeaux and classic vintages or interesting and quirky bottles from less well-known producers, the selection below gives you plenty of options. We also tell you what to expect from the wine list in each venue.
From Michelin-starred fine dining to candle-lit neighbourhood bistros, you’ll find suggestions to suit a variety of moods – and budgets. What’s more these restaurants will deliver great service, atmosphere and food and wine at all times of the year, not just on 14 February.
Below, you’ll find five romantic restaurants in London and five others spread across the UK.
Ten romantic restaurants to visit
Click the titles to go straight to the restaurant page to see menus and online booking details. Updated February 2022.
Where is it? 46 Lexington Street, W1F 0LP
Book: 020 7437 5708
What we like about it: Wine bottles filled with candles set the mood at this romantic little bistro, which has become a Soho institution, with a legion of devoted admirers. There’s a delightful old-school charm about the place, from its comfortably familiar, scuffed and shabby interior to its hand-written menus, which change daily. The Valentine’s Day menu this year kicks off with a glass of Pol Roger. Then cosy up to your loved one and enjoy venison carpaccio or burrata with roasted romanesco cauliflower and almonds, plus sharing dishes such as Dover sole with Pernod sauce for two, followed by wild honey pannacotta.
Wine list: Andrew Edmunds is famous for the low mark-ups on its mostly French list, with outstanding older vintages from notable producers. Roaming across this lovely selection, from the Loire to the Languedoc, is a joy.
21212, Edinburgh £££
Where is it? 3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB
Book: 0345 22 21212
What we like about it: Located in an elegant Georgian townhouse on Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace, Paul Kitching’s stylish restaurant is ideal for an intimate dinner a deux or romantic night away (there are four luxury bedrooms here too). Gastronomic thrills are guaranteed with Michelin-starred Kitching’s creative menu, which changes weekly but might include dishes such as ‘10 C Sea Trout’ made with 10 ingredients beginning with the letter ‘c’ or ‘Haggis it’s risotto’ – proudly Scottish, with a Kitching twist.
Wine list: This extensive list has plenty to please lovers of classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, alongside a commendable Barolo and Barbaresco selection. Top New World names include California’s Ridge Montebello and Cheval des Andes from Argentina.
Where is it? 33 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
Book: 020 7379 9696
What we like about it: Consistently voted ‘most romantic restaurant in London’, love is always on the menu in Clos Maggiore’s pretty blossom-decked conservatory, where you’ll dine beneath twinkling fairy lights as an open fire glows in the stone fireplace. Smooth service sets the tone for a polished French menu of beautifully presented dishes, such as braised shoulder of rabbit with punchy mustard mousseline or perfectly roasted sea trout in a sauce of clams and braised vegetables.
Wine list: This encyclopaedic list boasts over 2,500 bins, with wines from 18 different countries and vintages spanning four centuries. Highlights include rare bottles by-the-glass under Coravin and a stellar Burgundy selection selection that’s well worth exploring.
Where is it? 17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
Book: 020 7907 1888
What we like about it: Darkly lit, glamorous and sophisticated, it’s impossible not to be seduced by Hakkasan Mayfair. With one Michelin star to its name, the Cantonese menu lives up to those sleek surroundings, featuring impeccable dim sum dishes – juicy scallop shumai or silver cod and caviar dumplings – alongside luxurious signatures such as black-truffle roast duck or Alaskan king crab in XO sauce.
Wine list: This international list is an impressive roster of the world’s top producers, with prestige bottles including vintages of Petrus stretching back to 1974. Expect to pay top dollar: the 2001 Petrus will set you back a cool £4,700.
Where is it? Church Road, Great Milton, OX44 7PD
Book: 01844 278 881
What we like about it: A dream destination for the ultimate romantic getaway, Le Manoir is a beautiful 15th century country manor house with immaculate gardens. Prepare to be indulged, not least in the two-star Michelin restaurant where culinary legend Raymond Blanc presides over a French-inspired seasonal menu using produce from his organic kitchen garden. Choices may include decadent truffled hen’s egg with wild mushroom tea or Anjou pigeon with cabbage, bacon and Madeira jus. Six- and seven-course vegan and vegetarian menus are also on offer.
Wine list: Mirroring the menu, this exceptional list is seasonally led and classically French, with around 600 of the 1,000-plus wines coming from Blanc’s native land. Expect great vintages from outstanding châteaux; special wine pairings (Classique, Prestige or Exceptionnelle) to accompany the set menus are an ideal way to explore.
Where is it? Lime Wood, Beaulieu Rd, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FZ
Book: 023 8028 7177
What we like about it: Lovers can stroll by the lake or hideaway in a forest cabin at this chic rural retreat in the New Forest, where quirky, creative touches make for a memorable romantic soujourn. Designer Martin Brudnizki is responsible for the overstuffed chairs, parquet floors and Brit art in Hartnett, Holder & Co restaurant, which combine the talents of Michelin chef Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder. Their locally sourced, seasonal Italian dishes include chicken agnolotti with Parmesan cream and Sandridge Farm pork rump, with braised cavelo nero and roscoff onion.
Wine list: The lengthy, award-winning list doesn’t restrict itself to Italy, though great Italian bottles include Ornellaia’s Massetto 2010. Instead the interesting global selection is arranged by variety and reads like a who’s who of quality producers. Also look out for HH&C’s own-label wines, made in collaboration with Fertuna Estate in Tuscany.
Where is it? 31 King St, WC2E 8JD
Book: 020 7305 7676
What we like about it: This spin-off of the original Petersham Nurseries in Richmond brings a dreamy pastoral vibe to Covent Garden, beautifully decorated with copious flower arrangements, Murano glass, bright art and sparkling chandeliers. There’s even an on-site florist shop, so you can wow your date with a gorgeous hand-tied bouquet. Dine on a top-notch seasonal Italian menu packed with home-grown produce, that might include perfectly al dente chestnut tagliatelle with radicchio di Chioggia and speck or braised ox cheek with Chianti Classico, purée di patate and Zisola olive oil. When the weather warms up, dine alfresco in the pretty Floral Court courtyard, shared with sister restaurant La Goccia, which also boasts a stylish bar for after-dinner Negronis.
Wine list: Lara Boglione and her husband Giovanni Mazzei of historic Tuscan producer Marchesi Mazzei founded Petersham. Their extensive all-Italian wine list runs from classics to unusual gems, with charming sommeliers on hand with food-pairing recommendations. Best of all, you’ll find more bottles to take home in on-site wine shop, The Cellar.
Where is it? 28 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE
Book: 020 7274 7796
What we like about it: Naughty but nice, this casual and buzzy little neighbourhood restaurant in South London is run by husband-and-wife team Joe Sharratt and Margaux Aubry. Sharratt, previously head chef at Michelin star restaurant Trinity, cooks up inventive small plates with global influences; while Aubry looks after the wine. The menu changes every day but might include cavalo nero dressed up with an addictive savoury anchovy sauce, gnocchi with lobster cream or pork belly with a punchy Korean paste, slivers of spring onion and crisp lettuce.
Wine list: Aubry lovingly curates a low-intervention wine list with organic, biodynamic and natural bottles from small, terroir-focused winemakers. The list change regularly meaning there’s always plenty for adventurous wine-lovers to discover.
The Newt in Somerset, £££
Where is it? Bruton, Somerset, BA7 7NG
Book: 01963 577 777
What we like about it: More than just a restaurant or a hotel, The Newt is the complete package; an 800-acre estate centred around Grade II-listed Georgian pile, Hadspen House, with beautiful gardens, orchards, ancient woodland, farmland, a bakery, gelateria and Cyder Room. Owned by Karen Roos and Koos Bekker, the husband-and-wife team behind South Africa’s luxury winelands hotel Babylonstoren, it effortlessly blends elegant contemporary design with a West Country rural idyll. The vegetarian-led menu at The Garden Cafe showcases produce grown on the estate, in dishes such as charred spring onion with crab and sourdough croutons or spinach, asparagus and spelt risotto with Westcombe Cheddar. To visit The Newt you’ll need to buy an annual membership (£48). Alternatively book a Great Garden Escape: a glamorous away day at The Newt with first class travel by train from London Paddington.
Wine list: As you might expect, wines from Babylonstoren feature on the short wine list at The Garden Cafe, including the flagship Babylonstoren Rosé – perfect for Valentine’s Day. Elsewhere there’s a selection of Tuscan bottles from Vignamaggio. Wine lovers should also try the sophisticated, gastronomic cyders produced on site.
Where is it? Ambleside Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LR
Book: 015394 31922
What we like about it: The Lakes landscape that inspired Romantic poet William Wordsworth is the setting for this smart boutique hotel in its own 67-acre estate. The fine dining restaurant combines breathtaking views over Lake Windermere with impeccable service and a cutting-edge Modern British menu. Signature dishes such as Penrith chicken with nasturtium root and nasturtium oil or torched eel with caviar and Mangalista pork (from pigs reared on the estate) showcase superb local produce.
Wine list: The Samling’s extensive and award-winning list includes an impressive Bordeaux section, with New World names such as Penfolds Grange and Napa Valley’s Cakebread Cellars in support, plus an interesting by-the-glass ‘Sommelier’s Prestige Selection’. You can also book bespoke wine tastings, from £65pp.
Julie Sheppard is Decanter commissioning editor and a specialist writer and editor on food, drink and eating out.