Tired of flowers, chocolates, cuddly teddy bears and the same old places? It’s time to have some fun on Valentine’s Day – and treat each other to something you really want – right here in Northern Ireland. Well, if you’re looking for inspiration you’ve come to the right place. Check out our Valentine’s Day ideas here – they might well spark some ideas of your own. 

Start a love affair with Belfast 

Belfast’s Merchant Hotel (5*) rocks glamour with a capital ‘G’. And a Victorian and Art Deco twist. It also comes with a roof top hot top and a reputation for exceptionally fine cocktails. Sounds like a Valentine’s Day to remember. 

Or meet Dinky, Comfy and Roomy at Bullit Hotel. Cosy rooms that have everything you actually need for a city centre stay. King size beds, rain showers and super-fast Wi-Fi.  It’s romance on a budget, though with the city as your playground, you’ll be having so much fun you’ll never notice.  

The chic, yet comfortable, Café Parisien is naturally the place for a romantic, French-inspired evening. Brasserie classics take on a modern twist here. Contemporary Italian is on the menu at Coppi and Home is all about fresh, local and seasonal feel good food. 

Stay in a castle made for two 

If you like that top of the world feeling, the three-storey Helen’s Tower in County Down is just made for you. In fact, it’s a castle made just for two, with sky-high views that go on forever. And it’s hidden on the edge of a winding country lane, with wonderful forest walks nearby. Perfect for a romantic getaway. 

Larchfield Estate Cottages in County Down hides a truly romantic getaway gem. Myrtle Luxury Glamping Truck is a beautifully adapted and fitted out 1952 Saurer Swiss Army truck - complete with a wood burning stove, under bed heating, sauna and fire pit. Cosy. 

Treat yourselves to a Spa Treatment 

Culloden Hotel and Spa (5*)  

Overlooking Belfast Lough in County Down, the magnificent Hastings Culloden Estate & Spa. (5*) used to be a Bishop’s Palace. So it knows a bit about stately elegance. Super-luxurious bedrooms and a beautifully appointed Spa area – with swimming pool and fantastic luxury treatments - make it a perfect retreat for couples in search of pamper time. Just a short drive from Belfast city, it’s surrounded by 12 acres of gardens and woodlands, so outdoors is as relaxing as indoors. 

Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges (4*) 

If it’s Fermanagh, it’s got to be lakeside. And lakesides don’t get much prettier than the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges (4*). Immerse yourself in the stunning local scenery or retreat from it all with a pampering spa treatment. Or indulge in some me (or us) time in the sauna, steam room or outdoor hot tub. 

Let’s cook 

Have tapas by the sea 

It’s true the north-coastal town of Portrush rarely hits Mediterranean temperatures, but the tapas taste just as good. Especially when you make them yourself. Cookery classes with Ocho Tapas are the real deal. So you’ll create authentic mouth-watering paella, delicious seafood dishes and a variety of tasty tapas. The classes, much like the tapas, are pretty informal. 

Cook like a pro 

If you’ve been inspired by the classic bistro-style cooking of Belfast restaurant, James St, this is for you. The James Street South Cookery School.  

Everyone’s welcome – from kitchen newbies to confident amateurs. And there are classes to suit your tastes, whether that’s meat and barbeques, fish or classic Italian. Though, to really experience it all, leave yourself time to relax and enjoy the meal with your fellow chefs when you’re done cooking. Perhaps with a carefully chosen glass of wine.  

Get out and about 

On the longest zipline  

50m above the ground, a staggering 500m long and more fun than you ever thought possible. Welcome to Todds Leap, A custom zipover will take you along dirt tracks to the highest point before you soar through the skies over the forest below. It’s just one of the many action-packed activities here in this home for daredevils.  

Downhill zorbing? 

It’s a sad fact that there are not many places where you can climb inside a giant inflatable ball and roll down a hill. JungleNI is probably the only spot in Northern Ireland to encourage it. So, if this is your only chance to ‘zorb’, it’s definitely worth taking and definitely good for a laugh. Which probably should be what Valentine’s Day is all about. 

Find that special gift 

Steenson's Jewellery 

With a flagship store on Belfast’s Bedford Street, Steenson’s are recognised as Northern Ireland’s leading independent craft jewellers. Set up by Bill and Christina Steenson in 1976, today their work continues to be inspired by Northern Ireland’s natural landscape and geometric forms. Perhaps this in turn inspired the makers of Game of Thrones®. They commissioned a number of pieces for the series which were seen by audiences around the world. Visit them at the workshop or at the store.  

Born & Bred 

Formerly Studio Souk, Born & Bred brings together local designers and crafters at their Belfast studio and shop to create stunning and sometimes quirky pieces with a unique Northern Ireland flavour. Their work, in the words of founder Linzi Rooney, “involves mentoring makers, welcoming people into our studio and selling beautiful, locally-made gifts in our shop”. 

Take some time to potter about here and you might see ceramic makers, painters or textile designers at work. There are up and coming fashion designers, artisan coffee and candle makers. And Linzi herself who turns antique cutlery into amazing jewellery. 

Stop for tea 

Galgorm Resort & Spa, County Antrim 

Set in 163 acres of lush parkland and with the spectacular River Maine flowing through it, it’s hard to beat the Galgorm Resort & Spa (4*) as a location.  

Though, happily, the Gold Edit Afternoon Tea here is just as stunning as the setting. Miniature savouries such as Brie, onion chutney bruschetta or a demitasse of soup, buttermilk or cherry scones and salted caramel macaroons or a passionfruit pastille are just some of the delights that might feature on your menu. It’s served daily in the exquisite River Room Conservatory. (And, of course, the award-winning Spa is always worth a visit if you feel like making a day of it.) 

Tea and Thrones 

Surely, no self-respecting Thrones fan could resist this. Dothraki trifle with mini dragon eggs? Kingslayer cupcakes? A foodie homage to the iconic TV show, there’s always time to enjoy a Game of Thrones inspired High Tea at Ballygally Hotel,  

Looks like it could be a Valentine’s Day with a difference. So, whatever you get up to, here’s to a happy one.