Tottington Manor, Henfield 

What could be more romantic than a cosy dinner for two and a stay in a boutique hotel that has just 12 rooms and the South Downs National Park on its doorstep? Tottington Manor is a four-star Traveller’s Choice hotel – rated in the top 10 per cent of hotels worldwide – that has been tastefully refurbished since being taken over by new owners in 2021.

Boasting an Inglenook fireplace to curl up in front of, a covered and heated Pergola offering uninterrupted views of the glorious countryside, and Fire-Pit dining area, the bijou property, in Henfield, focuses on celebrating the very best of the county.

Tuck into Sussex porchetta with a ham and apple bon bon and cider jus at Tottington Manor’s TERRA restaurant or a courgette and lovage linguine, washed down with the best in Sussex sparkling wines – a Ridgeview Bloomsbury or Kinsbrook Vintage Cuvee Brut anyone? – or worldwide favourites. With a menu that features local seasonal produce including meat from the South Downs, fish landed at Newhaven, and bread, butter and eggs from local farms. Light bites including a Sussex sharing platter of cheeses and charcuterie is on offer at the hotel’s other restaurant Olive Lounge, which is dog friendly, and has South Downs brandy to sip for cold, winter days.

Take a stroll a deux over the Downs or along the South Downs National Trail, go for a bike ride, or even venture a little further afield to Brighton for a beach walk or to see the pier, which is only 12 miles away. Enjoy an afternoon tea afterwards, before relaxing in the Tudor hotel which has five suites, as well as Club King and double rooms. Languish in a jacuzzi bath or shower, indulge with a selection of Molton Brown toiletries or sip a Nespresso coffee or Hoogly tea. Don’t forget to check out Tottington Wood behind the hotel which is adorned with bluebells from late March. Breakfast is included along with free WiFi. Valentine’s two-course menu, £29.95 or three-course Valentine’s dinner with entertainment, £49.50. Special Sussex Life Room Rates: double rooms from £140.00 per night including breakfast, Honeymoon Suite: £225.00 per night including breakfast,Duplex Kempe Jacuzzi Suite £325.00 per night including breakfast & complimentary mini bar. Quote SL24 when calling the hotel on 01903 815757.

The Grand Eastbourne 

Romance doesn’t come much grander than a stay at the White Palace, one of the only five-star hotels on the British coastline. Overlooking the western end of Eastbourne’s seafront and pretty Victorian promenade, The Grand has played host to numerous celebrities over the years including Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward Elgar, and Claude Debussy who finished his seaside symphony La Mer in Suite 200 in 1905. Most recently, Dame Helen Mirren has stayed in the luxury hotel which boasts sweeping sea views, and a health suite club with indoor and outdoor pool.

The hotel has two restaurants: the Mirabelle, overseen by Head Chef Alex Burtenshaw, has been named in the top 50 restaurants in the UK in The Independent as well as featuring regularly in The Good Food Guide. Serving a modern European menu of seasonal specialities featuring local Sussex and Kent produce, complemented by an expertly curated wine list featuring many local Sussex wines, the restaurant is one of the finest in Eastbourne and on the south coast.

The Garden Restaurant is overseen by Executive Head Chef Hrvoje Loncarevic, while there’s also a stylish cocktail bar, and a lounge for enjoying Afternoon Tea.

If you can tear yourself away from the hotel, Eastbourne, which is backed by the South Downs has plenty to offer. Take a walk on the dramatic white-chalk cliffs of Beachy Head or head to the Towner Eastbourne. It’s hard to miss with its colourful geometric Dance Diagonal mural by German artist Lothar Götz wrapping the exterior. The gallery has been hitting all the headlines worldwide for hosting The Turner Prize 2023 which was won by Jesse Darling for his use of commonplace objects and materials like concrete, welded barriers, hazard tape, office files and net curtains, to convey a familiar yet delirious world.

Afterwards enjoy a stroll on the Gold domed pier, before catching a show at either The Congress or Devonshire Park Theatre, or heading back to the Grand for a cocktail – or two! Rooms from £XXX per night including breakfast.

Double Tree by Hilton Brighton Metropole

Popular with two of the world’s most glamorous women, Princess Margaret and Elizabeth Taylor, this Brighton hotel has been synonymous with romance since it was opened.

Special trains were commissioned from London to its 1890 opening as so many wanted to see the ornate seaside pile designed by renowned Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse, who created the capital’s Natural History Museum.

More than 130 years later, and after a £26million facelift, the Hilton Metropole is as stylish as ever and the perfect location for a romantic seaside getaway.

Overlooking the seafront, the hotel is a short stroll from the Palace Pier, The Lanes, i360, The Brighton Centre, Royal Pavilion and fantastic stores and restaurants the city has to offer.

But there’s no need to ever leave the hotel. From checking in – and receiving a wonderful cookie each – there’s plenty to do and admire at the Victorian hotel. The chandeliers are vast and beautiful – with even my husband pointing out how much they sparkled – the marble staircase is just begging for a selfie descending it and history oozes from every nook and cranny.

The bedrooms are where most of the refurbishment money has been spent. The 700 rooms are now 321 so there’s plenty of room with views of the sea, and the ruined West Pier, though we stayed in adjoining land-facing rooms with our two children (not so romantic!) which were huge and made a fantastic family apartment.

Bathrooms have Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries and there’s a health club in the basement offering a gym, indoor heated pool, sauna, and steam room.

Breakfast is served in the grand 1890 restaurant with chandeliers, sea views and the biggest buffet offering I’ve seen for years. From a full English cooked breakfast to continental cheeses, charcuterie, fruits, yoghurts, crumpets, muffins and speciality teas and coffees with vanilla and hazelnut syrups, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Afterwards waddle off to enjoy the city, or relax in the hotel, perhaps enjoying dinner at The Salt Room with cocktails at The Metropole Bar soaking up the history.

This is, after all, an iconic hotel that entertained the likes of Winston Churchill, Richard Burton and Margot Fonteyn – and it offers oodles of glamour with a starting rate that’s only a smidgen more expensive than a budget inn. From £130 for bed and breakfast.

The Grand, Brighton 

If it’s a stylish staycation by the sea with history by the bucket (and spade) load, this Victorian hotel comes with a huge dollop of romance, too.

Built in 1864 by architect John Whichcord Jr to be a luxurious beachfront property with a distinct Italian design influence, The Grand in Brighton still promises la dolce vita.

Famous guests include President Kennedy, the Duke of Windsor, Ronald Reagan, and Napoleon III, nephew of the emperor of the same name who was famously in love with Josephine.

With a multi-million-pound makeover the hotel has Art-Deco inspired rooms in seaside colours, a deluxe spa and views of the sea from dawn until dusk.

Relax in the opulent surroundings, hire a tandem bike from Brighton Beach Bikes to explore the city – how romantic! – or even head out on an evening ride to see Brighton lit up at night.

Nothing says romance more than oysters at Cyan, the restaurant at The Grand. Share a platter with the one you love, then head to the hotel’s Victoria Bar and Lounge to finish off the perfect date night with a cocktail, silky red, or glass of sparkling Sussex. Double rooms from £165 and suites from £320 per night.

Amberley Castle, Amberley

Who wants to stay in an historic hotel when you can take romance to the next level in a castle fit for a king and queen? There aren’t any hotels, no matter how historic, that can boast a portcullis that is lowered every night to keep you safe within its 60ft high walls. But at Amberley Castle, in Amberley, known locally as the ‘pearl of Sussex’, a staycation in this 900-year-old castle is a royal affair.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book, no less than four British monarchs have stayed in the castle which still boasts four poster beds, suits of armour, throne-like chairs and coats of arms. Dinner is eaten in The Queen’s Room, where a three-course lunch is followed by a fascinating history tour.

The land the castle stands on was given to Bishop Wilfred by Caedwalla, King of Wessex, in 683AD. Over the next 400 years it was fortified, and Henry VIII visited in 1526 to talk to Bishop Sherborne in a bid to divorce Catherine of Aragon – not so romantic! In 1588 Elizabeth I leased the castle until 1603. During the Civil War the castle became a royalist strong hold. In 1643 Oliver Cromwell sent a general to attack it, and along with a chunk of the curtain walls, he destroyed the Great Hall. A brick and timber manor house was later built out of the ruins within the castle walls. The late Queen stayed in 1945, no doubt enjoying one of the 19 luxurious rooms. Set beside the River Arun, the castle also has two lakes, a dry moat, resident peacocks and alpacas. When not relaxing in the castle, guests can play tennis, croquet, try out the 18-hole putting course or even climb the castle ramparts to take their love to new heights.

A double, excluding breakfast, starts at £260 per night.