Valentine’s Day is almost here, and it’s just as tedious as ever.
If you’d like to celebrate not being tied down and you want to take a trip to toast your fancy-free lifestyle (or just look forlornly into the distance and drink on a beach somewhere), here are the best locations to jet off to. Just remember to not get drunk and send your ex an embarrassing postcard which you've written The Wave Pictures lyrics on during an alcohol-fuelled rage.
Trust us, ladies - if you’re looking for a place to fly to solo and enjoy some time on your own without feeling the need to do anything apart from reflect and be massaged, this is the place. Thailand boasts some wonderful yoga retreats if you’re looking to get your mojo back, and, of course, the nightlife is great if you’d like to meet new people and maybe, heaven forbid, enjoy a bit of a flirt.
February and March are two of the best months of the year to visit; it’s warm without being uncomfortably hot and sun is pretty much guaranteed.
Singles will be made especially welcome in Phuket and Bangkok; there’s plenty to do, the locals are friendly, and you can choose to have a wild or relatively-tame holiday.
What to do: As well as party, enjoy the odd drink, be massaged until you drop off and snooze on the lush beaches, you can go trekking with elephants, walk in the hills - and visit Bangkok, of course. This capital city with its ultra-glam ladyboys, Buddhist temples and Grand Palaces is worth a look/gawp - but venture beyond Khao San Road to discover Old Siam. Cruise along the canals to view the various temples, or try some Tai-Chi on the banks of the lake in Lumphini Park.
A little bit closer to home, yes, but that doesn't make Brighton any less of a contender for an Anti-Valentine’s weekender. Shop for kitsch/cute/horrifyingly fashionable clothes in The Lanes, sit on the beach with an ice cream to think about where your life went wrong and enjoy the drink deals at Twisted Lemon (ignore the students. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them).
Brighton is only an hour away from London, so although you won’t experience dramatic temperature changes, you’ll be able to take advantage of the city’s thriving gay scene (trust us, the nightlife is great) and soak up that lunchtime bottle of pinot with some gorgeously-oily fish and chips. Try Bardsley's - no more Harry Ramsden's for you.
What to do: The gay bars and clubs are brilliant fun, and the vibe’s much friendlier than many of the other bars. Start your afternoon/evening at long-term Brighton favourite Legends, then head to Doctor Brighton's (a brilliant dog friendly pub) for a few jars before hitting the clubs. Revenge is a particular favourite, as there’s always brilliant music, excellent lighting, the security guards are lovely and there’s a large rooftop smoking terrace overlooking the beach. Perfect.
We’re not taking the mick; Paris is actually a great place to spend Valentine’s Day. We’d recommend taking a friend - you might be a bit lonely if you go alone - and you can spend a decadent weekend sitting in cafes drinking red wine, smoking on the street and generally being bitter. Parisians have an unfair reputation for being rude and cold - they’re not that way at all - and they do harbour a soft spot for the lovelorn and morose. One thing's for sure - you’ll get an understanding smile and a shrug as you buy your third bottle of red, not a beaming smile and 'Have a nice day!'. It’s a city for the heartbroken, and no mistake.
What to do: If you’re feeling particularly lovelorn, our initial recommendations would be eat, drink, smoke and visit all the city’s cemeteries with a sour look on your face; Montmartre is our favourite. In all seriousness, please visit Musee d'Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral and please, please go shopping on the Champs-Elysées.
Where to stay: You want somewhere that won’t leave rose petals on the bed or leave 'sensual' oils dotted around the bathroom, preferably in the Latin Quarter (the bohemian part of town). Try Hotel Cluny Square or Hotel Diana; both receive rave reviews on TripAdvisor.
A place where you can get your fill of sun, sea, beaches and culture (we’re talking proper culture here, not naff street markets and tiny, dusty churches), Egypt is the perfect winter destination. Luxor, with winter temperatures in the mid-20s, is slightly warmer than Cairo and the best place for exploring the Valleys of the Kings and Queens or for joining a cruise down the Nile to Aswan and Abu Simbel. Not in the mood for the pyramids and the like? Head to a resort at the Red Sea and spend the week snorkelling, scuba diving and sunbathing. The marine life in the Red Sea is incredible - it’s known as one of the best diving spots in the world for a good reason. Oh, by the way, this is one of the destinations where you’ll get more bang for your buck; the Egyptian pound is linked to the US dollar, so your money goes much further.
What to do: Even if you’d rather sit by the pool and curse the opposite sex, we advise you to book a day trip to see the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, Sakkara and Memphis. If you’ve got a taste for the ghoulish, the Necropolis of ancient Thebes, the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsu will float your boat.
Where to stay: The Royal Savoy Sharm El Sheikh has child-free pools (enough said), a private section of the beach with its own reef and you’re given a glass of bubbly on arrival. Stella Di Mare Beach Hotel & Spa and a quiet hotel with attentive staff and great food, and Iberotel Coraya Beach Resort is good for people who can’t get enough snorkelling under their belts.