Whether it’s the first date, weekly date night, Valentine’s Day celebrations or anniversary, we have you covered... These date ideas are local gems, sure to impress, and only minutes from London. Leave Essex with memories to treasure. #SecretEssex

Sunset Cruise on the River BlackwaterSunset Cruise with Topsail Charters

Cruise the River Blackwater and witness a beautiful sunset on an evening cruise aboard an historic Thames Sailing Barge. Bring your own picnic or pre-book a ploughman’s/fish platter, drinks available to purchase aboard. You’ll sail past two of at least thirty Essex islands on this romantic sunset cruise.

From £32pp. Dates available from May. 

Wine Tasting at Saffron Grange VineyardWine Tasting at Saffron Grange Vineyard 

Sample all 3 of the vineyard’s latest release, premium quality, award-winning sparkling wines in a new ‘Try Flight’ tasting at this family-run vineyard on selected dates Thurs-Sat. Pre-order a cheese or charcuterie board which pairs perfectly with their bubbles.


The Little Seafood BarDate night at The Little Seafood Bar

Tuck into fresh hot and cold seafood from oysters, a natural aphrodisiac, to scallops at this relaxed and informal restaurant overlooking Hatfield Heath. Set within pretty countryside, the finest ingredients from Billingsgate market is delivered daily and served to you with a smile. You don’t have to be near the coast to enjoy the fruits of the sea! If you’d both like to sample the local wine to pair with your food, why not stay at nearby Down Hall Hotel & Spa and make it a mini break. 

Lunch or Dinner menu to choose from, 3-course set menu with glass of Prosecco/wine £65pp Valentines weekend only.

Talbooth House & Spa Twilight at Talbooth House & Spa 

Unwind and relax with the Afterhours Spa package at Talbooth House & Spa. Sip prosecco by twilight, swim under the stars in the heated outdoor pool, and cosy up by the fire. With hot tub, sauna and 25-minute treatment, you’ll leave this boutique spa feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Supper at nearby Milsoms restaurant. Mon-Wed. From £80pp. If you’d like to make a weekend of it, stay in their boutique hotel. 

Electric PalaceDate night at 1911 Electric Palace Cinema 

Follow in the footsteps of the stars as you enter one of the world’s oldest cinemas. Used as a film set for the latest Downton Abbey film, and often frequented by patron Clive Owen, sit back in one of the plush red seats and enjoy a glass of wine while watching Hollywood blockbusters, live streamings and more. You can also listen to local bands, live jazz and comedy nights here in Harwich. From £7pp. Only 1hr 20mins from London by train. If you’d prefer to walk home, why not stay at The Pier Hotel nearby.

Enchanted Evening at Talliston House & GardensTour and romantic supper at Britain's most extraordinary home

Journey across the world with a private tour of Talliston House & Gardens. Your guide, author and creator, John Tarrow, will transport you from The Hall of Mirrors in Italy to The Starhouse in Japan, explaining how he transformed a standard semi-detached house into a wonderland experience. Afterwards, step back in time as the two of you enjoy a romantic candlelit supper in a Victorian watchtower. This is sure to be a date like no other! Enchanted Evening runs Wed-Thurs from March 2023. From £35pp. If you’d like to extend your stay, book into The Room of Dreams. From £145pn.

Eight Bells restaurantCandlelit dinner at The Eight Bells

This 16th century timber framed pub has all the olde-worlde charm of a traditional English pub, blended seamlessly with plush modern furnishings. Enjoy a romantic candle lit dinner, a delicious Sunday roast or even go straight into dessert at this former coaching inn in the historic market town of Saffron Walden. Ramble through the quaint streets lined with colourful timber-framed cottages (very Instagrammable!) and be sure to visit charming, pretty and free Bridge End Gardens while you are there! Plus Wed-Fri, 3-7pm, enjoy 2 cocktails for £15!

If you liked this blog, follow us on Instagram @visitessex for lots more #SecretEssex ideas. 




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