Belfast Telegraph

Romance is alive in Belfast as big spending Romeos splash out on their special Valentine

By Rachel Martin

From red roses to meals in some of Belfast's flashiest restaurants, plenty of us are digging deep for the most romantic day of the year on Tuesday.

It's expected almost £500m will be spent on Valentine's Day gifts in the UK this year - up 12% on 2016.

They say you can't put a price on love, but Marks and Spencer stores in Northern Ireland make a good punt with their £120 'True Love' rose bouquet.

For the traditional romantic, a dozen red roses in Belfast can set you back anything from £22 to £500, depending on what you're after.

Marks and Spencer topped the chart as both the cheapest and most expensive, with its Fairtrade Roses retailing at £22 and its Limited Edition Autograph bunch costing a whopping £500 - although the luxury bouquet does include 100 red roses and its own glass vase.

Elsewhere in the city, a bunch is £30 at Tesco and £49 at Interflora's network of florists.

Last minute lovers can pay up to £220 to snap up one of the last few remaining rooms at the luxury Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

Meanwhile, the Killyhevlin in Enniskillen and the Fitzwilliam in Belfast say their beds are fully booked for Valentine's night.

The Fitzwilliam's most popular package, "Love in the Fitz", offers an overnight stay for two, chocolates, a bottle of bubbly, red rose and four course dinner starting from £204.

General manager Cian Landers refutes claims that people here aren't romantic.

"I think from how busy we've been and how busy you can see the high street today, people in Northern Ireland are very romantic.

"The majority of our customers this weekend - 80-90% - are local couples," he said.

"The weekend will be Valentine's Day for a lot of people - the restaurant is fully booked. We have a few spaces for later on the 14th, but I expect those will fill up too.

"You'd have to be very brave to go home on February 14 without at least something."

But Belfast jeweller Linda Ferris from McNeilly's said February is not the shop's busiest time of year - Christmas is.

"We do get some men coming in by themselves, but increasingly we'll see the girls come out for a scout round for ideas or the boys will bring her in with them - it's a big investment and they want to choose the right one," she commented.

The shop stocks a range of engagement rings at £500, but the crown jewel is a three-stone, three carat platinum ring retailing for just under £18,000.

One of Belfast's two Michelin Star restaurants, Ox, is fully booked for tonight's service, and proprietor Alain Kerloc'h said the premises had just one table left on Valentine's Day.

"For me, Valentine's Day is all about sharing," he said.

"Couples want to share the experience together and spend time talking to each other - there's a lovely atmosphere in the restaurant.

"This year we are doing some sharing plates in Ox Cave. It's quite casual so they can pop in and out when it suits them and go on somewhere else after."

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