Love factually: love by the hour
So another Valentine's Day is looming and all those lovey-dovey red roses and teddy bears are sending you into anti-romantic meltdown? Relax: there are ways of avoiding the schmaltz without renouncing the love. Why not treat your special someone to a Valentine's-to-remember with a rendezvous in a love hotel?
Undisputed champion in the love hotel stakes is Japan. With most of its population living in confined spaces with paper-thin walls and extended families, the enormous popularity of these places is a no-brainer. Think about it...could you get down to business with your Gran in the next room?
Unlike your average Japanese residence, love hotels are designed for maximum privacy. Entrances and exits are kept separate, while keys are provided through a small opening to avoid contact between desk clerk and guest. You won't have any trouble finding one on the street, though: flamboyant facades and big signs listing rates leave little room for doubt.
Handy photo menus help you choose the room that's right for you. Got a penchant for bodice-ripping Regency romance? An all-consuming passion for Hello Kitty? Perhaps you've always wanted to play doctors and nurses in your very own faux doctor's surgery. Look no further: love hotel rooms offer more themes than a convoluted South American soap opera!
Speaking of which, Brazil is another goldmine for lovers of the love hotel (or love motel, as they're known here). Folks from all rungs of society and every part of the nation visit them, free of the shame or embarrassment you might encounter in other countries.
Some of the more eye-catching examples resemble medieval castles, Roman temples or ancient pyramids (eat yer heart out, Vegas!), while others blend more discreetly into the landscape. Inside, rooms come equipped with all the trappings you'll need for a Valentine's like no other: mirrored ceilings, heart-shaped beds, mood lighting, Jacuzzis, saucy TV channels and a scintillating menu of adult toys.
Sure beats a candle-lit dinner!
Of course, if your idea of romance is fuelled by V8 dreams and an MC5 soundtrack, you could always take your darling on a jaunt to Detroit Rock City.