Everyone knows the cabin is romantic—maybe it’s the seclusion, or the simple lifestyle, or just the general coziness. Wherever the cottage’s rapturous quality comes from, directors have long been tapping into it to create some of the most swoony scenes ever committed to film. After all, the cabin is a setting ripe with romantic drama. It’s where couples have intimate evenings alone when they’re snowed in, where they paddle together on placid lakes, and where they can sip wine in front of a roaring fire. Whatever their plans, it seems characters in cabin movies just can’t seem to help falling in love.
If you’re looking for a low-key way to celebrate Valentine’s day, perhaps you should consider having a night in and watching one of these romantic films—preferably from your own cottagey getaway. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you’ll be sure to fall in love with these amazing cabins and country homes. Which is really the truest love of all.
It’s not as old as some of the entries on this list, but the Notebook has come to loom large in the world of romance movies since it was released in 2004. Ryan Gosling plays a man who, after losing the girl of his dreams, finds solace in fixing up a country house that his beloved once wished she could own. The unabashedly sentimental film uses an old country house as the vessel for a character’s undying passion, and the result is one sexy country home. Even if you’re not into the melodrama, the house makes this movie worth watching.
On Golden Pond
This classic, featuring Jane Fonda, Henry Fonda, and Katharine Hepburn, is really a family drama more than a straight-up romance, but the relationship between the family’s curmudgeonly patriarch and his wife is so steadfast, it may become your new relationship goal. The cottage, a classic, book-stuffed log cabin, is where all the family tension comes boiling up, leading characters to explore the meaning of their relationships. The film also features a classic scene, wherein a 13-year-old boy introduces an 80-year-old man to the expression “suck face.” It’s a great look at romance at all ages.
Leave Her to Heaven
Not feeling the romantic Valentine’s day vibe, but still want to watch some cabin eye-candy? Leave Her to Heaven is the film for you. This drama from 1945 tells the story of Ellen and Richard, strangers who meet on a train and impulsively marry. Their relationship has a romantic beginning, but Ellen’s possessiveness and jealousy start to transform the marriage into a nightmare. On the plus side, every single location in the movie is stunning. The Moon Lodge in the film is a perfect log cabin, complete with retro lamps and a mounted deer head.
Dan in Real Life
Cabins make great movie settings because they tend to force families into a small spaces together, and the result is pure drama. Dan in Real Life ups the ante with a love triangle, in which two brothers fall for the same woman. Steve Carell plays a single father and novelist who falls for a woman at a bookstore, but then realizes that she’s his brother’s girlfriend. The situation plays out in the family’s country house, a giant, wood-paneled affair with lots of outdoor space for touch football and country walks. The romance in this film may be awkward, but the cabin is perfectly elegant.
The Holiday is a story of two women, both recently single, who decide to escape their lives by taking each other’s. After dumping her cheating boyfriend, L.A.-based film editor Amanda arranges arrangement to stay in a cottage owned by heartbroken Iris, a UK newspaper columnist, while Iris takes Amanda’s Californian mansion. It’s a classic city-mouse/country-mouse scenario, the catch being that during their time away, each of them develops romantic interests far from home. Iris’s cottage is a particularly romantic holiday getaway, with cozy furnishings, stone walls, and a hug,. unique tub.
The Enchanted Cottage
This film 1945 basically proves that the cottages have mystical romantic power. It’s about Oliver, a scarred Air Force pilot and Laura, a shy, homely maid, who agree to marry due to their mutual unattractiveness. However, the cottage where they’re staying begins to work its magic on them, making them beautiful to one another and filling their lives with romance. The cottage itself, of course, is just a beauty, no magic required. The film is in black and white, but the natural beauty of the setting just shines through.
The Lake House
As the title gives away, this film centres around a lake house and not a typical cabin. However, we had to include it because this is the rare film in which the building itself is one of the stars. The house, a beautiful glass cottage that sits on stilts above a lake, was actually built for the film and had to be demolished after filming wrapped. Aside from being total dreamy, in the film the house also enables a man and a woman to communicate across time. Sandra Bullock plays Kate, a woman living in 2006, who is able to send letters through the house’s mailbox to Alex (Keanu Reeves), who is its resident in 2004, and through their correspondence, romance blossoms. It’s a confusing plot, but you can just ignore all the time-travel logic and focus on the beautiful views from the glass-walled house.