Love is in the air, eh? Obviously you show your total dedication and undying love for your partner 365 days of the year, no question about that! But what’s true love without that one day a year to prove it by breaking the bank for another little silver necklace or bottle of perfume that just happened to run out at just the right time? That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about, right? Wrong. Let me assist in saving yourself the angst of going down that commercial road of giant heart-shaped cards and cutesy fluffy teddy bears.
Every holiday or special day in this country seems to involve chocolate in one way or another, but how about making it yourself? You and your partner can get deliciously messy in the kitchen creating sweet treats to exchange with each other. The Cocoa Box in Hampstead is holding a special Valentine Chocolate Class on the 14th where you will pipe, shape and decorate your own chocolates to take home. They’re also offering Valentine Cupcake Decoration Classes with a cocktail included, on the 13th. However, if this all sounds a little too much like hard work, perhaps Hotel Chocolat’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure on the 14th would be more suitable, where no making and only tasting is required!
If the two of you have a head for heights, you might like to know that The View from the Shard is staying open extra late this Valentine’s weekend. Zoom up to level 72 and gaze out upon the bright lights of London. Why not spoil yourselves with a glass of bubbly whilst you’re at it and bring on the ultimate experience in giddiness.
For you film buffs, or those of you who just like to see the sights of London, hop aboard the Romantic Comedy London Tour bus (or should I say, Richard Curtis Tour bus) on Saturday 13th and be driven around the capital to be shown locations for films such as Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually etc. etc. Apparently, you get told top secret behind-the-scenes information too! (Ok, I may have made up the “top secret” part).
Another romantic way to view the iconic London landmarks would be via a Thames River cruise. Bateaux London are hosting special Valentine’s Day cruises. Each package includes a glass of champagne, four course dinner, drinks, live entertainment and a single red rose. Aww.
So, you’ve thought so long and hard about what to do on Valentine’s Day that I’m sure you’re tired and could do with some pampering! There are a few options around town for treatments for two on and around the Sunday. You could go for a couples’ massage or a complete “escape for two” spa day. Spa Seekers shows you what’s available on the 14th when you use their calendar, but it’s also worth having a look at some of the more excellent hotels with spas, such as The Mayfair Hotel and enquiring on availability.
For the dark horses amongst you, brave Torture Garden’s magnificent and extremely raunchy annual Valentine’s Ball. The main draw of TG’s club nights is the outlandish costumes and themes, however be warned – there is an entirely more “adult” element to the event, too! Dressing up is compulsory and a strict dress code of lavish, fantasy-themed or outrageous outfits is enforced. TG is inclusive of everyone and anyone, so wherever you fall on the gender spectrum or whatever your orientation, you will be welcomed with open arms. Only prerequisite being that you’re over 18, you’ve made an effort with your outfit and that you are very open-minded!
If you prefer to go down the somewhat more traditional route, there are many restaurants with romantic or unique settings to choose from. Nothing screams “romance” more than an intimate candle-lit Italian hide-away, serving authentic Italian cuisine and with décor of exposed brickwork and alcoves. All this is what you’ll discover at Bellaria in Fiztrovia.
Ok, so I’m aware that these suggestions so far aren’t exactly bank account friendly, but not every romantic gesture need leave you out of pocket!
How about dazzling your date with a trip to The Planetarium at The Royal Observatory, Greenwich? Relax in the comfy seats as the lights go down, hold hands, and be whisked away into starry outer space. There are a number of showings throughout the day with different presentations to choose from. The rest of the Observatory museum is fascinating too, so why not make a day of it. The perfect outing for two star-crossed lovers.
For a cultural Valentine’s Day, head to the National Portrait Gallery and attend their free “Portrait of the Day” talk. These are wonderfully interesting talks given by members of the Gallery’s Visitor Service team, about a specific piece of art that they have researched themselves. Afterwards take a stroll around the rest of the gallery and enjoy a bite in their lovely café.
Afternoon tea is something that one must experience at some point in their lifetime, and there’s no better time to treat yourselves to this luxurious tradition than on Valentine’s weekend. Browns Restaurants offer a full afternoon tea for £12 per person, which is ridiculously cheap for London! Just make sure that you have plenty of room for finger sandwiches, cakes, scones and of course, copious amounts of tea.
There are also lots of lovely parks and woods to take a romantic stroll through, arm in arm and snuggling close to your sweetheart, more for protection from the UK’s freezing February than anything else!
“But what about all us singletons?” I hear you cry. Well, the good news for you lot (ok, us lot), is that there will be a number of dating events/parties going on where you can mingle with the singles all night long, and perhaps end up meeting a Valentine of your own..? Speed Dater is holding what it claims to be the “Biggest and Best” Valentine’s Party in London with up to 400 attendees, whilst Original London is hosting a more intimate affair of speed dating for up to 40 people. Both on the 13th. Neither of these events is particularly LGBTQ friendly, so She Soho will be holding their own ladies-only dating event on the 14th or there’s Urban Connection’s speed dating for the guys on the 10th.
So whether you’ll have company on the 14th or be flying solo, you certainly have more ways than one of making the most of this Valentine’s Day!
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