We have some of the best restaurants, romantic events, quirky activities, parties, fun things to do and gift ideas to make the most of Valentine’s Day in London.
It’s almost that time of the year again. Whether love is in the air or a superbly happy singleton, Valentine’s Day in London has a lot to offer. We have written a guide to the city’s most romantic restaurants, soppy spots, gift ideas, sexy hotels, best bars and much more.
Otherwise, if you want to shun those loved-up vibes entirely, we’re covered all the anti-valentine’s parties you’ll need, plus tons of alternative romantic things to do if you want to ditch the roses, teddy bears, skip the set meal and try something different on the 14th February!
1. North London Brew Fest
This craft beer festival returns for three days, with an impressive array of cask ales and keg beers and a beer and Belgian cheese pairing evening.
2. International Weird Collage Show
Feast your eyes on expertly snipped handmade collages and limited edition prints at this show championing contemporary collage art all across the globe.
3. Hackney Flea Market
If you’re on the hunt for costume jewelery, vintage fabrics, salvaged furniture, old maps and reclaimed fixtures and fittings you’ll find it here.
4. Berber & Q Pita Party
Tuck into mini pitas bursting with fillings from Smokestak, Breddos Tacos and Honey & Co, all paired with ‘flights’ of cocktail shooters.
5. Movie Nights at the Museum
Sci-fi film favourites are being shown on the big screen at the Natural History Musuem this year. On the bill are heart-warming classics, dystopian adventures and terrifying alien encounters. Watch in Hintze Hall under Hope the blue whale.
6. Orchid Festival
Kew Gardens’ celebration of the orchid returns for its 23rd year, this time with a focus on the plantlife of Thailand. The tropical greenhouse will be bursting with colourful species and 2018’s highlights include hanging orchid bouquets, handcrafted floating Thai umbrellas and an impressive sounding Bang Pa-In inspired orchid palace.
7. Finnish Rooftop Sauna
The Southbank Centre’s Finnish sauna will be shutting its wooden doors on February 11. If you want to strip off and sweat by the Thames book a spot on the roof before it’s too late.
8. Pancake Day in London
Frying pans at the ready! Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of things like sugar, fat and eggs. Check out our favourite pancake-based celebrations in London – easy peasy lemon squeezy.
9. Andrew Edmunds
A bastion of old Soho since 1986, Andrew Edmunds wine bar-cum-bistro was doing shabby chic long before the term became common currency, and regulars are still hooked on its charms. As a diamond in the rough, it has nurtured countless love affairs with its cosy nooks, candlelit tables, big-hearted food and a gloriously oddball wine list stuffed with bargains.
10. Cafe Monico
Like a beautiful blast from the past in theatreland, this double-height grand café summons up visions of la belle époque complete with wood panelling, cosy lighting and bartenders in crisp white jackets – all very romantic. Hot tip: the best seats are in the upstairs gallery. Crowd-pleasing French brasserie food is the deal, although few can resist the chocolatey thrills of the sensational sachertorte.
11. Clos Maggiore
Romantic settings don’t get more splendidly over-the-top than this. Take your pick from the wood-panelled restaurant or atmospheric conservatory, bedecked in a forest of fake white blossoms with fairy lights, candles and a fireplace adding to the soft-focus vibe. Either way, expect fine-tuned Provençal cooking with add-ons and a serious wine list to boot. Pre-theatre deals are a bonus for loved-up luvvies.
12. Hakkasan Hanway Place
Squirrelled away in a basement off Tottenham Court Road, the trendsetting Michelin-starred Hakkasan made Chinese food sexy with its combination of revelatory Cantonese-themed cooking, intoxicating clubby vibes, latticed screens and black-lacquered interiors – all backed by big-ticket wine flights and cool Asian-themed cocktails. Our tip: bring a hot date, and bag one of the sultry nooks for an intimate tryst over some top-notch dim sum.
13. Hawksmoor Air Street
The Hawksmoor name means masculine clubby interiors and a penchant for the best of British beef, but this capacious offshoot overlooking Regent Street also adds a generous helping of luxury seafood to its offer. As ever, the atmosphere crackles and engaging staff are bang on the money, while cosy booths, snugs and corners make it irresistible for couples.
14. The Hoxton Holborn
This charming little hotel might seem unassuming at first – good rates, free wifi, a confusing name; the whole shebang – but it has one special feature that makes it especially perfect for whirlwind romances: its day stay option. Check in at 10am, check out at 4pm. It’s probably mostly there for photo shoots or to give hurried business folk somewhere to set up base for the day, but let’s not pretend you can’t find a much, much better use for it.
15. Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London
You know, it’s that one in the big spikey building with the crazy views. The rooms themselves might not exactly be the most romantic around (think sleek rather than sexy) but the novelty of getting it on so high up that you’re bound to receive an honorary membership card from the Mile High Club is just too tempting to pass up. And check out the size of those windows – sure, there’s exhibitionism, but this is something else.
16. W London
Each and every room at the W oozes cool. From the decor to the lighting to the undeniably hip cocktail bar overlooking Leicester Square, there’s nowhere better to stay if you’re looking to impress. They’ve also got a ‘Whatever/Whenever’ concierge service that prides itself on how far it’ll go to satisfy the demands of guests. Always worth looking into.
17. Sanctum Soho Hotel
Sanctum Soho might claim to offer ‘comfort, style and sophistication’ in each of its 30 bedrooms, but only one is of any interest here. The BXG suite, set up by Box of Grey, comes complete with a cupboard full of toys and accessories, including a high-end vibrator, restraints, a leather mask, whips, feathers, blindfolds, something called a ‘bondage bow’ and a whole lot more. All you need to do is ask for room 404 – and enjoy.
18. The Marylebone Hotel
There’s little that’s more romantic than a roaring fire, and the idea of getting down beside one is so timeless that it borders on the cliché. Finding a hotel room with one can, however, be surprisingly tough. Look no further, then, than the Marylebone – in particular, the Terrace suites, which not only include a fire but also a gorgeous wood panelled terrace with views across London. For love as well as lust.
19. No.11 Cadogan Gardens
While it may not offer whips or blindfolds, the charming little boutique at 11 Cadogan Gardens does bring a sort of decadent je ne sais quoi to your night of passion. According to the hotel, each room has a different purpose – to charm, to lavish, to attract, to indulge, or in the case of the ridiculously opulent Signature Suite, to relax. We can’t say much for the relaxation aspect, but can guarantee you’ll have never done the deed in a room which looks like that.
20. The Ritz
Well, come on – just to say you have. It’s arguably London’s most famous hotel, and is pervade through and through by an unending sense of total extravagance. Just imagine the hundreds upon hundreds of celebs, royals, artists, socialites and aristocrats who have booked into a room over the last hundred years for a little bit of action. Frankly, it’s worth doing just to add your name to the list.