It is almost that time of year when either you will be swooning or swearing… If single no doubt you will be trying to get on with your life as normally as possible whilst everyone else goes nuts (in which case use this post as a guide of where to avoid!). And if you are all hooked up, then no doubt you are probably in one of 3 camps: nonchalantly secure enough and too cool to care, so V-day is a non event; smugly proud that you have already planned the day for you and your lovely half; or slightly crazed and nervous about being found out, as you haven’t made a plan yet!
So here are some ideas of what I think are pretty romantic places and spaces in London to share with your loved ones in London. From the budget busting blockbusters to the reasonable, and downright artfully cheap. Hope they bring inspiration!
Hollywood Blockbusters (warning: wallet will be very light post V-day)
Bob Bob Ricard – Nothing is trendier these days in London than being an Oligarch! So why not head to a place renowned for its Vodka and Caviar and mix in with the sexy crowd at Bob Bob. From the food to the service, everything is perfectly choreographed. Don’t forget to try out the ‘champagne bell’ at your table! Afterwards you can head to the newly refurbished club for a dance amongst models. This is a place where you have to forget about the bill, or don’t go.
Heron Tower – A great aerial experience in the city of London at any time of day. One of my favourite restaurants, Duck & Waffle, sits at the very top on the 40th floor. Head here for amazing views, fantastic food (ox cheek donut – just try it!) and good service at any time (really, even 4am!). This could be an opportunity for a backwards night out… go out and have fun somewhere basic and end up here late at night without reservation for a stylish twist to the end of your night. Alternatively go to Sushi Samba one floor below, to sample some asian cuban fusion food and enjoy the terrace.
Selfridges – Go shopping together, and when you are all burned out, refresh yourselves with a lovely tipple or nibble in one of the many fab venues within London’s most famous department store!
The Halkin – This lovely hotel in Belgravia is cosy and luxurious, making you feel like you are in a celeb hideaway. Come and stay over or book for an amazing Michelin meal at the Arzak instruction restaurant, or pop into the bar for Arzak tapas and some bubbly.
The Shard – You have multiple choices, and although you can avoid blowing all your annual income in one go through set menus etc, ultimately to really make the most of being here, once you add in the cocktails and service, it will be pretty major damage. However, if you can get a reservation, totally worth it! Choose from Aqua for relaxed glamour, Hutong for great Chinese, Oblix for the American dream, or something at the Shangri La – and if you are feeling very Richie Rich, get yourself a room there too!
Pinewood Studios (stylish, wonderful places that will keep your balance in stylish black)
Berners Tavern – a lovely place with vintage glamour in the west end. Another one of chef-of-the-moment Jason Atherton’s recent ventures, it is a great place to go for something special.
Beach Blanket Babylon – Great in either Notting Hill or Shoreditch. Grab some cocktails, have a bite and maybe share a dance by the end of the night. A quirky, fun and sexy place.
Clos Maggiore – On our first Valentines day together and our 6-month anniversary (I know, I know!) ze German and I went here and it was a really magical experience. Get a table in the conservatory garden in the back and enjoy lovely French food and beautiful wine, and soon you will be transported into a surreal and wonderful moment.
Harvey Nichols Cocktail Masterclass – not a restaurant but effortlessly elegant and quirky, this is a really fun date idea for a special occasion. Head on up to the Knightsbridge bar where celebrities usually hang out, and find out how to mix the perfect cocktails for you. The bartender is entertaining and you will leave, tipsy and with a certificate!
STK – This recent import from the US is a great place to go for a fun, meaty meal and some cocktails, before you party on into the night with the DJ after 10pm. You can even pop up toRadio rooftop bar to enjoy the view.
Theatre shows – It is obvious but can’t be missed – look for tickets to his/ her favourite west end show or play for a special day.
Sundance Film Festival (the indie wild card for something a bit different)
Afternoon Tea – not only is this a wonderful British institution, it is big business in London. And so there are so many different kinds to choose from, from the traditional iconic type at the Dorchester, to more flamboyant ones like the Sanderson. It’s not just for the ladies, a few places now do a ‘gentleman’s tea’ like the Sanctum Soho. For something a bit moreish, try the Reform‘s unlimied bubbly package. And for something to really get you in the mood, head to Volupté for teaputs full of cocktails and a bit of burlesque!
Gordon’s Wine Bar – Visit the oldest bar in London (quite a claim!). Gordon’s has been around forever, located underground near Embankment it feels like a wonderful grotto. Choose some wine and nibble on cheese as you put the world to rights together and fall in love!
London Walks – as in my January post, there are many wonderful spots for a walk in London. A suggestion for something romantic would be to take a tour of the City when the weekday grinders are not there. You can get reacquainted with the beautiful architecture, climb the Monument for the views, visit beautiful St Paul’s and share a coffee in the magical Postman’s Park (remember the scene with Natalie Portman the park memorial in the movie Closer?).
Speakeasies – London is getting quite full of them, and for good reason, they are cool, classy and so much fun! Work a date around one of the many options all around town. One of my favourites is the Evans and Peel Detective Agency.
Independent Cinemas – Keeping with the indie theme, you can visit a number of amazing old cinemas around London that either look amazing, are comfy and fun or show different films that the rest. One of my all time favourites is The Electric in Notting Hill. The pop corn trolley also sells wine, which you can enjoy from your huge airline like seats with wine cooler built into the tables. Or bag one of the huge sofas at the back for a cosy cuddle and put your feet up!
Wilton’s Music Hall – Not far from St Katharine’s Dock, there remains one of the oldest music halls of London’s hey day. Visit Wilton’s to catch a show and grab a drink in the mahogany bar. Take a stroll down to Tower Bridge afterwards for a bit of London romance.
And lastly, if you are a no plan kinda person, you can always go somewhere with a no reservations policy! Remember, you may end up standing in line a long time so be prepared!
Whatever you do, I hope your romantic day is oscar-winning!