Original date ideas for Valentine's Day: London 2020
Quirky date ideas for a London Valentine's Day with a difference
For Valentine's Day wining and dining: Campania & Jones
Where are we going? To a restaurant so chic and romantic its whole aesthetic looks like a Hollywood interpretation of dining out in London. Campania & Jones is a rustic Italian joint tucked away on a cobbled street off Columbia Road, flanked by quaint, independent shops. Between the mood lighting, cosy brick interiors, fresh produce (don’t forget to take a peek at it all being made in the back kitchen), and top-notch Italian cuisine, this restaurant is an in-the-know spot fit to impress a foodie date.
Meet at: Campania & Jones, 23 Ezra Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 7RH
It’s a date: Friday 14 February, book in advance to secure a table
For ditching the everyday bouquet: Valentine’s floristry workshop at Daylesford
Where are we going? To a make-your-own bouquet course. Why? Because a shop-bought bunch of flowers screams cliché on Valentine’s Day; leave this gesture to the unimaginative souls and last-minute present buyers. Instead, make your own hand-tied bouquet with seasonal blooms under the guidance of local florist and designer Kat Argent. The class covers structure, tints, tones and shades, and you’ll walk away with a professional-looking gift for your special someone.
Meet at: Daylesford Pimlico, 44b Pimlico Road, Belgravia, London SW1W 8LP
It’s a date: Tuesday 12 February, 6pm-8pm
For innovative cocktails: Tayēr & Elementary
Where are we going? To Tayēr & Elementary, a relatively new bar by celebrated mixologist Alex Kratena and Monica Berg of Oslo bar Himkok. If you’re dating a true cocktail enthusiast, chances are a typical menu laced with mojitos, cosmopolitans and Moscow mules won’t cut it. At Tayēr & Elementary, you won’t find any of the usual suspects. This two-part venue approaches mixology with levels of attention and innovation most of us haven’t applied to mixing liquids since GCSE chemistry.
At the front you have Elementary, the interiors of which are described by its owners as a blend of ‘Scandi functionality, Japanese minimalism and a little bit of punk’. Here, unusual but perfected takes on classic cocktails are served. The back bar, Tayēr, is a space that only true cocktail connoisseurs can appreciate: not so much a bar but a futuristic workstation, in the middle of which a collection of potion bottle liquors lie in wait to be poured into the bar’s menu of unnamed cocktails. Take your place around the counter and watch as your chosen ingredients are muddled together by an expert hand. Oh, and don’t get so carried away gazing into one another’s eyes that you forget to line the stomach with one of TaTa Eatery’s famed Katsu sandos – available onsite.
Meet at: Tayēr & Elementary, 152 Old Street, London EC1V 9BW
It’s a date: Friday 14 February
For immersing yourselves in a colourful light spectacle: Lightopia
Where are we going? To a magical light show at Chiswick House and Gardens. If, at some point over the Christmas period, you both stopped what you were doing to take a moment to admire the twinkling fairy lights strung across the street above you, then we have just the date idea for you. Lightopia is a colourful light show set to dazzle visitors to Chiswick House and Gardens. The spectacle, which features a lantern trail and water show, has already impressed in Edinburgh, where it premiered as a free event in October, before moving on to Manchester for the Christmas period. It’s a big affair, involving 47 different lantern groups, 2,000 lanterns and a million lightbulbs in total.
Walk hand in hand among a glowing array of animal-shaped lanterns, then ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ as 3D projections and a spectacular water show play tricks with the mind. Acrobatic performances take the illumination theme to dizzying new heights, while live music and street food conjure up a festival atmosphere. You’ll leave rosy-cheeked, wide-eyed and with a little bit of post-Christmas magic in your hearts.
Meet at: Chiswick House & Gardens
It’s a date: Friday 14 February, 5pm
For a movie date with a difference: Secret Cinema presents Stranger Things
Where are we going? Into the scary, funny, and nostalgic world of Netflix series Stranger Things. Fans of sci-fi, 80s style and immersive experiences? You can indulge in all three at Secret Cinema’s Stranger Things experience. Unlike other Secret Cinema experiences, there’s no screening as such. Instead, guests are invited on a colourful romp through the show's Starcourt Mall, interacting with familiar characters and institutions (including ice cream parlour Scoops Ahoy! and the Palace Arcade), and unlocking series-related plotlines along the way. What lies beyond this leg of the experience is even more spectacular, but to say more would be ruining the surprise.
Clasp each other by the hand and let reality melt into fantasy as you’re swept up into the world of Hawkins, Indiana.
Meet at: a secret London location, revealed on purchase of tickets
It’s a date: Friday 14 February, 6pm-9:30pm
For one-upping a box of chocolates: Rococo’s salted caramel-making experience
Where are we going? To Rococo’s Belgravia store, to master the art of making your own salted caramel truffles. Why? Because, while there’s nothing interesting about gifting a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, turning your cocoa cravings into a delicious activity you can both enjoy is sure to win the approval of your other half.
Rococo founder Chantal Coady has an OBE for services to chocolate, so expect a class that’s a cut above. Led by a trained chocolatier, the session begins with making the salted caramel, followed by a chance to sample the various types of chocolate on offer, exploring flavour and texture with each bite. Once you’ve mastered the art of tasting, it’s time to pipe your caramel into each chocolate shell and roll them in a cocoa dusting to finish. Take your truffles home to enjoy together – if they make it that far.
Meet at: Rococo Chocolates Belgravia, 5 Motcomb Street, London SW1X 8JU
It’s a date: Saturday February 15, 11:30am-1:30pm
For getting crafty: Studio Pottery London
Where are we going?To Studio Pottery London in Eccleston Yard. Those who work clay together, stay together – or so our new saying goes. Whether you and your partner are already budding ceramicists or first-timers looking for a new hobby, few studios offer as elegant and chic place to get behind the wheel as Studio Pottery. Founded by Lucy Attwood and Gregory Tingay, this relatively new studio offers taster sessions for beginners as well as foundation courses for intermediate and advanced potters. Whatever you make, you’ll have a new ceramic piece to take home and remind you of your date.
Meet at:Studio Pottery, 29 Eccleston Place, Belgravia, London SW1W 9NF
It’s a date: Friday 14 February (or an alternative date of your choice)
Click here to book
For toasting your partnership: the Library Bar at The Ned
Where are we going? To one of the more intimate spaces at The Ned for a glass of bubbly. Yes, we know there’s nothing original about celebrating with champagne, but it’s where you choose to raise your glass that elevates the situation. You’ll find the Library Bar tucked behind a tumbling jacquard curtain at this sprawling hotel and members’ club from Soho House group. The menu boasts no fewer than 30 champagnes plus a martini trolley, from which guests can sample a house blend or create their own. Allow yourselves to be enveloped in the bar’s plush, velvet seats, clink your glasses and say 'cheers!' to your companionship.
Meet at: The Ned, 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ
It’s a date: Friday 14 February, 2pm till late
For underground culture: Vault Festival
Where are we going? Underground to watch sparky Fringe theatre, cabaret and comedy. To impress a theatre-lover this Valentine’s Day, leave the starry highs of the West End for the night and head to graffiti-adorned Leake Street in Waterloo, where the Arches play host to the capital’s own mini Edinburgh Fringe at this time of year. While shows that manage to generate a bit of buzz are likely to sell out in advance, it’s just as fun to take a punt on something you've never heard of. Following the performance, take a seat on the mismatched furniture in the fairy-lit bar to debrief on what you saw.
Meet at: The Vaults, Leake Street, Lambeth, London SE1 7AD
It’s a date: Friday 14 February, shows on at various times
For flora and fauna: Isabella Plantation
Where are we going? To the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, a 40-acre garden set within a Victorian woodland plantation, originally planted in the 1830s. It’s open all year round and while perhaps most exquisite in summer, the garden sees rare exotic buds flower throughout the year. Around Valentine’s Day, you can expect to find ‘Midwinter’ rhododendrons on Bluebell Walk and clear pink camellias beginning to flower around the gardens. If you and your partner are the down-to-earth outdoorsy type, explore the winter flora and fauna then snuggle down by the fire in one of Richmond’s many cosy pubs.
Meet at: Isabella Plantation, 173 Clarence Street, Kingston-upon-Thames, TW10 5HP
It’s a date: Friday 14 February, 7.30am-8:15pm
For pillow talk: Mandrake hotel
Where are we going? To one of the most picturesque hotels in London. Despite the name, this boutique spot in Fitzrovia has more to offer inside its magical walls than a good night’s sleep. For starters, certain rooms have freestanding bathtubs perched elegantly next to elongated windows. The interiors of the rooms are exotic and mysterious – as if carrying their own secrets – while the hotel boasts three bars and fine dining, should you and your partner fancy eating in. So go on, extend your Valentine's Day beyond the witching hour and bask in a night of luxury.
Meet at: Mandrake hotel, 20-21 Newman St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1PG
It’s a date: Friday 14 - Saturday 15 February