Original date ideas for Valentine's Day: London 2023
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: The Flower Factory LDN
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, enjoy a walking tour of London's famous Columbia Road Flower Market followed by a seasonal bouquet-making workshop, courtesy of Shoreditch-based floral studio and floristry school The Flower Factory LDN.
Meet at: 12-18 Hoxton Street, unit 102b, London N1 6NG
It’s a date: Sunday 12 & 26 February, 10am - 1pm
For waxing lyrical about each other: Adult's Candle Making Workshop
Where are we going? To Spitalfields Market, to learn the art of melting, mixing and pouring wax. In a room infused with calming scents, feel thoroughly serene crafting your very own candles from scratch, to take home and burn at your leisure. All materials are provided and you'll be led through the lesson step-by-step. At the end, decide whether you want to gift your creations to one another or light them together after dark.
Meet at: Old Spitalfields Market, 63 Brushfield Street, London E1 6AA
It's a date: Thursday 9 & 23 February, 7pm - 9pm
For toasting your partnership: Tayēr & Elementary
Where are we going? To Tayēr & Elementary, currently crowned the best bar in the UK and the second best bar in the world, according to the World's 50 Best list. Run by celebrated mixologist Alex Kratena and Monica Berg of Oslo bar Himkok, the 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: Tuesday 14 February, open 3pm - 1am
For a little help in the kitchen: Valentine's Cooking Class at Eataly
Where are we going? To Italian food emporium Eataly for a masterclass in romantic cooking. You'll begin the night toasting your date with a glass of prosecco. After sharing a charcuterie board to keep you going, a pro chef will lead you through making ricotta-filled, heart-shaped ravioli followed by a chocolate fondant for dessert. Once your pasta parcels are plump and your pudding has risen, there will be plenty of time to spoon forkfuls of both into each other's mouths, and raise a glass of Italian wine to your new culinary skills.
Meet at: 135 bishopsgate, London EC2M 3YD
It's a date: Thursday 10 February, 6:45pm - 9pm
For one-upping a box of chocolates: Melt's chocolate-making class
Where are we going?To the Notting Hill branch of luxury chocolatier Melt for a workshop your tastebuds will remember. Chocolate doesn’t have to be belittled to the ranks of a final, naughty mouthful of something indulgent post dinner. If you and your date are sweet-crossed lovers, it can be the main event. Such is the case at Melt chocolatiers in Notting Hill, where guests can learn how to make the perfect bonbon, brownie or sea salted praline.If that sounds too wet behind the ears for you, make the experience more sensual by booking onto Melt's The Power of Pleasure Experience, using chocolate to sharpen your senses.
Meet at: Melt, 59 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AA / 6 Clarendon Road, London W11 3AA
It’s a date: Tuesday 14 February, 4:30pm
Where are we going? To Studio Pottery London in Eccleston Yard for a lesson in the maxim 'make do and mend'. Kintsugi is the Japanese design trend the internet obsessed over in 2020. Literally translating as ‘golden repairs’, it takes the approach that fractures should be seen and celebrated to tell an object's story. Led by Kintsugi Oxford’s Nishikawa Iku, the class will see you use Japanese lacquer (urushi) dusted with powdered gold to restore broken ceramics. Whether or not your own relationship could do with some sticking back together, if you're keen to get crafty, Studio Pottery is a chic, elegant and relaxed place to give it a go.
Meet at: Studio Pottery, 29 Eccleston Place, Belgravia, London SW1W 9NF
It’s a date: Saturday 25 February, 2pm - 5pm
Click here to book
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-splattered Leake Street in Waterloo, where the Arches play host to the capital’s answer to the Edinburgh Festival 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. Spending Valentine's with your gal pals? Don't miss Isobel Rogers' sharp, satirical work in progress about navigating womanhood in your 20s and 30s.
Meet at: The Vaults, Leake Street, Lambeth, London SE1 7AD
It’s a date: Tuesday 14 February, shows on at various times
For winding back the years: Stereo
Where are we going? To Stereo, the latest initiative from luxe hospitality brand Experimental Group, which is the place to party right now. Hidden in the bowels of Covent Garden Market, it straddles the concepts of ‘classy’ and ‘raucous’, and has capacity for 500 partygoers. Line your stomachs with an all-American menu designed by consulting chef-restaurateur Andrew Clarke (Acme Fire Cult, Brunswick House and St Leonards), before heading onto the dance floor and busting your best shapes to tunes mixed by the residence DJ. Not sure you've got a night of clubbing in you? Pop in for a cocktail before heading on elsewhere.
Meet at: 35 The Piazza, London WC2E 8BE
It’s a date: Tuesday 14 February, 5:30pm - 12am
For keeping it fresh: 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: Tuesday 14 February, 7.30am-dusk
For pillow talk: Mandrake hotel
Where are we going? To one of the most picturesque hotels in London. 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: Tuesday 14 - Wednesday 15 February