By Nikol Stoykova
It’s that time of the year again! Love is in the air and chocolate is everywhere. Valentine’s day is right around the corner, and we know you want to plan the perfect date for your beloved as much as we know how stressful and expensive it can all be. So, if you’re desperately stuck for date ideas or if you simply don’t want to splash out on London’s top Michelin-starred restaurants, we’re here to save the day! The IH blog presents an alternative list of charming, fun and original date ideas perfect if you want to spare your money and nerves, and still impress your dearest!
1. Instead of… a candlelit dinner, try… the most aesthetically pleasing doughnuts at Doughnut Time! Why not skip the traditional romantic three-course dinner and go for something more original? From a doughnut with a Kinder surprise in the centre to one topped with an actual miniature Nutella jar, Doughnut Time offer the most instagrammable treat to make your date extra sweet! Find them in Shoreditch, China Town or Notting Hill and combine it with a lovely stroll around some of London’s most colourful streets!
2. Instead of… a conventional movie date, try… the birthplace of British cinema! Leave the clichés at home and take your date out to one of the oldest repertory cinema in the world. The Regent Street Cinema screened the first motion picture in the UK back in 1848, and it’s preserved its authentic romantic atmosphere until today. Catch up on the newest blockbusters or go back in time with their Valentine’s day special Matinee Classics featuring films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or black and whites like Casablanca.
3. Instead of… a Cupid’s capsule on the London eye, try… stargaze for free from numerous beautiful locations all around London. Enjoy the city skyline from the peak of Primrose Hill or Greenwich park, or catch the sunset from the top of the Tate Modern or Sky Garden. No need to splurge on an expensive view when you can not only find it for free but also combine it with a lovely walk in the park or a cultural visit to a gallery! And in case you want to take your date on the top of London’s walkie talkie, just remember to book for free in advance.
4. Instead of… bringing flowers to your date, try… bringing your date to the flowers. Immerse yourself in an oasis of foliage and bucketfuls of blossoms and walk along endless stalls with plants breathing in the intense scent of flower perfume at the Columbia Road Flower Market in Bethnal Green. Apart from the market itself, you can find more than 60 independent shops, vintage cafés, small art galleries, and antique shops to lose yourself in.
5. Instead of… a visit to the museum, try… discovering the largest collection of vintage neon signs in Europe. God’s Own Junkyard is a glowing wonderland and an alternative spot for a romantic coffee date. Lighten up your beloved’s mood with fluorescent treasures, old movie props, and retro displays. Have a piece of carrot cake under the luminous neon lights and enjoy the glowing atmosphere of one of the most unique places you can find in London.
And if for whatever reason none of these ideas really float your boat or excite you especially, here are some more: London’s Museum of Brands special Valentine’s offer, afternoon tea at the Barbican Conservatory, contemporary art at the Saatchi Gallery and South Kensington’s food markets, Brick Lane and one pound bagels at Beigel Bake open 24/7, the treasures of the British Library, Sir John Soane’s museum… Take your pick!
All in all, IH wishes you a lovely Valentine’s Day and remember: even if you don’t have a date this year, just bring all your single friends along with you for a fun day out in London! We promise, you’ll have the best time either way.
Editor's Note: Big thanks to Jenny Khalastchy for helping me narrow down the list of cool places! Image Credit: CC by Valentine’s Day Candy/Google