Derek Robertson, January 2018
It is said that Valentine’s Day honours Saint Valentine of Rome, a priest imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers (who were forbidden from marrying) and for ministering to Christians, a deadly sin in the eyes of the Romans.
According to legend, having healed the daughter of his jailer, he wrote her a farewell letter before his execution, signing off with “your Valentine” – thus giving rise to a holiday that now signifies courtship, love, and the expressing of desire. But forget about tacky gifts and overpriced bouquets of flowers – if you truly want to impress the one your heart desires, try one of these suggestions for a night you’ll hopefully never forget!
London Eye Private Capsule
If you’re really out to impress and budgets be damned, you could do worse than hire a private pod on the London Eye. You’ll have the 30 minute “flight” all to yourselves, and as well as stunning views over nighttime London, it also comes with a dedicated champagne host serving Pommery Brut Royal champagne and a box of Charbonnel et Walker pink champagne truffles. You don’t even have to stand in line either, instead being whisked straight to the front on arrival.
Gin House Burlesque
Perhaps best suited to existing couples instead of first dates, London’s best kept secret speakeasy is putting on a special Valentine’s night soiree full of seductive sauciness on Saturday 17th February. Billed as “drinking, dancing, and debauchery”, there will be burlesque and cabaret performances alongside a live band and lashings of gin, with the fun not scheduled to stop until 5am. Naughty but nice!
Pop Up Cinema – Rivoli Ballroom
Of all the special, Valentine’s-themed screenings in the capital, this is the best. Set in a stunning, 1950’s ballroom with craft beers on tap, plenty of homemade popcorn and hotdogs, and one of the 90s most charming and best loved romcoms – Pretty Woman – on the big screen, what’s not to like? Their events sell out quickly though, so snap up a ticket nice and early to avoid disappointment.
Silent Sounds Boat Party
If dancing is your thing, but the prospect of sweaty, deafening, overpriced clubs fill you with dread, head down to the Thames and hop aboard The Dutch Master. The two-story party boat floats past London’s most beautiful sights while you get your groove on to a silent disco. Your own private pair of headphones means you can choose your channel – from disco killers to hardcore house and rave, they’ve got every taste covered – and ensures that those wanting to whisper sweet nothings to each other can do so in glorious, private silence.
Blind Date – With A Twist
Don’t have a special someone to share Valentine’s with, but don’t want to be left out either? If you’re feeling brave, head down to the George Tavern where comedy improve duo Leanna Wigginton and Angela Pollard are recreating the much loved classic TV show Blind Date – with a twist! It’s completely free, and as well as the matchmaking, there’ll be dancing, prizes, and other challenges – such as a licking competition to see who can finish an ice lolly the fastest.
An Awfully British Valentine’s Cabin
Valentine’s dinner and drinks are all very well, but if you really want to make the night special, an overnight stay away from the humdrum banalities of daily life is just what the doctor ordered. And where better to do this than York & Albany’s pop up “Valentine’s Cabin”, a playful experience that celebrates all things awfully British? An exclusive, three-course meal is just the start – the real star is a night in a specially themed suite, decked out to look like an eccentric British lounge.
Feeling open-minded? Then how about an immersive experience of sensual Japanese culture? Floating World gives you the chance to become a character exploring the hedonism, transgression, and unabashed naughtiness of Edo period Japan, set in a beautifully recreated teahouse (delicious food and kimono attire are provided). You’ll also learn the ancient secrets of Shunga – the celebrated erotic art. Not for the feint hearted!
Hot Gin Roof
Sometimes, a simple drinks date is all that’s desired, but steer clear of your local boozer and tacky “cocktail” bar and head instead to the roof terrace of the Ham Yard Hotel. Under woollen blankets and with stunning views over London, you’ll be introduced to the world of hot gin cocktails, heated by plunging a red hot “poker” into the liquid, and regaled with tales of this tradition’s rich history.
A Valentines Masked Ball
Admit it, we’ve all had fantasies of attending a high-class masked ball, slinking around like Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut and delighting in the intrigue and risqué decadence. Well, here’s your chance to live it for real. Spread over four floors of Soho’s Century Club, the Dark Side of Love Masked Ball aims to “celebrate the iniquity, the idolatry, and profanity of love” with a selection of erotic performances, live music, fine cocktails, and dancing.
F**k Tinder London – Valentines Day Edition
Tired of Tinder? Disillusioned by dating? Still stubbornly single? This is an anti-dating dating night, for singles with a difference – the emphasis is firmly on comedy and having a thoroughly good laugh with like-minded souls. Compered by comedian Chris Henry, there’s some top class entertainment and inventive games to get everyone mixing – not for nothing has it been hailed as “the funniest singles night you’ll ever attend”. Speed dating will never seem the same after this.
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