Valentine’s? Palentine’s? Whoever your loved one is (mum’s included), treat them to something nice to mark the occasion. Need a little push in the right direction? These 6 London picks are a good place to start.
We think that Valentine’s is a nice way to celebrate all kinds of love. You don’t have to be in a full-on relationship, either: maybe it’s a time to get together with all your mates, perhaps you want to spend some quality time with your family or maybe, for you, it’s all about liberating self-love and treating yours truly.
Whoever you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day with, we’ve picked out 6 London places to put on your radar.
What: An edgy, boutique hotel in the heart of London, this is the ultimate stay-cation for every romantic getaway.
Where: About a 6/7 minute walk from Victoria station.
Why: Desperate for your own space? Tired of the same scene or desperate to make a big romantic gesture? Whatever it is that makes you want to get away for the night, make sure you escape to the Artist Residence. A quirky find, this cosy hideaway isn’t inundated with rooms and people. Instead – considering it’s in central London -, it’s a quiet little hub with only a handful of rooms. Ranging from their ‘small rooms’ to their ‘grand suite’, you’ll be able to find something to suit your night (and budget). And speaking of budget, we think you’ll approve of the cost of this hotel, too.
A short walk away from plenty of restaurants (including No.11 Pimlico Road below), and with their very own eatery, Cambridge Street, adjacent to the hotel, you really are in a great spot for the occasion. Just make sure you book to avoid disappointment on the day.
Want to really escape? You can also find the Artist Residence in Brighton, Oxfordshire, Cornwall and Bristol.
Romance rating: It’s a hotel getaway – it doesn’t get more romantic than that. 10/10 romantic, in fact.
What to wear: The hotel stay is a gesture enough – there’s no need to overdress. Wear a pair of jeans, an easy shirt and some trainers for a smart/casual feel all evening.
What: Really good food in a casual, buzzing setting.
Where: Er, No.11 Pimlico Road. (Near Victoria Station).
Why: If you want to go somewhere casual, pressure-free and filled with good vibes that serves sensational food, this is the place you need to visit this Valentine’s Day. It’s a laid-back restaurant with a real contemporary mood; it’s a social hub where friends go for catch-ups and you go for dates. Even for a first date, No.11 Pimlico Road wouldn’t feel overwhelming – you’d fit right in.
Whether you decide to go for breakfast, all-day brunch, Sunday roast or even just cocktails (still well worth the visit), No.11 Pimlico Road’s menu will tick all the boxes. Evening menus, weekend menus, vegan menus and even gin menus, there’s kind of nothing not to love about it. Once you eat here, you’ll be telling all your mates about it, too. And hey, it’s just a 3-minute walk from the Artist Residence hotel – double up?
Romance rating: Dining here can be as relaxed or as romantic as you want it to be. It can be a 1/10 as easy as it can be a 10/10. So let’s settle on 5/10.
What: Part of the D&D group, 14 Hills is a standout dinner/drink destination with a view.
Where: Fenchurch street, near Bank tube station, situated on the 14th floor (you get the name, now?).
Why: If you’re in the mood to really treat someone, bring them to 14 Hills. On the 14th floor of 120 Fenchurch Street, the best city views are a guarantee (and dinner with a view is something we’re big on). Highly attentive staff in a standout setting, 14 Hills is bound to impress whoever you take with you.
If you’re a fan of a menu with both exciting new dishes and classic comforts, you’ll get on well with this one. Plenty for vegan and meat-eaters alike (and even allergy safe!), this dinner will leave you wanting to go back for more and more. For a truly special Valentine’s dinner, why not ask their in-house sommelier to wine pair your dishes – they won’t let you down. If you take your Valentine to once place this year, make it 14 Hills – trust us.
Romance rating: A 10/10 romantic dinner, setting and vibe.
What to wear: This is your chance to dress to impress. Wear a smart pair of jeans with a shirt and a pair of boots. Chuck on a blazer over your shirt and you’ve nailed smart/casual dinnerwear.
What: An Indian Mayfair bar serving sophisticated drinks.
Where: You’ll find the Retiring Room underneath Bombay Bustle in Mayfair. Top tip: eat there first and head down to the Retiring Room afterwards).
Why: If you’re looking for somewhere central with all the wow factors (but without the annoyance of everyone else going there) the Retiring Room is the place for you. A well-kept secret (well, it was), the cocktails served down here are second to none. Strong on their interior design, The Retiring Room was created to reflect Bombay’s organised but chaotic rail system; the restaurant and bar are designed like train carriages. Really nice ones, too.
The same people behind the exquisite restaurant on top (Bombay Bustle), prepare yourself for Indian-themed cocktails alongside some of your favourites (with a twist, of course). Just to give you a taste, our two highlight cocktails are the Pearl Of Bombay (Russian standard vodka, passion fruit chutney, passion fruit juice and edible pearls) and the Incognito (gosling black rum, pineapple juice, ginger beer, activated charcoal). Need we say more?
Romance rating: It’s a pretty nice setting for a drink or four. We’ll give it a 7/10 romantic rating.
What to wear: Have a bit of fun in a bold, printed shirt. Plus, if you happen to spill any of that charcoal down yourself, at least it won’t be obvious.
What: A ‘top-glass’ restaurant on a boat that sails down the Thames.
Where: Well, on the Thames! You’ll find the port at Embankment Pier.
Why: If you want to pull something extra special out the bag this Valentine’s Day (you know, brownie points and all that), why not swap out your conventional restaurant for a floating one? BATEAUX London’s Glass Room is a 2 hour, 45-minute dining experience that takes you on a slow cruise down the Thames with either a 3-course or a 5-course meal, a live band and the amazing views of the capital’s bankside.
And don’t think, just because it’s on a boat, the food won’t be spectacular. Cooked on-board, expect a refined menu of great, classic dishes paired with an extensive wine list (check out their lunchtime offerings as well). Whichever you go for, try and bag yourself a corner table for all-round great views. Date night? Complete.
Romance rating: The most romantic kind of dinner (heightened with the live band), this is 8/10 on the romance scale.
What to wear: The dress code says formal, but they’re happy with smart/casual, too. Wear a blazer for good measure.
What: One of London’s most famous Indian restaurants.
Why: If you fancy a date in one of the most-loved Indian dining destinations, Dishoom is the place for you. Authentic cuisine with a buzzing atmosphere, it’s no surprise that Dishoom has won a ton of rewards (check out their website to see which ones). Whether you step in for breakfast (bacon naan rolls are a thing of the gods) or head down there for dinner, you’ll find classic Indian dishes that we can guarantee you’ve never had before (and promise you’ll love).
Our top tip would be to head down there as early to opening as you can – we’ve never seen queues quite like it (they operate on a walk-in basis). We guess that’s a vote of confidence of how great Dishroom actually is.
Romance rating: It’s a pretty casual place, so it’s not too romantic that you couldn’t take a first date, friends and family (and sharing the dishes is all part of the fun). 4/10 romantic.
What to wear: Keep it smart/casual and comfy. Elasticated waistbands are highly recommended – you won’t be leaving until you’re stuffed.