If you live, work or study in London it may be hard to view it as a haven of romance – especially if you’ve witnessed the frantic grab-what-you-can moments at club/pub chucking out time. So if it’s a night out with your long term lover or a date with someone new, where will you be taking your significant other? Your local? That cheap Italian down the road? Or somewhere a bit different.
1. The London Eye – It may essentially be a tourist attraction, but a ‘flight’ on the Eye can be a genuinely romantic and breath-taking experience. The views over London are wonderful, especially if you go in the evening and watch the sun setting over the city, or later when the city is illuminate like a neon star-scape. As you share a capsule with a group of other people, it isn’t exactly private but this doesn’t detract from the experience. If you can really afford to splash out, the Cupid’s Capsule experience is £300, and includes your own private capsule, champagne, chocolates and exclusive check-in and fast-track service. There are other experiences and information on the website.
2. The Comedy Store – If you prefer to treat your significant other to a light-hearted night out, then the king of all comedy clubs might be for you. With a fantastic atmosphere (particularly at later showings when the clientele have had a few drinks), the Comedy Store showcases some of the most hilarious comedians and comediennes from around the world. On certain nights, famous names like Paul Merton, Neil Mullarkey and Lee Simpson entertain the audience with side-splitting improvisation. A great night out for those who like to drink, laugh and watch the people in the front row get slaughtered by the acts!
3. Dine Out – An obvious choice I know, but with so many wonderful restaurants in London, dining out makes the perfect start or finish to a romantic evening. Choose somewhere small and intimate that has received good reviews, so as not to be disappointed when gazing across the table at your partner. Why not try Le Pont De La Tour, near Tower Hill station. With beautiful views of the city and Tower Bridge, this restaurant is a little pricey but the food (described as modern European with French and Mediterranean influences) is out of this world. Check www.london-eating.com for more ideas – they even have a section dedicated to romantic restaurants in and around London.
4. The Tate Modern – If you’re after some culture and hand-in-hand strolling, the Tate Modern is an ideal place to wander around whilst enjoying their collection of international modern art, as well as major works by Dali, Matisse, Susan Hiller and Warhol. There are exhibitions and events held throughout the year and it is open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays – perfect if you want to avoid classes of clipboard-wielding children. With its beautiful artwork, striking architecture and calm, creative atmosphere, the gallery is a wonderful choice for art lovers and art virgins alike. You can also take a Tate-to-Tate boat trip to the Tate Britain, details on their website.
5. Shopping – A lot of men (and women) might shudder at this choice, but if shopping can be enjoyable anywhere, it’s in London. From the world famous Harrods and Selfridges supplying designer labels, exotic food and sparkling jewellery, to Covent Garden and it’s eclectic selection of shops and stalls, there really is something for everyone. If you want to avoid the crush of the department stores, head for places like Portobello Road and Camden Town for antiques, vintage clothing and alternative fashion and footwear. If the way to your lover’s heart is via your wallet, then maybe it’s worth hitting the shops!
6. Theatre Trips – From musicals to comedy to drama, London’s theatres are guaranteed to have something for everyone. Long-running hits like Phantom Of The Opera are timeless and always engaging, while other enthusiasts may enjoy performances in the many fringe theatres. Look online for theatre and dinner deals for a spectacular evening out that won’t break the bank.
7. River Cruises – Bateaux London’s Dinner Cruises board every night at 19.15, the cruise includes a la carte menu, live music and after dinner dancing – a thoroughly elegant and decadent experience. Providing excellent food, breathtaking views of the city, live entertainment, dancing and an indulgent atmosphere, the cruises are an ideal and unique romantic evening. Flowers, birthday cakes and champagne can be organised as extra touches and there are special events all year round. There are also regular lunch cruises and the Sunday Lunch Jazz Cruise.
8. Cocktails! – If you and your partner like a drink, or if your insignificant other looks remarkably more appealing when your beer goggles are on, then a night of cocktails might be for you! Try Lab or Milk and Honey in Soho, or Detroit in Covent Garden for some of the most intoxicating creations known to man, including Detroit’s famously delicious Chocolate Martini. For somewhere away from the crowds and prices of central London, try BRB at Arc, on Torrens Street in Angel, Islington. This place is a spacious funky bar with an extensive cocktail menu, friendly bar staff and excellent food to soak up some of that alcohol – including huge fresh stone-baked pizzas! Try the infamous Screaming Orgasm – vodka, Baileys and Kahlua – a creamy sensation over ice!
9. Wildlife – Believe it or not, bars, clubs and London’s generally rowdy nightlife can get a little repetitive. Why not try something completely different and see some other animals in their natural habits. London Zoo, set in the scenic Regent’s Park, has a vast array of amazing animals as well as beautiful gardens, art and architecture. Watch the pelicans being fed, get up close and personal with the bird-eating spiders or witness the flying, leaping and climbing in the Animals in Action show. Alternatively, visit London Aquarium – walking hand-in-hand around in the dim light gazing into countless tanks filled with colourful fish is oddly romantic. Witness a wide variety of fish, coral, piranhas, seahorses and two-metre long sharks! You can also get hands on with friendly rays in the touching pool.
10. Torture Garden – If the ideas above are a little tame compared to what you’d like to be doing with your special someone, then check out www.torturegarden.com. Monthly fetish balls offer live performances, bondage installations, a couples room, the usual dungeon playroom, burlesque and cabaret girls, pole dancers and bizarre visuals – complete with a crowd dressed to kill in London’s finest fetish fashions (note: there is a strict dress code for their events – street clothes are not acceptable, see the website for more info). Not for the faint hearted!