Enjoy a Romance-filled Valentine's Day in London

Up the ante for 2019 and make Valentine’s Day a day of romance from morning till night.

Morning...

If you’re not a morning person, you will be once you arrive at The Wolseley, which has garnered a reputation for its breakfasts.

Built as a car showroom in 1921, it became a bank before opening as a restaurant in 2003. It still boasts original features such as tall ceilings, columns and arches, making it feel like a grand European café.

Enjoy almond or butter croissants, pain au chocolate, or bites of rum and vanilla sponge made on-site. Other treats include stacked berry pancakes, smoked haddock kedgeree or fried haggis and duck eggs drizzled with whisky sauce.

Planning on proposing? Then book the private room, which has arched windows overlooking the main dining room.

Spencer House, London, UK

From The Wolseley, stroll five minutes through Green Park to Spencer House, an 18th century Grade I-listed mansion which is currently owned by Princess Diana’s brother. 

Guided tours include the Painted Room, which is as grand as Buckingham Palace. Completed in 1765 around the theme of Triumph of Love, it features dancing nymphs on the walls and a wedding frieze on the chimney alongside columns, chandeliers and elaborate plasterwork.

From there, carry on to Kensington Gardens next to Kensington Palace to see the Italian Gardens, created in the same era as the Albert Memorial, were was a present from the prince to the Queen and are just as romantic, with marble fountains and stone swan statues.

Kensington Gardens, London, UK

Afternoon...

Lunch is an easy choice, as what’s more romantic than oysters and Champagne? Enjoy both at J Sheekey, in an alley in the heart of Theatreland. Established in 1896, it has a classic interior, with wood-panelled walls lined with monochrome prints of actors. Its winter terrace meanwhile has all the right ingredients for a special meal – red walls, a log fire and blankets. Warm up over fish stew or cosy up over caviar, crab and ceviche.

After lunch, hop in a Cupid’s Capsule aboard Coca-Cola London Eye. It’s not cheap, but it is special – as you can sip on a bottle of Champagne and feed each other Hotel Chocolat pink Champagne truffles. You’ll have the capsule to yourself for a 30-minute rotation, accompanied by a personal host.

London Eye, London, UK

Evening...

Start early at The Petersham in Covent Garden. Like the original venue in Richmond, it brims with flowers and plants, with jars of wildflowers on mirrored tables. Mirrored columns and chandeliers create a romantic vibe. Dine on seasonal, mostly organic produce with an Italian flair such as burrata with black fig; plaice with saffron mussels and pear and almond tart.

If you opt for an early dinner, you’ll have enough time to make it across town to spend the rest of your evening at the theatre. "Anton & Erin – Dance Those Magical Musicals" at the Barbican (14 Feb) has all the ingredients of old-fashioned romance: twinkling lights, sequined dresses and tuxedos and rousing tunes. The London Concert Orchestra plays classics from musicals such as "42nd Street", "Top Hat" and "Mary Poppins" as the stars of TV’s "Strictly Come Dancing" dance ballroom.

If that puts fire in your belly, then you could also catch "Tango Fire" at the Peacock Theatre (to 16 Feb), which is now in its seventh year. Tango Fuego Quartet perform Piazzolla, Pugliese and Gardel live on stage, setting the pace for seven dance couples including former world tango champions German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi from Argentina, who perform a new solo for this production.

Late night...

After the show, take your pick of venues for a late-night romantic cocktail. Cosy up at Scarfe’s Bar in the Rosewood Hotel, its wood-panelled walls lined with bookcases and bespoke caricatures by Gerald Scarfe, and a roaring open fire to set the scene. The underground cellars of Gordon’s Wine Bar, lit only by candles, are the perfect intimate space to crack open a bottle of robust red wine. From a subterranean space to one with a view, head to the rooftop bar at the OXO tower, where views of the river, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Gherkin are yours to enjoy from behind a floor-to-ceiling window.

Emma Levine
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