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Alternative romantic things to do in London

Avoid the clichés with these non-naff romantic things to do in London and spend Valentine's Day doing something that's actually fun

© Mark Hucks

Mid-February can be a nauseating time. If you're on the hunt for romantic things to do in London that don't state the obvious, then read on for our selection of nine original things to do this Valentine's Day. No fluffy teddies or love hearts in sight. 

RECOMMENDED: read our full guide to Valentine's Day in London for more original ideas

Non-naff romantic things to do in London

DON'T buy cheap perfume

DO indulge your senses at London Transport Museum

Who knew a transport museum could be so sensual? For one night only guests will be able to experience the smell of our lovely city (no, that doesn’t mean piss-soaked bus seats) as the museum hosts ‘Scent and Spirit of London’. This one-off night will explore history through vintage perfumes and drinks, from the Belle Epoche up to the 1970s. Not to be sniffed at.

Fri Feb 12, £5. £17-£20. London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB

DON'T go for a cocktail

DO go on a gin odyssey

The upstairs salon of Mr Fogg’s Tavern houses London’s largest gin collection, and it’s here that you can sample and learn about six of the most interesting, concluding with two G&Ts made with your favourite Gs. The Gin Safari is for 10–12 people, so round up your most emotionally supportive pals and get sipping. 

£40. 58 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4EA

DON'T moon over one boy

DO go completely boy crazy

Why have one boy when you can have many? Head down to the Fashion Space Gallery and explore fashion’s fascination with the teenage boy. Mad About the Boy is an exhibition that features beautiful photography, installations and pieces from collections by the likes of Meadham Kirchoff, JW Anderson and Nasir Mazhar. Dreamy.

Until Apr 2. Free. 20 John Prince’s Street, W1G 0BJ

DON'T buy blooms from the petrol station

DO enrol in a flower arranging class

For one day only Petersham Nurseries will have too many man too many many man as they host a boys-only flower workshop. Boring roses are banned as attendees whip up hand-tied bouquets using only British seasonal flowers.

Sat Feb 13, Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AB

DON'T aimlessly wander a museum 

DO discover the world of Ray and Charles Eames

Catch the final weekend of 'The World of Charles and Ray Eames' at the Barbican, which in addition to being about famously great design also tells the sweet love story of Charles and Ray with lots of handwritten notes between them, including a marriage proposal. #couplegoals

Until Sun Feb 14. Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

DON'T feed the ducks

DO pat the cats

The park in February is going to be chilly, and more than likely a little drizzly. Head to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home instead for Valentine’s event Feline Lonely?, where visitors are invited to meet the home’s residents. Warning: you’ll be plied with champagne, so take it easy to avoid the risk of going all gooey and staggering home with a train of moggy companions in tow.

Fri Feb 12, £5. 4 Battersea Park Road, SW8 4AA

DON'T share a plate of spaghetti

DO share a plate of heart

Sharing spaghetti is old-hat and more to the point, incredibly messy. What are you, a cartoon dog? Instead, head down to Jidori (we gave it a five-star review last month) on Kingsland High Street and share some chicken heart skewers.

189 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB

DON'T slow dance

DO go to the So Solid Valentine's Ball

Slow dancing has to be one of mankind’s most awkward activities, so save your blushes and instead boogie the night away with your party partner, as original garage posse So Solid Crew take over the Electric for the So Solid Valentine's Ball.

Sat Feb 13, from £5. Electric Brixton, Town Hall Parade, SW2 1RJ

DON'T drink champagne

DO put sake on ice

Selfridges’ swanky food hall is currently under Japanese occupation, and is all the better for it. Grab a bottle of their finest sake, serve chilled and feel smug that you managed to avoid one of the many February 14th clichés.

Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB

Or try some alternative romantic movies

15 mush-free romantic films

Sick of cheesy, soppy romcoms? Try one of these romantic movies with a twist this Valentine's Day

Read more
By: Joshua Rothkopf



Kew Gardens in the summer: all you need for a romantic day out.  Bring your own drinks and picnic to avoid over-priced stuff in the cafe.  And stop off at The Cricketers pub on Kew Green after for a cheeky drink or two as the sun goes down.


Interesting ideas here, some options for those with and without cash.

Rachel Parrott
Rachel Parrott

Great page. still find it useful even though it was 5 years ago!

Jane Leahy
Jane Leahy

DO spend some time in Battersea Park. It's got everything - a boating lake, a zoo, the peace pagoda, lovely walks with romantic views... and you can hire recumbent bikes, or even a bicycle made for two!


Book A romantic Helicopter flight to see London by Air, The flight is amazing and the team really make you feel so special for only £129.00 for 2 i got a romantic helicopter flight, Champagne,Chocolate and Photography- The Blue Tiger Company


Don't go to the Zoo, way overpriced and not worth the money. DO get into Kingston and take a walk along the River Thames to Hampton Court Palace (it's about 1hr 30mins if a slow stroll), along the way you'll be able to feed ducks, see adorable ducklings, rabbits and it's a lovely walk. Then you can get a river cruise back. :)

A god
A god

The gay dating idea could be fun... Although I've had. Lot if fun in vauxhall railway arches. It's offensive how some commenters seem to think a gay idea is inappropriate for this list. A tenth of people are gay and we are equal thanks


Erm...just made a note of The British Museum, as my husband wouldnt do any of the other things.


Great list! Thanks for the tips!


Thank you for these good tips. Obviously some humor is useful when talking about love


agree not all of those things are DONT'S timeout isnt always right nowadays, unfortunately


This is crap


Don't book Everyman cinema's special valentine's tickets. If I told my friends up north it cost £95 for two cinema tickets in 'that London' they wouldn't believe me. But it's true. Boo! What a rip off.