Get us in your inbox

rivoli ballroom
Photograph: Rivoli Ballroom

Alternative romantic things to do in London

Dodge the cheesy clichés and plan a more original date in London with these mush-free romantic things to do in the city

India Lawrence
Written by
Time Out editors
India Lawrence

Want to do something special without buying into all the flowers and other mind-meltingly mushy nonsense this February 14? There are loads of loved-up spots in the city, as well as unusual events and alternative date options. Skip the chocolates and soulless plastic presents and treat your beloved to something different. From movie marathons to craft beer tours, get your nose out of the crappy-card rack and check out these alternative romantic things to do in London.

RECOMMENDED: Your guide to Valentine’s Day in London.

Best Alternative Romantic Things To Do in London

  • Shopping
  • Florists
  • Hackney Road

DO learn how to whip up a terrarium

Giving flowers can be dangerous; how can you know which flowers to send when it’s still early days? Red roses mean ‘love’ and yellow ones ‘friendship’, but we don’t think there’s an official flower for ‘you’ll do until I find someone better’ (orange ones, maybe?) Happily, lovely London florist Leafage sells terrarium-making kits so that you can create your own tiny plant-filled kingdoms. And there’s not a lot you can read into something that’s so transparent.

From £60.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Dalston
  • price 2 of 4

DO eat nose to tail 

Sharing spag is old hat and, more to the point, incredibly messy; what are you, a cartoon dog? Instead, head to St John and feast on all kinds of offal: think livers, kidneys and intestines. What’s more romantic than a slap-up plate of lamb hearts?

26 St John St, EC1M 4AY. 

Don’t drink champagne
  • Shopping
  • Off licences
  • Marylebone

DO pick a bottle of fancy whisky

Once a wedding dress boutique, Cadenhead’s on Chiltern Street is one of London’s oldest whisky shops. But there’s nothing pretentious about its approach to whisky: ask the staff and they’ll give you a whistlestop history of Scotland’s best-loved spirit.

26 Chiltern St, W1U 7QF.

Don’t just go for a cocktail
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Covent Garden
  • price 3 of 4

DO go on a gin odyssey at Mr Fogg’s

The upstairs salon of Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour houses London’s largest gin collection, and it’s here that you can sample and learn about four of the most interesting, concluding with one G&T made with your favourite G. Join a safari with your date, or book a private sesh with ten or more of your most emotionally supportive pals and get sipping. 

1 New Row, WC2N 4EA. £42pp. 

Don’t stare into each other’s eyes
  • Restaurants
  • Clerkenwell

DO dine in darkness at Dans Le Noir

Staring longingly into the love of your life’s eyes is all fine and good until the other mates you’re hanging out with start to get irritated out of boredom or jealousy. One way to rectify this slightly awks predicament is to book a table at Dans Le Noir, a quirky dining experience sans mood lighting, or any lighting at all for that matter. Yep, you and your date dine in complete darkness so the sensory nature of the meal is prioritised over how aesthetically pleasing it (and/or your date) is. Just make sure you find your way back to the right table or that innocent leg rub could get weird.

69-73 St John St, EC1M 4AN. Set menu £52-£110.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Brockley

DO travel back in time at the Rivoli Ballroom

Settle down in the beautiful surroundings of the Rivoli Ballroom – one of the oldest remaining public ballrooms in the world – for a pop-up film fest. The grand old dame of a building will be hosting screenings of ‘Roman Holiday’ and ‘Romeo + Juliet’ for Valentine’s Day – now that trumps a Netflix binge. 

350 Brockley Rd, SE4 2BY. From £10.

Don’t share a boring bottle of red

DO go on a craft beer tour 

Take your beloved on a tour of London’s best breweries to drink beer straight from the source. Plan your own using our round-up of the best taprooms, head to Camden Town Brewery for a whizz around the premises, or book a tour with AleHunters, where a sommelier will guide you through the offerings of four breweries along the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Because couples that ale together, stay together. 


  • Nightlife
  • Nightlife venues
  • White City

DO go to a roller disco

Ditch the boring drinks and strap on a pair of rollerskates for a proper fun date. And this isn’t a cheesy roller rink, this is a cool roller rink, where you can gawp at some of London's best skaters all soundtracked to RnB, jazz, afrobeats and hiphop. For those with superior balance, this is the chance to show off your tekkers. For the less coordinated, worry not, falling on your arse in front of your beloved will only bring you closer together. 

Flipper's London, Exhibition London, Ariel Way, W12 7SL. £17.50.

Or try some romantic movies with a twist


    More on Valentine's Day

      You may also like
      You may also like
      Bestselling Time Out offers