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Alternative romantic things to do in London

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

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 teddies and treat your beloved to something different, with our guide to non-naff romantic things to do in London.

RECOMMENDED: Your guide to Valentine’s Day in London

Non-naff romantic things to do in London

Don’t buy blooms from the petrol station

Don’t buy blooms from the petrol station

Do learn how to whip up a terrarium

Giving flowers can be dangerous; how can you know which flowers to send when you don’t know how you feel? Red roses mean ‘love’ and yellow ‘friendship’, but we don’t think there’s an official flower for ‘you’ll do until I find someone better’. Happily, lovely London florist Grace & Thorn hosts regular terrarium-making classes. And there’s not a lot you can read into something that’s transparent.

First Tuesday of every month. £65. Grace & Thorn, E2 7AX.

Don’t make a baby

Don’t make a baby

Do build a Lego robot, a marshmallow mansion or a house made out of toast

Multi-tasking spot Drink, Shop & Do host regular random construction evenings. They are the perfect activity for creative commitment-phobes; a weirdly bonding activity, it requires teamwork and a shared vision, but then at the end of the night you can just dismantle your creation and go your separate ways.

From free when you buy a drink. Some events are ticketed. Check website for details and future dates. Drink, Shop & Do, N1 9DX.

Don’t share a plate of spaghetti

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) on Kingsland High Street and share some chicken heart skewers. Romance tastes delicious.

Jidori, E8 2PB.

Don’t send a mindless card full of mushy verse

Don’t send a mindless card full of mushy verse

Do polish-up on your punning

On selected Mondays, The Book Club in Shoreditch hosts Pundemonium!, a night of competitive wordplay. Comedians, poets and a guest dad battle it out in game shows to be crowned the ultimate pundit. It’s billed as an event for ‘compulsive punners and their carers’ and quickly shapes up into a perfect night of punnilingus.

Selected Mondays, check website for details. £5-£7. The Book Club, EC2A 4RH.

Don’t drink champagne

Don’t drink champagne

Do go whisky tasting

Once a wedding dress boutique, Cadenhead’s on Chiltern Street is one of London’s oldest whisky shops. And there’s nothing pretentious about its dinky basement – which, fact fans, is the room in which Princess Diana first saw her wedding dress. Head down there and join other Scotch nerds as your tastebuds go on a whisky tour of Scotland. 

Monday–Saturday, check website for start times. £25-£35. Cadenhead’s, W1U 7QF.

Don’t cuddle up with Netflix

Don’t cuddle up with Netflix

Do live out your ‘Grease 2’ (yes, 2) fantasies at a boozy bowling alley

It’s widely believed to be one of the worst films ever made, so don’t watch it; become it instead. With a score that includes the numbers ‘Reproduction’ and ‘Do It for Our Country’, ‘Grease 2’ is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Seize the opportunity to pull on your gold lamé pants and dance down the lanes singing about how you’re going to ‘Score Tonight’. But where to do such a thing? At Rowans, of course – Finsbury Park’s haven of bowling, karaoke and slush puppy cocktails.

RowansN4 2DF.

Don’t stare into each other’s eyes

Don’t stare into each other’s eyes

Do dine at Dans Le Noir in Clerkenwell

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 your date is. Just make sure you find your way back to the right table or that innocent leg rub could get weird.

£46-£99, Dans Le Noir, 30-31 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU.

Don’t go for a cocktail

Don’t go for a cocktail

Do go on a gin odyssey at Mr Fogg’s

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 people, so round up your most emotionally supportive pals and get sipping. 

£40. Mr Fogg’s Tavern, WC2N 4EA.


Or try some romantic movies with a twist



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

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

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

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.