With Valentine’s Day approaching fast, we’ve got you covered – even if you haven’t got anything prepared beyond the chocolates! London’s a great place to spend it, with heaps of things to do that can transform an ordinary date into an extraordinary memory, and London’s West End is particularly magical for that someone special.
In hopes of having a better dynamic than that shared by Basil and Sybil – you can witness that all weekend at Faulty Towers The Dining Experience – the surrounding areas have plenty to do for this internationally celebrated holiday. Whether you’re coupled up or riding solo, these alluring sites are the perfect attractions to commemorate the season of love.
1. Find gems in Apple Market
Pull up to a charming green overhang, home to a variety of vendors at the Apple Market in Covent Garden. You’re likely to find the occasional opera singer belting out tunes that bellow through the hall, giving it an artistic feel right from the entrance. There are shops galore alongside stalls for handmade goods and exotic foods to bring home. Personal favourites include never-been-seen-before art and bunches of fresh produce.
Here you can also tour the birthplace of the classic ‘My Fair Lady.’ Picturesque views of cobblestone and historic buildings make for a romantic stroll-through.
The photo here shows where Eliza Doolittle spent her time selling flowers and singing about a more ‘luvverly’ life for herself. This was all before she was whisked away by the enchanting Henry Higgins – just look at Rex Harrison’s gaze…
2. Gallivant through Chinatown
Saunter under hanging red lanterns and immerse yourself in London’s Chinatown. Vibrant colours and dazzling architecture mimic Qing dynasty designs.
With so many interesting venues to try we’ve narrowed it down to Xu Teahouse on Rupert Street. Check out their savvy website and Instagram for pics and clips of their masterful creations. Not only are they famed for their modern spin on Taiwanese classics, but they offer up tea rooms and even a Mahjong Club. Tea is imported directly from teahouses in Taiwan and brewed in a traditional sequence dating back hundreds of years.
After taking part in a traditional tea ceremony – maybe even Xu’s take on afternoon tea – you can stop by one of the two games rooms on site for your go at Mahjong. All you need is £5 per person and four people to play for a couple of hours and experience this rousing competition. Sip steeped teas under dimmed lights for a cultured feel on or after the day of love.
3. Explore St. Paul’s Church at the bottom of St Martin’s Lane
Also known as the Actor’s Church, make your mark at the memorial sites of Charlie Chaplin and Bransby Williams. Observe the details of the décor floating candelabras as you venture through the wooden pews.
Continue outside to see the graveyard where poet Sam Butler is buried and Shakespearean actor Charles Macklin is memorialised.
St. Paul’s was also home to the Avenue of Stars which was – at a time – London’s replica of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Opened in 2005, it was the dedication to stars from Julie Andrews to Jimmy Page and Judi Dench. The Avenue of Stars has since been closed down due to deterioration, but is still a landmark for the work of these famed actors.
In case you were wondering – it was also the site of Gwen Stefani’s wedding to Gavin Rossdale in 2002. If you weren’t wondering, we’ll just move right along…
4. Uncover the history of Punch and Judy
Right outside of St. Paul’s you’ll find a memorial to the historic Punch and Judy puppet shows that dominated London entertainment.
Featuring Mr. Punch and his wife Judy, the shows are an ancient relic of theatre. Although they may not have been the most perfect of couples, they date back to the late 1600s. The show carried over to TV in the 1950’s and is still celebrated today as a classic British tradition. Remind you of anyone?
Their story is over 350 years old. The puppets originate from the likes of Pulcinella, a 16th century Italian puppet. It all started out with marionettes on strings before developing into the glove puppets we know today.
The story of Punch and Judy became quite controversial as it entered the modern era, due to the domestic issues between the two. However it remains a monument in the trajectory of today’s theatre.
To commemorate this history Covent Garden’s Punch & Judy pub has been around serving up brunch, tea, and everything in between since 1787.
Read more about Punch and Judy shows here before you go.
5. Have a pint with live music at Camden Assembly
After a show check out The Camden Assembly pub right outside of the Camden Market. You won’t be disappointed with the independent bands brought into this lively space.
With hip hop and r&b Saturdays and £5 cocktails on Tuesdays, this pub is always bringing something new to the block. Enjoy everything from a Guinness to a signature burgers.
For Valentine’s, take your significant other to see up-and-coming musicians debuting new work and performing in front of a crowd. Check out their website for pictures and more information.
6. Sift through relics at The Cross Keys
Filled with the most decked out decor I’ve ever seen…I walked past The Cross Keys the other day and people were coming in droves for a taste of its glory.
It’s got a warm atmosphere and even better bubbling brews. Everything’s on tap that you could imagine and there are imported pints from every corner of the world.
Beyond that, their collection of antiques and memorabilia is a sight to behold.
You’ll have to go see for yourself to be in the presence of vintage Beatles merchandise and a napkin signed by Elvis. It’s a (not so) hidden gem that is a must-see: head to 31 Endell Street for all of this magic in one place.
7. Get lost in Somerset House
Located just south of the theatre district and on the River Thames, Somerset House is a centre for art and the community. Snap gram-worthy pictures of sophisticated murals, sculptures, and paintings all whilst enriching your knowledge.
Featuring intricately laid out exhibitions such as ‘Mushrooms: The Art, Design, and Future of Fungi,’ Somerset House shares a different perspective through art. Galleries such as ‘24/7: A Wake Up Call for our Non-Stop World’ also take a stab at social commentary with an interactive feel.
Somerset House also runs free tours of art and the area on Thursdays and Saturdays, so they operate for a cost-effective gift. Show your artistic side to your partner on this refined day out.
8. Grab a coffee at the Covent Garden Grind
Espresso bar, cocktail bar and casual dining all centre at the Covent Garden Grind. They serve up modern chic vibes and a homely feel alongside eggs and toast for breakfast. Find them on the beloved Maiden Lane.
Delicate and stylish, they are every millenial’s dream with their instagrammable decor. You can also find the original Grind in Shoreditch, along with others in Greenwich and Clerkenwell.
As much as they’re coffee-makers they’re innovators as well. Grind makes signature compostable coffee pods for sale at each location. Although their website is decked out in pinks and reds, they are green in every way they can be to lend a hand to our environment.
9. Visit the site of the Kingsman films
If you are a dedicated fan of the Kingsman franchise, or if you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s suit, you’ll be happy to know that its main site is right here on Savile Row, London’s sartorial centre.
Outside the shop there is a plaque inscripted ‘Kingsman’ which is dedicated to the film, as well as the perfect photo-op. Take the time to go and find the hallowed halls where Colin Firth once walked.
10. Valentine’s Afternoon Tea Bus
Afternoon Tea buses travel all around London, decked out with string lights and serving decadent scones. Visit the the city sights while munching on goodies and spending time with the people you love.
Most of these buses run Valentine’s day specials in the form of all-inclusive romantic days out. Perfect for a date or an outing with the girls, this is ideal for a sight-seeing day or night out.
For the ultimate swoon, however, go to any performance of Faulty Towers The Dining Experience over the Valentine’s weekend, 13-16 February at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel.
Tickets start at £65 for two hours of comedy and a three course meal. Throughout the Valentine’s weekend selected tickets come with a glass of prosecco – perfect for your Valentine!
Tickets and more info at www.faultytowersdining.com