Flowers shmowers, ring shming, why waste February 14 glaring at loved-up couples and mourning your, let’s face it, ultimately doomed past relationships, when you could be out in London living it up at anti-valentine’s day partiessnapping selfies in Instagrammable settings or prepping your stomach for pancake day. There’s much more fun to be had in this fine city, with lots of fabulous events and things to do where you won’t stumble across a sickening scattering of rose petals or hear a chorus of clinking champagne glasses mocking your every single step.
1. Take a leisurely wander around an art gallery or museum
Avoid the overcrowded restaurants and find a quiet sanctuary among the historic paintings, artefacts and sculptures of London’s art galleries. While you may come across the occasional hand-holding pair or whispering couple, love is kept on the down-low here (unless you want a signature British glare) and instead, the wonderful works of legendary artists take centre stage. Whether it’s exploring the iconic art found in the National Galleryinterpreting the true meanings of modern art in the Tateor sitting down in the immersive Monet exhibition as his purple lilies paint the walls around you, it won’t be long before Valentine’s Day is a distant thought. Just maybe steer clear of the Romanticism sections.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t exist in the Wild West. Love is for the lily-livered whippersnappers of the world, not seasoned outlaws playing cards and gulping down illicit drinks. Providing an immersive escape from reality, Moonshine Saloon is a cocktail experience where you smuggle in liquor (it’s BYOB – don’t worry you goody-two-shoes) and the talented barkeeps will use it to create you a bespoke concoction with their variety of bitters, syrups and garnishes. As you gulp it down you’ll be able to channel your inner cowboy trying your luck with card and dice games. Just make sure the booze doesn’t make you too loose-lipped when the sheriff comes around – because if you prove yourself trustworthy you can even get a peek at Cassidy’s notorious Moonshine Distillery.
Still a bit bitter about being single? Turn those lemons into limoncello at this unique workshop at The Girl in Skyline Village. You’ll learn how to create the signature Italian concoction in this two-hour-and-30-minute masterclassusing organic Amalfi lemons to ensure the result is authentic and delicious. On top of that, you’ll also be able to flex your baking skills as you’ll get to make a heavenly Caprese cake. At the end of the class, you can take the recipes and a small bottle of limoncello home to show off to your friends and family – and impress them in the future with your limoncello-making knowledge.
It says it all in the name, Dopamine Land is a happiness-inducing world which will put a smile on your face, whether you’re there alone or with friends. Located on Old Brompton Road in South Kensingtonthe multisensory museum invites you to explore a series of interactive rooms, including a soothing digital forest and, if you need to burn off some post-breakup bitterness, a pillow fight room.
5. Discover the simple delights of solo dining
If you’ve been dying to go to a certain restaurant but haven’t been able to find someone to go with, maybe it’s time to take your first tentative steps into the world of solo dining. I know, to most probably it feels like a last resort, but there are more positives to it than you might think – not only can you take as long (or be as quick) as you like, but you don’t have to try and make stilted conversation in between mouthfuls or dodge offers of sharing dishes (if that’s not your thing). Plus, there are plenty of London eateries that provide the perfect setting for a solo visit including Soho’s Humble Chicken if you’re into fine dining for one and Carousel’s wine bar where you can sit, eat and watch the world go by.
There’s nothing quite like a solo cinema trip. You can have your pick of whatever takes your fancy – with no compromising – scoff popcorn til your heart’s content (with no risk of battling with another hand when you go to grab a handful) and completely lose yourself in the wonderful world of film without anyone whispering where they know that actor from in your ear. The cherry on top? Vue has rolled out the red carpet for Fever customersoffering some fantastic value-added tickets so you can save the pennies when you catch the latest blockbuster.
7. Clear your head with a refreshing walk
If you’re saving the pennies but don’t want to stay home and drown in rom-coms or lament your single life, getting out for a picturesque stroll could be just the thing to remind you of the world outside romance. There are plenty of spots around the city where you can enjoy woodland walks, history-filled exploration and an abundance of wildlife – and many of them often can end with a trip to a nearby pub. Head on over to Highgate Cemetery for gothic treasures and creeping vines or explore the sprawling wilds of Hampstead Heath before a pint or two at the much-loved pub The Holly Bush.
8. Take your dog out for an afternoon tea date instead
If you really fancy spoiling a special someone with a four-course meal then why not your four-legged friend? Jack and Beyond know there’s nothing better than spending quality time with your pup, and their dog afternoon tea is sure to get tails wagging. If you’re a self-confessed pawrent then clip on the lead, grab the treat bag and take you and your furry companion on down to Battersea High Street where they can wolf down banana wooffins and carrot pupcakesthen lap up a puppuccino and – if you’re feeling extra generous – scarf some dog ice cream. Shudder at the thought of the inevitable zoomies to follow? Battersea Park is nearby to burn off some energy (once everything is properly digested of course).
What better way to escape heart-filled shop windows and PDAs than stepping into another world altogether? Valentine’s day doesn’t exist at Avora, but bioluminescent cocktails and psychedelic woodland settings do, and I know which one I’d prefer. At Avora: A New World Cocktail Experience you’ll be transported to a magical place without stepping foot outside of London, inside you will embark on an adventure with three tantalising tipples – think colour-changing cocktails, an intriguing immersive storyline, live actors and stunning sets. Who has time for love when you’re busy saving a world from human destruction?
10. Discover a hidden talent for golf at Swingers
We know, mini golf is normally a dating classic for anyone looking to break the ice or show off their skills to a special someone, but it is equally as fun unleashing your competitive side with friends. Plus, they’ll all be used to your fits of frustration when the ball goes rogue. There are two Swingers venues to choose from in London, one near Oxford Circus and the other by Bankeach with food, drink and two exciting courses. Once you’ve warmed up with a cocktail or beer you can channel your singleton energy into a round of golf, hitting and tapping your way around a course filled with unexpected obstacles. Who knows, whacking a ball or two may be just what you need.
11. Demolish a stack of pancakes from ‘Where The Pancakes Are’
Forget Valentine’s, there are more important things to think about…ok, it might be a little bit early, but if you want to be prepared for the biggest day of the year (why, Shrove Tuesday of course) you better scrub up on your pancake-eating skills. What better place to go than Where The Pancakes Are. As well as the lovely warm rush of childhood nostalgia the name incites, the mouthwatering restaurant serves up flipping delicious dishes, with the option for sweet or savoury pancakes to tuck into. The drool-inducing stacks will come with a cascade of toppings, such as pulled beef pastrami or banana marshmallow. Plus there are even Dutch babiesa 17th-century German over-baked pancake which are lighter than your average pancake.
12. Breathe in floral fragrances at the orchid festival at Kew Gardens
Who needs a bouquet when you can immerse yourself in the floral wonderland of Kew Gardens? This February, listen to the wise words of Miley Cyrus and buy yourself flowers, or more specifically buy yourself tickets to the stunning Orchid Festival and soak in the colourful array of flowers blooming from every corner. As is tradition, Kew takes inspiration from overseas and this year Madagascar is getting the Kew Gardens treatment. It is home to some striking biodiversity and vibrant plantlike, so you know you’ll be in for a treat.
13. Escape the city for a romance-free retreat
If you can’t handle the coupled-up masses that litter the streets of London then we prescribe a trip further afield. There are plenty of glorious getaways that will swap labyrinthine city roads for serpentine rivers, blissful beaches and tangled forests and – in the rare occasion the cold winter weather comes in handy – they likely won’t be overrun with sun-seeking day trippers. Whether going solo, with friends, accompanied by your beloved dog or even with your fellow valentine-hating partner; you can enjoy England’s nature without the risk of coming across a shop window stuffed with heart-shaped novelties…or bumping into your dreaded ex.