If you want to get your Valentine’s venue fixed, then our Top 10 Best for Romance list is a great place to start… so long as you began weeks ago, as the most famous passion magnets book up so far ahead.
Perhaps your soul is too romantic and spontaneous for so much forward planning? In which case, here are a few alternative suggestions for February 14th…
Bobo Social, Fitzrovia W1T
95 Charlotte St, 020 7636 9310
Gymkhana, Mayfair W1
42 Albemarle St, 020 3011 5900
Guanabana, Camden NW1
85 Kentish Town Rd, 020 7485 1166
Mint Leaf, Haymarket & EC2
The two branches of Mint Leaf (Haymarket and EC2) are also offering a spicy take on Valentine’s Day, with a set menu for £65pp, if you prefer a more modern setting.
Menus: City http://www.mintleaflondon.com/city/promotions
Bumpkin (Branches in South Kensington, Westfield Stratford and Chelsea)
Fancy Mr Darcy’s mushrooms or Shakespeare’s salmon this Valentine’s Day? Bumpkin’s themed menu might well tickle your literary fancy – and if love blossoms, send in a picture of you and your date to be in for a chance to win £100.
This old-fashioned Belgravia wine bar might be just the place for you and your loved one this February 14th – their Valentine’s menu includes a chilled glass of bubbly, from £53pp.
Or alternatively –
How about a Valentine’s afternoon tea? At The Milestone Hotel, a pink afternoon tea for two (with a half bottle of rosé Champagne) is £109, available throughout February. The Palace Lounge at The Rubens, overlooking Buckingham Palace’s Royal Mews, is putting on a Valentine’s Day Royal Afternoon Tea, featuring The Queen’s much-loved jam pennies and what they bill as William and Harry’s favourite chocolate biscuit cake (£39.50pp, including a glass of Champagne).
The Montagu on the Gardens is a Georgian townhouse hotel overlooking peaceful gardens, just minutes from The British Museum. The Blue Door Bistro has a four-course candlelit Valentine’s dinner menu, starting with a Champagne cocktail and ending with sharing desserts and Baileys hot chocolate, at £85pp. During the day there’s an afternoon tea option for £40pp (10-14 February) which includes a special butterscotch, rum and tequila cocktail called ‘Leopard in Love’.
Here’s our pick of some top romantic spots and their special Valentine’s menus outside the M25…
Adam Reid at The French, Manchester, M60
A nine-course tasting menu (£250 per couple) is the romantic pièce de résistance at The Midland Hotel’s fine dining restaurant – and if you miss out on Valentine’s night, the canny Mancunian is offering a ‘late’ (and £80 cheaper) option available for the next two nights!
L’Ortolan, Reading, Rg2
…is already booked for dinner, but if you and your Valentine are free for lunch on February 14th, their special seven-course menu starts with oysters and scallops, and ends with a chocolate tasting plate to share. £99pp (£60pp extra for a wine flight to match if you’re not driving…)
Northcote, Lancashire, BB6
You can push the boat out and stay, or just dine at the North West’s most prominent country house hotel, where the Valentine’s menu is available from 12-14 February for £195 per couple.
The Sanchez-Iglesias family’s Casamia is undoubtedly the hottest ticket in Bristol still – but if you can’t get a reservation for Valentine’s Day, why not try one of its sibling restaurants that also occupy the city’s former general hospital? There’s Pi Shop, a sourdough pizzeria, or Paco Tapas, a tapas and sherry bar, to choose from.
Can’t afford a trip to Paris? Birmingham is aiming to become the romantic destination of choice for staycationers – there’s even a ‘love lock’ bridge at The Cube. After locking your padlock and throwing away the key, why not continue the cultural theme with a special Valentine’s dinner at Brum’s Museum & Art Gallery – the soaring Industrial Gallery becomes a dining space for a five-course meal (£42.50pp), complete with live music.
Kendells Bistro styles itself as ‘the most romantic restaurant in Leeds’ – and with its dark corners, cosy candlelit ambience and French bistro cooking, we agree. Its Valentine’s menu is £49.50pp, with Champagne on arrival.
Any self-respecting guide to Valentine’s Day has to include somewhere that specialises in oysters, so our Brighton recommendation is Riddle & Finns on the Beach (or indeed its Lanes sibling, but no bookings are taken there) where you can order your molluscs pretty much any way you like.
Tom & Michaela Kitchin’s eponymous Leith restaurant will have been booked out for months, so why not see if you can snag yourself a Valentine’s evening at their Stockbridge gastropub Scran & Scallie? Unless of course you have planned ahead and booked for the most extravagantly romantic setting in Edinburgh, The Witchery by the Castle…
Glasgow’s Stravaigin would be just the place to impress on a first date – and you can eat in the bar if there’s no spaces in the basement restaurant.
In Newcastle, you and your Valentine could catch a movie after dinner at the gloriously Art Deco Tyneside Coffee Rooms. The Grade II, 1930s cinema attached is showing When Harry met Sally at 8.10pm – we’ll have what she’s having… Stick around afterwards for a cocktails and late night bites at Vicolo, the venue’s new pavement cafe.
For those of you near Cambridge, the romantic riverside setting and intimate ambience of Restaurant 22 is always a winner – one of the comments on their website says it all: “She said…..yes!”