I know I'm not alone when I say I loathe Valentine's Day. It brings back bittersweet memories of my teenage days at boarding school. If you had an admirer, single red roses would appear, like magic, at your desk at break time (anonymously donated and dispatched via the school enterprise). If you received several flowers, an impressive mark of popularity, you would parade them from class to class like trophies. Other than a clutter of books and folders, my desk remained pretty bare on Valentines Day. One year I was tempted to buy myself one, but thankfully my mother got there before me. The Valentine's Balls were similarly unsuccessful. When that Savage Garden song came on I would awkwardly look around at the boys (who were half my height) and quickly dive into the loos before the inevitable rejection was evident.
Now the train-tracks and copper-dyed hair (thank you, Sun-in) have gone, my luck has improved, but my feelings for holiday have not. Even in a relationship, I feel there's an impending sense of disappointment. This Valentine's I've created a fool-proof list of non-cliché things to do for both singles and lovers...so you won't have to suffer the same pain.
For the movie and meat lovers...
On Saturday 13th of February Gaucho Film Club is showing Pulp Fiction. You can enjoy this Tarantino classic whilst enjoying a specially selected menu to create a delectably immersive experience.
If you love good steak, you'll be no stranger to Gaucho. Their first restaurant opened in Piccadilly back in 1994 and, since, they've expanded to 12 sites in London. What separates this Argentine chain from other steakhouses is the quality of beef and the service. All Gaucho employees are trained at The Gaucho Academy, a beefy sort of bootcamp, and 100% of their beef comes from grass-fed, free-to-roam Argentine (but Aberdeen Angus bred) cows. Whatever they do, it works.
This event has been so popular they've added an extra date, but you'll need to snap your ticket up quickly as they're going like hot cakes. Tickets are £55 but include all food and accompanying beverages.
For the jazz and live music lovers...
I was wondering around Battersea on a cold night recently and heard the faint bellow of a double bass cooing at me to follow. As I drew closer, I saw Le QuecumBar and decided to venture inside. The warm, vintage decor transports you back to the early forties. The whole place is like an homage to Django Reinhardt and Gypsy Swing. The food is traditional French cuisine and, unsurprisingly, they have a lovely selection of reasonably priced wines, but most importantly, the mood is unbeatable.
I've revisited this hidden gem a few times since and no one night is the same, but it's always buzzing with a like-minded crowd who are ready to immerse themselves in the music with a plate of escargot at hand. Check out their website for listings and to book tickets!
For the brunch party lovers...
Chelsea Members Club, Beaufort House, has partnered with Veuve Clicquot Rich and Belvedere Vodka to launch an exclusive bottomless New York style brunch. The event will take place upstairs in their private members lounge. Brunchers will have a delicious two course brunch which includes Beaufort's signature Eggs Benedict, smashed avocado on rye, Loch Fynne smoked salmon bagels and a selection of divine desserts and cheeses, accompanied with unlimited champagne and spicy Bloody Marys.
Beaufort House in recent times has become a hotspot for A-list celebrities and London socialites. It's famed for hosting wild private parties for London's elite, this party will be no exception. Throughout the meal there will be cabaret-style dance performances by London's most requested dance troupe, The Girly Show. Then DJs will take the party into the evening.
Tickets range from £10 for party-only and a bargain £60 for all you can drink champers with your meal! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or book tickets here.
For those who love a view...
If you want to sweep someone off their feet, there's no better way than doing it 244m above ground level whilst sipping on a glass of champagne. The Shard is London's answer to the Eiffel Tower. It was recently awarded Mills and Boon's Romantic Award for 'Most Romantic View' and we can see why. It's the tallest building in the EU with a vantage point that doubles any other in the city. The 360 degree view is really quite breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see for up to 40 miles.
For the animal lovers...
Who said love had to come in the shape of a human? Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are doing a special cat rehoming event, Feline Lonely, next Friday 12th February at the London centre between 17:30-20:30.
Both singles and romantics are invited to feline the love in cat matchmaking heaven whilst listening to some poetry and the opportunity to rehome some furry friends...with a glass of bubbles, of course! There will also be love tokens available for the cattery residents so you can treat them to some treats and toys. A Prrrfect evening out (yeah, I just went there). £5 tickets can be bought here.
For the die-hard foodies
If you're going for the fine dining option, you may as well go all out, right? Galvin at Windows is one of my favourite restaurants in London. Few restaurants can boast such enchanting views of the Capital, but being on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton isn't the only reason to visit this Michelin star restaurant. The whole experience from start to finish is simply exquisite!
Galvin at Windows didn't think one day was enough to spread the love, so they've made a week of it with a special of love-inspired dishes. The special series of lunches and dinners feature some spectacularly sensual dishes, created by head chef Joo Won. The set menu is £65-£75 for lunch and £150 for dinner. If that sounds a bit spenny, book a seat in their bar for cocktails and canapés.
For the country bumpkins...
Those of you whom are a little more active, might fancy a spot of shooting for the weekend? The Oxford Gun Company have partnered with The Pheasant at Brill, to offer a Valentine's clay shooting package for two. The idyllic inn is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of London. It's set in the beautiful British countryside, but only an hour's journey.
For £245 you'll receive an hour's clay lesson, with 50 clays and cartridges, and dinner, bed and breakfast at The Phesant Inn. It'll give you a chance to brush up your shooting skills, but is also perfect for beginners and the more experienced shots. Then, my favourite part, the mouth-watering country pub meal at the Pheasant in the evening!
If you're interested in booking a package, please call David or Nicky - 01844 238308.
...Sadly, this is nowhere near London. Until next time x