The Alternative Guide to Valentine's Day
If you're into #chooselove but NOT the smushy cringe fest that comes with V Day, then delve into our guide showcasing the quirky and unconventional.
Words by Danielle Morgan
It's nice to show your better half how much they mean to you, but that doesn't have to involve spending half your months wages on a sub-par meal in some dodgy Mexican restaurant followed by a few even dodgier Margarita's in said restaurant and the embarrassing ritual of handing over the life sized novelty teddy bear that both of you know she/he doesn't really want. This Valentine's day, think outside the box and give the gift that keeps on giving with a night neither of you will forget in a hurry. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, be that a boozy game of mini golf or a trip back to the 1800s. Unusual it may be, but boring it ain't!
'Squiffy' is what your Nan feels like on Christmas day when she's drained most of the sherry and has started chiming up with the Vera Lynn renditions. Rest assured this is nothing like that. Well, not quite. On a scale of 1 to classy as f&%k, the Squiffy Picnic is definitely up there. The 'secret' entrance, although how secret no one really knows because ask most Londoner's if they've paid the good Captain a visit and they can pretty much tell you the exact location, is directed just off Kingly Court on Carnaby Street. If you have a weakness for 1940s decor and quirky tipples then you're in luck! Expect cocktails served in tea cups and popcorn cans and crisps served in mess tins. Bunting is draped from every ceiling corner, and on most nights 1940s vocalists entertain with war time favourites, so a bit like your Nan on Christmas day, but kind of, not. £46 per person, booking essential.
You know what they say; food is the language of love. (Do they say that? Maybe it's just us) Well, if the scoundrels at Cahoots don't whet your appetite, then surely a spot of afternoon tea will?! Do not be fooled, this isn't your bog standard scone and a cuppa £5.99 jobby down the local M&S cafe. David Shringley illustrations line the walls from floor to ceiling, and all the furniture is pink! The Sketch tea salon truly is a step back into kitsch 1960s decor, and the food ain't half bad either. Quail's egg and caviar are the plat du jour in this gaff, and with all courses unlimited, well... it'd be rude not to! And after all that, if tea and sarnies isn't really your thing, then why not pay a visit just for a gander at the most talked about loos in London. £45 per person, booking essential.
Wilton's Music Hall
From ale house to concert room, if you're looking for a venue with a bit of authenticity behind it, look no further than Wilton's Music Hall. It's been going since the 1690s, so you're in good hands. Converted by John Wilton, the Mahogany Bar, as it's still known today, had been plying Scandanavian Sea Captian's with a well needed bevy (or 5) since the 1860s, whilst plays and musicals were staged in the adjoining theatre. Not much has changed since then; if you're looking for a touch of the macabre this Valentine's Day, Wilton's gaff is the place to be headed. Serving posh as you like drinks and snacks in the infamous Mahogany bar, you can stuff yourself on sausage rolls and roasted nuts to your hearts content, before slipping into the Music Hall with a beer in hand and an evening of morbid Victorian-esque theatre to look forward to. Romantic, eh? Prices start at £6, check box office for availability.
The Viktor Wynd Musuem of Curiosities
Just what everyone wants for Valentine's Day; a surprise trip to the museum! Hear us out on this one... If you are the person that aimlessly wanders about museums, mind numbingly bored out of your skull thinking about how much fun you could be having doing anything other than wandering around this crap museum then this is the place for you! Viktor Wynd's is in a league all of its own, if that league were a Dickens-esque-curiosity-shop-cum-cocktail-parlour... which it is. Sounding a little more promising? Take a booze cruise through history surrounded by the eclectic curios of Viktor Wynd. Closed Monday's & Tuesday's, check website for availability.
Perhaps you're into all that wining and dining, and the thought of egg sarnies and pub snacks isn't really your scene. Well, we haven't forgotten about you, you old sap! For those tender souls, a touch of old school Hollywood glamour might just do the trick this V Day. Say hello to the Electric Cinema, and say goodbye to your hard earned cash. This place may seem a little (a lot) pricey, but when you step inside, you'll see why. The Electric Cinema first opened its doors in 1910, it survived two world wars and a re-vamp in the '90s, so it seems like the infamous movie theatre isn't going anywhere in a hurry. Enjoy a tipple or two as you recline in winged back armchairs or snuggle up on a 2 seater sofa and transport yourself to the golden age of cinema that time forgot, before popping across the road to indulge in old time Americana at the Electric Diner, who serve up boozy realness and treats aplenty that'll keep your tummies ticking over well into the early hours. Prices start at £8, check website for availability.
Nothing says I love you like a game of crazy golf, right? Relive your childhood with a nostalgic trip down memory lane, you know like that time your Mum took you to Southend seafront and your 8 year old self was expected to navigate around a UV splattered course whilst you filled your boots with dirty cocktails and hotdogs. Ok, so this is actually nothing like the days of yore. Gone are the vandalised pirates with no noses and 4 fingers and the jaded Dinosaurs who's sound effect batteries had run out, creepily jeering at you from the side of a hastily thrown together mini course; Junkyard Golf takes the noble sport of crazy golf to a whole new level. Strictly no kids allowed, so you can curse and blunder to your hearts' content. Prices start at £8.50, check website for booking info.