I’ve been meaning to blog about some of my favourite places in London for those wanting to have a love affair with (and in) the city for ages, and today seemed like an apt day to finally do it! Having said that, London holds onto its romance all year around, not just on Valentine’s Day! Below you’ll find a selection of my favourite London locations, and some of my favourite photographs I’ve taken of couples in love in London. Without further ado, come with me and fall in love with London all over again!
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain
While Picadilly Circus with it’s hustle and bustle isn’t quite what I had in mind for this list, I must begin from the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, and more specifically the iconic statue of Eros that stands in the middle of it. Said to be the most famous statue in London, Eros also known as Cupid, is the God of Selfless Love. That’s why this is where we begin our tour and follow Cupid’s arrow down Regent Street.
If you’re looking for a more romantic shopping (or browsing) experience, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Liberty London. The charm of it’s Tudor revival premises, and the beautiful luxury goods it sells, will make you feel like you’re inside a classic romantic film. The always inventive window displays at Christmas are also something that people travel from afar to admire.
Hampstead Heath is iconic from literature and movies, and no matter what time of year you stroll around its untamed paths you can’t escape the magic of ‘Lover’s Lane’, where one hand finds another and all the noise and stress of the city falls away. From Parliament Hill you’ll gaze across all of London, spotting landmarks old and new in a skyline which is evolving and reaching higher and higher towards the skies, from the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, to the familiar dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and newer landmarks in the City, such as the Gherkin and the Shard. In the summer, you can cool down by the ponds and relive scenes from famous movies. Grab a bite to eat at the cafe on the east side, or head into Hampstead for a hearty pub lunch.
Columbia Road Flower Market
If you want to treat your loved one (or your Instagram feed) to the most beautiful fresh flowers, it’s worthwhile to start your Sunday early and head to the Columbia Road Flower Market. At this heart-warmingly traditional setting, where the chants of the barrow boys entice you to fill your arms with more and more flowers, you’ll take in all the colours of the rainbow and the most wonderful fragrances of any type of flower you can imagine. And, after getting your floral fix, you might want to head to Ryantown, the store of charming paper artist Rob Ryan, which also resides on Columbia Road along with many other independent shops and galleries.
Kensington Roof Gardens
What’s more magical than real life flamingoes? Head to Kensington Roof Gardens, high above Kensington High Street, and that’s exactly what you’ll find. As well as being the location of a brasserie and a night club, there are three themed gardens, from the Spanish Garden to a Tudor Garden, that are free to visit during the day, and are the home to four resident flamingoes. It’s a little bit like stepping through the looking glass.
It’s no secret why Primrose Hill is the chosen area of the creative jet set, from actors to authors. With its chic boutiques and pretty stucco terraces, it’s the perfect backdrop for lazy strolls and sunny weekends spent sipping prosecco in the park. You’ll find many independent shops and places to eat around the hill, and the area is best for spending a lazy afternoon imagining you’ve stepped back in time to a London that’s quickly disappearing.
There are many markets worth visiting in London, from Borough to Smithfield, but no doubt one of the most beautiful ones is Leadenhall Market, with its stunning Victorian splendour. Beware of getting a stiff neck from gazing up at the beautiful gabled glass roofs, which are immaculately preserved. You will recognise corners of the market from many movies from Harry Potter to The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.
Round the corner, The Royal Exchange is also worth a visit, now beautifully restored and boasting luxury stores within its stunning 19th-century walls.
Peggy Porschen Parlour
The Peggy Porschen Parlour has become a must for couples in love visiting London. Stopping to sample the delicious cakes, and taking a few snaps in front of the picturesque pink frontage of this boutique bakery adds a bit of spring to anyone’s step. Located in stylish Belgravia, continuing your journey after a cupcake and a glass of champagne makes you skip all the way to Green Park.
The South Bank
Over the years, the south of the river has developed into a buzzing, lively hub for culture and relaxation, concentrated around the Southbank Centre. With the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and galleries galore, you won’t run out of culture and art to experience. Taking a stroll on the riverbank is a feast that will always have something new to offer, from pop-up bars to changing riverside exhibitions and street entertainment. Don’t miss the charming Southbank book market underneath Waterloo bridge, or how in the summer, the pavement in front of the National Theatre gets transformed into the River Stage. You can also find a wide variety of different restaurants catering to most tastes.
If the weather is not playing ball, you can pop into the British Film Institute to catch a classic movie, with a meal afterwards in one of the many restaurants in the area catering to most tastes.
And, of course, for grand romantic gesture you can hire a private capsule on the London Eye and take in the sights of the whole city in style, while sipping champagne with your loved one.
Thames River Cruise
A river cruise is one of the most romantic ways of taking in the sights of the city, while dining out in style. There are many options available, from lunch cruises with delicious locally sourced food, to dinner cruises that let you enjoy the twinkling night time London reflecting back from the water around you. You’ll have unobstructed views of most of the iconic London sights from the Houses of Parliament to London Bridge, Tower Bridge, the Millennium Dome and beyond.
St James’s Park
St James’s Park is often overlooked in favour of the bigger royal parks, such as Hyde Park and Regents Park, but it has a certain charm of its own due to its size and central location. There’s something rather exotic about the lake filled with swans and pelicans, and it boasts the most spectacular display of blossoming trees in the spring. The Blue Bridge, which runs across the middle of the lake, offers beautiful views of Whitehall to the east, and Buckingham Palace to the west. All of London’s big attractions are just a skip and hop away, and the park is usually quieter than other royal parks, offering a perfect place to rest tired feet.
Courtyard at Somerset House
Every time you step into the courtyard in front of Somerset House it slightly takes your breath away. Flanked by the gorgeous 18th-century building, the courtyard has become a hub for culture and leisure. From hosting concerts and other events, to transforming into an ice skating rink in the winter, the courtyard offers magic all year round. In the summer the courtyard is also a home to outdoor cinema screenings, perfect for snuggling next to your loved one under a blanket with a picnic in tow, watching classic movies on a massive screen under the expanse of London night sky.
Romantic places to lay your head in London
After a day traipsing around the streets of London, taking in the layered history of this city, you’ll want to put your feet up somewhere warm and cozy. Here is a selection of my favourite London hotels, each of them offering something special and unique while guaranteed to offer you a restful (or sensual, whichever you prefer!) night.
There are so many other spots in London that didn’t make the list this time! If you have lost your heart to a certain corner of London, do pop your tips and thoughts in the comments below!