Want to have a wretched Valentine’s Day? Feel like totally annoying your date or partner? No problem. We’ve lined up the 10 least romantic things to do in London for 14 February.
1. Potentially Fatal Valentine: The Rotherhithe Tunnel
It’s a little-known fact that pedestrians can walk through the Rotherhithe Tunnel. ‘Little-known’ because few survive to tell the tale. If carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t get you, that lorry might. Especially if you hold hands and walk side-by-side along the challengingly narrow path.
2. Creepy Valentine: Jack the Ripper Tours
A surprising number of Jack the Ripper tours operate on Valentine’s day. It’s certainly a tale of the heart, albeit one involving the violent excision of a helpless prostitute’s heart. Combining unsettling gore with the brazen epitome of tourist-trap culture, this one’s guaranteed to kill the mood of love.
3. Sleazy Valentine: Various ‘Erotic’ Places of Mirth
Why not take your date to one of the city’s many quaint porno theatres? (Or strip clubs, budget-dependent.) They should be significantly horrified, awkward, upset, baffled, offended, or all of the above. If they’re into their seminal cinema, they might forgive you. Might.
4. Stinky Valentine: Beckton Gas Works
The massive gas works might be largely gone, but you can still enjoy the toxic, landscaped spoil heaps known as Beckton Alps. Engross your date by recreating the sniper scenes from Full Metal Jacket, set in Vietnam but filmed right here in Beckton. And breathe in the heady stench of the Northern Outfall Sewer, which spills out into the treatment works nearby. We're all for idiosyncratic romance.
5. Mucky Valentine: London Zoo
If Beckton isn’t ordure of the day, try this 'experience': mucking out the animals at London Zoo. Being surround by cute, fuzzy-wuzzy animals and their adorable little noses: Romantic. A bonding experience over your shared love of animals, reminiscing of the time you both found a sickly ocelot and nursed it back to health: unbelievably romantic. Up to your eyeballs in warthog excreta: not quite so much.
6. Networking Valentine: Recruitment Agency Expo
Head to Olympia on Valentine’s Day for this unmissable convention. Recruitment consultants provide a service of value to millions of people. However, anyone who has ever endured a limp buzzword-peppered pep-talk along the lines of “Sell you to me! What makes you famous! Let’s unleash your power animal, and we’ll touch base on that with a deep dive at ten-oh-hundred hours!”, will shudder.
7. Awkward Adolescent Valentine: Trocadero
The choking aroma of teenage hormones commingled with hair gel, sweat, over-applied Lynx body spray, shame and self loathing, not to mention the aural assault of arcade games, swathes of dance-dance-revolution groupies and ubiquitous chain and tourist shops. Not the classiest date. See also: M&M World. Similar. Only with more chocolate.
8. Views are Overrated Valentine: Crowne Plaza London Ealing Hotel
For any fans of the Hanger Lane Gyratory reading this, you simply can’t beat the north-facing views of Britain’s scariest junction from this conveniently located 4-star complex.
9. Speedy Valentine: Speed dating
For some of the young, fun and single, there’s nothing wrong with speed dating. Only on this one day of the year, one would imagine the atmosphere being charged with the same slightly existential, unsure, soul-searching and undoubtedly drunken air as the ‘matchmaking’ (meaning singleton) table at your blissfully happy best friend’s wedding.
10. Readers' Valentine
We asked our Facebook friends for a final suggestion. Options included Penge High Street, a walk-in sexual health clinic and the Divorce Courts. Wood Green was a surprisingly popular choice. We'll pretend we don't understand the suggestion "up the wrong 'un". But the winning suggestion comes from Kate Bailward, who sagely suggests avoiding any bar or restaurant offering a Valentine's special: "Paying over the odds for below-par food, while surrounded by silent couples who only go out together once a year because they have to is a sure-fire romance-killer."