The heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, giant teddy bears and cutesy greetings card have arrived on the high street with a flourish, which can only mean that the annual day of love, romance and all things sweet is just around the corner!
Perhaps the date has slipped your mind or you are in a budding relationship, and you’ve found yourself looking for a last-minute idea that will still impress this Valentine’s Day. Here are 11 experience and gift ideas for a Valentine’s Day which are thoughtful and can be personalised to suit the tastes of your special person. Yet, you’ll no doubt be relieved to know, actually require minimal planning!
1) Wake them up with breakfast in bed
Surprise them with a platter of their favourite pastries served with freshly chopped fruit, or go the extra mile and surprise them with a full cooked breakfast. Even if you have places to be on Valentine’s Day, allow yourselves the gift of time to sip a coffee in bed – there’s no better way to start the day than with the luxury of breakfast in bed. Of course, if you stay in the Park Grand Hotel Paddington Court your alternative is to order room service, which is equally pleasant for both of you!
2) Be spontaneous with last-minute theatre tickets
In a city such as London, you can always get theatre tickets on the day of the performance. Have a look online for last-minute deals or visit the official TKTS booth in Leicester Square. Sometimes adding a dash of spontaneity can be the most romantic, and you might end up taking a punt on a show that then turns out to be the (theatrical) love of your life!
3) Write them a love letter
You don’t need to have the talents of Shakespeare to share the written gift of love. Pick up some fancy paper, sharpen a pencil and let the words flow. Write down what it is you love about them, recount treasured memories you’ve shared and remind them how special they are. It doesn’t need to be poetry, write from the heart and they will be delighted.
4) Help them find their dream hobby
Is there something your other half has been hankering to try for a while, such as take a dance or cookery class, learn to paint, pick up a second language? If so, find the nearest taster class to your home or your Paddington London accommodation and book them in for the next available date. Give them some moral support by joining them, for a fun new shared experience.
5) Share a romantic dinner
Sharing a long, extravagant meal together is a golden oldie when it comes to romance. But you don’t need to sit in a restaurant shrouded with red balloons and rigid Valentine’s Day menus for it to be successful! Cook them something at home, or order their favourite takeaway. If you’re staying at the hotel, The Grand Restaurant Paddington offers a delightful menu covering flavoursome salads, grilled specials and light bites ideal for sharing – and it’s at the dial of a button.
6) Start a personal book club
If you’re both book-lovers, why not start your own book club? Challenge yourselves to each read one book per month and then chat about it over a monthly date night. Pick up their favourite author’s latest in time for Valentine’s Day, then take it in turns going forwards! It’s a great way to learn a little more about each other, whether you’ve been together for five decades or five minutes!
7) Whisk them away for a night in a boutique hotel
If you’ve not had much quality time with each other recently, or perhaps need a break from the kids or to switch off from busy jobs, consider surprising them with a peaceful night away in a hotel. You will find plenty of special offers on London hotels even at the very last minute. Switch off your phones, order room service, and enjoy the experience of not having to do your own dishes!
8) Whisper sweet nothings at St Paul’s Cathedral
It’s always possible to get tickets on the door at London’s iconic cathedral and top-rated attraction, St Paul’s. Take your date up the 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery and express your love across the gallery. Due to the circular shape of the walls, even the softest whisper will travel from one side of the dome to the other.
9) Buy them their own star
Something hopelessly romantic yet remarkably simple is the act of naming a star after your beloved. Either name a star in their honour, or gift them with one that you can name together – this might lead to some hilarious consequences! It might feel a little cheesy but you’ll have fun gazing up at the starry skies by night trying to find your own special star as you walk back to your accommodation in Paddington London.
10) Discover a tropical oasis in the heart of the city
It might not be possible to book a last-minute trip to the Maldives, but you can find the next best thing here in London. The Barbican Conservatory is the second largest of its kind in London, and features over 1,500 species of tropical plants and trees which are the perfect setting for a romantic wander. Entry is free, and there’s no need to book so you can just turn up but do check their schedule ahead of your visit.
11) Cuddle up with a flick at the BFI
If you’ve left it too late to book tickets to special Valentine’s Day cinema screenings but your other half is a film buff – take them to the Mediatheque at the BFI Southbank. The collection spans the best of British films, TV and documentaries from the past century. It’s free to watch one, simply turn up and take a seat in one of the cosy booths and see what you discover together.