On the 14th February, lovers from all over the UK adorn each other with cards, gift, flowers and chocolates in an attempt to show the depth of their love. It has long been a tradition that has, unfortunately in more recent years, become more and more commercialized and its true meaning has been lost amongst material gifts. Valentine’s Day can be celebrated without gifts; taking a trip away is a wonderful way to spend time together, reconnect and to spoil each other with time and attention.
London is a city that perfectly combines the old and new; whether you are looking for an old-fashioned romantic trip away or a modern twist, London caters for all. The London Eye is a popular choice for couples, especially at sunset, with its breathtaking views of the city and Valentine’s Day will see the Eye glowing red and decorated with fairy lights and roses to set a romantic mood. There are several packages to choose from including a Champagne tasting experience, a Hotel Chocolate experience that includes truffle and chocolate tasting accompanied by two glasses of prosecco and a wine tasting experience which allows you to try up to five different types of wine while cruising the Eye on two 30 minute rotations. It is the ideal trip for the couples who enjoy the more romantic side of life.
Hotel choice is always important when it comes to Valentine’s Day plans. Hotels such as The Grand Royale London are always popular over this love-fuelled period as they cater to every want and need, including requests for a chilled bottle of champagne on arrival, as well as being completely luxurious and comfortable. The Grand Royale is renowned for its intricate decor featuring mahogany banisters, wooden panels and exquisite Edwardian features which create the perfect setting for a romantic getaway.
London is world famous for its high street and upmarket boutiques and a romantic getaway to the city should take full advantage of this fact. Even though the male sex tend to dislike traipsing around the shops, when it is in pursuit of lingerie, their tune changes quite quickly and there are an abundance of lingerie shops to suit all budgets in London. Why not start off with a glass of champagne in Selfridges’ Champagne bar before perusing its lingerie department and, from here, make your way to Liberty and Regent Street before ending at Harrods in Knightsbridge where you can try on some of the more luxurious lingerie pieces and finish your day with a meal in the beautiful Georgian Restaurant. Now all that’s left is to perform your very own lingerie fashion show in the comfort of your hotel room.
Over recent years, burlesque has become increasing popular and a symbol of femininity and female sexuality, thanks to stars such as Betty Page and Dita Von Teese, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to indulge in a show. Proud Cabaret is situated in the heart of London and offers a step back in time to the 1920’s, where the prohibition was enforced and speakeasy’s were rife, with an array of entertainment including acrobatics, dancing and, of course, burlesque. Booking is required to enjoy a 3 course dinner at 8pm along with the evening entertainment that begins at 8.30pm; this includes stars of the burlesque world such as Sophia St Villier who has been compared to the modern day Jessica Rabbit and has performed for the likes of Will.I.Am, at the premiere of Boardwalk Empire and at Hampton Court Palace. It is a fantastic night that is guaranteed have you glued to your seats and booking burlesque classes in no time.
If you feel that burlesque is a little too tame for you, then take a trip to the Torture Garden in Covent Garden. Opened in 1990 by David Wood and Alan Pelling, Torture Garden overcame the stigma that the fetish and S&M world had to become a venue where everyone wanted to be. Fetish has now become mainstream and Britain has opened its mind to sexuality and is now being more open and honest than ever; this is shown in the sheer number of people who attend the Torture Garden every month which hits a staggering 800-2500. It has become the world’s largest Fetish/S&M and Body Art club and it also holds its own Latex Fashion Label, Production Company and performance agency but, the main thing Torture Garden is known for, is its feeling of freedom of self discovery and providing a safe, non-judgmental environment for people to do so.
Valentine’s Day at Torture Garden is being celebrated with a ‘Love Hurts’ ball which will host a variety of stage performers, fashion shows and has a total of 9 themed rooms to explore; these include Tainted Love Burlesque Ballroom, Red Light Love S&M Players, Oriental Love Bondage and a Tantric Love Couples Room, just to name a few. Fancy dress is not optional, it is a requirement otherwise entry will be refused; if you are unsure whether your outfit is fetish enough, there is an email address where you can send a picture of your outfit to get it approved. The Torture Garden has seen many celebrities grace its doors such as Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Manson, however, many people are known to wear masks and hide their identity for the sheer thrill, so who knows who you might see within the walls of the Torture Garden.
Fergus Brandon is a travel writer by profession and nomad by choice. He was born in Cambridge and completed his masters (International Tourism Management ) from London School of Commerce. He is working as the travel Editor for TheMontcalm hotels group.