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17 Valentine's Things To Do In London That Aren't Ridiculously Overpriced

Say no to £100-a-head set meals.

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Let's talk about how expensive Valentine's Day is. A regular night out might cost you ££. But on Valentine's Day? You can end up spending ££££, whether you're single or in a relationship.

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Set menu: anywhere from £50 to £100 a head, then there's bars that will add on cover charges for the special Valentine's "live entertainment", or magically become places that charge £30 a head for tickets to enter, when usually it's free to get in. *fist shake*

Sure, you can just stay in, which is free and a perfectly lovely thing to do, but you should also be able to go out if you want to. So, here's a round up of places that won't overcharge you should you choose to hit them up for either a date or evening of fun with friends. Some are cheap, some are regular London prices (but worth it IMO). Because, in the immortal words of J Lo: Love shouldn't cost a thing.

1. Dinner and drinks at East London Liquor Company

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In terms of restaurants that are romantic, but not cashing in on it on the 14th (*cough* set menus *cough*), East London Liquor Company is the best. Their new restaurant is gorgeous, serves reasonably priced small plates and pizzas, and is attached to the distillery bar (fun fact, they make their own gin, rum and vodka) which is equally full of well-priced drinks. Basically, if you want tasteful romance, without a whacking great V-Day price tag, go here.

Location: Mile End

Price: small plates from £3.50, pizzas from £6.50

Contact restaurant@eastlondonliquorcompany.com for bookings

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2. Rose lattes at Kova Patisserie

Kova Patisserie

I can handle sugar sweet romance as long as it's served in small, bite-sized amounts. Or in this case, latte-form. Grab a Valentine's rose latte from Kova – if nothing else than to try it because it sounds delicious. Rose water, rose syrup from France and rose petals from south of Scotland. Yes to all of this.

Location: Covent Garden

Price: £4

3. Small plates at Spuntino.

Instagram: @infatuation_london

If you're looking for a last minute dinner in central and finding everything's booked up, then your best bet is a bookings-free joint like Spuntino. Feast on downtown New York-style dishes from the team behind Polpo (who do immensely popular Venetian small plates and are also great but 100% more likely to have giant queues on the 14th) – the mac 'n' cheese in particular is bloody brilliant.

Location: Soho

Price: sliders from £5, mac n cheese from £6

4. Valentine's tasting menu at Craft.

Craft London

The best value Valentine's set menu in London by a long shot. Craft London is a proper, British cuisine-serving restaurant with serious credentials – four star reviews in the Guardian...etc. And in a refreshing break from tradition, they're not using V-Day as an opportunity to overcharge you on a set menu. Instead you get five, yes FIVE, courses for a mere £28.

I also enjoy that it's a blind tasting menu, so you won't know what you're getting until you sit down. Because there's nothing like the element of surprise to spice things up.

Location: North Greenwich

Price: £28

Book here

5. Marshmallow toasting at Queen Of Hoxton.

Queen Of Hoxton

I'm a fan of doing things on Valentine's Day that are just great dates, rather than *pink hearts everywhere* type themed things. And Queen of Hoxton's winter wigwam rooftop bar is a ridiculously good date spot. Romantic but not overblown: it's all open fires outside, fairy lights inside, and everything is made for cosy snuggling. Grab some hot buttered rum, a few sticks of marshmallows to toast, and settle in for the evening.

Locations: Shoreditch

Price: hot buttered rum £6, food from £5, marshmallows £1 for a stick.

6. Street food at Pump Shoreditch.

Instagram: @pumpshoreditch

True love is being able to eat messy street food in front of each other with zero discomfort. Go get nice and sticky together at Pump Shoreditch, one of East London's better street food markets.

Location: Shoreditch

Price: From £4 a dish

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7. Mediterranean food at 10 Greek Street.

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One of my favourite Soho spots, this lovely little restaurant serves beautiful modern Mediterranean and British cuisine, at very do-able prices. Order the burrata, the cuttlefish, and ask for the Little Black Book of rare wines they have on offer.

Location: Soho

Price: dishes from £4

Book here

8. Kinky cocktails at Three Six Six.

Three Six Six

Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for those who fancy a bit of "kinky fuckery" alongside their cocktails. Three Six Six have a fantastic regular cocktail menu, but they also do a special KINKY SEX-THEMED cocktail menu, with drinks called things like "Golden Shower" and garnishes that include a ball gag and a butt plug (they are unused, I have double checked).

The cocktails are usually on the pricier side (£10 - £12), but this V-Day they're doing an offer of four cocktails for £25, which is not to be sniffed at.

Location: Battersea

Price: £25 for four cocktails

Book here

9. Oyster Happy Hour at Wright Brothers.

Charlotte Anderson

Cliche, I know, but I just fucking love oysters. And Valentine's is a good excuse to eat them. Avoid overpriced ones, and instead pop into Wright Brother's between 3 and 6pm for £1 oysters. Because oyster happy hour is the best happy hour.

Location: Borough Market, Soho, Spitalfields, Battersea, South Kensington

Price: £1 an oyster, 3pm to 6pm

Book here

10. Intimate aperitifs at 69 Colebrooke Row.

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If you're looking to impress your date, 69 Colebrooke is the place to do it. It's owned by the legendary Tony Conigliaro, he of the infamous negronis, and naturally does some of the best Italian aperitivo-style drinks in the city. The location is also a gem: it's hidden off a little street in Islington, and has the kind of teeny tiny-spaced intimacy that, for me, is the definition of romance.

Location: Islington

Price: cocktails £10.50

Book here

11. Dinner on the river at London Shell Co.

London Shell Co

London Shell Co are a floating fish restaurant that goes down the Prince Regent. Not only is the canal boat gorgeous, it's not too OTT cheesy (the food is legitimately good, and it doesn't feel too twee). This goes for the price too: their Valentine's Day cruise is £45 a head, which for a full dinner plus champagne ain't half bad.

FYI, tragically the cruise on the 14th is fully booked, but they're doing the V-Day cruise on other days, if you still fancy going.

Location: Camden

Price: £45

Book here

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12. Chambord cocktails at Pizza Express.

Chambord

I like pizza, and I like Chambord (my fancy university tipple of choice). And there's nothing wrong with Pizza Express folks. They're currently doing a ~romantic~ menu of two courses and two glasses of Chambord Prosecco Royales for £16.95. Pizza and booze-fuelled fun for either a romantic interest or your best pals.

Location: it's Pizza Express, they're everywhere

Price: £16.95

Book here

13. Patisserie at Dominique Ansel.

They say French is the language of love, and I would agree to an extent, but instead change "French" to "giving me patisserie". Go to Dominique Ansel, French-New York bakery extraordinaire and pick up some of their limited edition cassis, pink champagne, Himalayan sea salt and pink praline patisserie for your sweet-toothed love.

Location: Belgravia

Price: £4.50 - £7.50

14. Literary cocktails at Blind Pig.

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This is probably just me being self indulgent here, but the Blind Pig has a new cocktail menu themed around CHILDHOOD BOOKS and I literally can't begin to tell you how much I love it. There's butterbeer from Harry Potter, as well as cocktails for Narnia, The BFG, and James and the Giant Peach. Look at the video above. Look how delighted I am. I am 100% sure if you bring your lover here they will be similarly delighted, and if they're not, they're NOT THE ONE.

Seriously, if they turn round and go, "mmm, no, I'm just not that into The BFG and alcohol combined", you need to walk out.

Location: Soho

Price: drinks from £10

Contact reservations@socialeatinghouse.com for a booking

15. Theatre Menu at Christopher's.

Christopher's

I am putting this on the list for anyone who does want all the hearts and Valentine's hoo-hah even though I hate it, BECAUSE I AM SUCH A NICE PERSON. Plus, the price point is brilliant. Barbecue-rubbed bavette steak, house-smoked tea trout and white chocolate pannacotta for less than £30 all in.

The Valentine's cocktails also sound nice. Amaretto, brandy and champagne in the "My Cherry Amour-etto" and a "Cupid's Mar-Tea-Ni" of strawberry, chamomile, elderflower and ginger. I could definitely be persuaded to drink one (begrudgingly).

Location: Covent Garden

Price: two courses for £26, three courses for £29

Book here

16. Cheap films at Peckham Plex.

La La Land

I have found my new lady love and her name is Peckum Plex. Seriously, I saw La La Land here at the weekend for £4.99 (YES. YOU READ THAT RIGHT), and the cinema is perfectly lovely. Maybe a bit shabby round the edges but as with all things romance-related, the thing to remember is that when the lights are off, no one can tell.

Location: Peckham

Price: £4.99

17. Netflix & Chill at Discount Suit Company.

Discount Suit Company

It is my strong opinion that you can't go wrong with a good speakeasy as a solid date choice. And Discount Suit Company is a bar that manages to pull off the speakeasy vibe without it feeling cliche. Atmospheric and impressively tricky to find (it's in what used to be a downstairs storage room for the suit company up above), the cocktails are also cracking.

Their Valentine's serve, named the "Netflix and Chill" is also surprisingly good value, at £15 for two cocktails of raspberry, vermouth, bergamot and pear liqueur.

Location: Liverpool Street

Price: £15 (serves two)

Call 020 7247 8755 to book

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