As the leaves turn into beautiful shades of orange and crimson, the nights draw colder and the days grow darker, the urge for romance gets that little bit stronger. London in the autumn is truly magical and there are plenty of things to do with your loved-one in this delightful season. From sharing sweet nothings with each other in the whispering gallery at Saint Paul’s Cathedral to watching live jazz over a sharing platter, here is a day devoted to love.
Saint Katherine’s Dock
Saint Katherine’s Dock is a gorgeous little marina hiding behind Tower Bridge. Situated in the heart of the city, it has a calming atmosphere that is rare to find in that area. Thanks to the lovely views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the marina, there are plenty of little restaurants and bars available to relax and refresh in. Most of the establishments have terraces and if the sun is shining then why not dine al fresco, watching the boats and people mill by, enjoying their day. There are a selection of independent shops selling niceties such as art, fine foods and well-made shoes, however I personally like to play a game called ‘which boat would I buy’, in which different situations are presented and one must choose the boat which would be most suitable for that occasion. This area is really well connected if you are exploring the city on foot as it is close to the Tower of London as well as being only a short walk from the South Bank. This is a great place to stop for lunch, as it is quiet enough that you can recharge properly and yet there are many iconic landmarks within a 30-minute stroll, for example Saint Paul’s Cathedral or The London Eye.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is magnificent royal palace and fortress situation on the bank of the Thames that was built in 1066. It was in use from 1100 to 1952 as a prison, as well as being the home many of the royal families that have ruled England (in fact it was often said that whomever had control of the tower, had control of the whole land). It is now open to the public and houses the Crown Jewels, a priceless collection of treasures owned by the Royal Family. Along with dramatic tales of the British monarchy and explanations behind its unique customs there are also some of the largest diamonds in the world on display. There is something very British about the fact that Beefeaters (the Queen’s ceremonial guardians of the tower) and their ravens still patrol the area, always there to protect the tower and its contents. Tickets cost about £20 for an adult and £11 for under 15’s, but that includes everything from your Yeoman Warder guided tour, to children’s workshops, access to the tower, entrance to the Crown Jewel display plus the temporary exhibitions, live historical re-enactments and the White Tower tour. Although it is seen as quite a mainstream tourist attraction, it really is a great way to experience the kinds of characters and stories that epitomize the British spirit and helped to make up its political and cultural landscape today. Also if you go during the week in the morning then you normally have the place to yourselves.
Bermondsey is an upmarket area situated close to Tower Bridge and Borough. It is full of life and character, with lots of great boutiques, bars, cafes and restaurants. Head to Bermondsey Street to look around these quirky businesses and pick up interesting, high-quality items that you won’t find anywhere else. Along with famous artworks in the White Cube gallery, you are sure to see some famous faces walking down the street, as the area is well known to attract a cool, creative and successful clientele. On a Friday from 6am until 2pm there is an antiques market in Bermondsey Square which is well worth checking out if you are in the area.
This intimate restaurant is well loved and respected for serving up hearty, authentic French cuisine with dishes such as filet steak tartar and ile flotante among the choices on offer. The chef uses fresh, seasonal ingredients and changes the menu daily, which adds an air of spontaneity to each visit (although for those who love a plan, if you check out the restaurant’s twitter page they post each daily update on there). The wine is well selected and reasonably priced, much like the food. The atmosphere is great, relaxed with an amorous undertone, it is the perfect place to spend a few hours eating, drinking and chatting.
The Whispering Gallery in Saint Paul's Cathederal
Sir Christopher Wren built this beautiful building between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Saint Paul’s is an iconic piece of London architecture however, what not many people realize is that there are many hidden treasures to explore within it, the most prominent being its Whispering Gallery, situated at the top of the Cathedral underneath the dome. Climb the stairs and discover the phenomenon first uncovered by Lord Rayleigh in 1878, that if you quietly speak into the wall on one side of the building, it can be whispered into your friend’s ear over 100 ft away! You will have to purchase a ticket but this also allows you access to the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery, places that you do not want to miss, as the views and peace that they have are breathtaking. It is always worth ringing beforehand just in case there is a service on as the Cathedral still acts as a working church with Mass and religious ceremonies, so there may be occasions when it is closed to the public.
Madison is a bar and restaurant at the top of the One New Change building (you need to take the lift inside the exclusive shopping center to the top floor). The rooftop that it is on is also open to the public as the views are too spectacular not to share. Whilst the views are available free of charge, it is still worth paying for a cocktail and taking a perch on the Madison terrace. The drinks are the perfect accompaniment to the relaxed yet polished atmosphere and the comfy seating means that the hours often roll by without one noticing. Watching the sun go down in these surroundings is a lovely way to end the day or indeed, begin a night.
The Charterhouse Bar
The Charterhouse bar is an eccentric looking building located opposite Smithfield’s market in London’s Square Mile. This lovely establishment serves up a winning combination: great quality food, well priced drinks and a brilliant events programme. The Good Cinema on a Monday is not to be missed as the classic films are shown in a relaxed setting and tickets come with a beer, a hotdog and popcorn included in the price. Tuesday is all about the Jazz, watch talented musicians serenade you whilst you enjoy cocktails and a sharing platter with your loved one (or fellow music enthusiast). Comedy on a Wednesday is a great place to scare away the mid-week blues, held on the top floor of The Charterhouse; this really is well worth the £7 entry fee. For a full events listing, check out the bar’s website and booking is recommended as the events are such good value and can sell out quickly.
The Electric Cinema Shoreditch
Formally known as the Aubin Cinema, the Electric Cinema Shoreditch has just undergone a huge refurbishment yet it retains its luxurious take on the cinematic experience. This intimate setting (it only caters for 47 guests at a time) is a lesson in loveliness, enjoy your film from one of the comfy leather arm chairs, with your feet resting on a foot stall whilst you are wrapped up in a complimentary cashmere blanket. Quality food and drink can be served both before and throughout the film, with a large range of fresh coffee and craft beers available. The film programme itself is a mixture of both mainstream blockbusters and art house releases with special one-off screenings of more unexpected films on Sundays.
Ninety-Eight Bar and Lounge
Ninety-Eight Bar and Lounge is an intimate bar hidden along the bustling Curtain Road. Venture down the iron spiral staircase to a hidden entrance of an inconspicuous building, inside of which you will find a world of the beautiful and bizarre, for example a Lego table, a dinosaur wall, and exotic cocktails. This place is tiny and intimate, perfect for relaxing with friends, catching up with a loved-one or even taking someone on a first date. The drinks are a little bit pricey however they do contain high quality ingredients and the complimentary popcorn at the tables is a welcome addition to the service.
The Ace Hotel Shoreditch
The Ace Hotel Shoreditch is an oasis of cool, the atmosphere is relaxing and welcoming with well designed decor. Each room has its own individual character encompassing original artworks, quirky styling and high quality interiors. There is a curated radio station, free photo booth and lovely places to enjoy some food or drinks. The service is friendly yet polished, the hotel even invites non guests to use its large reception area and free wifi as a work and meeting space which in turn creates the feeling of an interesting and creative hub.