If you need romance on vacation, these London landmarks are ready to deliver. Proposals, anniversary moments, sweetheart time: London’s perfect! We’re here for you. Here’s the second part of our guide to London’s most loved-up spots.
Romantic London Landmarks: The Square
London has over 300 squares which, along with its big parks, give the city its green lungs. Many of them remain the focus of each neighborhood and are much loved by locals and visitors alike. The most romantic must be Berkeley Square in Mayfair, dating from the 1730s and made famous by a certain song about a nightingale (recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Rod Stewart). Although no longer a residential area, Berkeley Square has been home to a host of London notables. Lady Jersey, a patroness of Almack’s, lived at No. 38 — a fact which any devotee of Regency romances will be delighted to discover. It’s also been home to several prime ministers, including Winston Churchill, who lived at No. 48 as a child.
Within the green confines of the square, you’ll find lovely statuary including this decorative water fountain by pre-Raphaelite sculptor Alexander Munro. The romantic ambiance of ivy-hung windows looking down on the square and the smooth lines of Munro’s peaceful nymph should be enough inspiration for anyone seeking a little romance in the center of the city.
Romantic London Landmarks: The Market
London markets are part of the city’s charm. So that makes choosing just one a toughie, but we’re going for Columbia Road Flower Market in the gorgeously gritty East End. Every Sunday the street is a riot of colour and scent, with flowers and plants as far as the eye can see, and plenty of enchanting cafes, shops and galleries. It’s the perfect place for anyone who equates a perfect city morning with street festival strolls, brunch #goals and Instagrammable cupcake concoctions. One online guide advises: ‘An early morning stroll can set up a week of warm fuzzy feelings in couples’.
Here's the unsurprisingly packed Columbia Road Flower Market this morning. The market was founded in the mid-Victorian era by the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts, then England's richest woman. She started the market in the hope it would provide jobs for the local East End traders and supply the area with affordable and nutritious produce (the market wasn't originally focused on flowers).
Romantic London Landmarks: The Building
It’s a four-way tie and we just can’t separate them. In no particular order: Somerset House, just off the Strand, for its heartwarming winter ice-skating rink in partnership with Fortnum & Mason; the Shard skyscraper for its marriage-proposal views from 945 feet up and a resident fox nicknamed Romeo; Keats House & Garden in Camden where the tragic Romantic poet composed Ode to a Nightingale; and St Paul’s Cathedral for its acoustically amazing Whispering Gallery – perfect for practising those three little words.
Romantic London Landmarks: The Movie Location
The boating lake in Regent’s Park played a pivotal role in David Lean’s classic British tearjerker Brief Encounter, while the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair is where a couple in Love, Actually celebrate their wedding to the Beatles tune All You Need is Love (the Chapel, incidentally, was used by GIs in the Second World War, and the current American Embassy is nearby).
But getting the final nod is a good old British pub, The Blue Anchor, which appears in the Gwyneth Paltrow what-if film Sliding Doors. Take the tube west to Hammersmith station, wander down to the Thames and you’ll find this welcoming boozer right on the river. It’s described (by its own website admittedly) as ‘a pub for all seasons: in the winter, candlelight flickers from each small, round table while Van Morrison croons comfortingly from the sound system’. We’ve been and we can vouch for both the ambiance and Van the Man. There are a lot of Blue Anchors out there, so look for the one at 13 Lower Mall, London when seeking directions!
Not far from here is Barnes Bridge, from which panoramic shots of the river appear in Shakespeare in Love.
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