It’s THAT time of year again – heart-shaped chocolates, lovey-dovey cards, bunches of flowers at every street corner – suddenly London seems to have turned 50 shades of red! This year, it doesn’t really matter whether you are part of a cute loved-up couple or just want to show your good friends how much you love them, try one (or why not all??) of our unusual (and rather fun!) date ideas. Don’t say we don’t love you…. 😉
40 winks 3
Have the most unusual pajama party with entertaining bedtime stories
Mr Carter. This is the name to have deep engraved in your memory as he is the central character who makes sure you and your date will have the best experience ever. He runs a venue in nearby Stepney Green that hosts ‘Bedtime Stories’ events and also doubles up as a very very small hotel (just two rooms). There is a dresscode – do not forget to wear the classiest pajamas you have!
A welcoming and mischievously idiosyncratic man gets the secret password from you and ushers you inside a dimly-lit and outlandish two bedroom hotel that bubbles with oddities and eccentricity. Remember Alice in Wonderland? Yes, it’s like a tea party with its own Mad Hatter (Mr Carter). Mr Carter has a fantastic team of professional storytellers – actors and musicians alike – whose virtuosity will hold your breath and leave you enchanted for the whole night.
Where: 40 Winks, 109 Mile End Road, Stepney Green, E1 4UJ
Nearest station: Stepney Green (easily accessible in slippers)
Tickets: £30 per person – booking in advance is required (which in turn gives you a top secret password)
Dine in a secret restaurant hidden behind a clothes shop
Welcome to the real life Narnia! Hidden inside a clothes shop, Back In 5 Minutes is the place to go for seasonal, elegant and unfussy dishes in an intimate and homely setting. They have 28 seats but only 3 tables – which is a perfectly adventurous setting for creating a homely and friendly atmosphere. If you are lucky enough (and quite a chatterbox), you might find yourselves having an enlightening conversation with the couple sharing the table!
Menus change daily and draw upon the head chef’s Swedish roots and the time spent running British, French and Italian restaurants in Stockholm, London and New York.
Why not spread the love around as well? – They are raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust by asking guests to donate £1. It is not a must, really, but why not share the love when you have plenty of it?
Where: Back in 5 Minutes – Ante Clothes Shop / 224 Brick Lane, E1 6SA
Opening times: Tuesday to Thursday 6.30pm – midnight; Friday & Saturday 5.30pm – 1am
Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Shoreditch High Street, Aldgate East, or a minutes away from Qbic on foot
Be Catan explorers and pay a visit to a board game café
First board game café. A haven for board game lovers. Friendly and knowledgeable staff (board game lovers) that will help you to choose the best games for you. Their library is impressively massive – over 600 titles and new ones keep being added. From Backgammon to Munchkin Impossible, you should be able to dig out the best for your taste.
As gaming nibbles, they serve high quality food and snacks, and a range of local craft beers, ales, ciders, and wines for all those late night sessions. To satisfy your highly competitive spirits, they also host tournaments, themed evenings and design workshops (with professional board game designers there to teach).
PS. Jumanji still hasn’t been discovered as it is nowhere to be seen on the shelves. Why not be the explorer of some great new titles?
Where: Draughts, 337 Acton Mews, Hackney, E8 4EA
Nearest station: Haggerston Overground. Alternatively take Bus 67.
Dress-up and time-travel together
Grab a vintage tube as now you get the chance of a lifetime to venture off to the 1940s. In order to fully experience the era and all its benefits, put on your best vintage outfits and you are ready to go!
Enjoy this intimate, buzzy and clandestine cocktail den containing a replica 1940s tube carriage complete with vintage adverts visible on the exposed brick wall through the windows.  The era has really brought back to life as you can see here the tiniest detail –  from railway tracks to modified steel bunk beds.  You are not the only ones dressed up.  Bartenders in braces are serving cocktails that mix champagne with garden peas, alongside black market liquor and post-war favourites.
Cahoots (which is a cocktail bar in case you were wondering) also hosts some mischievous live entertainment, including piano sing-a-longs, live music (playing 40s jazz and swing) and masters of discs spinning their vintage records (from inside a slyly converted piano of course!)
Where: Cahoots, 13 Kingly Street, Covent Garden, W1B 5PG
Opening times: Monday to Sunday,  4PM-2AM
Nearest station: Oxford Circus / Piccadilly Circus
Run against time together
Playing Temple Run on smartphone or tablet and staying at home doesn’t sound too appealing to you? There is a mgic wand out there that has made sure that you can do something similar when leaving the house and leaving the tablet on your couch. Time Run is a brand new escape game that has recently landed in East London.
It’s time to get in touch with your inner Tomb Raider and join this 60-minute race through history: an immersive, cinematic universe of time realms and ingenuity-testing puzzles in which you’ll race to retrieve a mysterious artefact before time runs out. Instructed by Edwardian adventurer Luna Fox and her robotic assistant Babbage, you and your team’ll work against the clock to try and escape from a series of locations by solving a variety of puzzles and challenges, unlocking surprising stories across the breadth of time as you go.
Where: Time Run, 9-15 Helmsley Place, Hackney, E8 3SB
Opening times:  Tuesday to Sunday,
Nearest station: London Fields Overground

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