Lonely Planet Writer

Impress your date with a Valentine’s dinner in the Houses of Parliament

If you’re trying to think of a Valentine’s date with a difference, the British parliament is offering a rare chance for you to dine in its magnificent surroundings on that date. As part of a programme to increase public engagement, the House of Commons in London is opening the Palace of Westminster’s principal dining rooms to the public on selected dates.

Diners at the pop-up restaurant are promised seasonal ingredients from across the United Kingdom, paired with sublime presentation and elegance. Lunch and dinner service will be offered in the Members’ Dining Room on three dates in February and three in April.

The Members’ Dining Room in the British Houses of Parliament. Image: © UK Parliament

At one time intended as a conference room and known as the ‘Painted Chamber’ after a room in the old medieval Palace of Westminster, the Members’ Dining Room was created in 1871 following demands for more dining facilities. Those attending this dining room are permitted to enjoy a pre-prandial drink in the Pugin Rooms.

Close-up of Big Ben in London.
A pop-up restaurant is opening in the Houses of Parliament in England. Image by ©Sara Lynch / EyeEm/Getty Images

Dinner service will also be available in the Strangers’ Dining Room on 36 dates between February and July. The Strangers’ Dining Room was originally a peers’ committee room, and it was transformed into a dining facility around 1867 and renamed the Strangers’ Dining Room during the interwar period. When parliament is in session, the room is used by members to meet their guests and these visitors are referred to as “Strangers.”

Westminster Bridge and Big Ben in London, England. Image by ©Yunli Song/500px

Lunch will cost £45 per person and dinner £65, and it promises to be a very British affair with courteous service and top-end cuisine. Classic styling comes in the form of white tablecloths and political themed art-lined walls. High painted ceilings, huge windows that look out over the Commons Terrace and carved oak panelled walls give these dining rooms a sense of grandeur and political intrigue, unlike any other restaurant.

The Strangers’ Dining Room in the British Houses of Parliament. Image: © UK Parliament

If you hope to attend, be warned that the dress code is smart casual as a minimum, and sportswear and trainers are not permitted.  And if you’re planning to propose on Valentine’s Day, we can’t think of a more elegant setting to pop the question.