Ah, Valentine’s Day. An occasion for the attached to labour under the unyielding pressure of human relationships and expectation; a time to rinse out the dregs of your wallet on marked-up supermarket flowers and overcrowded restaurants, before returning home to carelessly combine your unmentionable flesh; a time to snatch profound sadness from the jaws of apparent joy.
Have we succeeded in making the occasion seem like a terrifying feat of endurance and futility? Good! That sets the tone for our collection of the worst places on the planet you could take your loved one to complete the arbitrary ritual of Valentine’s Day.
In many ways Dubai is an unabashedly erotic city: sizzling heat, a veneer of decadence, a building like the world’s most fabulously erect penis. But this is somewhat undermined by the fact that kissing in public is an offence punishable by a prison sentence/deportation. Bit of a mood killer.
According to a recent poll from Hotels.com, Brits voted Hull the least romantic city in Britain. Initially this seems harsh (it’s the UK City of Culture 2017, after all). But picture the scene: your beau blindfolds you, promises you a romantic adventure, and then you pitch up in Hull. Exactly.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
How do you feel about being murdered? It definitely reduces your chances of sex. San Pedro Sula boasts the highest murder rate in the world, averaging a healthy 3 a day, and is a hotbed for arms trafficking. Hull doesn’t look so bad now, does it?
There’s nothing like a lethal dose of radiation to put a dent in your love life. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster rendered a 30km area around the former plant uninhabitable for 20,000 years. Tourists can visit, but we really wouldn’t recommend making babies while you’re there.
A jaunt through Italy followed by a stroll to St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel = pretty impressive date locations. The cramped, tangible melancholy of Catholic guilt hanging over everything = a date without a happy ending.
Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia
As the name suggests, this museum celebrates the ignominious decoupling of relationships by displaying the disused detritus of expired romance, from photographs to handcuffs to soiled underwear. Bring your date here and you might soon be adding to the collection.
City of the Dead, Russia
Some people find cemeteries sexy, the proximity of death reminding them of the limited time we have to see each other naked. Normal people, however, probably don’t fancy taking off their pants amongst formerly plague-ridden tombs where skeletons are still plainly visible.
La Grange, Kentucky, USA
Why do 10,000 birds suddenly appear, every winter when you’re near La Grange? It’s to defecate so ferociously on the town that residents must carry umbrellas to protect themselves against the torrents of faeces. It won’t be a story to tell the kids (because you’re never having kids).
Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
Roaring fire? Check. Incredible, glowing vistas? Check. Pervading unusual aroma? Double-check. All this four-decade-strong natural gas fire needs to make it the ideal Valentine’s Day spot is a healthy re-branding. May we suggest ‘Burning Love Chasm’?
Felixstowe Boating Lake, UK
Does dogging count as a date? Find the answer to this dilemma while you question the point of your existence at what reviewers on Trip Advisor have lovingly dubbed a ‘slurry pit’ and ‘a derelict eyesore.’ That’s what my last girlfriend called me before we broke up.
Rotorua, New Zealand
On the surface taking your lover to Rotorua seems like a good idea. It has mountain biking, ziplining, and vast stretches of greenery in which to pester them for public sex. The catch? Geothermal springs make the entire area reek of rotten eggs. At least it covers the natural odour of your underwear.
Pyongyang, North Korea
Can romance blossom during the course of a tightly regimented tour through a secretive third-world capital built on the bones of its subjugated citizens, and where people can be snatched off the street for even the most furtive of glances? Um, probably not, no.
The International Space Station
Space: the final romantic gesture. It is your mission to boldly bone where no man has boned before. There are a few obstacles to joining the 268 mile high club. Sex is prohibited on the International Space Station, for one. Plus, dodging your partner’s bodily fluids at zero gravity is a guaranteed turn off.
Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar, Costa Rica
Romance has flourished surprisingly frequently on the dinosaur infested island, and we all know that life finds a way. But here that’s usually a way to bite off your head and gargle your arterial spray. Your half-chewed heart rotting in the underbrush isn’t much of a romantic gift.
Single on Valentine’s Day? We’ve got some travel ideas for that too.