Ah, dating. As if meeting a potential match isn’t hard enough you then have to agree on a date and time (headache) – and that’s before you even decide on the venue itself. Whether you’d like to get to know each other over a cocktail or you want to impress with your putting skills, here is our guide to London’s best date venues.
What: Two Dates in One
Why: The Bloomsbury Club Bar has date night written all over it. Split into two areas, you can either sit inside or on the terrace. Inside is ideal for a cold winter’s night when you just want to turn your back on miserable grey London; it has the feel of a library you might find in Cluedo merged with a gentleman’s club. The terrace however is the winner for summer; big booths filled with cushions to sink into and blankets to snuggle up in and exposed brick work arches decorated with twinkling fairy lights and foliage. You’ll forget you’re in London.
Where: 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN
What: Soho Date
Why: Swift is a Handbook favourite for dates. Hidden behind an unassuming door, this bar has killer cocktails but without any pretence, they treat you like an old friend as soon as you walk through the door. With low lighting and snug booths, we say book a seat downstairs for an intimate date, or sit at the bar and watch them make the drinks. The mixologists will put any nerves at ease and you’ll look in the know for taking your date to such a good bar in Soho. If you don’t fall in love with your date then we’ll guarantee you’ll fall in love with Swift.
Where: 12 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TQ
What: The 'Activity' Date
Why: For those wanting to impress with their athletic capabilities, Swingers is the obvious choice. Work your way round the 9-hole lighthouse or windmill course before working up an appetite and stopping off at the street food stalls for a bite to eat. The five bar areas are great to debrief on the game and if you turn up and find our your date really hates activities (always a risk) you can just sit and sip on cocktails.
Where: 8 Brown’s Buildings, Aldgate, EC3A 8AL
What: All Singing, All Dancing
Why: If you’re looking for somewhere to have a lot of fun then you’ve hit the jackpot with Piano Works. Knock back a couple of drinks, get them to request their guilty pleasure song (it’ll be a good way to judge their potential) and check out their dance moves.
Where: 113-117 Farringdon Road, corner of Ray St Farringdon, London, EC1R 3BX
What: Old School Luxury
Why: Telling your date to meet you at The Savoy is sure to impress. The Art Deco interiors and award-winning cocktails of the Beaufort Bar will hopefully be the only drama you’ll experience on the night. Saying that, nightly live performances will keep the chat flowing and if you plan ahead you can catch one of their monthly cabaret and burlesque evenings.
Where: The Savoy, Strand, London
What: For the Day Date
Why: Planning a day date? Then get out of London and head to the magnificent setting of Blenheim Palace. You can walk through the rose garden and secret garden, take tea in the Orangery Restaurant overlooking the Duke’s private garden or take a guided tour. On the tour, you’ll hear the stories of Blenheim Palace’s history with romance, you’ll also be able to see where Churchill proposed to Clementine Hozier at the Temple of Diana and can read their letters to each other. After all, Churchill did say that one of his greatest achievements ‘was to persuade my wife to marry me’.
Where: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, OX20 1PP
What: When You're Out to Impress
Why: So, you know that this one is more than just a few dates, more than just something casual, when you’re out to seriously impress then we say head to Park Chinois. Sure, you aren’t actually responsible for its opulent design, it’s glamorous setting, the live music and the decadent menu, but you did choose it and that’s what matters.
Where: Park Chinois, 17 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8EA
What: Great Food, Great Drinks
Why: Just because you’re meeting next to a train station doesn’t mean you’re ready to do a runner when things dry out. Saying that, The Gilbert Scott’s proximity to King’s Cross could come in handy when you realise it’s a little later than you thought. Thank goodness for the night tube. But before that, sip on a glass of red and enjoy the classic British menu in the restaurant’s impressive dining room.
Where: The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London, NW1 2AR
What: City Date
Why: Work in the city? Going on a date? Then we suggest Dirty Martini in Minories. It’s close to Fenchurch Street Station, it’s got plenty of candle lights and you can work your way through the martini collection as their happy hour lasts until 10pm – drink enough to take away the nerves, but not so much that you don’t get a second date because you were too drunk…
Where: 124 - 127 Minories, EC3N 1NT
What: Underground Wine Bar
Why: You may not have an old public loo down as the ideal venue to impress but bear with us. WC Clapham Common is now a cosmopolitan wine bar, offering a selection of Old and New World wines by the glass, carafe or bottle (ideal for sharing). Order a charcuterie board to pick at too, so the wine doesn’t overtake you. Only got a Sunday or Monday free? WC has live music from 8-10pm on both evenings so you won’t have to worry about awkward silences on quieter days of the week.
Where: Clapham Common South Side, Clapham, SW4 7AA
What: Sophisticated Drinking
Why: For a date with the sophistication factor, Scarfes Bar is ideal. Located inside the Rosewood Hotel, visit for live jazz and cocktails named after iconic British characters, past and present, fictional and non fictional. We’re tempted by the David Beckham and the James Bond although you may need to be careful your date doesn’t mistake your order for your dream companion…
Where: 252 High Holborn, Holborn, WC1V 7EN
What: The Place to be Seen
Why: If you’re in need of a date venue out West then Bluebird is a good bet. You can pretty much guarantee a great atmosphere, whatever time you visit, but if you can nab a spot at the bar for a ‘Drive Through the Night’ or ‘Chelsea Flower’ then you should. Hungry? There’s something for all tastebuds on the a la carte – why not kick things off with half a dozen rock oysters.
Where: 350 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UU
What: Brixton's Best Kept Secret
Why: If you want the cocktail bar vibe without leaving South London then the cosy surrounds of Fox Bar will impress. Brixton isn’t short of watering holes but many have yet to discover this Soho House relative which shakes up perfect Negronis, Espresso Martinis and Old Fashioneds. If you can grab an armchair then great, if not, go round the corner for the table football. There’s even a Chicken Shop connected to it so if the hours pass and your tummy starts rumbling you can swap Fox for Chicken.
Where: Piano House, 9 Brighton Terrace, Brixton, SW9 8DJ
What: Cocktails With Theatre
Why: When you tire of the classic cocktail bar it’s time to add Purl to your date night repertoire. Aromas, foams and liquid nitrogen give cocktails the wow factor and live jazz every Wednesday night means hump day is your new date night. Visit any other day and you’ll still find a laid back soundtrack of jazz/swing/blues. The cocktails may not be as they seem but we hope your companion will be…
Where: 50/54 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 7HX
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