Perfect Winter Dates
Traditionally Christmas is a time for getting together, magical walks beneath fairy lights, meeting under the clock at Waterloo or strolling round the stalls in a Christmas market hand in hand. Of course Christmas, and the immediate aftermath, are also classic break-up territory too, meaning that your dating choices have to be especially en pointe. So with the pressure piling on, we asked our editorial team, Fenella, Phil and Emily, for dating ideas – with the slight caveat that two are single (applications within) and one’s married, here’s our expert opinion, please remember us in the wedding speeches.
Editor Emily’s perfect date involves plenty of baked goods and a bit of murder…
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Admittedly, if I had to choose a ‘bae’ in my life, right now it would be food. So, when I go on dates, food is a big one; if you don’t like food, particularly over the top decadent food from time to time (read that as most of the time) then it’s not going to work. When it comes to cute, date spots with indulgent food it has to be Dominique Ansel’s Bakery. I’d go there post walk in Green Park. Sure, they have the Cronuts ® which everyone knows about, but they also have so much more. You can still get the shots in, the Cookie Shots that is…; order in around of the Blossoming Hot Chocolates and watch the little marshmallow, melt like your heart and then tuck into one of the new Christmas cakes like the Santa Religieuse filled with milk and cookie ganache. And, if the date doesn’t work out you can commiserate or celebrate by returning to your one true love…cake.
17-21 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9RP
The cinema, a classic date, the safe option – but also rather boring. On a date, I want to get to know someone, not sit there in silence. However if someone was to suggest on of the winter cinema pop-ups that would be different. That would show they are a bit more in the know about what’s going on in London (maybe they even did some research and read one of our guides!) plus the cinema is much more fun if you are escaping to a snow kingdom, watching a Christmas favourite on a rooftop or snuggling down under a blanket with a mulled wine. There are lots going on London this winter so you have lots to choose from; great if Bumble is working out well for you and you have lots of dates, tell me your secret to success?
Check out our guide to winter cinemas here
The other day I went to Manetta, Flemings Mayfair’s new hidden bar – Agatha Christie was inspired by the hotel for one of her books and now the bar gives a nod back to the crime writer. When I visited I thought that it would make for an ideal date spot and not just because I love Agatha Christie. Huge velvet sofas to sink into, charming old-school service and excellent cocktails, what more do you need? In my case a date, but we’ll ignore that part. Plus, as it’s hidden away from the main streets you’ll look like you know all the secret places in London, bonus points to you. Thank me later.
Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon Street, Mayfair, W1J 7BH
Deputy Editor Phil ideally wants to avoid verrucas and slicing off his fingers during a date…
There’s nothing more romantic than gliding round an ice rink, under the stars and hand-in-hand with the one you love. There’s nothing less romantic than clinging onto the handrail, legs flailing and a look of bobble-hatted terror across your contorted face. Ice rinks are everywhere in London this winter, from your classic Somerset House extravaganza to laps around an East London carpark roof over at Tobacco Wharf and it really can be the perfect date if you judge it right. Ideally you both have a similar competence level, being capable of remaining upright is ideal, but it can also be quite an effective date if one person is willing to be tutored by the other; with the right level of patience and willingness to be vulnerable respectively a bond can quickly form. Similarly, the hilarity of both being utterly terrible can be a shared traumatic experience that brings you together. But what you really want to avoid at all costs is a situation where one partner is shuffling round the edge of the rink with their knees clamped together while the other pirouettes and performs butterfly jumps while wearing their own boots from home rather than the rented ones . This person deserves to be single, as does anyone who insists on skating backwards.
Here’s our guide to Christmas ice skating, it’s a great date with the added jeopardy that one of you might at any moment fall over and have your fingers sliced off by the other. And you don’t get that at Manetta.
Walking and talking while exploring may be bad advice if you’re trekking to the South Pole or discovering lost tribes in the Amazonian jungle, but it’s the ideal way to spend a date in London where there’s so much to see and do. The Southbank is always romantic, but never more so than Christmas with the Wintertime Christmas Market at Southbank doing roaring trade, plus established attractions like the London Eye where you can get a sense of how good your date’s general knowledge and sense of geography are from a height (an early date with my now wife was nearly terminated when I discovered she hadn’t realised that England had had a civil war – prompted by the sight of Banqueting House from afar- though to be fair it was balanced out by my realisation that the Thames wasn’t a straight line).
There’s also no shortage of places to pop into to eat and drink, Dandelyan at The Mondrian Hotel comes to mind, or go all fancy and ascend the Shard for dinner at one of the restaurants. Or if you want to end it all now, you can glance at your watch and realise you left the gas on, make your excluses and keep walking straight to the tube.
Bowling At All Star Lanes
Okay I realise it’s not the ’90s and wearing a pair of verruca infested clown shoes while playing glorified skittles isn’t exactly Love Actually, but bear with me. Have you been to All Star Lanes? Instead of whiring Slush Puppy machines and nine-year-olds screaming names that would give Katie Hopkins an aneurysm you enter a stylish bar serving grown up cocktails, it’s smart and sophisticated. The bowling alleys themselves aren’t the scraggy, scratched versions from your local multiplex, they’re beautifully crafted and look like they’ve been lifted out of a Hollywood star’s mansion. Over Christmas All Star Lanes are offering a special Christmassy menu, so perfect to bowl him over, or knock her off her pins.
Editorial Assistant Fenella, is up for a laugh and perhaps something a bit more saxy…
Comedy, because laughing and love go hand in hand. If you’re feeling anxious about the pressure of performing, and by that, I mean being funny, don’t panic. Trying to impress your date with your intelligent humour and quick wit is no easy feat, so why not leave it to the professionals. You don’t know your date well, if at all yet, so now is the time to find out. You can tell a lot about someone and whether you’re compatible depending on the jokes that make them laugh. If your giggles are never coinciding, he or she is probably not the one. If they don’t giggle at all, then they may well be sociopaths, and in which case you should leave, immediately.
Laughing puts everyone in a good mood. Whether you are doing the hard work or the comedian on stage, it doesn’t matter, just so long as the good vibes keep flowing.
The Secret Comedy club is based in Covent Garden and is open every night. Tickets vary in price depending on the experience of the comedian, length of set, and type of comedy, so there is guaranteed to be a little something for everyone. Or why not go and see the utterly hilarious Elf Lyons, this week at the Soho Theatre.
It may be an obvious choice, but have you done it? If so, do it again because it’s great.
A fair or market is the perfect place to take a date because there is so much going on. When or if the awkward silence descends it is very easy to divert the conversation. See here: “Hey, look a giant sausage, want one? They call them ‘bratwurst’ in Germany you know…”, “I say, fancy a ride on the tea cups, you can hold my hand if you get scared…” The possibilities are endless. There is also plenty of people so if things get dire it’s not unrealistic to say you lost them in the crowd. Whoopsie.
Ronnie Scotts’ Jazz Club
Now I would say, you should gently probe your date…as to whether they like jazz before you take them to Ronnie Scott’s, but then I am also of the opinion that it’s an unmissable experience, so don’t bother. It is one of the oldest jazz clubs in the world having opened in 1959, and has played host to some of the best jazz musicians from the past and present. The atmosphere is awesome, a buzzing vibe where you can grab a table for two appreciate some incredibly talented musicians and fill your tummies with some delicious food. If your date is great or far from the one, you will either bond over the joint experience or just block them out of it entirely and still remember it as a cracking night. Win win.