Looking for cute date ideas? Trying to find romantic things to do in London? Celebrating a special occasion with a fellow food lover? Sometimes sitting opposite someone, that you’ve potentially just met, for a three-course meal is a bit too intense, so we’ve collected some fun date night ideas together for you, to make life that little bit easier.
We have every date scenario covered with our London date ideas: try safari dates where you pick up snacks and drinks at various locations (maybe you’ll start in London and end up in Paris); combine your mutual love of food and drink with live music or cinema; or dive into one of our suggested interactive foodie experiences (what could be better than making chocolate brownies together?). We’ve even included ideas for what to do nearby after all that food and drink. Read on to find out more…
Foodie safari dates
Maltby Street Ropewalk Market bar crawl
Bermondsey’s railway arches play host to foodie hub Ropewalk Market, also known as Maltby Street Market. Hop between the arches on a bar crawl in rough-around-the edges locations littered with antiques.
Here’s a fun date night idea: start at 40 Maltby Street for wines from small-scale producers in lesser-known regions such as Slovenia, then continue to Bar Tozino for Spanish wine and some expertly carved Iberico ham. Switch to gin at Little Bird Gin for cocktails in the converted workshop that now oozes vintage glamour. Continue on your gin quest to Jensen’s tiny distillery and pick up a bottle (try out one of our gin cocktails at home later), not forgetting to stock up on a couple of pale ales, porters and stouts from Kernel Brewery.
Fuel your charming bar crawl with snacks from the traders along Maltby Street – indulgent doughnuts from St John’s bakery, a couple of oysters from Bagleys cart and Waffle On’s creative waffle recipes.
Paris day trip on the Eurostar
Hop off the Eurostar and walk 10 minutes to elegant neighbourhood bistro, Les Enfants Perdus. Sink into squishy white cushions in the bistro’s conservatory room and enjoy a 3-course brunch. Platters of classic goat’s cheese salad, perhaps, or olive and cheese muffins, eggs cocotte, tiny parcels of cheese, herb-filled pasta and thinly sliced duck breast. Mini viennoiseries, generous baskets of fresh bread and condiments, fruit juice and the house hot chocolate fill any gaps left.
Mooch along the canal to Rue de la Grange aux Belles and pop into Bleuet Coquelicot, a teeny convent-turned-florist where greenery, flowers and tropical plants have colonised the building’s 17th-century tiling and murals. Continue two doors down, to the trendy Ten Belles coffee shop, and perch on one of the funky painted wooden stools that pepper the pavement outside this narrow, open-fronted café. Enjoy excellent Guatemalan and Honduran coffee, blended at Paris coffee star Thomas Lehoux’s roastery, Brulerie Belleville, with a savoury cheese and chorizo bun before a brisk fifteen minute walk back to the Eurostar. We have a map of fab places to drink in Paris while you’re there, check it out.
Food and nature dates
Richmond and Petersham Nurseries
From Richmond station, pass the green (detour down tiny Brewers Lane for a gelato from Gelateria Danieli) and walk along the river to Petersham Nurseries. Wander through the enchanted greenhouses full to bursting with potted plants, fruit and olive trees and up-cycled garden furniture. Get in line at the garden shed and slide a tray past homemade cakes and bakes, salads and daily specials such as creamy chicken pie with a golden puff pastry topping. Take your treats and perch on garden furniture in the pretty greenhouses.
Bull and Last, followed by a walk on Hampstead Heath
A Sunday lunch date is a casual but indulgent way to get to spend some leisurely time together. Every leafy neighbourhood in London should have a great pub where you can while away Sunday afternoons. Highgate’s Bull and Last has gained an undisputable reputation, and rightly so. The roasts are huge and come with all the trimmings (rare roast beef with giant fluffy Yorkshire puddings, pork belly on a sauerkraut bed with black pudding, and proper beer-battered fish and chips with a ‘wally’ gherkin on the side).
The ground floor bar is chaotic in all the ways a good pub should be – dogs sleep by low stools scattered around tables in the middle, small-batch brewery beers from the taps are passed between friends, and big wooden tables sit by the huge roaring fire, with a few stuffed animals to boot.
Hampstead Heath is just around the corner, so walk off your roast with a brisk stroll up Parliament Hill and share a moment looking out over London’s skyline.
Food and culture dates
Saturday brunch film club at Covent Garden Hotel
Treat your date to a day-date at this smart hotel that has the perfect balance between elegant and whacky. On Saturdays, Covent Garden Hotel puts on a lavish brunch in the breakfast room. Peruse the breakfast table groaning with Kitt Kemp’s hand-designed bowls full of fruits, cereals, compotes and yogurts.
Laden your plate with pastries and homemade breakfast bars and fill your glass with the juice of the day (think freshly squeezed orange juice with a hint of fresh mint) before taking a glass of champagne or a Bloody Mary and a bucket of homemade popcorn (you can make your own gourmet popcorn here) down to the tiny cinema in the basement for the film of the day. Talk about a fun date idea! £40, firmdalehotels.com
Bar Termini and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
This Old Compton Street bar is an idealised Italian coffee and aperitivo bar, as one might have been (had it been ludicrously perfect) in the 1950s – a mahogany bar, huge coffee machine, and pale turquoise high banquets to lounge into with your date. The concise cocktail menu, developed by cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro, specialises in negronis (pink peppercorn-infused negroni superior, rose petal infused rosato and intense robusto with a subtley sweet finish).
Sip on these pre-bottled negronis from elegant bespoke glassware before hopping over to Ronnie Scott’s for the next round. There’s live music at 9pm every night in the upstairs den, where you can wander over to the bar and order an Old Fashioned while listening to jazz and blues in a true speakeasy environment.
Bargain deals at special locations
Sketch afternoon tea
Psssst… you can enjoy Sketch’s weird and wonderful interiors for a mere £10.50. Take tea and scones with cream and jam in The Parlour or The Glade. You still get all of Sketch’s glamour (and those mooing egg-shaped loos!) for a fraction of the price of full afternoon tea. If you want to go all out, book in to the whacky Gallery to lavish in pink velvet for full afternoon tea, complete with mini toasties wrapped in yellow ribbon and pretty little cakes of all flavours.
Wright Bros £1 oysters and No.16 Hotel, South Kensington
Between 3 and 6pm every day, seafood institution, Wright Bros, has oyster happy hour – as many oysters as you want for £1 each. We recommend heading to the understated old-school glamour of the atmospheric South Kensington branch. To continue the evening, hop over to No.16 hotel, a pristinely manicured mid-Victorian white townhouse that provides a secret city hideaway with Kitt Kemp’s plush, bold interiors.
If it’s a nice day, make the most of No.16’s hidden garden oasis and enjoy a glass of wine perched on pale green garden furniture under elegant white parasols. If you’re lucky enough to bag the tiny gazebo, you can look back on the garden, complete with stone fountain bubbling away in the rectangular fish pond. Read our review of afternoon tea at No.16 here.
Atmospheric date spots
Toasties and wine at Sager and Wilde
Sager + Wilde’s original Hackney Road bar is a romantic, candle-lit neighbourhood spot to enjoy unusual wines with your date. Huddle around a table on little stools and wooden benches, or sit up at the industrial iron grate bar to get a closer look at the rare bottles displayed in the rack along the back wall.
The small but thoughtful wine menu covers lesser-known regions such as Austria, unusual orange wines and twists on classics procured by owners Charlotte and Michael Sager-Wilde. Golden jalapeno and cheddar toasties are served on E5 Bakehouse sourdough and round off the evening perfectly.
Inside a Georgian townhouse, just behind Oxford Street, lies a secret drinking den that exuberates the eccentric charm of the Zetter Townhouse’s ficticous owner, wicked Uncle Seymour. Seymour’s Parlour is more front room of curiosities than hotel bar: trinkets clutter a cabinet that spans one side of the room, portraits adorn the wine-red walls and crystal decanters filled with bright orange liquid dress up antique wooden tables.
The room has a hushed atmosphere with intimate lighting that creates secluded corners to settle in to. Dapper Italian waiters take your order, and shake cocktails
at a little bar tucked into one corner. Try out the afternoon tea
or stick with a round of tea-infused cocktails created by drinks pioneer Tony Conigliaro (try Silk Road Gimlet, a smooth mix of Beefeater gin and delicate Keemun Chinese black tea cordial).
Interactive foodie date ideas
Paul A Young brownie making
These might just be the best brownies in the world, so the opportunity to learn insider tips as to how to make them on the marble surfaces of the chocolatier’s workshop is such a treat. You can make two trays of brownies each, so plenty of room for experimenting with toppings – sea salted caramel and pretzels, nutmeg and golden sugar, or even chipotle chilli flakes.
While your brownies are baking, head upstairs to the chocolatier’s emporium for a tutored tasting of chocolate and truffles – caramelised milk chocolate (reminiscent of a posh Caramac!), acidic and fruity 64% Madagascan and 72% nutty and smooth Venezuelan. Then choose from Paul A Young’s exotic and out-there selection of handmade chocolates and truffles – from Marmite or stout to more traditional sea salted caramel.