Britain’s capital is one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities. Fun fact, London is the third biggest city in Europe. For this reason, dating in this exciting city can feel overwhelming as there are so many things to do and each quarter offers its own vibe suited to different personalities and different types of couples and date types.
For serious dating in the UK, there is truly nowhere better. For a first date in London, there are plenty of options to create a perfect, truly romantic meeting. While you might think the best ideas are the less obvious ones, going to a fine London bar, enjoying a day in the park, looking around a food market, or going to the theatre are all common for a reason.
When considering where to go, you also need to take the other person into consideration. What would their idea of a perfect date in London be?
Starting off simple, the best activity for a first date is dinner. Whether at the best restaurant in the city or a high-tier bar, this is an easy option to make the perfect start to your relationship. Make sure to book in advance by at least a day at a suitable time.
Also, make sure to leave time for pre-dinner cocktails, an extra glass of wine or a walk in the park after the meal.
Here are some ideas for fun dates in London from a cosy dinner to a wild date night out.
Big Mamma: Circolo Popolare (Central London) & Gloria (east London)
The modern Italian restaurant company Big Mamma is conquering the streets of London with extravagant, exciting and often camp-inspired meals. Packing in flavour and fashion, its London restaurants Circolo Popolare and Gloria offer the most romantic and exciting settings. Flowers cover the ceiling and hundreds of glass bottles adorn the walls creating warm lighting and a whimsical setting. The menu boasts a variety of pizzas and even a carbonara churned in a large, carved out pecorino round of cheese in front of you, not to mention the lemon meringue pie with a 6 inch meringue topping! It’s 70s chic in a dessert, you’ve got to try it. We really like this place for a first date because it has a unique bar inside as well that serves a delicious cocktail, you can book a table just a day or so in advance, it has a good wine list, and it is close to the park and theatre.
Kaosarn (south London)
This charming Thai restaurant has two branches in south London; Clapham and Brixton. It’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) so just pick up your favourite vino from your local supermarket and head to Kaosarn for dishes packed with flavour and spice. The menu is veggie, vegan and meat-eater friendly from the fried chicken with sticky rice to the vegan pad thai. The food is affordable and delicious and the atmosphere is homely and warm so you’ll be sure to feel at ease with your date.
Ukai (west London)
This Japanese gastro pub is enchanting in every way. It’s dark architecture and interior create a sensual setting. The menu consists of divine wines, exciting cocktails and an array of delicate and decadent sushi. Jazz plays smoothly on the speakers and the smokey setting is the epitome of romance. Located in charming Notting Hill right on Portobello road, Ukai provides an experience that blends the best elements of a Richard Curtis and Tarantino film so you feel romantic yet mysterious all at once. We really like this place for a first date because it has a unique bar inside as well that serves a delicious cocktails, you can book a table just a day or so in advance, it has a good wine list, and it is close to the park and theatre.
Mildred’s (North, Central and East)
With branches in Camden, King’s Cross, Soho and Dalston, this all-vegan chain is killing it all over the UK’s capital. From a ‘cheesy’ nacho platter to burgers that taste like real beef but better, Mildred’s creates a casual yet enchanting environment welcoming all types of foodies. Booking this restaurant for a veggie or vegan match will show you are conscientious about their lifestyle and even if you’re both meat eaters it’s always fun to branch out and try new things – demonstrating your adventurous side.
While dinner might be the safe option for a first date in London, maybe an activity would make the other person way more excited! Coming up with ideas for an activity is harder, granted, but London has plenty of the best places for a date. If you are looking for a place that you both would like and find fun, a day in the park could be perfect, or perhaps spending time in the market eating your way through the day while looking for the perfect dessert.
If you are struggling with ideas but like the vibe of a daytime city market or walking the long way around the park looking at flowers, these activities might just be for you!
All Stars Bowling Alley
With branches all over London, All Stars Bowling Lanes provide an aesthetic and exciting experience. The food served is inspired by 1950s diner culture – as are the interiors. Private rooms for double dates or simply a private lane for two can be booked online. The experience is affordable yet promises so much fun. Bowling is a great date experience as it brings out our competitive and flirty sides. There is something about the sensual blue lighting of the venue as well that feels eternally romantic. So get those bowling shoes on and score a strike!
Located on London’s Southbank, the BFI (British Film Institute) goes one step above cinema romance if you both happen to be film buffs. The BFI offers screenings of vintage and modern films alike, often paired with academic introductions or even Q&As with the film’s director post or pre-screening. Tickets range from £3 to £30 depending on the experience. Take a stroll by the river and grab a beer after the screening to discuss each other’s takes and bond over visual art.
London has an enormous amount of museums which offer a diverse array of exhibitions. Although it’s best to book most in advance, you can always find a spare couple of tickets online the week before. From the V&A’s fashion exhibits to the Tate’s historical art shows and let’s not forget about the Science Museum’s interactive opportunities, if you do your research you’re sure to find an inspiring exhibit. These types of dates are great for creative couples and matches who desire a surge of inspiring creative references.
Date night out:
G-A-Y (Central London)
Located in the heart of Soho on Old Compton Street, LGBTQ+ couples are sure to have a laugh and a half when going to G-A-Y. Antics begin in the early evening and continue into the early hours of the morning. It’s a 3-floor venue with a diverse array of music from modern pop to classic anthems. Not to mention, it provides such a safe and exciting space for London’s LGBTQ+ community to express their love and be their authentic selves in ways that more conventional bars might not provide the space to blossom.
Jazz Café (North London)
Camden’s Jazz Café is nothing short of iconic. All of the UK’s hottest up-and-coming artists perform here and the venue offers everything from more chilled live music nights to proper club nights where the speakers blast house and disco till 5 am. Not to mention, the Jazz Café sound system is notorious for being one of the best in the country. Whatever you’re in the mood for, head to Camden for a fun night full of incredible sound and young, exciting and artistic people. We really like this place for a first date because it is a unique bar that serves delicious cocktails, you can book a table just a day or so in advance, it has a good wine list, and it is close to the park and theatre.
O2 Academy Brixton, Shepherds or HMV Apollo Hammersmith (South and West London)
These three venues are arguably some of the top locations for musical performances, especially for artists on tour. Check the websites beforehand and see if any of your favourite artists are performing. Tickets tend to be affordable and if you’re with O2 for your mobile or broadband needs you can often nab tickets 48 hours before release. Going to a gig and bonding over music can be so romantic and it’s fun to dance together to a song that may become ‘your song’ from then on.