Of all the myriad hobbies and interests that can unite two people in love, little has more profound effect than music. If you are lucky enough to be dating someone in London who shares your love of music then you’ll probably want to spend at least one of your dates somewhere with decent tuneage. London is full to the brim of music venues but they’re not always ideal for an intimate date, so here are our recommendations for music-friendly bars and restaurants. Get there before a certain time and all these places are free to get in.
Latin Cubana – Southwark If you want to add some Latin flair to your date then head on over to Cubana where you can dance the night away to live salsa and Latin music. There’s no door charge on Wednesday and Thursdays and it’s free on weekends providing you get there before 11pm. Why not use the sensual Latin vibes for the perfect opportunity to add a little spice to your date? 48 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7RG www.cubana.co.uk
Barrio Central – Soho Latin cantina by day and cocktail lounge by night, Barrio Central is a trendy haunt stepped in Latin flavour. The best way to enjoy this place is with a tequila cocktail and a dish from their tapas-style menu, but if the fancy takes you, you can venture down to the basement club and lay your Latin moves on your lover. 6 Poland Street, Soho, London, W1F 8PS www.barriocentral.com
House Zebrano – Soho Clubbers will feel at home at Zebrano. This restaurant-bar-club in the heart of Soho gets busy later on, but nab a table around 6pm and you can enjoy cocktails, light bites and funky décor in a relaxed environment. It’s worth checking their website for special offers if you’re in the mood for a mojito or two, and as evening moves into night the spacious dance floor is there for a boogie and a cheeky snog. 18 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 4DS.
Rock Big Red – Holloway This spacious American-style rock bar is perfect for a quiet drink as long as you don’t mind a bit of AC/DC on the juke box. Team your date with a game of pool and a plate of nachos to share before your night descends into endless debates about your favourite bands. We recommend grabbing a booth for that extra touch of privacy and a chance to cosy up. 385 Holloway Road, N7 0RY London
Crobar – Soho More heavy metal than rock, the Crobar is not for the faint-hearted once the bar gets busy. But go there early in the week and not only are you guaranteed a seat, you’ll also be able to choose from a fine array of bourbons and a jukebox crammed full of über-cool, albeit it very heavy, choons. Expect a lot of leather and, if you’re lucky, a rock star or two. 17 Manette St, Soho, London, W1D 4AS www.crobar.co.uk
Aces and Eights – Tufnell Park If you prefer the more retro brand of rock then dive bar-inspired Aces and Eights is the place to hang out, bringing the flavour of the 1950s in both décor and spirit. Happy hour runs daily from 6pm-8pm and every Monday you can get two pizzas for £10 – bargain! A perfect spot to discuss your rock n’ roll idols or your next tattoo. 156-158 Fortess Rd, Tufnell Park, London NW5 2HP www.acesandeightssaloonbar.com
Indie Good Mixer – Camden Famous as Amy Winehouse’s regular haunt, the Good Mixer is a rough n’ ready bar with a killer jukebox and a lot of rock n’ roll charm. While you’re unlikely to find a quiet corner, the laid back environment will get the conversation flowing well into the night. 30 Inverness Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 0BJ
The Boogaloo – Archway Apparently the Boogaloo has won awards for its jukebox, with famous music types even given the honour of choosing their own selections for the hallowed player (Iggy Pop, cough cough, Ronnie Wood). There are plenty of events throughout the week including a music quiz every Tuesday. What better way to impress your beau with your musical knowledge? 312 Archway Road, N6 5AT
The Hideaway Bar – indie/eclectic Unlike some bars that serve food only to soak up the alcohol, The Hideaway actually takes pride in its fare. Their stonebaked pizzas are homemade and have been touted as ‘the best pizzas this side of Foreign’ by Observer Food Monthly. Music-wise their basement plays host to a mix of DJs and live music. 114 Junction Road, London, N19 5LB www.thehideawaybar.co.uk
Soul and funk Zen Sai – Camden This award-winning bar, right in the heart of Camden, is a cool hang-out with a funky vibe. Top of its list of plus points is the amazing cocktail menu which you’ll enjoy sampling with your hottie (just remember to drink responsibly!). The music policy ranges from hip hop and RnB to swing and jazz, with free entry club nights throughout the week. 16 Inverness St, London, NW1 7HJ www.zensaibar.com
Mango Landin – Brixton Brixton might not be the most exotic of places but Mango Landin’ brings a little piece of sunshine to SW2. DJ sets cover funk, soul, reggae, Latin and world beats, with live jazz every Sunday. But if you really want to impress, bring your date along to the open deck night and show them what excellent taste you have in music. 40 St. Matthew’s Road, Brixton, London SW2 1NL www.mangolandin.com
Blues Blues kitchen – Camden Booking is advisable at the Blues Kitchen if you want to take advantage of their yummy Southern-style menu, but your date will be impressed with the forward-thinking. The live music gets started at around 9.30pm each night and is free as long as you get there before 9pm. Expect a varied mix of blues-inspired bands all washed down with a fine Tennessee whiskey. 111-113, Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JN
Eclectic Hootananny – Brixton There’s a reason why Hootananny has won numerous awards; its music-without-boundaries policy showcases many up and coming artists making it a super-cool venue to been seen at with acts covering everything from reggae, dub and funk to rap samba and post punk . Most gigs are free before 11pm but if you want to soak up the atmosphere before the music starts, why not grab something from their tempting Mexican-themed menu? Just don’t get any coriander stuck in your teeth! 95 Effra Road, Brixton, London, SW2 1DF www.hootanannybrixton.co.uk
Cargo – Shoreditch Tucked under a disused railway bridge in trendy Shoreditch, Cargo is host to some of London best-loved club nights. While a packed-out club might not be the best place for a date, Cargo also has a stylish bar and restaurant perfect for dinner with a difference. Events are almost daily and are often free so if the triple-whammy of dinner, bar and club appeals to you and your date then Cargo is a very good choice. 83 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3AY www.cargo-london.com
The Defectors Weld – Shepherd’s Bush While the north, east and south sides of London all have their happening scenes, west London is slightly lacking in trendy music hotspots. But if you’re happy to while away the hours in a pub that boasts a quality selection of real ales and homemade pub grub then you’d do a lot worse than The Defectors Weld. According to their website ‘good music reigns supreme’ and they have an eclectic range of DJ’s throughout the week. 170 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London, W12 8AA
Jazz Le QuecumBar & Brasserie – Battersea Steeped in the romance of a 1930’s Parisian-style live music brasserie, Le QuecumBar & Brasserie is worth a visit for the atmosphere alone. You and your date will feel at ease in the ‘Moulin Rouge meets New Orleans’ surroundings while you tap your foot along to music inspired by the late great Django Reinhard. Granted, not all the performances are free, but if you go on the right day you can enjoy a spot of Gypsy swing without emptying your pockets. All they ask is that you spend more than £15 per person on your meal. 42-44 Battersea High Street, London, SW11 3HX
Read more London dating ideas here.