‘Splurge vs save’ – 5 cheaper ways to date in London

Let’s face it, London is not a cheap place to live. We already knew this, of course, but it was recently confirmed by a Savills-commissioned survey which found that London is the most expensive city in the world to live in.

When it comes to dating, you may think there’s no respite from the high costs. Paying for dinners, drinks, theatre tickets, haircuts, clothes and more – it all adds up. Ultimately you want to impress your date though, which means you can’t really skimp on these things, right?

Wrong! Whilst you may think that you can’t afford to treat your date at a Michelin-starred restaurant (hint: you can – read on to find out how!), all is not lost. For every fancy, expensive date, there are a number of comparable, cheaper dates with which you can impress a potential partner, whilst not bankrupting yourself in the process! Here are our top 5 ‘splurge vs save’ dates…

Splurge date 1 – a trip to the top of The Shard

Save date 1 – a drink at the Aqua Shard bar
 


 

The Shard is a great place to go to impress your date – panoramic views over London, 72 stories up, and a chance to witness sunset from a great vantage point. There’s an undeniable ‘wow factor’. However it does cost £25 per person to go to the top – not ideal if you’re going on a few different dates – and that doesn’t include the price of a drink.

If you’re willing to sacrifice a little of the view, visit the Aqua Shard bar on the 31st floor of The Shard. Here you’ll still enjoy some impressive views, and for £24 you can share a bottle of white wine with your date (£26 for red). That’s half the price of two tickets to the top, and with a drink too. Result!

Splurge date 2 – afternoon tea at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair

Save date 2 – tea and pastries at The Counter at The Delaunay
 

Whilst it may be an experience to try an extravagant afternoon tea once in a while, at £50 per head it would definitely add up if you’re going on a few dates each month!

As an alternative, head to The Counter at The Delaunay in Aldwych, which serves up a Viennese Afternoon Tea in a lovely gold-and-green décor café, but for a fraction of the price at just £12.95 per head. You can even let the date run into the evening, with Austrian beer, wine and schnitzel to enjoy.

Splurge date 3 – front row tickets to a West End show

Save date 3 – discounted tickets to top shows from TKTS in Leicester Square, or consider the fringe
 


 

There’s no need to spend £150 on a pair of tickets to a West End show if you know where to go to find discounted tickets. Head to the TKTS booth located in Leicester Square on the day that you’d like to see a show, and buy tickets for up to 50% off their face value.

An alternative, if you don’t want to risk waiting until the day of the show to buy tickets, is to consider seeing a show on the fringe theatre scene. Shows at smaller fringe theatres offer a more intimate setting and atmosphere, and an overall experience that you won’t get at the big West End shows. For an in-depth look at London’s fringe theatre scene, check out our article on the top 10 fringe theatres in London.

Splurge date 4 – classy cocktails at The Savoy
 
Save date 4 – underground cocktails at Freud bar
 
Certain cocktails at The Savoy will set you back £250 – ouch! For most of us, this isn’t going to be fun when buying a round of drinks for you and your date. There’s no denying the elegance and experience that a trip to The Savoy will bring, but perhaps save it for when you’re celebrating an anniversary later down the line!

We may be pushing it a little when we suggest Freud bar as an alternative to The Savoy, but it’s really worth considering when you’re going on a date. An almost-hidden basement bar on Shaftesbury Avenue, this place is full of character and offers a huge range of cocktails – most around the £7 mark, and often served in a pint glass (good, or bad, depending on your point of view). A great alternative if you’re looking for something a little more casual and wallet-friendly.
If underground really isn’t what you’re after, and you must go somewhere classy, we were perhaps being a little unfair to The Savoy initially as they do offer a couple of cocktails at the £15 mark.

Splurge date 5 – sample the dégustation menu, with wine, at Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows

Save date 5 – sample the Galvin at Windows lunch menu
 
This one’s a treat – the chance to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant, with views over Hyde Park, for a fraction of the price you’d expect! If you go for an evening date at Head Chef Jon Woo’s Galvin at Windows, you can expect to pay £169 per head to sample your way through the comprehensive dégustation menu – £199 if you’d prefer to have Champagne instead of wine.

However – organise a lunch date at the same restaurant, and you can eat from the lunch menu for just £26 per head for two courses, or £30 per head for three courses. As it’s lunch time you can consider skipping the wine, and dine at this fine restaurant much more cheaply.
 

There you have it. Five great ways to save money when dating, whilst still managing to impress. Happy saving!