From the classic dinner and drinks, to “you’ll never guess what we did last night” axe throwing…
Whether you found each other on Tinder or you’re hoping for an old fashioned romance, the challenge of planning the perfect first date applies all the same. It has to be exciting enough to impress without being over-the-top, it needs to allow the conversation to flow without being intense, and it should definitely give the opportunity to get to know one another without being too intimate. And, of course, it should secure that second date – if you want it. No pressure.
But if the mere thought of a first date leaves you hot under the collar, never fear – help is at hand. We’ve scoured London for some of the best date options the city has to offer. Of course, there’s a plethora of romantic French restaurants and tasty tapas joints, perfect for sharing a few bites. But here we’ve also picked out some activities that feel a little out of the box. From making friends with the animals at the zoo to exploring the Barbican’s conservatory, scroll down to see some of our favourite first date ideas.
Take in the view at Duck and Waffle
Aim high with reservations at the iconic Duck and Waffle. Offering spectacular views at any time of the day, it’s the perfect venue from brunch to dinner – or even a late night stop (it’s open 24/7) when you’re just not ready to say goodbye.
Cost: duck and waffles with wine for two, from £69
Discover an urban oasis at the Barbican
Immerse yourselves in nature in the heart of the City at the Barbican Conservatory. With over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees, at the very least you’ll leave with plenty of Instagram fodder. Open selected Sundays.
Pick your poison at 'The Bar With No Name'
This lesser-known watering hole will win you instant brownie points for being in-the-know, with its discreet facade down a quiet street in Islington. Head downstairs into the 1950s Italian café-style room and find an intimate corner for a cocktail or two. Alternatively, book ahead for a cocktail masterclass to while away an afternoon.
Cost: cocktails and nibbles for two, from £25; masterclass for two, £100
Spend a night under the stars at the Royal Observatory Greenwich
Set your sights on the stars with an after-hours visit to the Royal Observatory. Observe the nights sky and discuss topics from historical astronomy to the contemporary exploration of the universe with astronomers. Available on selected Friday and Saturday evenings, from November to February.
Cost: tickets for two, £40
Keep it classic with dinner and drinks
You know what they say: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – and when it comes to a first date, you can’t go wrong with this classic formula. We’re particularly fond of The Winemakers in Deptford, which offers a relaxed atmosphere, accomplished chefs and members of staff who strike the perfect balance in sharing their excellent wine knowledge without being pretentious.
Cost: dinner and drinks for two, around £75
Pair up at London Zoo
The animals went two-by-two, so what better place to pair up than London Zoo? With plenty of conversation starters (and distractions if necessary), this is one to opt for if you find first dates a little intimidating.
Cost: entrance for two, from £48.60
Image: ZSL London Zoo/REX Shutterstock
Go for glamour at the Savoy’s American Bar
Voted 2017’s Best Bar in the World, you couldn’t pick a better spot for an evening libation than the Savoy’s iconic cocktail bar.
Cost: cocktails for two, from £40
Discover new skills at Whistle Punks
If you’re looking for something outside of the box, we suggest trying your hand at axe throwing. Yes, you heard that right. Apparently it’s all about technique, not strength, so you’ll start on an even playing field – and it’s a surefire way to break the ice.
Cost: 1.5 hour session for two, from £44
Wrap up for a romantic stroll in Hyde Park
Whether among the autumn foliage or the first frost of winter, there’s little more romantic than a stroll around London’s Hyde Park. Head to the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen for a waterside rest-stop complete with wood-fired pizza to re-fuel.
Cost: pizza and wine for two, from around £40
Take a swing at crazy golf with a side of street food
Combining crazy golf, street food and cocktails, a night at Swingers will ensure that any first date nerves go straight out of the window. Food options include Pizza Pilgrims, Patty & Bun and DF / Mexico, while a DJ sets the right tone.
Cost: one round of golf for two people, from £20
Sit back and relax at the Soho Theatre
Let others do the hard work for you with an evening of comedy or cabaret at the Soho Theatre. With late shows and a lively bar, it’s perfect for a laid-back date.
Cost: tickets for two from around £18
Roam the streets with a self-guided foodie tour
Choose from ‘coffee’, ‘chocolate’ or ‘craft beer’, or even mix-and-match all three, to create a personalised foodie tour of London. You will receive an envelope with all the places you’ll be visiting together with fun facts, a map, recipes and a tasting wheel. Take it as fast (or as slow!) as you please.
Cost: explorer pack for two, £35.50 + P&P
Image: Taste Tripper
Take notes from the French at Brasserie Zédel
Add some Parisian flair to your evening with dinner at Brasserie Zédel. The grand, bustling room will make an instant impression, while the cocktail bar and live performances just next door provide an entire evening of entertainment under one roof.
Cost: three-course dinner and wine for two, from around £90
Unleash your creativity with pottery painting
Show off your artistic talents (or lack of, nobody’s judging here) with an evening of pottery painting in West Hampstead. Open until 10pm on Friday nights, Art 4 Fun allows you to bring along your tipple of choice to get those creative juices flowing.
Cost: one item each from £28, for two people
Images: Courtesy of venues / Getty / Ian Schneider