Picking a date location is a big responsibility. Do you go for a laid-back pub to keep things chilled? A dimly-lit speakeasy to set sparks flying? A snug, off-the-beaten-track spot which you hope will one day become ‘our place’? Take your pick from our round up of London’s best bars for dates, from cosy wine bars to swanky cocktail spots. Whether it’s your first date or you’ve been married 20 years, there’s something everyone in our pick of romantic bars.
London’s Most Romantic Bars
- Amazing Grace, London Bridge
- NQ64, Soho
- WC Wine & Charcuterie, Clapham
- Hacha, Dalston
- Scarfes, Holborn
- Radio Rooftop Bar, The Strand
- Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, Covent Garden
- The Blind Pig, Soho
- Little Blue Door, Fulham
- Nightjar, Hoxton
Amazing Grace, London Bridge
Is that wedding bells we’re hearing? No, this bar is just based in St Thomas church, which dates back to the 17th century. Boasting regular live music fixtures, comfy banquette seating to cuddle up on, and a vast cocktail menu, Amazing Grace is a venue that’ll showcase your cultural side to definitely cinch that second date. Plus, the food on offer here is brilliant northern Thai nibbles – so bank that additional conversation starter around favourite takeaways and cuisines.
9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY; amazinggraceldn.com
Impress your date with your rocking Guitar Hero skills – or perhaps tap into their competitive side and trial out your best moves on Dance Dance Revolution. NQ64 Soho, the central arcade bar, is the ideal spot for a cheeky first date when you’re trying to find an activity to get the conversation flowing. The cocktails, too, will help on that front – brilliantly quirky and themed around classic games, they range from the punchy (the rum based Mad Max) to the sweet (a passion fruit flavoured Power Star Martini). Grab a handful of reasonably priced game tokens and pull your date towards Tetris or Time Crisis, and revel in the nostalgia of this space.
Soho, 53 Berwick St, London W1F 8SP; nq64.co.uk
WC Wine & Charcuterie
Candles, wine, cosy booths – Clapham’s WC Wine & Charcuterie was built for dates. Don’t be put off by the fact that it used to be a public toilet: WC is far from a novelty bar, and its history only adds to its quirky charm. Wine is really good and fairly priced, and you can enjoy it alongside sharing boards of baked camembert, sourdough bread, dips, meats and cheeses. Ideal if the idea of a sit-down meal is too intense, but you still want some tasty treats to fuel your rendez-vous.
Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AA; wcclapham.co.uk
Hacha in Dalston (a five-minute walk from Haggerston station) is intimate, cosy and specialises in tequila and mezcals. Take your pick from 25 specially selected brands, pair them with some small bites such as nachos and guac and let the easygoing vibe of the bar whisk your date into endless conversation and a sweet sense of comfort and ease. The owner’s favourite, the Mirror Margarita, is a crystal clear dangerously juice-like concoction that comes out of a glass pineapple far too easily.
378 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AA; hachabar.com
Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood London
Talk books by the fire at Rosewood London’s Scarfes Bar, a library-style art deco spot – which just so happens to be C&TH’s favourite spot for cosying up to interviewees. Scarfes Bar strikes the perfect balance between busy and quiet: there’s a buzzing atmosphere, but you’ll be able to hear each other speak (always useful). It’s the kind of place you can sink into one of the leather armchairs and get stuck into a really good conversation, all while enjoying the hum of live music in the background.
Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN; scarfesbar.com
Radio Rooftop Bar
There’s something about a good view which screams romance – and vistas don’t get much better than from the terrace of swanky Radio Rooftop, found at the top of the stylish ME London. Settle down on one of the Ibiza-style white sofas and look out on the London skyline, drink in hand and date on arm.
336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA; radiorooftop.com
Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour
With over 150 gins, Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour is a gin-lover’s heaven. It’s also a great date spot, partly due to its eccentric 19th-century interiors: think chaise longues, embroidered chairs and dark corners. Cosy without being crowded, the Parlour feels like stepping into a Victorian living room, which makes for good conversation starters. The gin will help with those too…
1 New Row, London WC2N 4E; mr-foggs.com
The Blind Pig
A combination of cool speakeasy vibes and fun cocktails works wonders for dates, which is exactly what you’ll be greeted with at The Blind Pig, hidden in the upstairs of Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House. The pun-filled drinks menu may sound gimmicky, but rest assured it’s not: drinks here are excellent, playful and inventive, with a vast menu which looks like a notebook, complete with tales of the stories behind the drinks. It feels exclusive yet relaxed at the same time, with lots of cosy corners for drinking the night away in style.
58 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 7NR; socialeatinghouse.com
Little Blue Door
A visit to Fulham gem Little Blue Door feels like dropping by your friend’s flat. Chilled, comfortable and casual, you’ll feel perfectly at ease here – a key ingredient for a successful date. The eponymous blue door leads you into a living room-style bar, with quirky knacks like sharer cocktails served in a flower vase, board games and mismatched art work. Cocktail-lovers will be spoilt for choice: think updates on classics like Coffee & Cigarettes (an espresso martini served with a candied cigarette), From Russia With Love (a chai-infused White Russian), and Crimes of Passion (an updated Pornstar martini served in a goblet with a toasted marshmallow.)
871-873, Fulham Rd, Fulham, London SW6 5HP; thelittlebluedoor.co.uk
Tucked away behind an unassuming door near Old Street, prohibition-style Nightjar is a speakeasy done right. Low-lit, slick and classy, Nightjar boasts an eclectic menu of well-crafted cocktails, ranging from the classic to the exotic, served in all sorts of fun creations – drinks here are as much art as they are beverages. There’s also live music every night, with a band playing swing and jazz: the ideal soundtrack to your date.
129 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JB; barnightjar.com
Main Image: WC Wine & Charcuterie