The dating game in London is no joke. Thousands of singletons. Bumble, Tinder, Hinge.
Once your phone lights up with “It’s a MATCH!” you start texting. You shared your likes, your dislikes and you work out how many mutual friends you have. But now it’s time to take your ‘relationship’ to the next step – you’re going to meet face-to-face on your very first date.
If your future-husband or future-wife has put the ball in your court for date ideas, don’t be a ninny and suggest drinks and dinner. That’s so overdone, and you want to stand out. Lucky for you (and your hot date), London abounds with amazingly fun things to do that’s perfect for that ‘awkward’ first date.
Here are fifteen perfect first date ideas in London that’ll keep the conversation flowing and those uncomfortable silences to a minimum.
1. Chocolate Chemistry
Hands up if you like chocolate? And cocktails? Well, have we got good news for you.
The chocolate experts, MyChocolate, have put together a team of chocolatiers and bartenders who have curated a cocktail and chocolate masterclass. The class promises to expose you and your new lab partner to the most exotic chocolate flavours around.
When hunting down the My Chocolate shop, follow your nose. You’ll smell it long before you see it. The smell of cocoa wafting down the surrounding streets will get you in the perfect mood for a first date.
Combining creativity, teamwork and truffles is a recipe for a guaranteed second date. The workshops are educational and downright delicious. And the best part is that you’re so busy muddling, straining, and tasting, there’s simply no time for the usual first date awkwardness.
2. Picnic on Primrose Hill
You can’t go wrong with an endearing picnic at Primrose Hill. Make it extra cute by packing a blanky and a few crafty snacks. Add a bottle of wine and you’ve got the perfect relaxed, yet thoughtful first date.
Sitting 60 metres above sea level, Primrose Hill offers sublime views of London’s sprawling skyline. The sense of serenity and distance from the city’s madness makes the whole situation the ideal setting for a first cuddle.
There’s something romantic about packing a good old-fashioned picnic (include strawberries for maximum cuteness) and settling down to enjoy each other’s company in the fresh air. Plus, there’s no big bill at the end to worry about!
3. Get Crazy at Swingers
This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It’s not a dodgy bar and it has nothing to do with swapping partners – but you will do some swinging.
Swingers is a crazy golf club in London that has everything you could possibly need for a first date – dapper cocktails, mouth-watering street food and some seriously wacky miniature golf courses. It’s a great way to get flirty and competitive while breaking the ice.
That immense pressure to spark interesting conversation is replaced with the urge to laugh at both of your terrible putting skills. You’re bound to feel more laid back while connecting over a shared goal of drinking and sinking.
Extra points if you manage to get a hole in one without spilling your pint.
4. Skate Skate Baby
It’s that time of year again. London is starting to sparkle as it gets ready for another magical festive season. Christmas in London must be one of the most romantic things in the world. So, make the most of it while it lasts. When it’s over, February is just downright cold and sad.
Every year, the Natural History Museum has an ice rink where people of all ages come together to feel the joy of the holidays. Ice-skating is a classic first date idea for a reason. It’s the perfect excuse to hold hands – you’ll fall over otherwise, right? After skating, head to the Alpine-themed Café Bar for hot chocolates and snuggles.
5. Boozy Barging
Looking for a more intimate, quieter spot to get to know your date? Barge East is a restaurant and bar on an 18th-century Dutch boat with serious romantic vibes. The floating dining room is near the Olympic Park in the super cool area of Hackney Wick.
Your date will be instantly impressed by your choice of location. I mean, the 115-year-old boat is one thing but have you checked out the menu? They have an exquisite selection of cocktails, wine, and craft beer. Plus a bunch of globally inspired plates that are perfect for sharing.
6. Barbican Conservatory with Bae
The Barbican Conservatory is an extraordinary place; it’s a hidden tropical oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle. There’s something about being surrounded by greenery that’s instantly uplifting, and you want all the good vibes you can get when you’re on a first date.
At every turn, there’s something new to discover and discuss. Like the fact that the conservatory is home to over 2 000 kinds of trees and plants, plus a few exotic fish. Exploring the conservatory is a great way to establish a natural, flowing conversation without that awkies feeling.
And the great news is that the Barbican Centre is full of other exciting, cultural activities. Move onto a drink at the classy Margarita bar or pop into a music concert. The Barbican has art exhibitions, restaurants, cinemas and an incredible outdoor area overlooking the river. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
7. Magic London Meander
If you’re looking for a magic spark on a first date but can’t cast the same wizarding spells as dear old Harry Potter, don’t panic. Here’s a unique day out in London that’s bound to be spellcasting.
The Magic Circle are a troop of highly-skilled magicians and illusionists who will take you and your boo on an adventurous London walking tour to the top magic landmarks in the city. The premier magic society shares secrets about London’s 100-year history of magic and the occult. It all begins at Fortnum & Mason before heading up to Piccadilly Circus to discover what used to be the most incredible magic theatre in the world.
The tour ends with a private magic show and if you’re not feeling that spark by now, you can sue the magicians. Just kidding. But seriously, this tour is full of mystery and your curiosity is bound to be sparked, not only in the sites but in one another too!
8. Sing like a Rockstar
While it may not be the best idea to serenade your date with a love song on the very first meeting, a good rendition of Staying Alive could be just the thing to win their heart.
At Lucky Voice, your nerves will be calmed by a range of tasty drinks and a fun crowd. They even have a dress-up trough filled with outfits to transform your former self into a karaoke superstar.
Plus, they’ll have your song no matter how obscure it is. Their song list is endless, so you can rest assured knowing they have every song you could ever think of to woo your date.
9. Doodle at Doodle Bar
Feeling a bit lost for words on your first date? At Doodle Bar, you can write cute messages on the walls instead. No need to worry about the conversation when you can communicate with doodles, right?
Showcase your panache for drawing at this super vibey bar in Bermondsey. If that’s not enough to keep your first date nerves at bay, there’s also ping-pong tables to keep your sweaty palms occupied. Of course, the impressive drinks offering should also assist with that nasty first-date anxiety.
Just be sure not to drink too much and write something on the walls you’ll regret in the morning.
10. Escape Room Energy
If a cocktail infused escape room sounds too good to be true, think again. The Grid is an immersive escape room fuelled by top-notch cocktails. If you’re going to succeed in an escape room, you’ll need to work together. What better way to get to know your date than being forced to work on challenging tasks with a time limit?
This is the ideal choice for those on the hunt for something that’ll keep them on their toes. Your date’s true colours will emerge under the circumstances. Will they stay calm or will you both crack under the pressure?
11. Silent Boat Sexiness
Imagine the thrill of stepping aboard a groovy party boat with your Tinder match. You’ll get to pick your own soundtrack and party the night away – it sounds like the ideal situation, right?
And the best part is that you’ll be shimmying past all of London’s most iconic sights. You’ll float past Big Ben, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, and Canary Wharf as you sip on a crisp glass of Prosecco. Partying in London has never been more romantic.
And, remember, it’s a silent party. So, as soon as you’re ready for a chat with your date, you can pop off your headphones and get to know them better, the swishing sounds of the Thames going past as the only background noise.
This has to be one of the most unique first date ideas on our list. Keep in mind that this silent boat party is 21 and over. Make sure your date is of age (this is a good idea in any case.)
12. Chill Out at Ice Bar
Looking to make a particularly cool impression on your first date? This is one of the most refreshing ways to get to know each other. At the Ice Bar, you’ll sip on rounds of -5°C cocktails served in ice glasses. Everything is ice – the walls, the tables, the chairs, the impressive ice sculptures. You’ll simply have to cuddle up to keep one another warm.
If you’re not quite at the cuddling stage, don’t worry. The bar supplies you with a winter cloak and gloves. After breaking the ice amongst ice, head to the neighbouring restaurant, Yuu Kitchen, for some Pan-Asian dishes perfect for sharing.
The whole experience is pretty special and offers great conversation topics.
13. Rum it Up
We all know that an essential element of a fun first date is that buzz you feel when the two of you just seem to connect. Alcohol isn’t the only way to feel this tingle, but it certainly helps. Instead of meeting at the local pub for a pint, how about attending a fun rum tasting masterclass?
The pair of you will be part of a small group of ten people or less, hosted by London’s best-known home for vintage and rare rums, Merchant House. During the event, an expert rum tutor will lead you through a tasting, as well as a lesson in the curious history of rum.
At the end of the tasting, each of you will sample a nip of vintage rum from The Private Collection, bottled from as early as 1950. By this point, those first date nerves and awkward vibes will be long gone, replaced with liquid courage!
14. Scale the Roof
How about scaling the roof of the O2 arena with your love interest? Please skip this one if you’re scared of heights. At 52 metres up, you should probably also check your date’s feelings towards heights before you suggest this date idea.
If you’re both fine about the distance to ground ratio, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of London’s landmarks 15 miles away. To make it extra more romantic, time your ascent with the sun setting over the skyline. If that isn’t the perfect spot for a first kiss, I don’t know what is.
After your descent back down to reality, you can pop into the O2 for a movie, dinner, bowling or pretty much any other activity to you can imagine. If you want to keep the adrenaline flowing, opt for the Oxygen free-jumping.
15. Luxury Film Love
The Weekend Film Club hosted by Firmdale Hotels across the city is an especially good idea if you know your date is a movie buff. They’ll be super impressed with your choice to experience state-of-the-art cinema at its finest.
There are three luxury cinemas in London to choose from and each has gorgeous leather armchairs and complimentary popcorn. While chatting during the film shouldn’t be happening, you’ll get time to get to know your date at the meal hosted before or after the film in the hotel restaurant.
The hotels are based in Charlotte Street, Soho and Covent Garden and all films are screened on Saturdays and Sundays. This is a truly special way to show your date the beautiful side of the magical movie world.
Fun First Dates for the Win!
The best first dates are when you’re doing something. It gives you something to bond over and something to do with your twitchy hands when you’re super nervous. The quirkier the date, the less room there is for an awks encounter.
There’s simply no excuse for a boring date in London. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a casual date or more of a long-term thing; the city is crammed with fun date ideas.
Written by Anya Hollands