The Ultimate Guide To First Date Spots in London

Choose the right venue, and the rest is easy... ish

First dates can be stressful enough without having to pick the perfect place to meet ya match. That's why we've gone ahead and done the work for you - so you focus on sharpening your wit and looking banging, hun. From snug speakeasies to swanky cocktail bars, these are our failsafe spots for fun first dates in the capital. 

The Vault at Milroy's A basement bar hidden inside Milroy’s, our favourite whisky shop. Head inside, nudge the bookcase, get down the stairs and get into the sh*t-hot drinks, good tunes and easy vibes. This is one of Soho’s best-kept secrets, so it’s bound to impress. Order up something spiked with whisky and get cosy. 3 Greek Street W1D 4NX

Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour Step into Chinatown, and keep a lookout for that jade-coloured door. Inside is 1920s Shanghai, where you’ll find legendary bar staff, crazy smoke cocktails and epic dim sum. Pow. 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE

La Bodega Negra This place does Soho proud. Lead your date downstairs to the tequila cellar bar and get a couple rounds in. If getting tipsy on tequila surrounded by the super-cool worn-down decor and the smell of some of London’s best Mexican food isn’t enough to make this date a good one, you can head to the adjoining restaurant and make a run for it through the neighbouring sex shop - the world’s most ironic date escape route. 16 Moor Street, W1D 5NH

Swift This Irish coffee heaven has two floors with distinct vibes, so assess what you're going for on your date and act accordingly. Wanna keep things super casual? Stick with the upstairs, which is walk-in only and serves aperitivo-style drinks. But if you're pulling out all the stops on date number one, go ahead and book in downstairs, where you two can settle into a booth and sample a few of the 250 whiskies they keep behind the bar. 12 Old Compton St, W1D 4TQ

Bar Termini Get an espresso to shake you up (these Italians are taking coffee old school), order two Rose Negronis and ask the pros to keep 'em coming. Reservations here work on a strict one-hour-only slot, and the staff will come and tell you when your time at the table is done: there’s your escape route sorted. 7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE

Cahoots We don't endorse asking people out on the tube, but asking them to go on a tube-themed date? Yeah, we can dig it. Step foot inside an old tube carriage complete with vintage TfL carriage seats, white underground tiles and "Mind the Gap" notices. The theme continues with the cocktail menu, with ration-inspired cocktails garnished with peardrops and crumbled Oxo cubes, served up in teacups, Thermos flasks and milk bottles. 13 Kingly Ct, Carnaby, W1B 5PW

Temper This is a BBQ meat mecca found right in the heart of Soho. Don't bring a vegan here, but any meat-loving date will be all over it. Grab a seat at the bar for a full evening of theatricals - watch the ginormous hunks of meat sizzle away before being brought straight to you. Thirsty? These guys have a wicked mezcal menu that you need to check out. Broadwick St, Soho, W1F 0DF 

Quaglino's Hidden down the back streets of old-school Mayfair, you'll find this swish party restaurant/bar/fail-safe date place. Like you’ve stepped into a scene from Titanic, think splendour and v glam - remember to put your glad rags on. Head to the bar for cocktails overlooking the vast restaurant below. 16 Bury Street, SW1Y 6AJ

Brasserie of Light For a first outing that will go down in history, grab a seat at the bar of this epic Selfridges restaurant. You'll be able to see your date reflected in the gleam of what feels like 1000 mirrors. There's gold leaf, those cute little Art Deco lamps, and what look like mini disco balls hanging from the ceiling. It would all feel a little extra if it wasn't so damn fabulous. And that f*cking ginormous Pegasus flying overhead with its 30-foot wingspan designed by Damien Hurst will provide endless chat. Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, W1A 1AB

Bob Bob Ricard If you've got the cash to flash on a first date, then it's got to be Bob Bob Ricard, with its lavish 1930s-style bar. Downstairs it's all private, with everyone getting their own train-like booth, so if the date goes well you can get to know each other better... And you've probably heard about the Champagne button in each booth, which delivers a glass in seconds. You're on fire. 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF

Sketch This one is perfect for a double date: you’ll want to debrief with your bestie on how things are going mid-evening, and Sketch offers the perfect excuse 'cos everyone here loves heading to the toilets for a selfie. Seriously, the loos here are little white eggs that play bird songs on loop, and you and your mate can go hide behind them to discuss whether or not you want to swap dates. 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG 

Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour Head to the back of Mr Fogg's Tavern and up to this Victorian-era gin den and living room, with enough gin to send you time travelling (we’re talking 315-plus gins). 1 New Row, WC2N 4EA 

Noble Rot Like stepping into 1940s Paris, everything in this place is très vintage, from the green walls to the huge windows, refurbed light fixtures, dark wood panelling and those roaring log fires. All the wines are wicked, with bottles from underrated countries like Croatia and Greece and hard-to-find labels that’ll keep the wine snobs happy. Pair the vino with some bar snacks and you’ve won date night. 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB

Evans & Peel Detective Agency If you haven't pulled this one out the bag yet, do it. Buzz the bell and head down for your "appointment" with a pro investigator - you gotta go all role-play and chat with Mr Detective about a case you need solving. He’ll then lead you to a secret hideaway behind a bookcase (classic) and you take it from there... 310c Earls Ct Rd, SW5 9BA

Serpentine Bar & Kitchen Agreeing to a daytime date always seems like a casual plan until you realise you’re without the important end point of being kicked out of a bar at last orders. Plan something active so that being tired leads to a sit down, which will lead to booze, taking you back on the dating straight and narrow. We say rent a boat on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park; afterwards, get a bottle of wine and a wood-fired pizza at the Serpentine Bar. Done. Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, W2 2UH 

Nolita Social If you want a date with a taste of glam, this subterranean basement bar filled with dark corners and the chilled vibes of Little Italy in the '70s is the spot to hit up. It's impressive, and you'll look hot in the golden light of the back bar.  The cocktails, which nod to famous songs from the '60s, '70s and '80s, are brought to life with the killer live music sessions four nights a week. 4 Knightsbridge Green, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7QA 

Little Mercies If you're both north London locals, this neighbourhood bar is prob already on your radar. If it isn't, go discover it together, 'cos it's wicked. It's super chill, and they have a pretty special cocktail menu which will give you both plenty to talk about. Grab a spot in the window and let that natural light do you justice. 20 Broadway Parade, Crouch End, N8 9DE

Ladies & Gentlemen This place used to be Kentish Town’s public lav, but it’s now a slick and sexy cocktail bar. Climb downstairs and dive behind the blue velvet curtain for secret live music and some of the best Old Fashioneds like, ever. Oh, and it’s damn small, so you’re probably gonna have to get in close; you’re welcome. 2 Highgate Road, NW5 1NR 

69 Colebrooke Row AKA the bar with no name. It feels like you've stepped right into an old-school Italian cocktail joint when you slip into this cosy lil bar. It's pretty much always busy in here, often with a piano tinkering away in the corner, so you can easily blend into the bustle as you stumble through those classic awkward first date moments. The cocktail list is epic, so get stuck in. 69 Colebrooke Row, N1 8AA

Sweeties POV: you find out your date is partial to a gym sesh and a smoothie bowl loaded with adaptogens. Take 'em to the 10th floor of The Standard hotel, where they can sip on cocktails made with mood-boosting functional ingredients, and you can eat an entire bowl of Parmesan cheese as a bar snack. You'll also get bonus points for the impeccable disco vibes and wicked views - everybody wins. 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG

Hoxley & Porter Is this a bar or an opulent train carriage travelling express from Cape Town to Cairo? Who cares when the booze is good? With loads of quirky drinks on offer and garnishes like absinthe-soaked scorpion, and decadent but epic Art Deco meets House of Hackney decor, you’ll never run out of things to talk about. 153 Upper Street, N1 1RA 

Nine Lives Found beneath the cobbles of Bermondsey Street, this basement has some serious tropical colonial vibes going on. They call it "Tropicalifornication" – think cascading leaves hanging from bamboo scaffolding and cosy shag covered seats parked on parquet floors. The best bit? There's a shuffleboard in the corner. Challenge your date to a game to get the measure of them - loser buys the next round. 8 Holyrood St, SE1 2EL 

Bermondsey Arts Club Another toilet-turned-bar joint, this basement spot is all '30s Art Deco with a marble-topped bar and original tiling. The drinks are seriously on point with grappa cocktails and incense stick garnishes, natch. Get there for the mid-week jazz sessions, art collabs and live music. 102A Tower Bridge Road, SE1 4TP

Lyaness One of our faves, and a great date spot - sexy, but not in an over-the-top way. With wicked riverside views, this place has an extraordinary menu that'll wow you (and provide a failsafe conversation starter). It's all the work of London bartending legend Ryan Cheti and his team. If you want an epic first date story to tell your grandkids, this is where you need to head. 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9P

WC This shabby refurbed public toilet bar has got south-of-the river date night written all over it. From the sexy candlelit curtained booths to the old wartime love letters pinned up on the toilet walls, romance is the name of the game here, so get a-wooing. Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AJ 

Gremio de Brixton Forget messy spaghetti or sushi (we love it but no one wants to snog a salmon seaweed cone), first dinner dates are all about the tapas - and this restaurant is f*cking cool. It’s hidden underneath an old church, they take reservations so you can avoid awkward small talk in the queue, and it’s super sexy - we’re talking bare-brick walls and flickering candles. Order some sherry with a couple sharing dishes and work your way through the mega Spanish wine menu. St Matthew’s Church, Brixton Hill, SW2 1JF

Backyard Cinema No, you don't need a private jet to take your love interest to Miami Beach on a first date - just book in at this immersive cinema and take in a classic film (hello, Dirty Dancing) while sipping tropical cocktails and gettin' snuggly in the theatre's giant bean bags. 42 Newington Causeway, SE1 6DR, UK

The Laundry Wine them and dine them any time of day at this Brixton bistro, which used to be a steam-press laundry. It's got bangin' brunch, lunch and dinner dishes, all accompanied by a next-level wine list and killer cocktails (we're looking at you, Salted Caramel Espresso Martini). Bonus: there's plenty of awesome outdoor seating year-round. 374 Coldharbour Ln, SW9 8PL

The Gibson This pimped-out Edwardian style bar has officially killer cocktails, and you can't go wrong with its namesake drink (though maybe pass on the pickled onion garnish if you plan on leaning in for the smooch). If this place doesn't impress, well, they're definitely too high maintenance. 44 Old Street, EC1V 9AQ

The Last Tuesday Society Anticipating awkward silences on your first date? This place is dripping with conversation starters. If the weird and wonderful menu or collection of old school McDonald’s Happy Meal toys doesn’t give you something to talk about, the two-headed taxidermy cat will - and the absinthe cocktails should also keep the chat flowing nicely. 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP

Hawksmoor Spitalfields This is where the friendliest bartenders in the city work, they’ll give you a wink when your date turns up and pour you something strong if they don’t. It's one of the best bars for killer cocktails, and the bar food is ideal if you can’t book a table for dinner upstairs. Need something to steady your nerves? Order a Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew: gin, ginger syrup, lemon juice and ale. 157a Commercial Street, E1 6BJ 

Coppa Club, Tower Bridge With a terrace opening out onto the South Bank and those Insta-famous igloos for snuggling in with killer views of London Bridge, this is a great spot to sit during the daylight hours and into sunset. When the sun goes down, hop inside, soak in the bustling Italian-style atmosphere and tuck into some cocktails before a romantic walk along the river. Winner. 3 Three Quays Walk, Lower Thames St, EC3R 6AH

Loves Company This hangout has it all: banging cocktails, locals street art, top tunes and gourmet motherf*cking TOASTIES. Cocktails are banging, made with homemade syrups, liqueurs and spices. 104-122 City Road, EC1V 2NR

The Cocktail Trading Co You can’t not have a good time at the booze playhouse that is Cocktail Trading Company, and the cocktails will do nothing but impress when they rock up in welly boots, miniature graveyards and Chinese take-out boxes, with epic garnishes like candyfloss and maple bacon noodles. Enjoy the playlist of party classics, and when Purple Rain comes on and the lights change to violet, that’s your cue to start dancing. 68 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, E1 6GQ

ABQ Inside this abandoned-looking RV, you'll find a science lab/cocktail bar... and a scene straight out of Breaking Bad. Don a giant rubber jumpsuit (a nice opportunity to see how your date looks in head-to-toe latex!) and get to work making bubbling cocktails. You can't fail to have fun in this crazy place. 18 Bohemia Pl, E8 1DU

Doña Make your way down the stairs to this basement bar, and you'll see why it's one of our faves for a little romancing. With red walls, pink feather boas and low lighting, it's the perfect spot to let 'em know you're looking for love - and even if you don't vibe with your date, you're gonna fall head over heels for all the mezcal. 92 Stoke Newington High St, Clapton, N16 7NY

Discount Suit Company Find the most run-down building you can find on Wentworth Street and look for a cheap-looking suit shop. You’ll spot a subtle entrance. Scoot in there and down to the snug lil speakeasy. It’s all candlelit and cosy as sh*t, so it's the perfect place to get all up-close and personal with your potential love interest. 29 Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1 7TB

Sager + Wilde Don’t get nervous if you’re dating someone who knows their sh*t when it comes to vino - even the most extreme wine connoisseurs will have trouble picking a bottle quickly at this place. Be safe in the knowledge that they only serve the best here, so if you’ve got to order you won’t end up choosing a bad one. If you want more reassurance, remember that the team here worked with Domaine de la Cote in the Santa Rita Hills to create their very own Pinot Noir. It’s epic, pick that one. 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE 

Flight Club Can’t deal with the awkward first date chat? Score a bullseye at this epic Shoreditch darts bar instead; when the small talk dries up, just start shooting arrows. There’s real time live scoring, wicked beers and British boozer vibes, this one is perfect for a chilled, fun date. Alphabeta Building, 2A Worship Street, EC2A 2AH

Do Not Disturb Take your date through the keyhole of this epic basement bar in The City and you'll find a hot spot for your clandestine rendezvous. Once you're in on the secret, you'll find a den of old-school Manhattan glamour, with killer cocktails - a mix of barrel-aged serves and twists on classics. Yum. 20 Garlick Hill, EC4V 2AU

Oriole You can't beat this killer Smithfield's bar. Oh boy, is it rockin’, with its upmarket tiki-chic vibe and palm print walls. There are lots of two-top tables by the bar for hot dates, plus live music to set the tone - think jazz, funk, swing and blues to shake your hips to. Don't forget, you’re here for the cocktails, and they’re gonna blow you away. Expect original, daring and adventurous creations served up in beautiful and weird vessels. East Poultry Avenue, London Central Markets, EC1A

Updated 28/07/22

Want more date ideas? Check out our fave spots for dinner dates