By Sophie Watson
So, you’ve found someone that you fancy enough to take out for a first date. You’ve even agreed to meet for a drink (which, with London prices, means you must really fancy them). Of course, once you’ve decided on drinks, it is time for a tough decision. Where are you going to go?
According to most sources, there are at least a couple of thousand pubs in the Greater London area. Great news for those who like to mix it up when it comes to drinking, but those looking for a romantic venue may find the choice overwhelming. That’s where this list comes in. The following is a (very subjective, yet genuinely tried-and-tested) rundown of London’s best pubs for a first date, helpfully arranged so you can best match the bar to the type of date you have in mind. Now all that’s left to decide is what on earth you’re going to wear…
Best for…London skyline views: Frank’s Cafe, SE1 0SW.
London can look pretty good on a clear summer night, and there is something enchanting about watching the sun go down over the city with someone special. There are quite a few bars-with-a-view in London; but if you find Sushisamba at the Shard too suave and Vista at The Trafalgar too touristy, you might wish to head to for a multi-story car park in Peckham (and yes, you did read that right). Here you will find Frank’s Cafe, a summer-only bar that has just reopened for 2014. As well as food, drinks and art, Frank’s offers one of London’s best panoramic views – totally romantic, even despite a particularly high hipster factor.
Honourable mention: Paramount, WC1A 1DD. With creative cocktails, a 60s retro-futuristic aesthetic and spectacular views, this is an option for those well-heeled types who prefer to stick to the city centre. Just don’t do like Stephen Fry did and get stuck in the lift!
Best for…a secret hideaway: Brewdog Shoreditch, E1 6LA.
At first glance, Brewdog’s Shoreditch branch looks just like any other little East London hangout. A few tables that fill up pretty fast and that’s it. However, if you want to see more, head down the stairs and…well, without giving the game away, try and have a look at what is hiding behind the skeletons. It won’t be long until you find the clandestine entrance to Underdog, a romantic, candlelit cellar where craft beer cocktails and occasional live music are on offer. Head here and reap the brownie points that come from being in on a Shoreditch secret.
Honourable mention: The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, E1 7LS. Head to The Breakfast Club’s branch in Spittalfields and ask a staff member if you can see the mayor. Your date will think you mad; even more so when you open the door to an old Smeg fridge and head inside…
Best for…craft beer fans: Euston Tap/The Cider Tap, NW1 2EF.
A Victorian gatehouse just outside Euston Station is home to one of London’s best craft beer bars. The Euston Tap offers a rotating selection of 8 cask ales, 20 keg beers and over 150 bottles from all over the world. What’s more, the Tap’s petite size is ideal for romance. The sought-after tables are the right size for intimate conversations and, if there’s no room inside, the heated beer garden is a perfect place to visit during a will-it-rain London summer. And if you or your date don’t like beer? There is no need to worry: directly opposite the Euston Tap is the Cider Tap, another Victorian gatehouse full of craft booze – only this one specialises in cider.
Honourable mention: The Old Brewery, SE10 9LW. Located in the heart of historic, romantic Greenwich, this bar also boasts an extremely local craft beer selection. In fact, much of it comes from the Meantime Brewing Company just down the road. If you and your date find yourself falling for the local stuff then you may also want to look into booking a tour at the brewery itself: the tasting session alone is worth it!
Best for…urban greenery: Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, SE1 8XX.
London’s hippies will smile the minute they climb the bright yellow stairs that lead from the Southbank Centre up to this garden above the Thames. Created with help from the Eden Project, this summer bar boasts views of the Thames, St Paul’s and Big Ben – alongside British wildflowers, a woodland garden and even a vegetable patch! What’s more, all the planting has been done by volunteers from a charity that uses gardening as a form of therapy. All-in-all, it’s a pretty lovely place that’s bound to leave you feeling a bit warm inside (especially so when you explore the garden hand-in-hand with someone special).
Honourable mention: Dalston Rooftop Park, E8 3DL. Another summer-only venue, this is the place to come if you fancy the idea of weekly outdoor cinema screenings, roof parties and cocktails made with produce from the on-site veggie garden. And, although you need to be a member to get in, it is hardly ritzy – a fiver will get you a whole summer’s membership
Best for…riverside relaxation: The White Cross, Richmond. TW9 1TH
Yes, technically this one is in Surrey – but the commute is worth it. This Grade-II listed pub is right on the Thames; so close in fact that the pub terrace/entrance tends to flood and get cut off at high tide! But don’t worry, the staff provide wellies for anyone wanting to brave the waters, an event that is getting increasingly popular (they even list the high tide times on the boards outside the pub). Splashing around toddler-style in what is essentially one of London’s biggest puddles might not be a classic romantic move but it is sure to make for a pretty unforgettable date. Just make sure to lay claim to a pair of wellies nice and early: wet feet will probably (ahem) dampen the mood.
Honourable mention: Tamesis Dock, SE1 7TP. A converted 1930s Dutch barge moored on the Thames sounds like a pretty good spot for drink, right? What if that boat also provided views of parliament, live music, pub quizzes and even World Cup screenings? Tamesis Dock is one of London’s best summer destinations, especially if you want to woo your date with a romantic location yet can’t stand the idea of missing the footy. Just be sure to be in early to secure a spot on deck: maximum capacity is about 150 people.
So there you have it. Ten London drinking venues that provide the opportunity for ten very different and yet still romantic dates. Of course, choosing the right venue doesn’t guarantee your date will go well. Booze can’t really create long-term chemistry, even with the powerful aid of beer goggles. However, bad drinks dates do have a silver lining: if it does all go pear-shaped at least you won’t be far from a decent drink! (Responsible drinking always encouraged).
Sophie Watson is an author for ELITESINGLES. You can follow her on Google Plus
For more London dating ideas, please visit ELITESINGLES UK