London's best bars for a first date

We chart London's best bars and restaurants

You've got enough to worry about...

Do you really live up to that picture of you on holiday 3 years ago that you're displaying on your profile? Will that gigantic, unmissable spot on your nose go down in time? ... the last thing you need to be worrying about is finding a suitable venue.

The choice of meeting-spot says a lot about you and not only that: the atmosphere of the venue can really influence how your date goes.

So don't leave it to chance, take a look at our best bars for first dates, they're cool, original and guaranteed to give you the edge on your date. Unless you spend all night talking about Dr Who of course. (Actually, that would make you an awesome date.)

96 Tooley Street SE1 2TH
Region: Borough
Nearest Station: London Bridge (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: If you’re out to impress a prospective partner then go all out with drinks in one of the highest bars in London. The bar at Aqua in The Shard offers accessible opulence, incredible views and guaranteed wow factor.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
Bounce Farringdon
121 Holborn EC1N 2TD
Region: Holborn
Nearest Station: Chancery Lane (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: You know the scene in Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd throws a snowball in Mary’s face? Well that could be you and your date at Bounce ping-pong bar in Holborn, except with a ping-pong ball to the head, rather than a huge snowball. Anyway, that’s a worst-case scenario. It’s much more likely to be flirty, back and forth ping pong with cocktails and no significant facial injuries. And fun.

  • USERS 8/10
Dukes Hotel Bar
35 St. James's Place SW1A 1NY
Region: St. James's
Nearest Station: Green Park (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: The story goes that Ian Fleming was a regular at Duke’s and it was the hotel bar’s Martinis that inspired Mr. Bond’s signature drink. You’ll find Duke’s Bar in the eponymous Duke’s Hotel on the edge of Green Park. Dress up and enjoy the history and romance of one of London’s most special bars.

  • OUR REVIEW 9/10
Evans & Peel Detective Agency
310c Earl's Court Road SW5 9BA
Region: South Kensington
Nearest Station: Earl's Court (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: There are plenty of speakeasy style venues around town but Evans and Peel is a first date winner thanks to its detective agency USP. Phone in for a table, take a case, get in on the act and enjoy. When the venue itself can be your first talking point you know it’s a good place to take a first date.

  • USERS 9/10
All Star Lanes Bayswater
6 Porchester Ga W2 4DB
Region: Bayswater
Nearest Station: Bayswater (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: The west London outpost of the All Star Lanes franchise is one of the most essential. There is diner style eating to be had, craft beers to be drunk and the lure of 1950’s style ten pin bowling for if conversation needs helping along.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 9/10
Ruby's Basement Bar
76 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XB
Region: Dalston
Nearest Station: Dalston Kingsland (0.3 miles)

AIL Says: It’s Dalston but not as you know it. This basement bar on the way to Stoke Newington is a dreamy den ripe for romance. Blackberry mojitos, great music and a lot to look at if you tire of each other’s faces.

  • OUR REVIEW 9/10
The Luggage Room
On the Corner Grosvenor Square W1K 6JP
Region: Mayfair
Nearest Station: Bond Street (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: A refined choice indeed, The Luggage Room is all monograms, cocktails and attractive symmetry. Take your date here and don’t be surprised if you close on a second date before you’ve even taken your seats. Find a secluded booth in the 1920’s themed Mayfair bar and share one of their famous punches.

    Happiness Forgets
    8 - 9 Hoxton Square N1 6NU
    Region: Shoreditch
    Nearest Station: Old Street (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: There’s plenty going on in Shoreditch so starting off in Happiness Forgets means that if you want to move on you’ll have plenty of options available. However, once you’re here that seems unlikely. This dim, basement cocktail bar is as sultry as they come.

    • OUR REVIEW 7/10
    • USERS 8/10
    New Evaristo Club
    57 Greek Street W1D 3DX
    Region: Soho
    Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

    AIL Says: Play it cool and put the feelers out on each other with a quiet drink in the New Evaristo Club. Located behind an unassuming door and located in a (very) simple basement, it has enough mystery to impress but it won’t overshadow the occasion.

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