Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Top 10 London Date Venues

Thanks to a well timed tweet we discovered this fab list of great date venues from Looking for Love in London and had to share it with you! 

"Despite having had more than my fair share of shoddy date venues over the years (Cattle Grid was just one of many!), I have also been taken to some lovely places too. My most recent fave was Four O Nine which I’ve already talked about on the blog, so here are 10 other places which I recommend (in no particular order)…" 

This may not look a very exciting choice at first glance, but this has to be one of the most memorable date venues I’ve been taken to – there are a few Breakfast Club’s around London, but I’m specifically talking about the one at Spitalfields. I went here on a first date about a year ago and was slightly confused when the guy picked a place more suited to a breakfast/brunch date as his venue of choice for after work drinks. Once we got there and he went up to a waitress and told her “We’re here to see The Mayor” I thought he was definitely off his rocker!! But this was, in fact, the code that meant she then opened up a ‘Smeg fridge’ in the café and lead us through it(!) and downstairs to a funky hidden away cocktail bar called The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. (They ask you to leave through a different door so as to not spoil the Smeg fridge secret.) I think it’s a really fun gimmick for a first date and definitely helps break the ice…and now you know the code, go and try it out!

Talking of gimmicks, the entrance to the lounge bar at Callooh Callay is in a similar vein to the Smeg fridge door. This is a fun, quirky bar in Shoreditch which I went to a couple of years ago now (on another first date!). To get from the main bar to the lounge bar you go through a huge old-school Narnia-esque wardrobe. All the furniture/décor is retro too so again it makes for a first date venue which is a bit different to the norm.

From one extreme to another, Aqua is just off Regent Street and is much sleeker and more modern. It has two restaurants – a Japanese one (Aqua Kyoto) and a Spanish/tapas one (Aqua Nueva) but I’ve only ever been there for drinks at Aqua Spirit. There is an ok indoor bar area (nothing too special), but what I liked about it was the outside rooftop terrace, which is perfect as we’re heading towards Summer and (hopefully) some sunshine! The drinks are pretty pricey but it’s nice for a pre-dinner drink/yummy cocktail. My first experience of it was slightly tainted by the fact I was with Mr Baileys (and yes, he drank Baileys on a sunny rooftop!), but the fact that I still loved it means it must have been good!

I’ve been taken to Gordon’s Wine Bar by FOUR different guys, meaning it’s clearly not the most original recommendation to make. It's just by Embankment, and with a cosy atmosphere and copious amounts of wine, I see it as a pretty fail-safe date venue (as clearly so do a lot of guys!) It's also the oldest wine bar in London, don't you know! Although there is a small outdoor area, I think it’s much more of a Winter place, especially as it has an ‘underground’ feel to it and lots of candles, which makes it feel uber snug when it’s freezing/raining outside.
As Vertigo 42 is a champagne bar at the top of Tower 42 in the City, the main draw to this place is the view! I got taken here by a bit of a knob if I’m honest (a guy with a serious case of short man syndrome – maybe that’s why he picked a venue at such a great height!!) but I can’t deny that the views were pretty awesome. If you’re feeling extra flashy there is also Gary Rhodes’ restaurant, Rhodes 24, in the same building which you could then go on to for some food…I’ve been there for dinner with a friend though and we weren’t massively impressed!

I’ll admit I didn’t really know much about Bluebird until it appeared in pretty much every other episode of Made in Chelsea. When I then started dating a guy who lived just off the King’s Road, he said he would take me there as he was also a big fan of the show (a bit weird, I know)! We went for dinner and it was actually really lovely and much less pretentious than I imagined – the food and cocktails were both yummy, and I’ve been back again since just for drinks. There is a bar, restaurant AND café, so whatever time of day your date is, this is the perfect venue…and there’s also the added bonus that Hugo and Spencer might be sat at the table next to you (although other people might not be as excited by this prospect as me!)

This was another place chosen by Mr Baileys – what he lacked in choice of drinks, he made up for in choice of date venue! Nopi is tucked away off Regent Street so I would never have known about this place. The food was ‘tapas style’ in that you order a bunch of small dishes to share, which did traumatise me slightly as he insisted on ordering (and forcing me to try) rabbit – I had a pet rabbit when I was a kid, so it just felt wrong!! However, I see from the website that rabbit now appears to be off the menu :) The food and ambience was really nice but as we’ve now discovered, I like a gimmick and this has a fab one…just look at the toilets!! Best not to tell your date and then leave it as a surprise for them to discover (and try to find their way back out of)!

8. The OXO Tower
This one is a bit of a cheat as I’ve actually only been to the OXO Tower for lunch with my parents, but I remember thinking that it would be a fab date place. We went in the Summer and were sat on the outside terrace with great views along the river of all the London landmarks that the Southbank has to offer. It is split into the more pricey ‘Restaurant’ and the more reasonable ‘Brasserie’ – we went to the Brasserie and the food was gorgeous and beautifully presented so I would say save your pennies and go there!

9. All Star Lanes
Some people might scoff at the idea of going bowling on a date when you are approaching the age of 30 but I think it can be great fun, especially if you get to the point where you think there may be issues of awkward conversation pauses if you go for dinner again on the next date. Also, I must point out that I’m not suggesting you go and hang out with the teenagers at Hollywood Bowl but instead that you do ‘grown-up bowling’ (as I call it!) at All Star Lanes. There are a few around London and they’re cute and retro themed…and have proper bars (alcohol is always a plus)!

I think a great fourth/fifth date idea is a good old Sunday pub lunch – I say fourth/fifth date as you have to be at the point where you feel comfortable enough with the guy to (a) not need vast quantities of alcohol to be involved, and (b) be able to scoff a full-on Sunday roast in front of him! Obviously there are tons of good places around London for this but a couple which I love in my neck of the woods are The Avalon and The Windmill on the Common. 

Sorry, that turned into a bit of an essay…but do go and try them out if you’ve not already been! :) 

Thanks so much Looking for Love in London, keep up the good work!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Dating Olympics

So, as we come towards the end of these wonderful Olympics, we thought it was time to do the noble thing and assist the good Lord Coe in his quest to ‘inspire a generation’. It's possible, of course, that finding unique and entertaining dating activities wasn't exactly what he had in mind for the legacy of London 2012, but all the same, every little helps... right?

The Rowing Date

A real favourite of The Great Date Guide and surprisingly easy to achieve even within central London. For the dating version we’d suggest a bit more of a paddle than the exploits you’ve been watching on Dorney Lake, and in this case, adding a glass or two of Rosé and a few nibbles tends to get the best results. Try the Serpentine boating lake in London’s Hyde Park, or hire a boat in Richmond for a gloriously scenic trip to Ham House.

The Cycle Classic

One of Team GB’s most successful disciplines, so why not give it a go yourself with a bicycle themed date. Perhaps the Velodrome is not the most romantic of locations, so try a Boris Bike cycle ride around central London’s most iconic spots, or perhaps a sunny cycle in the slice of the countryside that is Richmond Park, complete with champagne and a luxury picnic? Lycra, of course, is optional…

                                                                                             Ⓒ Transport For London

A Spot of Gymnastics

Don’t worry, we're not suggesting you attempt a floor routine to win your date’s respect  (although a spot of trampolining could work?) Instead, head out of central London and test your acrobatic skills with a trial of Sphering. Rolling down a hill at 30mph strapped into a giant ball has just got to count as sport hasn’t it?

Wet and Wonderful

Show off your strokes with a watery date on top of London’s swanky The Berkeley Hotel. With a roof top pool and spa to tempt even the most water-shy daters amongst you, this makes a truly exclusive and glamorous date if you’re prepared to splash out a bit (....ahem...).


Miss Mary x

Friday, 3 August 2012

London Wonderground: A great place for a date

One of our intrepid daters dropped us an email today to say that they'd discovered the London Wonderground earlier in the week and reckoned it made a pretty great date! This is what they had to say...

We stumbled upon this amazing site when strolling down the Southbank on a glorious Wednesday afternoon. The excitement built as we could see the fairground ride towering above the Thames, just below the London Eye. Our inner child couldn’t resist the thought of swinging around a pole at stratospheric heights over the gorgeous city of London!

The temporary Wonderground has two fairground rides, including this carousel at dizzying heights, and a slightly tamer roller-coaster. On approaching the rides, we soon realised that there is loads more to this festival than just two fab rides. At the centre of London Wonderground is a seating area that looks like John Wayne could appear at any moment, surrounded by charming wooden stalls hosted by the likes of Pimms and Magners. Delicious. Could this festival have been made for us?!? There are wonderful nooks and crannies to hide in and talk the evening away and soak up the atmosphere of London’s Southbank.

Following our refreshment of Pimms in a secluded, wooded corner of the festival, we explored the area to find that there was so much more to drink in: cabaret, comedy and music. We didn’t have time to indulge further but we will certainly be back, armed with a plan. This time we had an appointment to make at Wahaca which was the perfect way to end our exhilarating day at the fair: a vibrant, distracting and delicious venue to complement our adventures down the road!

The London Wonderground can be found at Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX