January 4, 2016
Submitted by: Susan Ashby
London is one of the world’s great cities so you really have an advantage when finding the perfect place to take a first date in London. If you’re both from London that can make it a little more of a challenge, but you still have plenty of great choices. Let’s look at some of the well known spots, as well as some not so well known that will impress your date the first time out in London.
Depending on your preferences, and your date’s preferences, you need to start weeding out many of the ideas you have for a first date, in a city where there is so much to choose from. Let’s say you’re very traditional, so you are probably looking to have a drink before dinner, a good meal, possibly take in the cinema, or a show at a theatre, or maybe a little late night clubbing after dinner.
If your plans include a full night like this, first make sure your wallet is full, then narrow down your options geographically. Getting around London sounds pretty easy via the tube, but you’ll want to stay in the same area as you have a busy night planned. Start with the restaurant and narrow down from there. If you are incredibly desperate and need to impress your date with a very expensive restaurant, start with one of the four in the city that has earned Michelin Stars, provided they will have you. Make reservations far in advance if possible, and be prepared to spend 45 to 90 pounds per meal. Michelin Stars indicate a very serious restaurant. The Greenhouse and Gordon Ramsay have Modern European menus, Hakkasan is Modern Chinese Food, and Locanda Locatelli serves Italian fare. While these meals are very expensive, they can take up much of the evening so you don’t have to worry about going to the cinema or theatre or whatever you had planned for after dinner, saving you a little money. Look at it as an investment of both time and resources!
If you think you can get away with not spending as much on food, there are many gastro pubs in all areas of town where you can get a decent meal much cheaper along with a drink or two, prior to moving forward with your date. This is a better option if you are still going to take in the theatre or cinema after you’ve eaten. Depending on your taste in movies, you may need a few drinks to get through that too! Taking a date to a movie you wouldn’t otherwise go to see yourself is never a good idea, and many of London’s Cinemas are prepared for that with licenses to sell alcohol.
The cinema district in Leicester Square is the most well known in London. Every few weeks the opening of a Hollywood Blockbuster or an Indie film brings stars to the area for a premiere. Other theatres in London that are not in the most famous cinema districts are just as good, and much lower in price. You’ll have far less of a chance to spot celebrities but they are in the movies anyway, so who needs to see them in person! It’s generally a disappointment anyway in one way or another. They are often shorter than you thought they’d be, they can tend to be rude, and quick to issue restraining orders if they think you are stalking them. It’s just not worth it!
London is no longer a city that closes early. Clubs can stay open all night if they want to, however most have only expanded their hours by one or two. That still gives you until 2:00 or 3:00 am to take in some live music, dance, or just drink some more after the theatre or cinema. The West End is probably best for club, pub, and bar hopping, but there are many good spots in the centre of the city as well. Whereever your next stop is, the trains run all night and the west end has a large rail terminal so you can get home safely.
Soho may be your choice for clubs, often with the large gay community that calls Soho home. Finding any kind of music you enjoy will be easy enough in this part of town unless of course, you or your date are real basket cases and enjoy accordion music or something similar. If that is in fact the case, you’ll want to call it a night anyway. For the rest of you, the Soho or The West End may be what you’re looking for. They offer Hip Hop, Funk, R&B, and numerous other types of music and dancing. My personal recommendation is to go to any club that has one name. They are all good. From Cargo to Umbaba, they are all much easier to remember the next day if someone happens to ask you where you went.
If you and your date are a little more cultured, there are plenty of good museums, historical sites, natural areas, and great architecture in London to enjoy. These types of venues give you the chance to show how smart you are, read up before hand on whatever attraction you are going to. If you don’t, it is permissible to just make it up, but be ready for problems should your date be more intelligent than you! One suggestion for a museum for a first date is to go to one you know something about already. The Clink Prison Museum for example is at 1 Clink Street, London, SE1 9DG. The Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum may also be a good choice; you probably already know how to drink both. If you are not opposed to learning however, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington is quite good, as is the Science Museum, also in South Kensington. Both of these close quite early, and you can still get to any pub or club you like fairly early.
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