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For single people in London, first dates are something to look forward to, at first. You've managed to their telephone number, you've flirted a bit via text and finally they've agreed to go on a first date with you. Now comes the hard part; overcoming the awkward silences, embarassing moments, and the decision of which bar, restaurant or pub is best for a first date in London. You've got one less thing to worry about now as Cupid's little helpers at Fluid London are with you all the way thanks to our handy guide to the Top 10 best London Bars, Restaurants, Pubs and Clubs to go to on a first date. They're sure to help capture hearts, romance blossom, create interesting conversations, and cut through awkward silences like a red hot samurai sword through butter. All you have to worry about now is what to wear.
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson
Fitzrovia / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
For a quirky, hot date in a secret Japanese garden, check out this creative homage to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland story. The Tipsy afternoon tea, served from 7pm to 9pm, includes the dainty savouries and sweet treats shaped like characters from the book. Plenty of talking points here and the four mini cocktails served with the arrangement will help smooth out any edginess. It's also a great place for people watching (at Long Bar especially) and the Central London location is swanky and convenient.
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Japanese
They're tricky, first dates. Do you commit to going for dinner only to find that the conversation's dried up before the starters have been cleared, or not book somewhere and risk having nowhere to go to if the initial drink-and-chat goes well? Aqua Kyoto, with its adjacent bar aqua spirit, offers the perfect solution. Start off with some of London's best cocktails in the impressive but welcoming bar, then if (as we hope) you both want to extend the evening, pull up a seat at the open sushi counter. As you continue to work your magic on your date, highly-skilled chefs will work theirs turning out beautiful Japanese dishes perfectly suited to sharing.
City of London / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Meat
City of London - If only there were a stylish, comfortable, relaxing, sun-drenched, rooftop, hidden gem, cocktail bar and lounge in London that had spectacular views of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, City Hall, the Shard, St Paul's Cathedral, the River Thames and the Gherkin. If only this secret bar had two large rooftop garden terraces that came replete with outdoor bars and BBQs throughout the day. If only the cocktail list was imaginative enough to spark your date's interest. Oh, how romantic it would be if this cocktail bar actually existed. If only (see above).
WC - Wine & Charcuterie
Clapham / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
As first date locations go, an underground toilet might, at first, have your date turning their nose up but tell them it'll all be OK. Descend the antiquated staircase round the back of Clapham Common Tube station with trepidation, and excitement, then settle in for wine, charcuterie and candlelit romance in one of the coolest settings in London. If you don't get a second date, you didn't want them anyway. They clearly have bad taste!
Pennethorne's Cafe Bar
Westminster / Bar / Cuisine: Modern European
Pennethorne's Cafe Bar in the iconic Somerset House is a cosy, romantic spot for a first date in London. The menu brings classic flavours from France and Italy with a modern English twist. The menu features all-day dining small plates, ideal for sharing with a date. At the heart of the menu is the bakery, located on site at Somerset House and baking specialist breads and pastries throughout the day. Served morning, noon and night, a coffee brew bar, artisan coffees, craft beers and the finest selection of English, French and Italian wines.
Boyds Grill & Wine Bar
West End / Bar / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: British
Trafalgar Square - First dates are something of art to those who practice them regularly and choosing the bar or restaurant for your first dalliance is key to the love affair's longevity. Your rendezvous point should be a little showy, but overtly so. This decadent restaurant on Trafalgar Square is blessed by good transport links (for quick getaways), plus a direct link to the hotel if things go really well. And, the restaurant offers excellent value so you can do it again, and again.
Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings
Clerkenwell / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Brasserie
Part abandoned country house, part grand cafe, Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings is one of Clerkenwell's hippest venues. Located just off Exmouth Market, the stunning bar and restaurant is somewhat of a playground for grownups, who can stop by for a coffee during the day, feast on modern British fare in the stately dining room, sip cocktails at the antiquated bar or simply seek refuge in the luscious greenhouse. Basically, a one-stop shop for anyone on who is dating in London. Menu favourites range from rabbit and hazelnut terrine in bacon to lime and Castelvetrano olive cheesecake. But being a Bourne & Hollingsworth venture, the cocktails are the stars of the show.
Soho / Bar / Cuisine: Cafe
Why commit yourself to a whole meal on a first date? If you don't hit it off by the aperitif you have to sit through three (or two if you're lucky - but try not to look too cheap) awkward courses before you can escape. No, cocktails and a dessert is much safer. And, if you do actually happen to like your companion, you can snuggle amid the dim lighting on cosy couches while polishing off grown-up desserts.
West End / Restaurant / Cuisine: French
West End - This gorgeous little French restaurant in Covent Garden is unassuming from the outside. Romantic from the word go, it features stone sculptures and tree branches with blossoms; think The Secret Garden married to Narnia. The intimate seating and French cuisine will have you French kissing in no time at all.
Cantina del Ponte
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Italian
Shad Thames - So, perhaps music, dancing and quirky bits n' pieces are not your thing. If you're in the mood to simply enjoy a gorgeous view overlooking Tower Bridge, this restaurant might just be what you need. Try romancing over lobster and salmon ravioli, for example. Then take the all-important stroll along the River Thames before going in for the kiss.
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