The weather is finally on the turn and I’m very excited.
Personally, I love the colder months. I am a winter beast, built for boots and coats and things with sleeves, but most Londoners are feeling pretty neg about the imminent cold snap. The urge to hibernate is strong, but I’ve asked some of London’s top bloggers to help coax you out of your bed and into a bar. Grab a date, mate or good-looking stranger – here are eight winter date ideas.
My pick? Grabbing a steaming cup of molten ‘Aztec’ hot chocolate from Paul A. Young after a mooch around the Lights of Soho neon art gallery and lunch in front of somewhere with a roaring fire, like the Dean Street Townhouse or L’escargot. In the evening, eschew a traditional dining experience and choose a supper club from Grub Club. (And get £5 off with the code CURIOUSLONDON11. My favourite is A Little Lusciousness – wear your stretchy pants!)
I’m not into bar dates in London. They usually involve shouting polite pleasantries at a decidedly impolite volume in packed basement boozers while squinting in the dim (sorry, SEXY) lighting and through the mound of foliage they’ve used to garnish my uber-hip cocktail. If you want to avoid awkward silences and still get in a round of Dutch courage, go on a pub crawl with a difference. A walk from The Spaniards Inn in Hampstead (where Dick Turpin’s dad was landlord and his spirit still wanders alongside that of his horse Black Bess, who apparently haunts the car park) to The Flask in Highgate will take you along the northern edge of Hampstead Heath, which is bleak and beautiful in wintertime. As well as the ghost of a Spanish barmaid who’s said to linger around blowing down customer’s neck, The Flask serves great food and has plenty of cosy, fire-lit corners to hide from the ghosts with your date. If the threat of a spirit attack isn’t an excuse to huddle close for protection then I don’t know what is!
For me, winter and theatre have always been a great match. There’s something special about getting dressed up and going to the theatre to see a festive show. A dream winter date for me would involve getting dolled up and heading to Sadler’s Wells to see the latest from the best ballet boy in the country, Matthew Bourne, and his new production of The Red Shoes. After getting our cultural fix, we could head to Hoxley and Porter on Upper Street to nestle down amidst the art deco surroundings and make our way steadily through their excellent cocktail menu!
I love the idea of the rooftop Winter Cinema at The Berkeley, one of London’s top luxury hotels. It sounds like the ideal way to spend a date, wrapped up in a fluffy blanket with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie whilst watching winter classics.
London can seem dark and dreary in winter, so the best way to enjoy the city is often either indoors, or surrounded by bright lights. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum needs to be booked in advance, but it’s absolutely worth it – each and every photograph is stunning, and I love the way they’re lit up in a maze of dark hallways. (Pro tip: book a morning slot to avoid the crowds and get an unobstructed view of all the orcas and polar bears!)
Afterwards, hop on the tube to Central London, where you can go ice skating at Somerset House. This rink really does have a magical feel about it… it’s designed by Fortnum & Mason, so no wonder! To warm up and save your wallet a little, head to Bibimbap in Soho and indulge in a hot stone bowl of rice and vegetables, topped with your choice of meat, seafood, or veggies. It warms the cockles like nothing else (especially if you add the chilli sauce on top), and it’ll set you back less than a tenner. And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try Abeno Too near Leicester Square, where the okonomiyaki (Japanese omelette) is prepared before your very eyes. A perfect day of culture, exercise, and Asian food – what more can you ask for in winter?
If we’re talking autumn, it’s a great time for a long walk in a leafy park. My girlfriend and I took a leisurely stroll through Hyde Park a few days ago and it’s so beautiful this time of year. Simple things like watching squirrels burying nuts, encountering the feral parakeets near the north end of the Serpentine, and just hearing crunch of fallen leaves under our feet were all delightful ways to decompress and enjoy our time together.
As for a date in the wintertime, London is home to some the best bars in the world. Grab a drink, claim a cosy nook and have an actual conversation. A few of my favourite watering holes at the moment are The Beachcomber Bar in Notting Hill, The Pink Chihuahua at El Camion and Bar Termini, both in Soho, and the Shepherd Market Wine House in Mayfair.
Get on Greenwich’s parks and pubs
Alice Tate (@ALICETATE_) – Flash Anthology
Winter dates are the BEST dates. You have to come close and keep me warm, yes you DO. My fave thing to do (so long as it isn’t raining) is go out on a long old stroll, then going to get warm (and boozy) in an oldy-worldy pub somewhere. I’m talking mulled wine ALL afternoon long, ’til you get hungry then you can have a roast. Dreamy.
I love Greenwich for that. It’s got the park and the pubs. CHEAP date huh?
I actually love the Hippodrome Casino’s Heliot Steakhouse – don’t be put off by the fact that it’s in Leicester Square! The food is incredible (and reasonably priced) and the atmosphere is always electric. It’s huge but there are countless spaces to cosy up – including the hidden rooftop bar – and Soho is just around the corner if you fancy a potter around afterwards.
Winter in London is a scene set for romance, especially when it’s not raining and the weather is crisp and bright. I like a good stroll along Regent’s Park during golden hour. It’s a nice way to have a proper conversation over takeaway hot cocoa or, better, holding hands. It’s enough of a workout to whet one’s appetite on the way to Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, which is my favourite date night spot all year round. Imagine dining inside La Table Lumiere, the restaurant’s private dining area featuring a luminescent oval curtain – it’s almost like eating in a room of snow, ice, and everything that sparkles. To top the night off, martinis at Manetta’s Bar at Flemings or The Connaught Bar will definitely ward off the winter blues (and fire up some romance!)
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.