First dates are awkward by nature. Whether you’re a serial dater or not at all, mastering The First Date isn't always easy. What's more, while it's great that online dating has upped the dating game, bursting the cyber bubble and meeting a prospective partner in an offline, real space is more daunting than ever.
Good news is, there is no better time to date than in the summertime: there's more to do and plans are less rigid because you aren't restricted by the weather, leaving room for spontaneity. And luckily for Londoners, some of the best first date spots are right under our noses.
So, if you want to bite the bullet and plan that all-important first date, here are London's best date spots this summer to give you some inspiration.
Spend a lazy Sunday at the Barbican Conservatory
The Barbican Conservatory is a utopian oasis hidden within the brutalist-style Barbican complex. Open only on Sundays and bank holidays, you can enjoy afternoon tea or just wander around. A Sunday lunchtime date is sweet and romantic, and who knows where the day will take you.
Get a drink at the Underbelly Festival on Southbank
London's Southbank is a hotspot in summer and is brimming with bars and restaurants. The Underbelly Festival – situated between the BFI and the London Eye – is the perfect date spot day or night. Either grab a G&T and some grub or stay for the evening entertainment: the Underbelly plays host to live circus performances, comedy shows, cabaret and more. Plenty to see and plenty to talk about.
Roam around Richmond Park
Richmond Park has the seal of approval from David Attenborough, so you know it's worth a trip. If you or your date is a nature lover, or if you'd prefer a more quiet and relaxed first date, pack a picnic and take a stroll around the park.
Hire a pedalo in Victoria Park
It's not quite The Notebook, but hiring a pedalo or a rowing boat is romantic, not to meantion couple activities break down any awkwardness. Whether it goes well or not (i.e. you fall in the lake), there's a story to be told (and you can always go to the pub after).
Watch a film outside at the Rooftop Film Club
Going to the cinema on a first date may seem a bit teenager-y, but taking your date to a picturesque outdoor cinema and watching a classic film at dusk sets all the right moods (and you can cuddle under a blanket).
Rooftop Film Club is set over four locations: Kensington, Stratford, Peckham and Hoxton, and this summer is showing everything from old classics like The Graduate to new critically-acclaimed award winning films like Nocturnal Animals and Hidden Figures. There's bound to be something you both want to watch.
Have a drink at Madison
If you’d prefer your first date to be alcohol-infused, don’t settle for any old bar. It’s summer, after all, so get up above London's skyline and onto a rooftop bar. Madison, next to St Paul’s Cathedral, is the ultimate date spot in London, with stunning views and the tastiest cocktails. We defy anyone to not feel smitten at sunset.
See an Exhibition
Going to an exhibition on a first date shouldn't be overlooked; it's good to experience and discuss common interests and lets you learn a lot about each other. There are exhibitions running all over London all summer long, including Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave (on at the British Museum until 13 August), which showcases the work of Katsushika Hokusai - one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists.
Have a nightcap at The Nightjar
Photo: Jerome Courtial
For a dose of old-school glamour and some heightened flirtation, The Nightjar it should be. The sexy speakeasy-style bar is cosy and dimly-lit (perfect for intimate conversation); the cocktail menu is inspired by historical eras and there is a backdrop of jazz and blues music playing. Note: you must book ahead online.
Dine al fresco at Pergola on the Roof
Pergola on the Roof is the ideal date spot in summer. With five restaurant kiosks offering different cuisines which are self-service, it feels more like a big beer garden than a serious one-on-one dining experience, so no pressure.
Picnic on Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill's romantic views set the right tone for the first date. Bring some food to graze on while you enjoy some sunshine, and maybe pop a bottle of prosecco...
Explore Kew Gardens
Kew is London's largest UNESCO World Heritage site with beautiful landscapes, botanic gardens, glasshouses and cafés. If you're looking for somewhere pretty to explore in the sunshine and grab a bite to eat, Kew Gardens is the place for you and your date.
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