First dates can be scary as you never quite know how you’ll react to each other. Choosing where to go can make all the difference between establishing a rapport or deeming the outing a complete failure. We’ve selected five of the best ideas in East London that combine an encouraging blend of cosiness for two with some entertaining distractions that are sure to help you break the ice and give you plenty to laugh and talk about.
1. Rooftop Bar and Restaurant
You’ll never be stuck for words if you head for the Sushisamba restaurant perched on the top of the thirty-ninth floor of the Heron skyscraper in Bishopsgate. It’s lively, exhilarating and serves delectable Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese fare such as crispy taquitos, Kobe chargrilled beef, sushi and scallops. The amazing cocktails are a great talking point. One to try is the Lychee Cooler that’s made from lychee juice, coconut milk, St. Germain and Grey Goose. But you and your new date can have great fun admiring the panoramic, 360 degree views which must be some of the best in London. You can enjoy spotting iconic skyscrapers such as the Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie along with famous old relics including the Victorian Spitalfields Market. Nearby is every Cockney’s favourite church, the 11th century St. Mary-le-Bow, whose bells summoned Dick Whittington and his cat back to the capital. On the way to your date, you can call in at the local Bank of England’s Museum and see if you can meet the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street who is supposed to haunt the grounds of the bank.
2. Picnic Boat Cruise
Enjoying the fresh air as you cruise along the River Thames is a novel way to start your relationship. You don’t need a special licence to steer the boat yourself, but to keep you both happy, remember to bring your own delicious picnic lunch. There are several boat trips to choose from, but the Paddington Cruise from GoBoat takes you past some of the best sights of East London, giving you both plenty to chat about. The route includes the nine mile Regent’s Canal that’s edged with picturesque Georgian houses. Little Venice is one of the most beautiful spots in London and is famous for its relaxed, romantic atmosphere. The route is lined with trees, bridges and canal barges. You’ll love sailing through the Maida Hill Tunnel. It measures 249 metres and takes at least two minutes to travel its dark, spooky length, giving you every excuse for attempting a cosy cuddle or two. The final part of the cruise includes Camden Lock, one of the trendiest places in London for enjoying lively, canal-side cafe culture.
3. Cabaret Style Dinner
Capture the mood of a bygone era with a glamorous dinner date that includes an entertaining jazz style cabaret. It should provide you with something to discuss throughout your meal, ensuring you avoid those awkward moments where you don’t know what to say to each other. A popular venue with a particularly intimate atmosphere is Quaglino’s near St. James’s. Founded in 1929, it has had a host of celebrities through its doors, including the Hollywood singing legend, Judy Garland. From your cosy dinner table you’ll be able to admire the tiny stage where the musicians and singers perform. It doesn’t matter if jazz isn’t your favourite music, it’s the romantic atmosphere that counts. And the delicious food of course, which includes Herefordshire fillet steak, wild salmon, seafood, caviar and blinis. Just add a bottle of Champagne and the night’s sure to be a success.
4. Quaint Country Pub
Take your date to Hampstead Heath for an amazing day out that combines romance, the fresh air of a countryside ramble, spectacular views and a delicious meal at one of the quaintest pubs in London. You can call in at the home of the tragic poet Kohn Keats and see the engagement ring he gave to his beloved Fanny Brawne and the garden where he penned his famous Ode to a Nightingale. Continuing the Regency theme is the Hill Garden and Pergola which has beautiful Italianate pools and vistas. There are also winding paths amongst shrubberies that wouldn’t look out of place in a Jane Austen novel. The highest point of Hampstead Heath is Parliament Hill, which has tremendous views of the city including, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and the Shard. For refreshments, call in at the Holly Bush pub. It’s an idyllic eighteenth century pub with wood panelling, soft lighting, cosy fireplaces and a romantic atmosphere. There’s also a selection of cask ales and delicious food ranging from afternoon tea to traditional Sunday roasts.
5. Indoor Golf
A strategy that virtually guarantees your first date is a resounding success is to make sure it’s filled with fun and laughter. And there’s nothing better than a round of crazy golf at Swingers where the atmosphere is fun, friendly and often frenetic. You can have an awesome time getting to know each other as you laugh your way round the selection of nine-hole golf courses. Play for masses of fun as you wander the decorative fairways that are full of crazy obstacles such as lighthouses and windmills. You don’t even have to play golf, but you and your date can still have a really good time relaxing and watching other people play. You can also enjoy listening to the great tracks being mixed by the visiting DJs. And talking about mixing, Swingers is famous for serving fabulous cocktails such as a Margarita, Mint Julep and Caipirinha. There’s also delicious street food on offer including deliciously hot and spicy Mexican tacos, Italian pizzas oozing with cheese and classic burgers with fries. Whatever the weather’s like outside, you’ll find everything you need at Swingers to make sure your first date fizzes with fun.