30 Dates blogger and Time Out’s Head of Dating Charly Lester picks her top five London bars and pubs for a date.
1. Rise46, Battersea Rise
With a red rose on every upturned barrel table, this 1920s-style bar is one of the most romantic in London. Try to book in advance as it’s tiny, but well worth the trek south of the river! Rise46 would be my pick for a second or third date, as it’s really cosy and intimate. Slap bang in the middle of Battersea Rise, there are heaps of food options around, if you want to make the night longer. And if you go on a Monday or Tuesday, all the cocktails are two for one.
2. Prince Albert, Battersea Park
Nestled beside Battersea Park, and named after the neighbouring bridge, the Prince Albert is my favourite spot for a relaxed pub lunch date. The wide, open bar has a really homely feel, complete with fittings and furniture taken straight out of your front room. Dogs are allowed, so why not combine lunch with a walk around the park? Need a menu suggestion? The fish finger sandwiches are to die for!
3. The Cadogan Arms, King’s Road
The place to go for a cocktail date with a difference. The daring cocktail menu provides the perfect icebreaker on a first date. The head mixologist loves to experiment, so don’t be surprised if your drink is topped with a meringue-like foam, or smells of vinegar (thanks to fruit shrubs). Be brave – some of the ingredients may seem rather odd, but they all taste incredible. And if your date is going well and you decide to stay at the Cadogan for dinner, you won’t be disappointed.
4. Evans and Peel Detective Agency, Earl’s Court
A great choice for a surprise date, or an anniversary celebration. The Detective Agency looks like an office from the outside, and when you get buzzed in, you head into an office, where one of the detectives will talk through ‘your case’, so make sure you have a funny, personal mystery to discuss when you book. Once you’re properly inside, the speakeasy is rather dark, and pretty pricey (so not a go-to first date option), but the cocktail list is inventive, and the American-style tapas in keeping with the theme.
5. Mr Fogg’s, Mayfair
I always say dating should be an adventure, and there aren’t many London bars more adventurous than Mr Fogg’s. There is literally a hot-air balloon hanging from the ceiling! With every inch of the walls, floor and ceiling covered in Victorian artefacts, stepping inside Mr Fogg’s is like stumbling into an officers’ mess during the Boer War. The fictional Phileas Fogg’s former abode is in the centre of Mayfair, and as a result it isn’t cheap, but it boasts a cheeky touch of escapism missing from its stuffier neighbours, and is a real experience. Another good option for a surprise date or special occasion. Go for the cocktails, not food.
Thirsty? Here’s our guide to the best 100 bars and pubs in London.