5 Alternative London Date Ideas
Even in London, one of the most exciting cities in the world, thinking of a fun date idea can be a tough ask. To avoid spending hours narrowing it down to that one trendy bar, here are a few tried and tested alternatives.
The world of dating has changed beyond recognition over the last decade with online profiles and mobile apps becoming the norm. If you are one of the 90 percent of men, myself included, who lack even the most basic conversational skills, just getting that attractive Tinder stranger to send you her number can seem like the biggest achievement. It's as though the initial hard work is over and only the good part, meeting in person, is to come. Yet as much as it is the company that matters, the best way to suggest a meet is to already have a great date idea in mind.
This has to come top of the list. It is surprising how many girls say they are keen to try the sport as soon as it comes up in conversation. And why wouldn’t they? Its fun, active and adventurous, whilst easy to do and doesn’t involve the heights that may put some off traditional climbing walls.
No equipment is needed. Just turn up in your smartest shorts and t-shirt, don a colourful pair of rented climbing shoes, dust your hands with chalk and you will never have looked as attractive. It's easy to pick up so, even if you are relatively new to the sport, she is likely to be impressed by what you can do.
Cost: Registration is normally free. Entry ranges between £10 – 13. Shoes and chalk rental for £3 – 5. All in all, just over £15 each. No more than the price of two cocktails from Be At One.
Venue: There are a few options in London, including Vauxwall or The Arch down south and Mile End out east. The largest, and in my opinion the best, is further north at The Castle Climbing Centre in Finsbury Park.
We all know girls love a guy who can make them laugh. Why not take the pressure off yourself and allow a professional to do that for you. London has probably the best range of comedy clubs in the world, from large, famous venues like the Comedy Store in Soho to lesser known establishments like Downstairs at the Kings Head in Crouch End. All have their own charm and can make for a seriously fun date.
Do think carefully when choosing the venue. One experience of Comedy Carnival put me off this as an idea for a long time. The acts were brilliant but it was cramped and loud, which made the whole thing quite awkward. In contrast, Top Secret Comedy Club consistently has great comedians combined with spacious, comfy seating, cheap drinks and an incredible atmosphere.
If you prefer the smaller clubs, where the acts can be hit and miss but it is worth it for the untested, edgier style of comedy. Angel Comedy Club, which is free (though they will ask for donations), is a great example. If you do opt for a club like this, it is best to be certain your date is open minded.
Cost: On the weekend normally between £10 – 20 but in the week it is possible to get very cheap, or even free tickets.
Regent's Canal Walk
It is a given that any first date will end up indoors somewhere, possibly with food and definitely with alcohol. With what is left of the British summer though, it is best to make the most of the outdoors whilst we still can. There are hundreds of great walks in London, whether beside the Thames, through parks or along regenerated former railway lines.
The walk along the Regent's Canal, between Kings Cross and Camden, really stands out from the rest. To begin with there is the architecture. From traditional town houses and community gardens to old gas towers converted into apartments and to top it off a floating Chinese Restaurant. The diversity within a couple of short miles is striking. It is also one of the few places you can experience that dense urbanism alongside the more rural feel that comes with seeing geese swim amongst decorative canal boats.
The main benefit is the destination. From whichever side you set off, the end point will be in area with a great selection of bars and restaurants and, in the case of Camden, one of the most famous markets in the world. If time allows, a few extra minutes on foot will lead to the top of Primrose Hill where you can take in one of the best views of the city.
Venue: Kings Cross/Camden
Rooftop Film Club
Whilst the cinema is normally a poor choice of first date (you won't be building any connection sitting in the dark not talking), the Rooftop Film club offers a different twist that could set the scene for a lasting romance.
Rather than rock up at Cineworld, overpay for popcorn and squeeze into an isle with enough leg room for a six year old. Why not spend a sunny afternoon drinking cocktails on the Queen of Hoxton roof terrace before watching as the sun goes down, the deck chairs come out and the area is converted into a cool outdoor picture house.
The club has a few locations in and around London and normally offers a good choice of films. Although it goes without saying, however sophisticated you may want to appear, for your own sake if not hers, do not pick a subtitled Spanish language film about a Communist Chilean poet. You will regret it!
Cost: £15 per ticket
Venue: Bussey Building, Peckham / Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch / Roof East, Stratford / The Roof Gardens, Kensington
Hidden in plain sight in Exmouth Market, a small pedestrianised area of Clerkenwell, Café Kick is a real find. Whilst a sports bar might not be the obvious choice to take a date, and I would suggest avoiding match days, this probably the most charming small café/bar in London.
It has an authentic Spanish feel, although I think it is meant to be a mix of European cultures. The beer selection is certainly diverse with at least 13 to choose from and the cocktail list even more so. The food is real quality and to top it off, there are three football tables on which you can demonstrate your chivalry by letting your potential future partner win. That is unless she already has far better reactions than you, in which case it could end in embarrassment.
Cost: Food and drink: normal London Prices / Table football: £1 per game
Venue: Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell