London’s Best Kept Secret Date Spots

Urban Dictionary has recently coined the term ‘cuffing season’ for the winter phenomenon of wanting to find a cuddle buddy for the cold months. With mistletoe hanging, restrictions lifting, temperatures plummeting and social invites being seb out  — it’s no surprise we crave a special someone in our lives to be ‘cuffed’ to at this time of year.

But where to take your festive date, I hear you cry? Whether you’re looking to cut a rug in an East London discotheque, or frolic in one of London’s best parks - we have you covered. Here’s our rundown of the best secret dating spots across our fair capital:

The One for Dancing

Tucked away behind the more notorious strip of dance bars on Kingsland Road is a different sort of dance floor. Ridley Road Market Bar doesn’t have a music policy or themed music nights, but just plays songs that make your hips move. The chequered dance floor, tiki themed cocktails, pizza van outside and mustachioed bar staff will transport you a million miles away from London, even though the overground connection is just outside.

Ridley Road Market Bar:

The One for Drinking

Behind a hidden Jade Green door on the main lantern-filled thoroughfare of Chinatown lies this secret den of drinking. Have one shot too many and you’ll think you’ve been transported back to the Imperial Dynasty of Shanghai. Dark and plush velvet furniture meets shabby-chic opium den interiors — and the vibe is just right for brewing romance. Chinatown’s Opium is the highlight of London’s flare cocktail bartending scene and we recommend everything — but the most theatrical pour into a dry-ice glass orb receptacle is the Opium Cocktail №1. If you get hungry — the dim sum platters are delicious and reasonably priced.

Reserve a space before hand:

The One for Culture

The Big Smoke has long been associated with a fine theatrical output — but hold off on West-End tickets and head to one of London’s Theatre Pubs. The Kings Head Theatre is London’s first theatre pub since Shakespearean times, and apparently the second oldest in the UK. The theatre space was previously used as a pool hall and boxing ring, but it’s boards have been tread by luminaries such as Kenneth Branagh, Dawn French, John Hurt, Ben Kingsley and Victoria Wood, as well as hosting introductory performances by unknowns Hugh Grant, Steven Berkoff, Alan Rickman, and Joanna Lumley. Impress with your thespian knowledge and then quench your thirst with one of the pub’s speciality ales.

Buy Tickets:

The One for Live Music

Forget Ronnie Scott’s with the expensive tickets and Thames-length queue — the best live music in London can be found at Troy Bar, Hoxton. From the legendary Soul/RnB Night on Tuesdays where everyone from Mary J Blige to Jessie J have secretly graced the stage, through to the infamous Jazz Jam on a Friday, this is the spot for live music aficionados. Rumours have it that after international acts take to the Ronnie’s Stage, they then head to Troy to continue the mayhem into the early hours. Take your better half to Happiness Forgets Cocktail Bar around the corner for some libations before the vibrations.

See what’s on:

Happiness Forgets:

The One that's Outdoors

Order a picnic spread from The Bull & Last pub around the corner, and hop across the street to sit and nibble on Hampstead Heath. Afterwards, take a walk along the Heath to the top of Parliament Hill for Sunset, perhaps via the art collection at Kenwood House, followed by evening drinks at the ever-loved Hampstead hangout — The Spaniards Inn. If it’s good enough to be Harry Styles’ local haunt, it’ll be good enough to impress your date.

Bull and Last:

Walks around Hampstead:

The One that’s Free

Every night upstairs at The Camden Head pub in N1, Angel Comedy puts on the most popular (and free) stand up comedy. Well, it’s pay what you like — but if you don’t like it, you don’t have to give a penny. Household names such as Eddie Izzard and Russell Howard, have dropped by in the past to test new material, and you never know if you might catch the next rising comedy star. If it all goes tits-up and the jokes are running dry, grab a bevvy and walk down The Camden Passage with antique stores and boutiques propped up on it’s pretty cobblestones.

Angel Comedy:

The One that’s a One-Off Experience

Imagine floating down the canals of London in a boat with the future love of your life by your side. Now imagine that the boat is a floating, private hot tub. No, I’m not sniffing the office glue — this is a genuine thing, and having tried and tested it — it’s glorious. Even if it’s a typically London cool afternoon, an ingenious wood-fire heating system keeps the ‘hot tug’ warm, so you can snuggle up and play footsie more than appropriate for a date. Drinks can be included, or if you’re brave enough, hop out to bring in the booze from one of the many pubs along the Canals. Just be prepared to be gawped at by the passers-by.

Hot Tug London:

The Day Trip

Forget Brighton — 2021 is all about Margate. Within an hour and a half’s train ride from St Pancras you’ll be by the sea, and soaking in the glammed-up hipster-ification of this once dilapidated slice of Kentish coast. It’s not all Shoreditch-by-Sea though — the vintage amusement park Dreamland has reopened — home of the UKs oldest roller coaster, and you can pick up some decent original art in the Old Town… and don’t forget the Oysters.

Have drinks in Bar Fez:

Go to The Turner Contemporary:

Eat at The Ambrette:

Find train tickets here: