If the plethora of adverts on the Underground are to be believed it seems people have become incapable of meeting each other without the help of a dating.com. Apparently we are all too busy to find our other half and so need some complicated computer algorithm to calculate compatibility with another. What the adverts fail to explain is, if you don’t have time to locate someone, then what are the chances of having time to subsequently date them, and then have a relationship? But perhaps that is by the by. So, having carefully pored over your online profile, uploaded a flattering photo (taken five years ago) and selected your profile preferences, you can press enter and let the Internet take care of the rest. Well, no. Unfortunately not. Having identified your matches it is really up to you to do the hard bit – make contact and then finally meet them! But what to do and where to go? One very good thing about Internet dating is you should have a pretty good idea why the great big dating computer in the sky matched the two of you, so here are some dating ideas in London where you can make the most of your shared interests.
You both love a good book?
It might seem reading is a pastime difficult to share, but fear not, for London always has somewhere that you can start the story of your love affair. For budding couples whose relationship is based upon a love of literature there are two bestselling options.
First up is the brilliant British Library and its Peyton & Byrne eateries. You can choose anything from a quick coffee to great hot food. There are in fact four places to grab a bite; the cafe, The Last Word cafe, Espresso Bar but most impressively the first floor King’s Library restaurant.
With a great selection of good food, and a nice atmosphere of the quiet chatter of scholars and students, what is most impressive is the backdrop of the King’s Library Tower. A glass-encased bookcase running through centre of the building, displaying a stunning array of old and rare books collected by King George III – plenty to keep two book lovers talking about.
But if the thought of a date in a library is perhaps a little dull sounding then a good alternative is the bustling South Bank Book Market, tucked under the Waterloo Bridge. The market has row upon row of second hand books as varied as the South Bank shoppers. Wrapped up warm on a cold winter’s day brings up images of classic British romantic comedy; it is only too easy to image a spluttering Hugh Grant and his floppy hair bumbling his way through a first date.
What better to way that to suss out your date than by discovering if they have a hankering for well a thumbed Agatha Christie, a handwriting-covered old Shakespeare or someone’s cast-off 50 Shades… Whatever their taste, once you have had enough of shopping you have one of any number of restaurants or bars to head to for a little more literary chat.
There are also a range of literary nights around London – take a look at our blog post on the topic for some inspiration.
You both love the gym
Red faced, sweaty and panting – even for sporty types that wouldn’t be the ideal way to start your first date (though perhaps it is the way to end it). You may share a love affair with the gym, but let’s be honest: it’s not a place for budding romance.
But there great first date options for the energetic. Monument was constructed to mark the rebuilding of the city after the great fire of London in 1666. But this is not a history lesson, and it’s the 311 steps up the spiral staircase that will get the heart pumping. And for all the physical exertion you are rewarded with beautiful panoramic views – it seems a fair swap.
You both love a drink
Dinner and drinks is the classic first date, but how to make it different? Why not head down to the Breakfast Club in Spitalfields. Decorated to follow the 1980s movie theme, the strikes the right balance between quirky and try-hard in an area that has more than enough wannabe trendy bars.
But it’s at the end of the meal when you can really impress. Ask first for the bill before requesting to see the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. Your date may think you have lost the plot, and could be forgiven for thinking so, but what happens next is a quirky little surprise. Your waiter will now lead you to a large Smeg fridge, although opening the door doesn’t give you a view of three cans of beer and some limp old celery (really, is that just my fridge?!), but a stairwell to a secret cocktail bar – descend for some speakeasy fun!
You both have a GSOH
It would be a strange first date that didn’t have some laughter in it – whether hearty chuckles or nervous giggles – but if you’re both into being amused, take the pressure off your own conversation and go watch wannabe comedians instead at the Comedy Store’s Gong Show.
The monthly night held at the Comedy Store club between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus will have you crying with laughter and squirming with discomfort for the amateur comedians up on stage trying to keep the baying crowd amused. It isn’t for the faint hearted, but there will be no lack of conversation as you and your date analyse the successes and cringe-worthy failures among the performers.
You both enjoy quiet nights in with a bottle of wine
No matter what your compatibility score you can’t invite someone round to your flat for dinner on a first date. It, quite rightly, is a bit creepy, potentially dangerous, and for the host gives no escape route other than inviting them to look at your front lawn and slamming the door behind them. But there is another way of getting that homely feeling without having to have 999 on speed dial – a supper club.
A supper club is where you go to an unknown house to be cooked dinner by someone you have only ever exchanged e-mails with and pay them to cook you and a bunch of strangers dinner. London is awash with them as supper club mania takes over the city with plenty of different locations, venues, cuisines and price ranges on offer.
My favourite is that of food blogger, photographer and culinary master Leluu (www.leluu.com) who offers 10 course menus of incredible and delicious delights in the comfort of her beautiful home. The evening costs £35 and it’s bring your own booze.