The Most Unexpected Spots For Romance In London

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Dating in London can be tough. The endless rounds of first dates, second dates and near misses mean that it’s easy to get into a rut whether you happen to be a dating pro or settled into something more long-term. Moonlight walk along the river? Check. A trip to the Serpentine? How many more times can we really do it? Sliders and whiskey sours in Soho? Been there, done that.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Kick-start your appetite for romance with off-the-beaten-track locales that ooze charisma, charm, and ambience — and all feel just a little bit surprising. And hey, even if the one you're with doesn’t turn out to be quite what you were hoping for, at least you'll have had an interesting night out. In the mood, much?
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Photos: Courtesy of Wilton's Music Hall, The Wapping Project, Rivoli Ballroom, and Tate Britain
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Late the Tate
Everything feels more exciting after dark. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Tate Britain. Its ongoing Friday night series Late at the Tate offers a stimulating array of performance, film, and music nights after the museum’s official hours. The lights are dimmed, the galleries are cleared of screaming school children and the bar is laid out. Walk around the echoing chambers and soak up the atmosphere — or get up to no good. Your call.
Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG; the next Late at the Tate: April 5, from 6 – 10pm. Last admittance 9pm.
The Rivoli Ballroom
What better way to get the blood pumping than to get your feet stomping? And what better place to shake a tail feather than in the Grade Two listed Rivoli Ballroom? Frankly, it’s a little hard to imagine how this flamboyant venue came to be in the leafy enclave that is Crofton Park. But we're into it. The main ballroom (oh yes, there are two) is heaving with chandeliers, gilt cornices, and red velveteen booths to cosy up to a paramour in. And you don’t even need to know the jive from the lindy to enjoy yourself — it’s enough just to step through the doors and let the intoxicating atmosphere of this place wash over you. Prepare to be spellbound.
The Rivoli Ballroom, 346 – 350 Brockley Road, Crofton Park, SE24 2BY; open the first and third Saturday of every month and the first Sunday of every month.
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The Lido Café
Who doesn’t love doing it alfresco…You know we mean swimming, right? Yes, London’s Lidos hold a special place in our heart. None more so than Brockwell Park Lido whose fabulous art-deco café is a fantastic place to go for a low-key dinner à deux. With the twinkling waters of the lido behind you and the gentle chatter of fellow diners nearby, it’s hard not to imagine yourself on the Riviera. Okay, we might have gone a little far there. Swimming isn’t allowed after dark, but really, if there is a will, there’s a way, right?
The Lido Café, Dulwich Road, Brockwell Lido, London, SE24 0P
Photos: Courtesy of Tate Britain, Rivoli Ballroom, and The Lido Cafe
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St Dunstan's Church in the East
Looking for somewhere to go for a daytime date? Check out St Dunstan’s in the East. This medieval church was severely damaged during the Blitz and has been a public garden since 1970. An oasis of calm for city workers during the week, it's only at the weekend that its date-spot potential is revealed — because no one goes there. Apart from a lost tourist or two, you will not be disturbed. Throw the most elaborately fancy picnic of your life for the one you want to impress. No one with bother you. Trust us.
St Dunstan’s in the East Church, St Dunstan’s hill, off Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 8DX; open 8 a.m. to 7p.m., seven days a week
Wapping Project
If you like your dating venues with a side of gritty urban realism and a smattering of Victoriana gothic then the Wapping Project is just the ticket. This former hydraulic power station is a restaurant, installation space, and garden-shed bookshop (seriously, seeing is believing) all rolled into one. Whatever you and your date feel like doing, you’re bound to find it here. From mind-expanding exhibitions to mind altering cocktails, it truly offers everything you'd want to discover together.
The Wapping Project, Wapping Wall, London, E1
Wilton’s Music Hall
In the mood for a little knees up mother brown? Then the one and only Wilton’s music hall is the place for you. It’s the earliest surviving music hall still in existence in London and still puts on productions today. It’s the Mahogany bar that draws our attention though. The faded grandeur of the once magnificent bar is worth the trip from Tower Bridge tube alone. Grab a window seat and let the hours roll by, oh and if the date’s a huge success, Wilton’s is available for weddings too. Just so you know.
Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Grace Alley, London, E1 8JB
Photos: Courtesy of Wilton's Music Hall, The Wapping Project and The City of London corporation
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