If the songs and the rom-coms have taught us anything, it’s that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year when it comes to love. With fairy lights illuminating your path, pine-wood and mulled wine smells floating through the air—it’s hard to imagine a more romantic setting than winter in the city. If you’re looking for some unique winter date ideas in London, this list will provide you with a range of ideas from vintage cinemas and drinking out of a hippo, to visiting a pub covered in Christmas trees.
A Stop by the Silver Screen
If the snow’s coming down, if there’s a chill in the air, or if it’s just starting to get a little bit too cold for wandering around, you could consider heading indoors to watch something on the big screen.
The Electric Cinema in Notting Hill offers a great ambience as one of the oldest cinemas in London. It even offers the option to pay a little extra (from £15 pp, depending on showing) for a sofa or a ‘bed’ (which is basically a larger cushioned area on the floor with pillows) which you can comfortably share with your special someone as you watch, or, spread yourself out and get cosy on a solo-date.
If you’re looking for a slightly more modern experience, you could consider surprising your date with tickets to London’s famous Backyard Cinema. Based at Capital Studios in Wandsworth, it has a range of film-themed rooms, making the whole night an immersive experience and taking you right into the universe of the film. With giant beanbags and plenty of food and cocktail options—this is more than just a cinema trip, it’s a full-on production. Prices for a screening start at £15 per ticket and work their way up to £40 for a VIP booth with table service (note: the booth is for a max of four people).
Markets – Mulled Wine’in and Dine’in
For reasonably priced, freshly made food, the best places to go are always London’s markets. For half the price of a restaurant dish, you can get your food made right in front of you and support a local business while doing it. There’s also a certain charm to huddling together under a heater, sipping on some fresh mulled wine and slurping up ramen (who said romance was dead?).
Some of the best all-year markets include Camden market, which is full of colourful charm and also boasts an array of clothes and trinket shops for you to browse for treasures and thrift to your heart’s desires, if you’re looking for something more exclusively food-oriented, Borough market is your dream come true; with a history dating back to the 1800s, Borough market now hosts over 100 vendors. If that tranditional festive feel is what you’re after, then there’s the annual Southbank centre winter market.
However, if the weather is unbearable, and you’re looking for a more inside option, Padella, which is tucked away in the corner of Borough market, offers an assortment of incredible high-quality fresh pasta dishes for surprisingly low prices (£7-14 for a main). They also have a great seasonal menu that changes with each month, making this a great place to return to (should the first date go well…).
Drinks – at The Gibson
The Gibson, a passion project of drinks master Marian Beke, is a specialist cocktail bar with a large range of unique drinks. With drinks starting at £7, you’ll be delighted as you receive your drink in a glass shaped like a Hippo; with fresh fruit in the teeth, edible flowers flowing around it and smoke pouring from the mouth. Or perhaps you’d prefer a ‘Yamikazi’ served in a cat, or a tequila-based ‘Rosita’ whipped up in a glass cactus.
With a monthly menu, the Gibson sports a range of cocktails from classics to completely experimental. Tucked away on Old Street, the bar is small, low-lit and intimate. The perfect place to experience something a little out of the ordinary.
Look for Love in Notting Hill
This wouldn’t be a list of London date locations without a shout out to Notting Hill. After the release of the 1999 film by the same name, Notting Hill has seen a slew of hopeless romantics walking its streets in search of beauty, romance, and their very own Hugh Grant. (See our article on film lovers guide to rom-coms in London to follow Mr Grant’s footsteps.)
Notting Hill really does live up to its romantic reputation, with charming shop windows covered in snowflakes and fairy lights, the streets lit up for the holidays, and Portobello market visiting every Saturday, it’s the perfect location to go for a romantic walk-about.
If you’re really looking to wow, you could finish the night with drinks at the famous Churchill Arms pub. The Churchill, affectionately known as ‘the Christmas tree pub’ has already jazzed itself up for Christmas, with a record number of trees (both inside and outside) and over 21,000 fairy lights illuminating it.
For year-round ideas, see our article – London dating on a budget.