The Bars of London: A Matchmaker’s Top 7 Picks

12 Sep

London is a city abounding in history and culture, and it’s an oasis of amazing date spots. There are dynamic, attractive, fascinating people galore, and you’ll never be short of sites to see, places to go.

aviary bar

Ahh, the Big Smoke.

London is a city abounding in history and culture, and it’s an oasis of amazing date spots. There are dynamic, attractive, fascinating people galore, and you’ll never be short of sites to see, places to go.

No matter if you’re on that all-important first date or whether you’ve had a few rendezvous, London boasts so many seriously amazing bars. What more could you ask for as you’re getting out on the dating scene?

As a matchmaker at an elite matchmaking consultancy, recommending unique and characterful date spots is part and parcel of my day job. Trust me – if a walk in the park’s a little too casual but a meal feels just too formal, what could be finer for a date than a quality beverage (or three)? Here are my top 7 London bars for your date with that special someone.

1) Aviary, Finsbury Square

One of the capital’s finest new rooftop bars, perched atop the tenth floor of the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel, Aviary boasts some truly magnificent views over the City. Designed by the highly acclaimed Russell Sage Studio, an elegant central bar impressively divides the stylish dining area from the opulent bar lounge. A myriad of beautifully crafted cocktails perfectly complement the botanical theme, and gold drinks cases and relaxed banquettes make for a bright and vibrant ambience.

2) Swift, Soho

Located on Old Compton Street, which has long been one of Soho’s sauciest thoroughfares, Swift brings you two world-class cocktail bars for the price of one. Downstairs: cosy, speakeasy-esque basement. Upstairs: sleek white space (think pre-theatre/after-work round of martinis and oysters). You lovebirds may well find yourselves lost within, ne’er to be seen again (well, not ‘til the birds are chirping, anyway).

3) The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge, Clerkenwell

Have you ever wanted to go on a date in a bar that is strongly reminiscent of your eccentric great-grandmother’s drawing room? I thought so. All in seriousness, though, The Zetter’s furniture may look late Victorian (complete with naughtily uncovered piano legs), but there’s nothing dusty about the drinks. Pack your taste buds with the ingenious trickery of the bitters, tinctures and herbal infusions, and show your date you have no qualms about embracing the postmodernism of your ironical surroundings.

4) Quaglino’s, St. James’s

Everyone has a Quaglino’s story – or so claims the cocktail menu. Quaglino’s has an illustrious history, long frequented by royalty and stars of the silver screen alike. Prepare for some immense nostalgia as you descend the staircase into the art-deco grandeur of the Jazz Age – completed, of course, by a live band playing classics of the genre. The best seats in the house can be found right in front of the mezzanine-level bar. The cocktails are at once decadent and audacious, encapsulating everything Quaglino’s represents.

5) Happiness Forgets, Shoreditch

The venue is as enigmatic as the name. Happiness Forgets is a straitlaced establishment masquerading as a ’50s Southern-US dive bar, masquerading as… well, it’s kind of difficult to say. But with a slogan like Great cocktails, no wallies (who even has a slogan anymore?) and industrious bartenders who will bend to your every whim as you create your own cocktail based upon your favourite flavour or spirit, Happiness Forgets is the ultimate place to show your date that you laugh in the face of tradition.

6) The American Bar, The Strand

Sitting coyly in the Savoy, The American Bar has been consistently rated one of the finest cocktail bars in the world. Indeed, it is historically considered London’s first, founded as it was in 1889, whereafter it would quickly become the local watering hole of generations of debutantes, composers, actors and playwrights. Show your date you mean business.

7) Upstairs at Rules, Covent Garden

First opening its doors in 1798(!), Rules can confidently lay claim to being London’s oldest restaurant. Its décor is appropriately ostentatious, with panelled dining rooms filled with well-heeled tourists. Lesser known, though, is the delightfully old-school bar upstairs, which prides itself on – well – rules. No homemade infusions. reads the sign, No assortments of muddled berries. No ‘cocktail speak’. Don’t try to be clever. Roger that, sir.

Finding love in the Big Smoke

Dating in one of the most fascinating, vibrant, beautiful cities on the planet is wonderful – but you need someone to do it with!

The Vida Consultancy is an international, multi-award-winning London matchmaking agency. We not only help people find love but also get the ball rolling with our unrivalled knowledge of the city’s finest date spots. Our network boasts only the most exceptional singletons, both from London and all over the world, all of them just waiting for that special someone. And don’t just take our word for it – see what our former, extremely happy clients have to say about us!

Get in touch today if you are looking for any further tips or advice on all things dating.

by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.More by this author

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