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John's Top 5 Warming Winter Venues

Tuesday December 3, 2013

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Last time I gave you my Top 5 Winter Dating Venues but let’s be honest, cold is cold. Even the most intrepid of couples will feel the need to warm their proverbial cockles and romance rarely follows frostbite.

So I’ve bowed to your non-polar protestations and here are a few of my favourite corners of London guaranteed to heat the hearth of your hearts and perhaps help kindle that small spark of romance.

1. Ye Olde Cheddar Cheese
Originally a 13th Century guest house owned by a Carmelite Monastery, the pub was rebuilt in 1667 following it’s destruction in the Great Fire of London.

Prime Ministers, Royalty, Voltaire, Thackeray, Dickens, all have graced the catacomb of corridors and rooms that make up this historic hideaway and there is no shortage of snug, warm corners for the two of you to ensconce yourself for an evening of ale based indulgence.

It’s a Sam Smith’s pub as well so expect very cheap beers and wines.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Wine Office Court,
145 Fleet Street,
City of London,

2. Vertigo 42
It ain’t cheap.

This has to be clearly stated lest I be sued by potential suitors.

But if you’re up for a bit of indulgence then Vertigo 42 is guaranteed to impress. Located high above the city in Tower 42 - the former Nat West Tower – this west facing bar takes full advantage of London’s spectacular sunsets. Watch the fog roll in along the Thames as the sun sinks below the horizon and the lights of the city come alive.

Spectacular, impressive and ridiculously romantic. Just don’t start a tab.

Vertigo 42
Tower 42,
25 Old Broad Street,

3. Red Bar at Bam-Bou
Step through a wonderfully coy restaurant in a Georgian townhouse in understated Fitzrovia and head up the stairs to the deceptively private Red Bar.

It feels like the sort of place that should be jammed to the rafters and yet the sense of space and intimacy make it the perfect date venue.
Combine this with wonderfully attentive staff and justifiably lauded cocktails and you could be forgiven for thinking it had been designed just for you.

It’s the bar equivalent of that effortlessly cool friend that everyone has who is also a bloody nice person.

Red Bar at Bam-Bou
1 Percy Street,

4. Ruby’s
A basement hideaway in a former Chinese restaurant that combines a speak easy cool with a relaxed and calm atmosphere at odds with the usual uber ache that dominates Dalston. This is chilled relaxation at its finest without skimping on trendy.

The friendly and knowledgeable staff serve up an exceptional range of cocktails including the house special – Blackberry Mojito served in 1940’s Manchester milk bottles. Book a table, kick back, indulge in a languid atmosphere that lends itself to skinny jeaned romance and enjoy DesignMyNight’s Best New Bar of 2012.

76 Stoke Newington Road,
N16 7XB

5. Beach Blanket Babylon
The most fun I’ve had in many years and I’ve been to a lot of bars, Notting Hill’s Beach Blanket Babylon (BBB) combines French country estates with soft velvet sofa’s and a touch of Liberace - all housed in a small Georgian mansion.

Opulence and indulgence are key words here. And there’s something for all weathers - Dining Al Fresco on a luxurious patio or cosying up on a plush sofa by an open fire; all are possible.

The cocktails are infinitely drinkable and the general atmosphere may just make you think you saw a bottle or two labelled ‘Drink Me’.

BBB is THE place to indulge your inner Alice – or Alan – in Wonderland.

Beach Blanket Babylon
45 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill,
W11 2AA



The beauty of Speed Dating London lies in its no-nonsense approach. You take an equal number of single girls and guys, put them in a room and give them a few minutes to chat with every other member of the opposite sex.

When you get there

Original speed dating events in London normally begin at 7.30pm. You will need to register with our hosts and to begin with they will issue you with a score sheet. This will help you to keep track of the singles that you would like to meet again and perhaps go on a date with. After a short period of mingling, your host for the evening who will run through detailed instructions and give you your starting position if you are a guy or table for the event if you are a girl.

Meet & Mingle

A London speed dating event is split into two halves, each lasting around an hour, there will be an interval at half time of about 15 minutes for speed dating London. You will have between 4 and 5 minutes with each person, after which you need to tick a box on your score sheet - "yes, I would like to meet this person again" or "no. Thanks but no thanks". Or "friend" if you'd like to get to know them platonically. Make sure that you do this after each date to keep track. Afterwards there is an opportunity for everyone to meet and mingle informally - this is often where the real action begins, so make sure you don't disappear too quickly!

Complete your score sheet

After the event you simply tick who you liked on the Original Dating website and the site works about your matches automatically. If the dates you have ticked as a "yes" have reciprocated you have a match. You will be able to view the first names and message them via our site online without revealing your email address until you are ready to. You'll be having proper first dates in no time.