Where to go on a date in London: Autumn 2017 edition
"You can hold my hand if you want," soppy movies, autumn strolls and London date ideas for the next season
Dining out dates
Best for sharing plates: Magpie
Sharing plates and a quaint trolley that wheels them directly to your table, plus excellent cocktails with odd names. Impress your date by taking them to Magpie, a diminutive restaurant that is the sister site to Pidgin. Pidgin won a Michelin star under Elizabeth Haigh in 2016, less than a year after opening. Magpie, you've got a lot to live up to.
It's a date: Open Tuesday to Sunday for Lunch and Dinner, Lunch 12pm - 2.30pm, Dinner 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Meet me at: Magpie, 10 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BX
Best for a sweet, tucked away venue: Darjeeling Express
In a cute little room on the top floor, the new Darjeeling Express is centrally located just off Carnaby Street in the three-storey foodie hub Kingly Court (alongside restaurants Wright Brothers, Shoryu, and The Life Goddess). The seasonal menu changes every eight weeks. It's a small selection with a good turnout of vegetarian dishes, and platter-style serving encourages everyone to share. A percentage of their profits go to Second Daughters, a charity for girls in India, and the kitchen is run entirely by women. A good cause, and a good chutney.
It's a date: Look out for their Sunday biriyani lunch 'supperclubs' on 10 and 17 September
Meet me at: Darjeeling Express, Top Floor, Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Best for beautiful vistas: Boundary Restaurant
East London has the most lively rooftop bars in the city and just because it's no longer summer, it doesn't mean they all shut down: the best aren't seasonal. For somewhere cool and sophisticated, Boundary restaurant has just what you're looking for. You might arrive in London's hipster hub at Shoreditch High Street, but you'll soon rise above it all to a Mediterranean paradise of scented mimosa and lemon trees, and a heated orangery if it gets October-chilly. For more inspiration check out London's best rooftop bars.
It's a date: Every day, 10am - midnight
Meet me at: Boundary Restaurant, 2-4 Boundary St, London E2 7DD
Best for film buffs, and the bar: BFI London Film Festival
Why not take in a screening at the BFI London film festival? There are scores of films fresh from the film festival circuit, so you know what's good already from what went down well at Cannes, Venice, and Toronto. Tickets are selling out fast for the big shows but there's plenty of other little gems to find together. Catch the European premiere of Breathe, starring Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield, which will open the festival. Plus, the BFI bar is a great low-key spot, being utterly unpretentious and loud with happy film buffs.
It's a date: 4 - 15 October
Meet me at: Southbank Centre and various cinemas around London
Best for E.M. Forster fans: Call my by your name
'Call me by your name and I'll call you by mine.' Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet star in the evocative Call Me By Your Name, set in 1980s rural Italy. The film, released in late October, is adapted from André Aciman’s book by scriptwriter James Ivory. Ivory famously directed E.M. Forster's Howard's End and Room with a View, to great acclaim. A visiting American scholar disrupts 17-year-old Elio's precocious existence – and a love affair ensues. Watch the trailer and be transported to the bumpy roads of Italy, with just a bicycle and a book for company.
It's a date: Released 27 October
Meet me at: The cinema, and I'll bring the posh popcorn
Best for getting lost in time together: Sonic Trail
As part of Open House Week End, take a sonic walk through the City that transports you back to London as it was in days of yore, with the sounds of street vendors and livestock drowning out the usual traffic of the Square Mile. Designer Dan Fox has created 'Mythophones' that will be used around the city and Iain Chambers composed the musical accompaniments. It's free, and it's a great way to explore the city between the often-crowded Open House venues.
It's a date: 16-17 September, Saturday 12 - 5pm, Sunday 11am - 4pm
Meet me at: Guildhall Yard
Best for waterside wandering: Victoria Park
Dip down to the canal from Angel's Upper Street and follow it to Victoria Park for a walk that takes a lazy hour. You'll overtake plenty of local strollers, cautious cyclists, and pass moored-up canal boats with pretty names. In summer, Victoria park has its own cafe and a lake replete with floundering oarsmen in rentals. In autumn, you can kick up the leaves.
When: The Pavilion Cafe open every day 8am - 3pm
Where: Corner Old Ford Road, Victoria Park, London, E9 7DE
Best for fancy photographs: The Reflection Room
A beautifully instagrammable installation awaits your date at the V&A. The Reflection Room, by Flynn Talbot, will be part of the London Design Festival in the museum. Put it in your diary and take some photographs of the pair of you looking blue – then pink, then yellow.
It's a date: Hurry, it runs from 16-24 September, only
Meet me at: Cromwell Road
Best for getting steamy: Barbican Conservatory
You and your date love bonding over Brutalist architecture – that's why you're visiting the Barbican in the first place. But if you go on a Sunday, you can visit London's second largest conservatory, too, hidden in the heart of the concrete jungle. Forget Kew, way out in the west and with that ticket price, too! Here you can get a gardener's tour, an afternoon tea, or just go creeping among the creepers together. If you go on the last Sunday in September, you can also see the much-anticipated Basquiat exhibition together – it opens on the 21 September.
It's a date: Open 3, 17 and 24 September from 12pm to 5pm
Meet me at: Silk Street
Best for skating daters: Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Get ready for it: ice rinks are prime date territory. Here's why: physical, gloved contact. Scarves. The vulnerability of your date's feet stripped down to their socks. The rink at the Natural History Museum opens on the 27 October and it's one of the prettiest.
Before you go, visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year inside the museum. The photographs are hung so they shine out of the darkness – and there are plenty of cosy, unlit spaces between them. Booking advised for both.
It's a date: The rink opens 26 October, the wildlife photography 2016-17 closes on 10 September and reopens with the new exhibit in late October.
Meet me at: Natural History Museum, South Kensington
Shows and exhibitions
Best for hopeless romantics: La Bohème
Image (c) Sim Canetty-Clarke
Take your date to see a brand new (but no less tragic) interpretation of Puccini's La Bohème at the Royal Opera House. John Copley's production closed in 2015, and this new version is directed by Richard Jones, conducted by Antonio Pappano, and features a lovely, if young, cast. One of the most popular and frequently-performed operas, fall in love with this timeless tale. Impoverished bohemians, Rodolfo the poet-in-a-garret and Mimi the seamstress, fall in love on a cold, moonlit night in Paris. You can feel the chills from here.
It's a date: 10 September - 11 October
Meet me at: The bar of the Royal Opera House, for champagne first
Best for star-crossed lovers: The Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Binary Haze (C) Ainsley Bennett photography
I love you to the moon and back... your eyes are like stars... I can see Uranus... the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year award is ripe for romance. Last year's winner (pictured above) sets the tone for a stellar adventure with your date around some of the most beautiful photographs of the worlds beyond our earth.
It's a date: Opens on 16 September 2017
Meet me at: Royal Museums Greenwich
Best for french kissing: The Impressionists in London
Kew Green, Pissaro, image courtesy Tate Galleries
The romance of the Impressionists, compounded with the agony of exile – get all the feels at the latest Tate Britain exhibition, The EY Exhibition: Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870-1904). Suddenly, our grey streets come alive with motes of colour as the canvases tell the stories of French Impressionists forced to leave their country. Over 100 canvases will be displayed, including Pissarro's Kew Green, Monet's Houses of Parliament and Sisley's Thames-side scenes. See your city in a different light.
It's a date: From 2 November
Meet me at: Tate Britain
Best for risque business: Venus in Fur
Take your date to see this sexy comedy. Venus in Furs is a two-hander that's come from Broadway, via a film adaptation by Roman Polanski. It's got a witty premise, with a fair bit of sadism and power play thrown in. With its risque sadomasochistic scenes – acted out between the characters in a play within the play – it's suitable for ages 18+ only. That's Natalie Dormer, playing actress Vanda, who arrives late to an audition that she's uncannily over-prepared for. In fact – the part seems made for her. David Oakes stars opposite her. Is it getting hot in here?
It's a date: 6 October to 10 December
Meet me at: Theatre Royal Haymarket, 18 Suffolk Street