It may not be Paris, but London is a great city for romance. We mean, have you tried walking across Charing Cross Bridge, hand-in-hand, gazing over the beautiful cityscape and stopping for a cheeky kiss worthy of a rom-com moment? Or have you tried looking into your other half’s eyes in the candle-lit Gordon’s Wine Bar while sharing a bottle of wine? Well you must have enjoyed a casual picnic in one of London’s many parks, sipping on Prosecco and giggling from the bubbles and butterflies in your stomach, surely? Yeah, London is doing alright on the love-scale, we think.
However, nothing quite beats a romantic dinner for two in a lovely restaurant, does it? There's just something particularly special about taking the time to sit down and enjoy some quality food with someone, whether that be a long-term partner or someone who you've only recently met, without having to worry about the cooking. With that in mind, we have gone on a quest to not only find the most romantic restaurants in London, but to determine what actually makes a restaurant romantic. Is it low lights and candles? Is it intimacy and a soundtrack of gentle piano music tinkling away in the background? Or is it extravagance, luxury and high-end from beginning to end?
We’ve gathered restaurants with views, eateries with romantic lighting, dining rooms with show-off interiors and quirky little spots for you to get lovey-dovey in. From the classic romantic cuisines of Italy and France, to aphrodisiac-spurring oysters, to fine-dining British food, there is something to spruce up any date. So whether you’re looking for a restaurant to propose in, to go for your first date in, to celebrate an anniversary in or simply use to bring some god ole’ lovin’ into your relationship, the below restaurants should do the trick.
Aqua Shard, London Bridge
What: The USP of this British-leaning restaurant is perhaps somewhat obvious – the London views from the 31st floor of the iconic Shard through floor-to-ceiling windows. The brightness this provides in the daytime and the pretty lit-up skyline it offers in the night time makes Aqua Shard instantly atmospheric, especially after dark when low-hanging lanterns provide ambient lighting. What could be more romantic than dining in London's tallest building, after all?
Where: Level 31, The Shard, St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
Cora Pearl, Covent Garden
What: This high-ceilinged restaurant is illuminated by two gigantic windows at either ends, with interiors that are suitably raffish to make an atmospheric setting. Cora Pearl's French cooking, which is always romantic and indulgent, materialises itself in brilliant dishes such as the cow’s curd agnolotti with Jerusalem artichokes. Whizz off to the bar hidden away in the basement for a night cap to end the night with a romantic touch.
Where: 30 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8NA
The Ritz Restaurant, Mayfair
What: If you’re going to pop the question, do it at one of London’s most evocative addresses. The ornate dining room and assured service at The Ritz raise expectations for a glamorous, unforgettable experience, and executive chef John Williams’ refined, elegant dishes do not disappoint. Fish out the very best back-of-the-wardrobe frocks and suits for this, as dining at the Ritz is a proper special occasion kind of affair. Is it romantic? Ah, it’s as over-the-top romantic as it gets.
Where: 150 Piccadilly, St. James's, W1J 9BR
What: There is something unquestionably romantic about tapas, don’t you think? Well, not many places do it better than the original Barrafina in Soho, which churns out chorizo and chipirones, gambas al ajillo and grilled sardines en masse. Wash it all down with a wide selection of Cava while watching the chefs work their magic in the open kitchen. Keep to the classic tapas dishes and we promise you, you won’t be disappointed.
Where: 26-27 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
London Shell Co, Paddington
What: Dining on a canal-moored boat (or even better – out on the actual canal) is undeniably romantic, we think, and that’s exactly what you get at London Shell Co, aboard The Prince Regent. Eating here is also dining with a difference, which will impress your date or make the whole experience just a little bit more special. Seafood is at the forefront and it’s done to perfection – Carlingford oysters are a smash-hit and the summery salad of mussel, cockle and cuttlefish is delicious.
Where: Sheldon Square, W2 6PY
The Petersham, Covent Garden
What: We don’t know what is more romantic about this Richmond off-shoot. Is it the gorgeous dining room, scattered with ginormous flower vases, crystal chandeliers, Murano glass and impressive artwork? Is it the fact it’s tucked away in a courtyard off King Street, creating a sense of escape from the city? Or is it rather the way the menu transports you to Italy by way of an English country garden? Perhaps it’s a combination of the three. Whatever it is, it works a treat and makes for a really special place for a romantic evening.
Where: 31 King Street, WC2E 8JD
Galvin at Windows, Mayfair
What: Chris Galvin’s lofty dining destination has stunning wrap-around views of the metropolis from the 28th floor – enough to dazzle your date from the get-go. Impeccable service and Champagne-bearing trolleys add to the sense of occasion, paving the way for romantic cliches and promises of everlasting love. The slick operation at Galvin at Windows gives you plates of excellent Michelin-starred food in the form of well-balanced classics and innovative newbies. Beef fillet with foie gras, say, or a passionfruit and white chocolate soufflé perhaps?
Where: 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE
La Poule au Pot, Belgravia
What: Another French favourite of ours that we think ranks high on the romance scale, this endearingly rustic and outrageously atmospheric restaurant serves hearty plates of big-flavoured food. La Poule au Pot combines peasant wholesomeness with bourgeois detailing, meaning anyone will feel at home here. What make it so romantic, though, is its low, candle-lit lighting, distinct interiors and charming service. With a quiet terrace for balmy evenings, this is also a great summer destination to sip on some Champagne and rich French reds.
Where: 231 Ebury Street, SW1W 8UT
Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
What: Entering the dining room of Jason Atherton's hugely popular Berners Tavern for the first time is always one of those jaw-on-the-floor moments, thanks to the incredible decor and ornate roof. This is exactly what makes it such a brilliant spot for a classy yet romantic dinner. Enjoy staring at the painting-lined walls while being treated to classic dishes given a bit of extra Atherton magic.
Where: 10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP
Bob Bob Ricard, Soho
What: The original ‘push for Champagne’ restaurant, Bob Bob Ricard is so much more than just a gimmick. It’s got bags of romantic touches, from its glitzy Gatsby-inspired interior design and royal blue booths, ideal for some flirtatious one-on-one time, to its aphrodisiac-laden menu of seafood (order the lemon sole stuffed with scallop mousse or lobster that comes in a sparky Champagne sauce) and delicious comfort food (the beef Wellington is a must-try). Expect to pay the price for such a blingy affair, but for a romantic date, that’s expected, wouldn’t you agree?
Where: 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
Duck & Waffle, The City
What: If you want to start the night as you mean to go on, make your destination Duck & Waffle. From the moment the lift whisks you to the head-spinning heights of the 40th floor of Heron Tower, your loved one will be captivated – and that's before they see the gorgeous view. The restaurant backs up all this eye candy with well-executed, interesting international dishes served by attentive staff. Go for the signature duck and waffle – a stack of waffles topped with confit duck leg and a fried egg.
Where: 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
What: Whether you’re flashing it in the pulsating night club-styled bar or playing it cool in the sleek ground-floor dining room, your date will be impressed if you take them to Hakkasan Mayfair. The moody interiors and low lighting also does its part, and the food is a holy matrimony of east meets west. Divine dim sum is a must, with versions such as steamed har gau crowned with a gold leaf blowing your mind, alongside other dishes such as spicy lamb salad with peanut dressing.
Where: 17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
What: Sat right on lovely Newington Green, Jolene is a fantastic example of a restaurant which manages to achieve a wonderfully romantic feel, without going overly fancy or high-brow. The long candle-lit tables are the perfect place to get cosy for an evening of staring into each others eyes, while its small-plate menu means that you'll be sharing food with your loved one too. For a slightly different style of date, head here in the morning to take advantage of its hugely popular brunch menu.
Where: 21 Newington Green, N16 9PU
J Sheekey, Covent Garden
What: The warm, flattering lighting and buzzy ambience of this bijou Covent Garden bolt-hole are perfect for a romantic tryst – sit up at the bar and bond over oysters and Champagne, or take one of the tables and share a crustacean-laden plateau de fruits de mer. J Sheekey is the place for some old-school charm, particularly apparent in the egalitarian service and the interiors of antique mirrors, surrealist paintings and photos of legendary actors on the wood-panelled walls.
Where: 28-32 St Martin's Court, WC2N 4AL
What: This little Bermondsey gem is a true slice of Paris with its authentic French bistro vibes – think a French-language blackboard menu, bentwood chairs, chequer-tiled flooring and, most importantly, amazing French food. Mackerel in white wine is light and fresh, whereas pork shoulder with lentils gives you the big, bold flavours. Wash it all down with the all-French wine list. Thankfully, the service at Casse-Croûte is more British than Parisian, so you can be sure that you and your date will have a fab time.
Where: 109 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XB
Sushisamba, The City
What: With so many good places to go for beautiful city views in London, it’s obvious that Sushisamba’s Heron Tower-provided vistas aren't the only reason why we’ve included the restaurant in our guide. Wow-factors are delivered in the form of show-stopping cocktails, a thrilling fusion of Japanese and Latin American food, and impressive interiors. The sky-high price tag does make this a real special occasion place, but we think the quest for a romantic date is special enough.
Where: 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Maggie Jones's, Kensington
What: With its quirky ensemble of wicker baskets, dried flowers, trinkets and antiques hanging from the ceiling, this distinctly rustic restaurant is reminiscent of a breezy French countryside cottage. Wine bottles as candle-holders, covered in dripping wax add to the feel, but the cooking is at Maggie Jones's is very much a British affair. The steak and kidney pie delivers on all accounts and the stuffed roast chicken with bread sauce is unctuous. The place is cute and romantic and the ideal place to gaze into each other’s eyes.
Where: 6 Old Court Place, W8 4PL
Park Chinois, Mayfair
What: If you’re after a real show-off spot, there is no better place than this big-money and opulently OTT art-deco haven. Inspired by 1930s Shanghai, Park Chinois's interiors are accented by gold, deep maroon and luxurious fabrics. Chinese cooking is presented in western-styled plates of stir-fried XO mooli cake with snow crab; sea bass and lardo rolls; and Chinese chive or Wagyu beef and bamboo charcoal baos.
Where: 17 Berkeley Street, W1J 8EA
City Social, The City
What: Another restaurant part of Jason Atherton's empire, this City high-rise restaurant (located on the 24th floor of Tower 42) has both views and top-class food in spades. Luxe interiors, modern European dishes delivered with real precision and finesse, and a to-die-for cheeseboard all contribute to making City Social a romantic gem for your next love-needed special occasion. Don’t worry about nabbing a window seat either – tables located on different levels of the dining room ensure every table has a good view.
Where: 25 Old Broad Street, Cornhill, EC2N 1HQ
Circolo Popolare, Fitzrovia
What: If you're looking for an intimate spot for a romantic dinner, Circolo Popolare probably isn't right for you. However, if you like the sound of indoor trees adorned with fairy lights, walls lined with empty spirit bottles, and a dining room that's probably not far off the size of a football pitch, this extravagent Italian is bang on the money. Serving huge pizzas designed to be shared, as well as carbonara served from a cheese wheel and an Insta-famous lemon meringue pie, the food is just as impressive and only makes the place an even better date spot.
Where: 40-41 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HX
Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden
What: Clos Maggiore's failsafe’s pièce de résistance features a beautiful conservatory decked with fake blossoms, twinkly fairy lights and an open fire (dubbed ‘The Pretty Room’), meaning it ticks all the romantic boxes there is. It’s pot luck as to who gets to dine in this intimate grotto, but if you’re planning to pop the question, do your best to coerce staff to save you a space there. Food-wise, it’s French and it’s fantastic.
Where: 33 King Street, WC2E 8JD
Le Gavroche, Mayfair
What: The holy grail for devotees of classical French cuisine, Le Gavroche is the standard-bearer for French restaurants in London. The proudly old-fashioned food goes heavy on the butter and cream (a good thing), the front-of-house service is impeccable, and the romance factor is sky-high. What's more, the prices will make your contrition all the more apparent. Founded in 1967 by brothers Albert and Michel Roux ,and now owned by Albert’s son Michel Jnr, the restaurant comes with real poise and panache.
Where: 43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR
Hutong at The Shard, London Bridge
What: The incredible views of London town seen through the wrap-around windows of this Shard-located restaurant are a draw in themselves, but ultra-romantic vibes at Hutong provided by the dimly-lit and mystique dining room do their part, too. Red table lanterns reference the Hong Kong origin of the Aqua Group (which operates the restaurant) – try exquisite items such as the XO scallop and ‘crystal’ prawn dumplings, or the authentic Peking duck. Prices are as sky-high as the restaurant’s location, mind you.
Where: Level 33, St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY
Are you looking for a restaurant or bar to go specifically for a date? We’ve got you covered with our round-up of the best restaurants and bars in London that are perfect for dates