Kensington is an affluent district in West London, boasting some of the capital’s finest bars and most lavish eateries, along with more casual venues if it’s a laid-back first date you’re after. The clubs are swish, the restaurants are swanky, and the revellers are like nowhere else in the capital. Kensington has the added benefit of being a little more laidback than nearby Mayfair and West End.
You can still expect to splash some cash of course, but the first date experience around these parts is seriously second to none. With an array of lovely date spots on offer, you’re sure to find something that suits both you and your date! Here are our top 5 first date venues in Kensington.
1. Dirty Bones
20 Kensington Church St, W8 4EP
The joyously named Dirty Bones is easily one of the best bars in all of Kensington, serving up a winning combination of potent sip-worthy beverages and New York–esque chic. Originally launched as a street-level gourmet hot dog stand by day and happening party spot come nightfall, this West London hotspot has evolved since its inception into a veritable haven of fun and good times. There’s playful cocktails lining the bar, a carefully curated playlist of nostalgia-inducing funk, soul and hip-hop, and old-timey comfort food galore—think cheeseburger dumplings, chicken and waffles, burnt onion and ale beef short ribs.
Down a neon staircase prepare to enter the sort of subterranean saloon dreams are made of—American dreams. There’s pinball, a photo booth, even a private lounge with its own bar and DJ, no less—and you enter it through a retro fridge door. Because what else? Your lover won’t have had a first date quite like this.
2. Scoff & Banter
68–86 Cromwell Rd, SW7 5BT
It’s all about the awesome names today. Scoff & Banter is a contemporary Bri’ish eatery set in the exquisite old Vanderbilt family mansion, whose menu wholeheartedly celebrates the marriage of hearty meals and elegant aesthetics. You can get it all at Scoff & Banter, gorgeous food created using only the best of local produce from handpicked farms and suppliers, no matter what time of day you lovebirds rendezvous: classic brunches, indulgent afternoon teas, distinctive contemporary European fare, late-night bites—or the quintessential Sunday roast, naturellement.
Positively flooded with natural light, Scoff & Banter is an ambient space replete with high ceilings and intricate details of a bygone era, instantly nostalgic and timelessly wholesome. It’s the perfect spot for a bit of respite with your lovely date after a cute few hours wandering the local Kensington museums, the magnificent Hyde Park or the boutiques of Knightsbridge.
260–262 Brompton Rd, SW3 2AS
You want intimate? You’ve got intimate. Aubaine is a profoundly atmospheric space, uniting Parisian opulence with stunning interiors and a menu absolutely stuffed with French dishes sure to tickle your delectation. Set back from the hubbub of the high street, Aubaine is truly a microcosm of Kensington itself: sexy, swanky—and just a little bit saucy.
Head in for coffee en route to the V&A, check in for a fizzy brunch after a wholesome afternoon’s meandering the streets of Kensington, or settle in for an epic date centring around one of Aubaine’s famous champagne dinners.
100 Queen’s Gate, SW7 5AG
Hotel bars get a bad rep. You’d be forgiven for believing they’re invariably where the party comes to wind down for the night—or just die. Not so ESQ, the cocktail bar below luxury South Kensington hotel 100 Queen’s Gate. Nestled on the lower ground floor, ESQ is all ornate Victorian decor, innovative tipples, mouthwatering small plates.
Think discreet spaces ripe for some underground flirting; think intriguing curios, cleverly kitschy carpets, intricate wooden carvings. ESQ specialises in homemade spirits exclusively created by their resident mixologists, and they’re all expertly paired up with carefully selected small plates, specially designed to tease, delight and surprise your taste buds with every nibble.
Pro tip: If your date’s a fan of live music, boy have we got a treat for you! On Fridays and Saturdays, 7.30–10, ESQ hosts a trio selected from their array of world-renowned musicians, including solo pianists and a Cuban guitarist.
Whether you guys seek a private booth or you’re ready for some public romancing right there at the glossy bar, you’ll be sure to have your date’s undivided attention—except when they’re lapping up the exceptional mixology on display, as cocktail connoisseurs left right and centre showcase their magic and infuse something special just for them.
2a Kensington High St, W8 4PT
Percy’s is a snug neighbourhood spot slap-bang on Kensington High Street, ideal for easygoing evening cocktails or a spontaneous late night when the first date’s really got into gear! Whether you guys hunker down in a cosy booth or get close on an intimate sofa, Percy’s is reminiscent of the capital’s grand townhouses, and it’s got everything you need for an hours-long date of tasty grub and even tastier beverages.
Try out the British small plates, like the Cornish cod bites and honey mustard sausages, while enjoying the effortlessly snug front room, reminiscent of only the grandest of London townhouses. Sip some five-star cocktails, be that a tropical old-fashioned, mango Negroni, chilli margarita, Old Cuban, pisco sour—or something extra naughty from Percy’s medicine cabinet.
Percy’s is also proud of its extensive bottle menu, perfect for daters ready to make a proper night of it in their fine establishment! And should the mood take you, duck through the hidden door into Casamigos, Percy’s secret bar designated only for those intent on dancing late into the night with someone special at their side. Sleep? Ha—you can do that on the way home.
Not quite right in Kensington? Why not check out some romantic venues in Knightsbridge.