Whether you're looking for that first date venue, bars perfect for couples, or somewhere to celebrate an anniversary or Valentine's Day in London, we've got it covered. Unfortunately, a cheap date is seldom a romantic date so do be prepared to splash some cash. Check out our guide to the best romantic restaurants in London. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
London's most romantic restaurants
Restaurateur Jason Atherton's venues are everywhere, but Berners Tavern is the most grand setting out of all his restaurants. The huge lobby bar looks fabulous; but the vast dining room, with its ornate plasterwork ceiling, very low lighting and lively bar area, looks even better. The menu’s prices are alarmingly high – but most of the dishes we tried were very good. Any caveats? Sometimes dizzy service; too-frequent upselling of extras; lighting so low we could barely read the menu. But Berners Tavern is an utterly glamorous experience.
This enthusiastically outlandish spot has managed to achieve what many London restaurants earnestly desire but rarely deliver – it is out-and-out good fun. There’s a joy evident in every element of the place, from the Roaring ’20s decor to little touches like the ‘press for champagne’ buzzers at each booth. The menu skips between Russia and Europe, cherry-picking treats: starters include platinum vodka shots chilled to -18°C, and venison tartare, while mains feature ‘humble pie’, three-birds burger and chicken kiev. A meal here isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking to intrigue and impress, this place is hard to better.
Set above Amuse Bouche (an inviting bar selling champers at friendly prices), this 'room above a pub' has found new purpose as a terrific neighbourhood restaurant.The weekly-changing menu is courtesy of Claude Compton, who trained at Club Gascon and Petersham Nurseries. ‘Claude is very experimental,’ gushes our waitress, ‘but he’s got a great palate, so it nearly always works.’ She’s not wrong. But, it’s not just good food that makes a restaurant, especially a local restaurant: it’s great service. And Claude’s Kitchen appears to have hired the nicest bunch of people in town. Ultra-efficient, warm and welcoming, they’re everything you want.
Romantic settings don’t get more splendidly over-the-top than this. Take your pick from the wood-panelled restaurant or the atmospheric conservatory, bedecked in a forest of fake white blossoms that seem to extend into eternity as they bounce off the restaurant’s mirrors. Fairy lights, candles and a fireplace add to the soft focus vibe. On our early evening visit, tables were filled with mature couples and curious tourists. It’s a Provençal-inspired menu, and although à la carte choices are pegged at the sharp end, the pre-theatre menu offering is a bargain.
The Delaunay was Chris Corbin and Jeremy King’s 2012 follow-up to the Wolseley and, like that handsome behemoth, it looks like it’s been here for decades. Grand European cafés provide the inspiration, and the interior is a treat – a David Collins-designed mix of green leather banquette seating, dark wood, brass rails, antique mirrors and a black and white marble floor. There’s something for everyone, at prices that aren’t greedy given the setting, the quality of the service and the assuredness of the menu.
The first of the Galvin brothers’ restaurant empire, this polished, much-loved Marylebone bistro is classically French (veloutés, soufflés, purées) with the occasional nod to Italy (risottos, lasagnes, panna cottas). The dining room is an inviting place, with its dark chocolate wood panelling, globe lighting and big bunches of scarlet gladioli. Service can be a little relaxed at times, and our table at the back felt cramped, but the excellent coffee ended things on a high.
More than a decade after it started wowing London’s big spenders with its classy Cantonese cooking, this Michelin-starred trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. The basement’s stylish interior (all dark wood lattice screens and moody lighting) still attracts the kind of beautiful people who might suppress their appetites – though there was little evidence of restraint on our midweek night visit.
London’s most extravagant restaurant interior gives the eye no idea where to settle. Inside this former pub is an entire zoo of stuffed, ceramic and other animals (a lion, a swordfish, an antelope with a tiara…), cascading glass, dangling handbags, giant, unearthly purple flowers and more – all to sustain the mood of ironic, decadent opulence. As a restaurant, Les Trois Garçons has two sides. It buzzes at night, when hip crowds come to enjoy inventive modern French cuisine at lofty prices.
Like Paris’s Le Grand Colbert or Café Florian in Venice, J Sheekey is in danger of becoming an institution whose uniquely local appeal stretches far beyond London. The addition of this two-unit oyster bar creates an imposing procession of branded red canopies along St Martin’s Court. What could appeal more than the chance to knock back a couple of native oysters amid the nation’s finest stars of stage and screen?
Still London’s most glamorous Moroccan restaurant, Momo attracts a fair smattering of beautiful people alongside couples on special dates, hen parties and business types. The soundtrack of classic Maghrebi beats and attractive young francophone waiting staff create a seductive buzz. Sexy Marrakech-style interiors, sparkling with light from intricately latticed mashrabiya-style windows and ornate metalwork lanterns, add to the allure. Tables are small and tightly packed, but somehow this rarely seems an imposition.
Read our list of London's Michelin star restaurants
London is one of the top-ranked cities in the world for fine-dining. We're happy to report that London’s status holds year after year, the capital decorated with Michelin stars aplenty. Here's a full list of all London restaurants that have earned the accolade of a Michelin star.
The Thomas Cubitt
After a little refit in spring 2010, this upmarket brasserie is busy nearly every mealtime, a Belgravia clientele venturing towards Victoria coach station in order to partake in roast rack and braised shoulder of lamb, and a pumpkin, spinach and pine nut wellington. The Sunday roasts are worthy of a Waitrose TV ad, but you’ll pay £27 for the 28-day-aged fillet from the Castle of Mey estate in Caithness. The layout of the main bar lends itself more to dining, but you can drink there. A 30-strong wine selection includes a dozen at around £6.50 a glass (Levin Wines sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley, De Alto Rioja) or £22 a bottle. Cocktails include a Basil Fawlty (Belvedere vodka, apple juice, passionfruit and own-made ginger syrup). You’ll find Asahi and Bitburger among the bottled beers, plus Deuchars and Adnams on tap.
"Enjoy the New Year as you mean to go on with a sharing roast."