To cuff, or to get cuffed: that is the question asked by thousands of single people during the lonely, biting winter months. Enter cuffing season: a period of time when previously contented singletons seek shelter in the cosiness of a ‘committed’ relationship for the winter, until it's summer again, at least. According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, the annual cuffing season actually kicks off in October and lasts until just after Valentine’s Day.
So, if you’re beelining towards a sickeningly romantic winter and want some cute, quality date spots to visit with your cuff-ee, we’ve got you. Here’s our guide to actually good dates in London this cuffing season. Cupid, take the wheel.
Forget performative date spots like Hakkasan, Sushisamba or Sexy Fish in trying to impress your beau (unless they’re paying). Instead, cosy up at dumpling house My Neighbours the Dumplings (Victoria Park, Lower Clapton), or chow down home-cooked small plates at stripped-back Jolene (Newington Green). Alternatively, if you're after a more bougie moment, check out Cecconi’s Italian in Shoreditch for romantically dimly lit din-dins.
TikTok would have you believe that a date isn’t a date unless it’s at an overpriced bar on the top of a skyscraper. Sure, it’s a special thing to do with your new cuffmate, but it does feel a bit overdone, especially when there are loads of quirky, romantic bars to try out at ground level. Instead, try Mr Lyan’s Seed Library, in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch hotel for an intimate vibe, experimental cocktails and vinyl DJs. If you want to impress them with your cocktail knowledge, head to Bar Termini in Soho for their mouth-watering negronis. And for the music lovers: try out Bradley Zero’s hi-fi listening bar Jumbi (Peckham), to shake a leg and soak up some good music.
For rolling on the floor, laughing
If the idea of having your seasonal beau win you one of those oversized teddy bears at Winter Wonderland is your thing, we’re not stopping you. There is, however, a load of activity-based dates to do in London that will spare you the cringe.
We do encourage making a tit out of yourself, though (all part of the charm, right?), so why not head to Alexandra Palace Ice Rink to fall over on your arse and HAVE to hold your cuffee’s hand as they inevitably help you up. How romantic. Another place to end up on your backside is the newly opened Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace (White City), which is basically a huge US-inspired roller disco with London’s hottest DJs and American junk food. Go at nighttime for that proper date vibe. For the ultimate laughs, though, you should try Up The Creek comedy club (Greenwich) for hilarious stand-up nights. Time Out tip: If you’re just getting to know each other, maybe hold off laughing at the wildly offensive jokes until the ice has thawed a bit more.
For the arm-stretch-tactic at the movies
You can Netflix and chill literally any time of the year. But in cuffing season it’s all about doing those nauseatingly romantic things that you probably won’t do when the fire dies out post-Christmas (sorry not sorry!). Ditch Netflix for one of London’s, absolutely stunning, old-school cinemas for some romance: the Prince Charles Cinema or Genesis Cinema. But to be honest, if comfort is your priority (ahem, keep it PG, please), check out Odeon Luxe Leicester Square for its ridiculously spongy reclining seats and armrests. Comfort on steroids.
For a wholesome Sunday walkabout
There’s more to life on a winter Sunday in London than getting shitfaced at brunch in an igloo. Sundays are for mooching when you find yourself cuffing. Check out the tropical plants inside Barbican Conservatory, or a free exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery. And for an elite wholesome-date vibe, head to Columbia Road Flower Market around 2pm-ish to barter for some cheap houseplants.
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