Are you looking to impress that special someone? If so, East London – with its anything’s-possible vibe, off-the-wall quirkiness and sheer range of venues – is your friend. We asked our local insiders to give us some unusual East-London date-night inspiration, from arthouse cinema to curling (yes, curling).
Are big, shiny West End productions with their hordes of tourists and exorbitant ticket prices not your thing? Enjoy a more low-key night of performance and fringe productions at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre, with some comedy shows thrown in for good measure. The venue is explicitly LGBTQ-friendly and hosts regular drag nights, too. Importantly, there’s a gorgeous bar with a romantic terrace – perfect for getting to know new dates better over a sophisticated interval drink or two. Recommended by local insider Olivia Dicker
Located on the rooftop of a busy shopping centre, Roof East offers all sorts of activities. In summer, you can try your hand at golf and batting, and, in winter, there’s curling to enjoy. It’s the perfect spot if you feel like injecting some competitive spirit into your date. After you’ve exhausted yourselves with the variety of activities on offer, you can sit back and cuddle up on the rooftop with a drink, and admire the stunning East London skyline.
If you haven’t heard of shuffleboarding, it’s essentially a mix between ten-pin bowling and curling, and it has already taken parts of the world by storm. Located a stone’s throw from Boxpark, the London Shuffle Club is a great place to take a date for a competitive evening of games. After your match, you can quench your thirst with the club’s great selection of cocktails and drinks.
Take your date back to the Roaring ’20s with a trip to Hackney’s Castle Cinema. Built in 1913, the Castle Cinema was revived for modern audiences through a crowdfunding campaign, and what a beautiful job of restoring it they’ve done. The original features are all still there, allowing you to enjoy your movie in a stunning 1920s picture house while sitting in an expansively comfy armchair. Handily for date nights, there’s a beautiful Art Deco bar that serves pizzas and a good range of vegan options, meaning you can journey back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with a fancy cocktail or two. Recommended by local insider Olivia Dicker
Embrace your inner child and battle through the ball pits at Shoreditch’s Ballie Ballerson bar. This quirky cocktail bar has over one million balls in its venue, and the main ball pit has UV lights to enhance your experience. If your date has a sweet tooth, be sure to try the retro creative cocktails, based on sweets like Dib Dabs and Skittles.
Church of Sound is a regular live music night hosted in Clapton’s St James the Great church, which still functions as a regular place of worship during the day. Expect energetic, passionate performances from unbelievably talented jazz and funk musicians. This is a great spot to take any music-loving date – it’s a welcoming space that really is all about the music. Shows can sell out, so it’s a good idea book in advance – you wouldn’t want to disappoint your date, after all. Recommended by local insider Olivia Dicker
This neon sign heaven is a great alternative art gallery option. God’s Own Junkyard combines artist Chris Bracey’s personal collection of neon art with some of his own artwork. Boasting everything from shop signs to old movie props, the vibrant collection will no doubt impress any date. The neon wonderland can be found in Walthamstow and is currently open to visitors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In the basement of Shoreditch’s painfully trendy ACE Hotel lies Miranda, a late-night club that hosts all sorts of date-friendly events – live music, film screenings, magazine launches, drag games, live bingo and more. Many of these are one-offs, so bring that special someone here for something unique. Combine one of these with a meal at Hoi Polloi upstairs for a night to remember, or come ready to dance the night away to a soundtrack of RnB, hip hop, Afrobeat and trap music.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.