Up to Date: an After-Dark Guide to Soho, London

Looking for a romantic bolthole in the heart of London? Mimi's Hotel Soho is the place to be
Looking for a romantic bolthole in the heart of London? Mimi's Hotel Soho is the place to be | Courtesy of Mimi's Hotel Soho / Expedia.com
Photo of Leon Beckenham
23 September 2021

Courting couples and first-night flings are catered for in the British capital’s buzziest district, where age-old bars and candlelit restaurants help set the mood.

Nowhere in London has the same sexy, buzzy, anything-goes appeal as nightlife hotspot Soho. Despite waves of gentrification and a push to clean up its saucier side, this legendary square mile remains a magnet for roving romantics looking for a night out with a little more sass and soul. We’ve picked out the top spots in Soho whether you’re in the first flushes of love or rekindling an old romance.

Andrew Edmunds

Restaurant, European, $$$
Andrew Edmunds restaurant with its shabby chic charm on Soho
© Nick Moore / Alamy Stock Photo
An oldie but a goodie, this Soho dining destination remains the place to take a date for guaranteed mood. It’s considered among the last vestiges of old Soho, and has attracted almost constant praise since opening 40 years ago. Handwritten menus, intimate interiors and flickering candlelight coalesce in a dining experience that will leave you a little giddy. It’s considered one of the West End’s best.

Randall & Aubin

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Randall & Aubin
© Randall & Aubin
Another romantic restaurant that’s been a Soho fixture for decades is the fruit-de-mer-focused Randall & Aubin. A beautifully presented display of chilled shellfish draws you in from bustling Brewer Street. Interiors are comfortingly old school – lots of black leather and white tiles – albeit with a disco ball to add a little Soho sparkle. Nowhere in London has fresher seafood and their oyster platters are perfect for sharing.

Aqua Spirit

Bar, Japanese, Spanish
Aqua Spirit
© Aqua Spirit
It’s no surprise so many choose to pop the question to a backdrop of gorgeous views – whether it’s a shimmering ocean or city skyline. Aqua Spirit is the only spot in Soho so elevated to offer knee-dropping snapshots over the capital’s cityscape. Get there for sunset to really set the mood. After that, it’s candlelight and cocktails to keep the romance rolling.

Opium Cocktail Bar & Dim Sum Parlour

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Chinese, Asian, $$$
Opium Cocktail Bar & Dim Sum Parlour
© Opium Cocktail Bar & Dim Sum Parlour
If Eastern exoticism is your idea of a date-friendly vibe, this 1920s Shanghai-themed establishment is sure to please. A simple brass plaque and turquoise door marks the entrance on Gerrard Street in Chinatown. Inside, it’s three bars-within-a bar – the Academy, the Apothecary and the Peony Bar – each with its own look and feel, depending on the mood you’re after. For ooo-inducing drama, order the Opium no.1 which includes dry ice for cool table-top theatrics.

Mimi's Hotel Soho

Mimi's Hotel Soho
Courtesy of Mimi's Hotel Soho / Expedia.com
Set just a block from Soho Square gardens, this bijou hotel could hardly be more central. It’s a real romantic bolthole in the heart of London, complete with a cosy wood-panelled bar, where you can snuggle up next to a crackling fire. When you’re ready to turn in, compact rooms are all about the beds, with cloud-nine mattresses and luxury cotton sheets. Rooms are perfectly soundproofed, too, to prevent any noise getting in – or indeed out.

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Music Venue
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club on Firth Street,Soho,London,England
© Ianni Dimitrov Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo
Just a hop, skip and jump along the road from Mimi’s Hotel is a Soho institution that barely needs any introduction. Ronnie Scott’s has been hosting the cream of the musical crop for longer than most people can remember, and remains one of London’s most hallowed live venues. Be it mellow blues, funky jazz or sweet soul, the music here is sure to hit all the right notes for your date night.

Barrio Soho

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Barrio Soho
© Barrio Soho
Date going well? If you’re in the mood to boogie with your beaux, but keen to avoid a sweaty packed-out nightclub, Barrio should be on your date-dar. Its Latino-on-acid technicolour interiors set the party vibe, with an unpretentious playfulness that promises to inject lots of fun into the evening. Live music and DJs turn out tunes, while regular drink deals will help oil your dance moves.

Hazlitt's Hotel

Hazlitt's Hotel
Courtesy of Hazlitt's Hotel / Expedia.com
Looking to dial up the romance-o-meter to 11? Blow the budget and surprise your sweetheart with a stay at this lavishly over-the-top boutique hotel. It’s spread over four Georgian houses, with immaculate 18th-century interiors strewn with genuine antiques, oil paintings and plenty of tasselled velvet. Rooms and suites are similarly ornate: love-struck couples can plump for four-poster beds and clawfoot tubs. In the lounge, cosy up on a fireside sofa and you might be joined by Sir Godfrey, the resident cat.

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