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First dates should always be light, not more than an hour, and ideally should take place during the day. Arranging a coffee date is a great way to move from online connection to face-to-face. As I go through London on my first dates, I have experienced a number of wonderful places which I am happy to share with you as you embark on your first face-to-face date experience with your match.
1 - Bea’s of Bloomsbury, One New Change. This is one of my favourite first date coffee shops in London. The ambience at Bea’s is lovely; the seating area is open, yet private; the service is swift and the cupcakes, cakes and treats are to die for - not to mention the quality of coffee that they serve. Head to the upstairs seating area for some privacy if you want to avoid the outside onlookers. For those not so close to the City, try their main flagship café at Bloomsbury (which is a few minutes walk away from Holborn Station) or their shop in Chelsea! By far this is my best meeting place in London. I think it’s great for your first, non-committal offline date with your online match.
2 - I love Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly. Most people would go in for shopping but there’s more! Tea lovers may already know of this hidden gem and I encourage coffee lovers to also try this place for their first date! Personally I believe that the guy should always pay for the first date (see my online dating etiquettes), which means that this experience needs to be as low cost as possible. With that in mind, I’ll give you my thoughts on which restaurant to go to within F&M. There are four main places for tea and champers; I personally prefer The Fountain on the Lower Ground Floor. Classic and elegant, and their pots of tea and cakes don’t cost a fortune. You end up getting quality tea at an affordable price and may even get serenaded by gentle live music. If all goes well; a perfect memory! If it turns out sour, at least you’ve had a great afternoon experience!
3 - Benugo Cafes: This chain of coffee shops won the Best Coffee Shop in 2011 (London Lifestyle Awards). Granted they are not scattered all over London but I like this coffee shop! The coffee is fresh; the shops are neat, open and depending on which one you choose, spacious. For your afternoon date in the City, head down to City Road, or Curzon Street (be mindful that the Curzon Street shop is a bit cosy). You could also try the St Pancras branch if it’s accessible to you. The one on St John Street may also be a good alternative for a weekday afternoon date depending on where you are. Benugo is also linked to other cool cafes and restaurants, which serve quality high tea menus. The Cellarium Café & Terrace around Westminster for one is a good choice. Head for the terrace if you choose to go to this place.
4 - I came across Minamoto Kitchoan on Piccadilly and thought that it would be a great place for those with a passion for Japanese confectionery. It was really a rare find. Minamoto is known for their speciality Japanese delicacies. Thankfully the Piccadilly branch also has a cosy but open seating place. This is the place to come for good conversation over something sweet from lands afar.
5 - Last but not least, I also like Gallery Mess, Saatchi Gallery. Very romantic and low key and you get to enjoy some of the pieces from the Gallery to get the conversation flowing. Not bad for a first afternoon date. Enjoy!
For more date ideas, head back to our London dating page.
About Mandy Le-Fontaine
Mandy Le-Fontaine is a breath of fresh air: single women from all over the world draw inspiration from Mandy's insights on dating. Tapping into her own experiences and research, Mandy encourages women to pursue an exciting, enjoyable and pressure free dating lifestyle. Mandy writes regularly on her blog (http://awisegirl.com) and hosts a weekly radio talk show, WiseGirls Talk (http://blogtalkradio.com/wisegirlstalk). Follow Mandy on Twitter @therealwisegirl.