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If you’re planning a romantic summer in London next year, but would rather avoid the costly addition of a wingman, then you’ve come to the right place. These six dates will take you and your beloved through an unforgettable array of starlit skies, protruding nose sculptures and vision-impaired groping. Did we mention unicorn poop?
Dine in the Dark
DANS LE NOIR
In what might be the ideal date if you and your partner can’t stand the sight of one another, Dans le Noir is a concept restaurant in London’s Islington. The theme being that you dine in complete darkness. This somewhat daunting experience commences in a fully lit bar area, where you’ll select from one of four colour-coded and highly ambiguous menus: red (meat), blue (fish), green (vegetarian) and white (chef’s choice). Diners are then served by a team of visually impaired staff in a pitch black dining room. With sight removed, your other senses (notably taste) are heightened, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Never considered yourself a groper? You will after this. We predict you’ll manhandle your waitress at least twice, probably when they’re attempting to guide you to the bathroom. At the table, you’ll have absolutely no idea if your date, in an attempt to place fork and food somewhere near their mouth, flicked a lump of buttery cod into your wine glass. The likelihood is they did, along with several peas and a wayward bean. And don’t even think about using your phone light; mobiles are confiscated at the bar.
Snuggle in a Toilet
LADIES & GENTLEMEN BAR
Call them quirky (and don't worry, they've been called far worse) the Brits go gaga for a public toilet. Not to sit and relieve themselves in the conventional manner, but rather, for beverages, banter and a damn good beat. Ladies & Gentlemen is a Kentish Town bar found in a former underground toilet. A cosy disused lavatory that’s now a well frequented drinking hole, some would argue there’s little difference between the two; good facilities, nice aesthetics and a decent perch to park your derriere. Long gone are the wash basins, now there’s a bijou bar and a refined drinks menu to impress the London elite. This former WC is resolutely slick and dishes up a sophisticated assortment of cocktails to match. Try the Guinness Flip: Hennessy VS, chocolate liqueur, maple syrup, bitters, Guinness and an entire egg. Or the Rhubarb and Custard, served in its very own custard tin. As if things could get any more surreal, there's also a selection of secondhand books. Why don't you read a chapter of Mills & Boon to your better half? Over the old cisterns that once led to a bidet. It’s the very definition of romantic.
Watch a Movie Outdoors
It doesn’t matter if you take a lavish picnic or a pack of Pringles, if you’re watching an outdoor film at Somerset House, you’ll feel every inch the aristocrat. So pretend your Prosecco is Dom Pérignon and raise your pinkie to the sky. Throughout the summer outdoor cinemas pop up across the capital, but nowhere quite as grand as Somerset House. This Neoclassical building with a 1776 birthdate is situated on the south side of the Strand and overlooks the River Thames. Come August, it plays host to Film 4's annual Summer Screen event, welcoming guests to watch a bevvy of screenings under the blanket of a starlit sky. Spend a balmy summer’s evening in a beautiful courtyard, with rugs, picnics and beanbags (or whatever else you can carry on the underground). From red carpet premieres, to iconic hits and timeless masterpieces, the film reel doesn’t stop turning for 14 consecutive nights, but we can’t guarantee the same can be said for the notorious UK rain. Pray for a cloudless night, or at the very least pack a two-person poncho. Well organised types buy their tickets as soon as they go on sale in May. It might seem early but this epic date night is always a sell-out.
CEREAL KILLER CAFE
The experts keep telling us that the secret to a happy relationship is trust and communication. Codswallop. It’s most definitely breakfast cereal. Which is why the Cereal Killer Café has made it onto our HOT list. Two of these seriously cool breakfast cafes are in London's funkiest burbs and only serve cereal. Packed to the rafters with 120 varieties, some of which the proprietors have to go on a waiting list to stock, nostalgic 80s décor and if you descend on the Camden branch, beds you’re encouraged to climb into, it’s gimmicky but it’s glorious. Certain cereals are imported from worldwide destinations, such as chocolate Oreo O’s which only exist in South Korea. Pick one and then pimp it out with 13 different milks and 20 additional toppings. This is not the time to choose Weetbix; show your partner you’re a breakfasting badass and order a cereal cocktail. Unicorn Poop delivers a deliciously sugary assault of Ricicles, party rings, fluff, marshmallows and hundreds and thousands. We have no proof that cereal is an aphrodisiac, but for the sake of this article, let’s say it’s up there with oysters and chili peppers.
Once upon a time, Boris Johnson (the former mayor of London) was a popular man. This isn’t the time to mention Brexit, but it’s a great opportunity to talk about Boris’ bikes. Officially named Santander Cycles, this public bicycle hire scheme was launched during Boris’ reign and makes for an easy and economical means to get around the city. You can hire a bike from as little as £2; you’ll get the first 30 minutes for free, and then it’s just £2 for every additional half hour. Simply go to any docking station (they’re red) and use your bank card to get started. There’s no need to book and you can return your bike to any dock across the capital. Take your wheels for a ‘landmark crawl’ – hitting one famed monument after the next, from Nelson’s Column to The Gherkin. And if you’re down Soho way, look out for ‘the seven noses of Soho’. Created in 1997 by artist Rick Buckley, he attached 35 reproductions of his own nose to random buildings; protruding from walls and hanging from the exterior walls of the National Gallery and Tate Britain. Today only about ten survive – go forth and find them.
Slum it with Champagne
What can you do when one half of your dating duo enjoys the finer things in life, and the other half can’t stray too far from UFC? Oh no, here comes that ugly word… compromise! Fortunately a super casual hangout known as Bubbledogs only serves two things: sparkling wine and hot dogs. With 20 types of dog to tempt even the most lacklustre date-attendees, and a medley of bubbles for the discerning palette, it’s the perfect balance of highbrow and laid back. The décor is typical of London’s coolest dining joints — exposed brick walls and quirky picture frames, it's casual enough to slip into after day's sightseeing. Once inside, choose your dog and pick a Champagne. The Mac Daddy, which adds creamy mac n cheese to your frankfurter is an all-time London fave, while those who like continental should try Fernando; the dog from Spain. Wait staff are on-hand to explain the different Champagnes, and we’re sure they won’t mind a request for a ‘doggy bag’ for your hotdog. Perfect to resume later, when you’re back to vegging-out in front of the TV.
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