This is a sponsored article on behalf of Once.
The Once matchmakers have paired you with your match — but where to go on that all-important date? It needs to be conducive to romance but there are other, more practical considerations.
Pick somewhere central and easy to get to — and easy to run away from if things aren't going to plan. Somewhere with plenty to explore, where a short drink can turn into a much longer date if it's going well. Somewhere busy and public to lower the intensity.
Here's our top suggestions for that first Once date. Not got one lined up yet? Download the app now.
1. Somerset House
Why go: The ultimate sparkly winter wonderland, with London's most stylish ice rink, great art and just a hop away from Christmassy Covent Garden and tinsely Trafalgar Square.
Where to start: If you have a sense of balance and/or humour, start on the rink — both of you falling over and into each other's arms will break the ice in no time (until 10 January).
Things going well? Get hands-on at the Big Bang Data exhibition, then stroll down to the river to gaze over the water while pondering the impact of the internet. Pop into the Fortnum & Mason pop-up Christmas Arcade, then sidle along Strand to Trafalgar Square to sing/mime along to carols under the Norwegian Christmas tree (4-8pm weekdays, 2-6pm weekends until 23 December).
If you're feeling swanky, warm you aching feet over the Winter's Tale mulled cocktail at W, Leicester Square. Otherwise wander up and around Covent Garden to admire the 22-foot silver reindeer and stand expectantly under the mistletoe baubles.
Need an escape? Feign an injury and hobble off to the nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment and Temple.
2. South Bank
Why go: Live out all your wintery wishes along the Thames: a bustling market, mulled cider lodge, twinkly lights and even a roller disco.
Where to start: There's a lot to choose from, so discuss it over drinks at the Scandi-style Rekorderlig Cider Lodge (until 17 January). Then catch a free Winter Showcase: depending on the day, you'll be treated to performances by choirs, dance troupes or poetry collectives (until 22 December).
Things going well? If you're already gooey-eyed for one another, you'll both appreciate the Lights are Shining exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall, where each star lantern represents a loved one (until 29 December).
Sojourn to the swanky Spiegeltent for the award-winning La Soirée cabaret (until 17 January), or head to Love Season at the BFI to share a movie (until 30 December). Debrief aboard a Thames Clipper and admire the festively-lit London Eye from the water.
Need an escape? Hop on that boat alone, or make a more sensible beeline for Waterloo, Waterloo East or Embankment.
3. South Kensington
Why go: When winter is less crisp and clear, more drizzly and depressing, head indoors to the wealth of culture on Exhibition Road. When the rain stops, there are lights, an ice rink and local pubs hidden round the corner to lure you onto the streets again.
Where to start: Get to know one over coffee and cake in the elegant V&A cafe. Then you're spoilt for choice: everybody loves the Wildlife Photographer of the Year show at the Natural History Museum (until 10 April) and Cosmonauts at the Science Museum has had rave reviews (until 13 March). Or save your pennies for later and wander around the free galleries instead — try the brand-new Japanese section at the V&A, then see where in the world you find yourself.
Things going well? Dive the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough at the Natural History Museum's new virtual reality screening (until 3 January) or head outside to ice skate beneath its glorious neo-Gothic facade.
Then escape the crowds and the cold and get cosy at the Anglesea Arms or the Queen's Arms, situated amidst South Ken's lovely cobbled mews. Both have top-notch nosh as well as a selection of ales — the perfect setting to discuss everything you've seen and done today and a whole lot more.
Need an escape? It's easy to lose a terrible date in the maze of museums and galleries — hide behind a spaceship at the Science Museum or cower in the ceramics collection at the V&A. Or there's South Kensington station.