From the cosy and intimate to the flower-strewn or football-filled, we've gathered together the most romantic coffee shops in London.
We know: a football-themed cafe. Flags covering the ceiling, football paraphernalia wedged in everywhere and an almost-constant stream of matches on the big screens and the Bonzini football tables... doesn't sound like the most romantic of places. Hear us out. It's relatively quiet if you steer clear of evenings and lunchtimes. The coffee's good, the food's substantial and decent value for EC1, plus it's got a Portuguese-Mediterranean feel. Take your loved one, order Spanish beers and Portuguese sandwiches, and roleplay being on a short break to a hot place together.
The homemade chocolate cakes and good coffee at this Kentish Town coffee shop are already inviting. But it's the fresh flowers on the tables, regular film screenings in the evenings and cushion-covered corner seating big enough for two that really tip it into romantic.
Austrian sachertorte and coffee are the specialities of this Islington independent, hidden in the narrow lanes of the market. It's narrow itself, and warmly lit, with a main table covered with cakes and snacks making it ideal for an afternoon date. And if the date's going well, it also has a dinner menu and wine so you can prolong it late into the evening.
This is actually a chocolatier rather than a coffeeshop, but all the more romantic for that, surely. Chocolate is seductive, and theirs seriously so. And they do have the trimmings of a cafe: down great coffee or a mug of their rich hot chocolate in the tiny, pretty -- yeah, bijoux's about right -- shop. It's hidden down a quiet West Hampstead side street so you and your loved one can get matching hot chocolate moustaches in romantic seclusion.
Petersham Nurseries Cafe
Lots of restaurants in London are doing the Outside-Inside thing to good effect -- the conservatory at Blixen and the Salon at Spring are good places to get a fix of foliage indoors -- but not as many cafes. Petersham Nurseries, with its flowery, pretty cafe, is a great mix of floral and greenery, with the slightly ramshackle air to the furniture and building stopping it from tipping over into chintzy. Extra romantic for being perfectly-placed to start or end a hand-in-hand walk along the Thames, through Petersham Meadows or across Richmond Park.
Belle Époque Patisserie
The cakes at this Islington patisserie are artistic and complicated, covered in curls of cream, fragments of meringue or whirls of chocolate. The cakes are grand but the patisserie's cosy and friendly -- you can enjoy the high-art eclairs of London's most mind-blowingly expensive venues without the formality.
Bar by night but coffee shop by day, this Soho spot is designed to feel like a small Italian railway station bar. And there's something inherently romantic about a train station, right? The design calls to mind long journeys and tender reunions - and it doesn't hurt that the coffee's great while the pastries are soft inside and crunchy on the outside. Best of all, they'll bring you soft bread with slices of cheese or cured ham on pieces of greaseproof paper to spread out on your table and tear into with your date.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
It's not the atmosphere at this bakery that is romantic - it's a bit too bright and clean-cut for it to feel intimate, though it is pretty, all faded floors and big, light windows. instead the romance comes from the menu, featuring items like hot chocolate with a marshmallow flower balanced on top that 'blossoms' in the heat (an unfurling marshmallow! In your drink!) and small madeleine cakes baked to order and brought to you fresh from the oven.Deliveroo now from Belgravia