Known for being one of the world’s most swinging cities, London is a great place to be if you’re part of the social scene. If you’re not — for instance, if you’ve just arrived to start a new job — it’s easy to feel completely excluded from everything that’s going on. But even if you haven’t made any friends yet, there’s plenty you can do to prevent you feeling lonely in London.
One big worry for single people is eating out — you dread feeling like a leper in restaurants that seem to be designed for couples. But fear not — there are plenty of places in the city where you won’t feel out of place eating on your own. One great spot is Nopi, Yotam Ottolenghi’s all-day brasserie in Warwick Street, just a few metres from Piccadilly Circus, where if you head downstairs it’s all communal tables, and great food too. If you need help getting around, look at our handy map of Shaftesbury Avenue and the surrounding area.
Your other option is counter dining — London is blessed with plenty of places where you can just perch on a stool and chat to the bar staff. Examples near Shaftesbury Avenue include Ducksoup in Dean Street, where they even let you bring your own vinyl records to play tunes of your choice on the turntable, or Barrafina in Adelaide Street, Soho, serving tapas dishes. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in West Street, just off Cambridge Circus, was set up with the mission to combine gourmet food with a more liberal and modern dining experience, and it seems to succeed.
Cool Night-time Venues
If you feel self-conscious about eating alone, you’ll no doubt feel nervous about going out at night too — but there’s no need to worry, the Soho-Shaftesbury Avenue-Covent Garden area is packed with places where you can feel at ease. The Bar Rumba, at 36 Shaftesbury Avenue is a trendy place that’s perfect for late night partying — you can go on your own, or there will always be someone to include you on their guest list, which is free of charge. An exceptionally cool venue is the Wyld Bar, in the Leicester Square Hotel on Wardour Street, where you can drop in for a drink after work, or dance all night under a huge disco ball — and they do an amazing cocktail too.
If there’s one day when you might be tempted to feel especially lonely in London, it’s Valentine’s Day on 14 February, when everyone else seems to be having a romantic time with a loved one. But you are far from alone, and London caters for this too, with a great choice of anti-Valentine’s events, not least at Zoo Bar and Nightclub, another of the West End’s most happening venues, on Bear Street just off Leicester Square. On Saturday 13th they’re putting on Tinder Live, billed as the ultimate Anti-Valentine’s Day party and promising to be one of the best singles’ nights out of the year, so it’s a good idea to get a ticket now.
Alternatively, if you just want to meet new people, Grosvenor Casino St Giles London, on Tottenham Court Road, is hosting a Valentines Playdate party on Friday and Saturday 12th and 13th, billed as a chance to meet new people through creative play. It just so happens too that this year the Chinese New Year celebrations take place on 14th February, and these are really not to be missed. The fun starts about 10 a.m. with a parade along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, ending up in Trafalgar Square for the big event — look out too for lion dance displays in Chinatown, and performing artists on a stage in Dean Street. As long as you watch out for pickpockets, you can relax, join in with everyone else and make friends.
When you’ve just arrived, it’s easy to feel you’re the only one on your own. But London is full of places for people just like you — and you’ll be part of swinging London before you know it.
Any other events coming up that you would recommend? Any other advice? Leave a comment below.