The world’s best date-night bars

The world’s best date-night bars

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We’re all dressed up with our hearts on our sleeves, ready to scope out the best date-night bars in the most romantic hotels around the world. Sweep up your sweetheart and prepare for late-into-the-night love connections over cocktails with flirty flavour profiles, on rooftops that overlook a constellation of city lights or pine-clad mountains, in seductive dens with shady pasts and bright futures, and snug-as-a-bug pubs. The best bit? If you don’t want the night to end, the boudoir is ready and waiting…

LOVE LIFTS US UP

Above-par rooftop bars for scenic sipping

Take it from us: the roof is on fire – from Ibiza to Miami, the hottest hang-out spots are in the heavens. And, we’re not just talking about Downtown LA Proper’s checkerboard-tiled fire pit, although it is the cuddliest corner on Cara Cara bar’s double-decker terrace, from which LA’s skyscraper-and-mountain skyline unfurls. Rooftop bars do all the mood-setting for you, with stars shining up above and alluring aspects all around. So, what’s top of the tops right now?

Paris’s Hôtel Madame Rêve has turned the crown of the Louvre arrondisement’s La Poste building into a discrete forest; venture in and you’ll find champagne and iconic views. In the Dolomites, Forestis’ bar (the highest in the world, no less) is eye to eye with eagles swooping over the mountainous hinterland, and aphrodisiacal drinks are laced with natural pick-me-ups (herbs, bark, shrubs, berries, pine needles). Ibiza (never one to sleep on a date night) is the perfect love match for the cool-to-the-core Standard hotel crew – their soon-to-open Old Town outpost will be a magnet for beautiful people, table dancing and Dalt Vila-view swooning. Under Miami’s sizzling sun, Esmé and Greystone hotels are both painted in Love Heart pastels, but the lounge at Japan’s Aman Tokyo amps things up with a neon-flecked view that’s as magically charged as a lightly brushed hand. So, if you’re looking to impress, remember kids, the bar’s been raised.

ROCK ME, BABY

The sexiest bars for swingers (not that kind)

Take your keys back out of the bowl – no judgement here, but we’re talking about hotel bars for lovers seeking a mellow meet-cute who feel most comfortable in swimsuits and flip-flops. Let us sway you with beach bars where swing seats and hammocks are soothingly rocked by sea breezes. Get sand-dusted tootsies at Long Bay Beach Resort’s Johnny’s Beach Bar, coyly dangling over fine white sands by Tortola’s sapphire waters and getting woozily enamoured over roll-out-the-barrel rums. Or take bae to Grand Baie, a ridiculously romantic Mauritian beauty spot where you can swing over the infinity pool and beyond at Lux Grand Baie resort before cosying up in a cabana for sunset.

Just off the coast of Mexico, the motion of the ocean is keenly felt at Isla Holbox’s Casa las Tortugas, which has supersize hammocks strung up and down the beach, silken nectars of maracuya, coconut, watermelon and rum, and even some beds suspended from the ceiling to keep the party rocking. And, after sharing a few rounds of Pathos (a sort of Grecian sangria made with brandy) at Casa Cook Rhodes, you’ll both still be swaying when you hop up from the egg-shaped pendant chairs by the pool.bar. All round, an elegant solution for when you’re feeling weak at the knees.

MODERN LOVE

Design-led drinking spots for discerning couples

When you met, did you lock eyes over a Noguchi coffee table? Did your hands simultaneously alight on Stefan Sagmeister’s biography? Did a barista cutely mix up your espresso shakerato and nitro cold brew? Sure, personality is great, but sometimes looks do matter, so we’ve picked the best modernist bars as backdrops for aesthetic couples. First up on your Insta feed, a Mallorcan-Scandi mix at Concepció by Nobis, where you can clink mango mai tais and elderflower margaritas while perched on clean-cut Swedish furnishings arranged just-so under 16th-century vaults.

Mexico’s artsy San Miguel de Allende might be best known for the frillier architectural styles (Baroque, Gothic) but Casa Hoyos is with the times in its coating of saffron and coral tiles. On the roof Bekeb bar has all-round views of this Unesco darling and theatrical cocktails (a mezcal concoction emerging from a steaming cloche, a lavender sour in a bird-shaped glass), plus the neon legend ‘I want us to love each other’ (by local artist Teresa Escobar), burning prophetically into the night. And, the Doping Bar at Aethos Milan is coolly incoherent, with its eccentric mix of leather, velvet, checkerboard tiles, vintage mannequins, Union flags and Persian rugs. It may sound a little messy, but trust us, we’re experts in matters of the art.

ROSE-TINTED GLASSES

Bestill-our-heart bars for true romantics

Sweeter than a heart-shaped box of chocolates, but a lot less cliché, these swoonsome spots are shamelessly romantic. Our proposal – and maybe yours too – is a candy-striped kissing booth in the Johri’s dusky-pink restaurant and bar, which has been festooned with stork murals, mandala-esque tiles and marigolds from Rajasthan’s fragrant markets (just on the doorstep, in case you need a last-minute love token) by master of couture embroidery, Naina Shah. The leafy lantern-lit terrace also makes a dreamy setting for a sultry dusk. Over in Morocco, legendary stay La Mamounia has four bars, but Le Marocain is the heart-stealer; with panoramic Atlas Mountain views, interiors inspired by a Bedouin tent and low flickering lights, it’s the stuff of fairy-tales.

But, the grand mamma of romance is Italy, where amore hits hard, like when the moon hits your eye. Borgo Santo Pietro’s Sull’Albero Bar is a Tuscan heroine for the ages, built around an oak tree in standing-the-test-of-time stone, furnished with antiques and serving the region’s most moreish wines. It’s poetic stuff (especially after a bottle of Chianti classico), and the olive-tree-dotted terrace makes it all the more moving. Further south, in Sicilian capital Palermo, the barkeep at Villa Igiea’s Terrazza Bar concocts stories using herbs and fruits from the hotel’s garden and orchards, and heritage liqueurs, inspired by tales from the hotel’s VIP past. And with staging that includes chandeliers like coronets, fantastical frescoes and a sea-view terrace beset with heavy columns, it’s quite the romp.

Indeed, Italian romance is having yet another renaissance, with stays such as Chapter Roma, where stone vaults have been painted by mod Roman and Californian muralists and Seletti rugs cheekily flash negroni-sippers. And Pugliese palazzo Paragon 700 has enhanced weathered stone with Argentine-tin plates, graphic tiles and quirky objets (a monkey statue stands sentry on the bar) and modern-classic cocktails – we’ll take two tequila- and chilli-spiked Mi Amors, grazie.

PUB THRALL

The cosiest pubs and saloons for laidback love-ins

A decent date-night pub feels like a cosseting bear hug: maybe there’s a fire crackling away, the sofas have well-worn-in cushions, the pints are expertly poured, and there’s a refreshing lack of ceremony to proceedings. The Pig hotels are the undisputed masters of ‘come sit, make yourself comfortable’ country pubs, and the latest to join the litter – the Pig in the South Downs – has squeaked into first place with its inviting rose-hued living room where twosomes can sink into scarlet-velvet-clad sofas and explore garden-to-glass muddles and local craft brews, ciders and spirits.

The Bull & Last may be based in London, but it sits at the border of Hampstead Heath, so it’s the sort of friendly, unassuming spot where you can rock up with muddy wellies and a dog after a hand-in-hand wander o’er hill and vale. Work up an appetite, because it’s excellent reputation has been built on its menu. Locals return repeatedly for the buttermilk-fried chicken alone, but whether you split a Scotch egg or splurge for the blushingly pink Shorthorn sirloin you’ll be mightily enamoured. And, don’t forget to down a pint of the signature So Solid Brew.

Across the pond, Cuyama Buckhorn’s saloon lures in blue-jean babes with its stable-style setting, rancher’s inscriptions repurposed into murals, antler chandeliers and cocktails that kick like an angry mule. And, while the Surfrider Malibu’s breezy dining and drinking deck is a world away from a great British boozer, it has plenty of chill. It’s open exclusively to guests (even some of its famous neighbours struggle to get a booking), the drinks list and menus come courtesy of Napa Valley wineries and farms, served to a soundtrack of songful waves swooshing in and out.

THE WILD SIDE

Jungly bars in tropical hideaways for those with exotic tastes

Give in to your animal instincts and head to the remote corners of the world, those thick with pristine jungle and roamed by fantastical fauna – or at least hit up the drinking dens that feel far removed from reality. We know Tulum isn’t exactly undiscovered, but Hotel Bardo is a serene spot where temazcal meditations are followed by mezcal shots in the Kinky Room. Yes, you heard right – but this outside-in space is more 50 shades of green than grey, with abundant palms and plantings and trees growing straight through the bar. Me Tarzan and Janes can hide amid the trees in a thatched casita and get merry on rounds of well-wined sangria.

Sometimes a setting is so heart-thuddingly beautiful that it inspires a deep lasting love, between man and island, that is. Take GoldenEye in Jamaica, where Ian Fleming stayed long and often enough to pen 14 Bond novels. We’re pretty sure it was Oracabessa Bay’s tropical loveliness that inspired 007’s breathless adventures, but the lashings of rum (you’re even given a hip flask full on arrival) may have played a part too, and will likely inspire you to practice emerging seductively from the sea.

Over in French Polynesia, Marlon Brando picked out his own little patch of paradise – Tetiaroa, a dazzling turquoise eyelet in the Pacific, which is now A-list hideaway the Brando. Bob’s Bar (formerly Dirty Old Bob’s Bar, named for his Man Friday) is a place for swapping your most impressive anecdotes over signature sippers punched up with Jack Daniels, pineapple, lime and honey. And for those whose first love is wine, sources lead us to Casa de Uco, which sits at the foot of the Andes, amid Mendoza’s fertile vineyards. It’s spectacular and it knows it – the bar is basically a box of windows where you can admire both the vineyards (outside) and their bounty (within).

LOVE STORIES

Hotels with a history for the write-for-each-others

Perhaps drama makes a date night for you, or you want a storied spot with a few salacious tales to tell. In St Tropez, Hôtel La Ponche’s bar (officially known as Saint-Germain-des-Prés-la Ponche piano bar) may seem unassuming – in fact, it started life as a barn – but, as the unofficial hang-out for the great and the glamorous of the French New Wave, the setting for Brigitte Bardot’s unbridled dance scene in And God Created Woman, and silent witness to ménages à trois and drunken bed-hopping between France’s vintage literati, it’s a place that thrums with scandalous stories.

Further north, in Paris between the Tuileries and l’Opera, keep your eyes peeled for a glint of gold – this hails La Coquille d’Or, the not-quite-so hush-hush, yet intimate and clubby, drinking den for Château Voltaire (a strikingly un-château-like hideaway beloved by the fashion pack). It bears the low-key confidence of a space comfortable in its coolness and in a former life was a gentlemen’s club (interpret that as you will) so there’s a risqué frisson to its cocktail-fuelled revelry.

In the same vein, the Chiltern Firehouse’s Ladder Shed bar tolerates a little naughtiness; discrete to its core and devoid of prying lenses, it’s where A-listers come to let their hair-down in exquisitely styled surrounds (trailing greenery, rosy backlit marble, bronze and emerald velvets). Just getting past the bouncers is a baller date move, and while it’s gauche to rubberneck here, you can spare the odd furtive glance in between only having eyes for each other. And, for more theatrical eves with some literary buzz, take-a-beau bar the Pulitzer Amsterdam (named for the eponymous writerly prize) has sultry Art Deco revival interiors, jenever (Dutch gin) on tap, and muse-conjuring cocktails – we love.

All set for romancing people, then, but can you truly fall in love with a place?