Where to.. Wow on a first date
First impressions can be crucial. So finding that perfect spot for a first proper rendez-vous is not always an easy feat, especially if you’re looking for something unconventional rather than romantic. The ideal place needs to have good food and drinks, to be original and compelling, to have that “wow factor” and sometimes even an escape route…
Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong
Reach for the stars. Perched on the 118th of Hong Kong’s tallest building, Ozone Bar can boast about being the highest bar in the world. It’s also one of the chicest in town. The 60-second ascent is a thrill in itself. You then emerge from the lift into a futuristic space designed by Japanese architect Masamichi Katayama. The neon lights, marble walls and honeycomb style casings are impressive, but it’s the terrace that beats it all. At the very top of ICC building raising up 490 meters (1,608ft) above ground level, Ozone bar is the place to see one of the world’s most spectacular skylines while sipping on a highball and nibbling a few tapas and sushi. That view, though. If you can both bear it, the window seats really get the adrenaline going as you can look across the bay, but also down. And the best part is that Ozone serves a fantastic Dom Pérignon champagne brunch from midday on Sundays so you can admire at the view by day as well as by night. That is if you’re not too busy gazing into one another’s eyes. Make sure you go on a sunny day unless you like to be in the clouds.
Spicing it up. Leave the hustle and bustle of the Grands Boulevard neighbourhood and take a step back in time to Asia in the 1930’s. The colonial era that is, with hanging birdcages, ceiling fans, tiny cement tiles and walls covered in vintage black and white photographs. And that is after confronting the metallic and leather dragon wrapped around the spiral staircase. Opt for the cosy drawing room and its quaint curio cabinet to savour deliciously spicy Thai dishes. The pad thai, specially served for two, is top of the list. The stunning fireplace in the drawing room will crackle away while you whisper sweet nothings to one another. The perfect setting for a secluded get together. After dinner, why not test your wits with a game of pool. It’s in the basement just next to the smoking room and the secret bar, where you can soak up the atmosphere while sipping on a fantastic cocktail.
Birdwatching. In the mood for a cool jazz session? Oriole is the place to go. From swinging New Orleans rhythms to vintage Parisian accordionist tunes, music and travel are the heart and soul of the bar. Settle down in the New World inspired decor. The palm tree wallpaper and African artefacts are definitely worth the voyage. So are the original cocktails, especially those served in impressive glasses. Try the Chios Graffito, inspired by the Greek island’s hot summer days, presented in a wooden vessel or, better still, share a Ile de Ré concocted with Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Pineau de Charentes, Hazelnut Infusion, Escubac, Veuve Cliquot Champagne and Quatre Epices Sorbet. So why the bird name? Easy: you’re on Poultry avenue in the old meat market. Oriole is none other than a songbird of the tropical Old World family, Oriolidae.
Electric Cinema Portobello, London
Popcorn time. Because watching a movie is a classic, you may as well go with the flow but in a rather different type of theatre. Portobello's Electric Cinema most certainly changes the dating game from “corny” to “trendy”. The atmosphere of the centennial theatre is simply magical. And not just because of its decors. Not only does the cinema have plush red-velvet armchairs with footstools, cashmere blankets and side-tables for your drinks and bar snacks, you also get to choose from either the front-row beds for two or the more intimate back row sofas. Bear in mind what type of seat you've reserve before ordering food. Eating nachos or sipping on a cool glass of wine while lying down can have devastating effects. Whatever the outcome, it definitely beats going to Leicester Square.
Breakfast club. Want to a truly different type of encounter? Benedict Berlin will definitely get the conversation flowing. Blueberry pancakes, spinach eggballs, Balkan omelettes, vegan muesli… all sound scrumptious but pretty simple. Banal even. Except if they’re served at nine in the evening with a perfectly crisp glass of champagne, that is. That’s what makes this place so cool: breakfast morning, noon and night. Eating a salad at 8am or eggs benedict at midnight shows daring, ingenuity and imagination. Just what you need to sparkle.