• Shared Tables Society, sharedtables.com
Arranges dinners where four single men and four single women meet. Members are invited by existing members: each time you sign up to a dinner or “table” you have to recommend four other singles. Attracts a high-calibre, international crowd of late-20s, early 30s professionals. Website is truly “cool”.
Upsides: Almost always good fun, and takes all pressure off the one-to-one format. Chance to meet several people at once.
Downsides: In the shared table format, it can be hard to form a connection with one person, and the night can end up feeling more friend-y than date-y.
• Picnic Project, thepicnicproject.com
An interview process determines eligibility – that, and the ability to pay a sizeable fee for membership. Lots of time-poor, cash-rich highflyers apply: women tend to be aged 30-40, men go up to 48. People are matchmade and sent on dates according to the co-founder Suze Cook’s intuition. Bills itself as a members club.
Upsides: You’ll meet people you might never have chosen online and they’ll all be successful. Cook’s strategy for matchmaking seems solid and fresh.
Downsides: Very expensive and there are likely to be some tricky customers, particularly the men, who will be rich and therefore potentially impossible to please.
• Social Concierge, socialconcierge.co.uk
A more party-focused matchmaking service for twenty-somethings who feel they’ve run out of dating options and don’t fancy going online. Would-be daters are “hand-picked” by the eccentric, larger than life founder, Nana Wereko Brobby and then hit the town together, probably in Shoreditch or Soho.
Upsides: There is a selective element, and it’s all imbued with a sense of “fun” – nothing dowdy or stiff here.
Downsides: The “hand-picked” aspect is a bit of an unknown quantity, and if you’re looking for a super hard-working professional to date, this may not be quite right.
• Drawing Down the Moon, drawingdownthemoon.co.uk
The name refers to a contemporary Wiccan practice, but the service is anything but witchy, charging a substantial fee for membership following interview. Billed as “the introduction agency for thinking people”, members are said to be “well-educated and successful”.
Upsides: You probably won’t end up with a hippie and may well meet people who are both interesting and successful.
Downsides: Founded in 1984, it lacks the contemporary image, and the founder and MD – pictured in a video still on the homepage – looks a bit eccentric.