Organized by neighborhood…
Leicester Square & Soho
- The Crazy Coqs (20 Sherwood St., near Piccadilly Circus)– on the edge of London’s theater district–small, attractive, art deco nightclub (above); especially fun is open-mic night, when theater professionals and talented mere mortals perform (while it’s usually on Thursday nights, you may want to check the website to confirm the schedule)
- Theater: Click here to find out what’s on!
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY
- Five Fields (8-9 Blacklands Terrace)–EXCELLENT, excellent food and service in elegant, initmate room on a charming street
- Tom’s Kitchen (27 Cale St.)–deelish comfort food, casual but nice ambience on charming Cale St., which is parallel to the King’s Road
- The Orange (37 Pimlico Rd.)–The BEST gin and tonic I had on our most recent trip to London! They plopped a date in the bottom of the high-ball glass and draped a bunch of bright red currants on the side=pretty and delicious. Also, good food and convivial atmosphere.
- Peter Jones department store (on Sloane Square)– has a decent cafeteria on its top floor with amazing views of London; good for a quick bite while shopping
- River Café (Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd.)–The River Café has long been adored by many and justifiably so, as it has a relaxing, peaceful, low-key stylish ambience & GREAT food. Plus, the staff are into it in the best way! The taxi ride from central London is long-ish but worth it.
- Walton Street–any place on this charming, short street for a good, low-key (but not boring) time, e.g., The Enterprise is nice and fun, and a hip, pulsating bar is just down the street.
- Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill (11-15 Swallow St.)–Opened in 1916, Bentley’s serves shellfish, classics (fish pie, for ex.), as well as more exotic fare. Sit at the ground-floor oyster bar.
- Thomas Cubitt (44 Elizabeth St.)–nice, informal restaurant on a pretty street
- Quo Vadis (26-29 Dean St.)–Departures (2015) highly recommended Quo Vadis, so of course we bee-lined for it and it did not disappoint: SUPERB food, service & ambience!
- Rules (35 Maiden Lane)–Rules is attractive & the oldest restaurant in London. Several scenes from “Downton Abbey” were filmed here, when Lady Mary and Lady Edith met friends in London. Check out the 2nd & 3rd floors.
- Brasserie Zédel (20 Sherwood St.)–beautiful and very deco w/good food
The following restaurants get a lot of good press, though I haven’t yet eaten there:
- Ham Yard Hotel (1 Ham Yard)–Departures (2015), among others, recommended this happy, fun, stylish décor; buzzing with people when we were there at 3:30 on a weekday afternoon
- Bocca di Lupo (12 Archer St.)–Departures (2015) recommended it so we stopped by & checked it out between meals. It is small, attractive, Italian, w/welcoming staff.
- Barrafina (54 Frith St.)–tapas, several locations, don’t accept reservations, lines
- Chiltern Firehouse (1 Chiltern Street)
The 3 “hippest, of-the-moment spots,” according to The [English] Times food critic (Departures 2015):
- Dinerama (19 Great Eastern Street, on the edge of the financial quarter & Shoreditch)–“the smokingest ticket in town”
- Kitty Fisher’s (10 Shepherd Market, Mayfair)–“the atmosphere is classic old-London bohemian” & the food is “at the cutting edge of current style”
- Colony Grill Room (8 Balderton St., Grosvenor)–very snazzy 1920’s deco décor in a nice hotel (The Beaumont)
- Fox & Hounds (on Passmore St., @ Graham Terrace, parallel to Lower Sloane near Sloane Square)–Located on a quiet street near Sloane Square, the Fox & Hounds is a small, very pleasant, un-touristy pub, with beautiful summer/spring/fall flowers, as you can see below
- Star Tavern (Belgrave Mews West)–charming mews location, nice pub
- Horse and Groom (7 Groom Place)–close to Buckingham Palace, in a mews, closed on weekends
- Wilton Arms (71 Kinnerton St.)–really attractive mews pub with tons of hanging baskets of flowers out front
- The Prospect of Whitby (57 Wapping Wall, between the Tower of London & Canary Wharf)–London’s oldest riverside (great views of the Thames) pub dating back to 1520, though out-of-the-way. Originally frequented by those involved in life on the river and sea, the pub was a notorious haunt for smugglers, thieves and pirates. Other notable customers included Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, and artists Whistler and Turner. Especially memorable: on the water side of the pub is the gallows, where unfortunates were hung and gradually drowned as the Thames rose!
COCKTAILS at Nice Hotels
- Claridge’s–Claridge’s has two bars. Go to the smaller one with its own, separate entrance from the street. The bartender opens a bottle of champagne every six minutes. Elegant & full of life!
- Fortnum & Mason (181 Piccadilly)–SUCH a nice store! You will simply have to visit. Several floors, over 300 years old and stylish, F&M sells food, home goods & some fashion. WAY better store than Harrod’s!
- Jermyn Street–See the beautiful men’s shirts, suits, and socks shops, plus George F. Trumpers for elegant, old-fashioned shaving products; shop the arcades off Jermyn, as well as Lock & Co. Hatters around the corner; above Lock, see Rachel Trevor-Morgan’s millinery (she has designed over 65 hats for Queen Elizabeth over the past decade) at 18 Crown Passage, one of the oldest pedestrian streets in central London
- Walton Street–short, quiet street w/some lovely, little boutiques, including Departures (2015) fav, Alex Engle (91 Walton), which is “laid out like the home of an impossibly chic friend.” Sounds great!
- Beauchamp Place–Check out the pretty dress shops, as well as the Map House, which sells charming prints.
- John Sandoe (10 Blacklands Terrace, just off the Kings Rd.)–perfectly wonderful small store, with knowledgeable staff…just what a bookstore should be!
- Sauntering down the King’s Road: lots of good boutiques
- Sloane Square–tempting stores on and off the square, including on Ellis Street, West Halkin and Sloane Streets, as well as Lower Sloane
- Oliver Brown (75 Lower Sloane St.)–very British: OB rents and sells top hats and waistcoats (in gorgeous colors and patterns) & also sells some ladies’ clothes, including hunting skirts (long, of course), as well as other traditional English attire, of the finest quality
- Pimlico Road (between Lower Sloane & Ebury St., which runs into Elizabeth St.)–sophisticated, small decorating shops with living-large style. For example, Linley (as in, nephew of QE) is a beautiful store with especially intriguing furniture (the look=sleek, masculine, updated-deco) and everything stylish to accompany it, including stunningly-crafted wooden boxes for cigars, jewelry, and must-have “vice boxes” (all yours for the low, low price of 7,000+ pounds!)
Between Victoria & Belgravia
- Elizabeth Street (between Ebury Mews & Chester Row)–lovely, elegant boutiques, including Philip Treacy, the “king of royal wedding hats,” per the Irish Independent (2011); click through to read his fascinating bio
- Maggs Bros. Ltd. (46 Curzon St.)–has one of the largest collections of antiquarian books in the world. Departures magazine dedicated a whole article to Maggs in its 2015 issue focused on the joys of London.
- G. Heywood Hill (10 Curzon St.)–Wonderful bookshop with an interesting past: “Nancy, eldest of the famous Mitford sisters, worked here during the second half of World War Two. Her gregarious character and witty repartee helped establish Heywood Hill’s shop as a centre of English social and literary life during the 1940s,” (from GHH website). QE awarded GHH the Royal Warrant in 2011.
- S. J. Phillips (139 New Bond St.)–stunning, stunning jewelry
- Liberty (Regent St.)–In addition to its famed small flower-patterned scarves, this beautiful store sells cutting edge fashion, as well as housewares, notions and even books.
- Portobello Flea Market–really crowded but lots of interesting things; go to nearby Geale’s (2 Farmer St.), circa 1939, afterwards for a nice lunch/dinn post-shopping
- Independent bookshops (per Departures 2015)–
- Notting Hill Bookshop (13 Blenheim Crescent)–click through and you will probably recognize this as the bookshop owned by Hugh Grant in “Notting Hill”
- Books for Cooks (4 Blenheim Crescent)
- Lutyens & Rubinstein (21 Kensington Park Rd.)
-posted May 2016