New Orleans’ Sultry Style

New Orleans’s got soul! Style! Respects tradition and quirkiness! This is a city for all of the senses: great food, drink, architecture, gardens, musicians, artists, writers, and museums. Pull up a chair, stay a while!

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Sit on this glorious porch and watch the world go by when you stay at the lovely Soniat House hotel, pictured above.

STAY

  • Soniat HouseMimi’s Travel File personal fav! I have stayed here twice and loved it. Set in several adjoining 19th century French Quarter houses with two beautiful courtyards, this elegant boutique hotel is a 3-minute walk from Bourbon Street and an 8-minute walk from the French Market. PLUS they serve the BEST biscuits for breakfast! The rooms are traditionally decorated with antiques and the ambience is relaxingly elegant. (31 rooms)
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Soniat House: Just far enough from the madding crowd

  • Windsor Court Hotel–The WCH is frequently touted in travel pub’s but I did not feel the love. I found it lacking in personality and warmth.

Vogue magazine (2016) likes:

  • “Situated in the Garden District, the intimate Henry Howard Hotel, a gleaming white 1860s mansion (both built and named after the beloved native architect), feels like a friend’s house. Its 18 guest rooms are accented with custom toile wallpaper, second-line instruments, and poppy, whimsical portraits by artist Hayley Gaberlavage. Corner rooms 201 and 202 grant glorious balcony access, and come early evening, the light-filled parlor or shaded backyard garden are both ideal for a cocktail.” (18 rooms)
  • “…the 35-room Catahoula Hotel, nestled in an iconic 19th-century Creole townhouse, retains exposed brick walls, original patinas, and candlelit courtyards. There’s also a rooftop deck, coffee shop, and café offering Peruvian small plates and plenty of pisco cocktails.

SEE THE SIGHTS

Vogue magazine (2016) suggests:

  • Ride a streetcar uptown to the crumbling, gothic-tinged Lafayette Cemetery #1, where the iron gates reveal a pathway framed by a double line of magnolia trees. A quiet stroll warrants hauntingly cinematic images sprinkled with perfectly worn, elaborate mausoleums and gravestones randomly peppered with loosely strewn plastic Mardi Gras beads. It’s a ghostly photographic portrait of the past, a decidedly beautiful depiction of lingering spirits.” (located in the Garden District)
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Lafayette Cemetery #1 (photo courtesy of Musik Animal via Vogue)

  • Afterward, curate your own walking tour of the posh Garden District (or pick up a paper map at Commander’s Palace). Ramble along those narrow sidewalks flanked by stately oaks trees, shady magnolias, and leafy palms. Note the intricately designed wrought-iron gates and, behind them, the elegant, dreamy homes with stunning architectural styles from Neoclassic to Beaux Arts. The spooky bourgeois manor on Chestnut and First Street is where goth fiction queen Anne Rice once lived and gussied up her Southern occult novels. And nearby, the three-story, pink-hued Carroll-Crawford House, with its ornate cast-iron balconies, reportedly hosted lavish parties for guests like Mark Twain and Edgar Degas.
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(photo courtesy of Tim Graham/Getty Images)

  • “Back downtown, on the cusp of the Quarter, the funky, boho-meets-punk–flared vibes of the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods remain a creative, hipster hub with a quirky cast of characters. This diverse milieu calls for prime bike cruising exploration past rows upon rows of kaleidoscopic Creole cottages, where both locals and a recent influx of New Yorkers and Los Angeleno expats reside. And, if it’s the second Saturday of the month, pedal up Camp Street and over to the sweet Little Flea NOLA for vintage and resident artist wares, and afterward, pop into Hi Volt for a hit of coffee,” per Vogue.
  • City Park–50% larger than NYC’s Central Park and “holds the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some older than 600 years in age,” per Wikipedia.
  • The St. Charles and Riverfront streetcar lines are a fun and easy way to see NOLA. Leaving the Garden District and traveling up St. Charles Avenue, beautiful Victorian mansions border the lush, oak-lined boulevards of Uptown New Orleans.
  • The Cabildo is a Spanish colonial building on Jackson Square that houses a museum focused on Louisiana history. The Cabildo was the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer in 1803, which finalized the United States’ acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and doubled the size of the fledgling nation. The Cabildo served as the center of New Orleans government until 1853 and the Louisiana State Supreme Court, and became a museum in 1908.
  • Longue Vue House and Gardens is a stunning National Historic Landmark house with gorgeous gardens.
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(photo courtesy of Longue Vue House and Gardens)

  • Mimi’s Travel File Fav: Ogden Museum of Southern Art–Saunter through this fine fine arts museum with Morgan Freeman describing what makes southern art southern on your audio guide.

EAT

Gumbo! Crawfish Etoufee! Jambalaya! Muffulettas! Beignets! Po’ Boys! Order all these traditional NOLA foods and walk it off around New Orleans’ gorgeous neighborhoods. Mimi’s Travel File Insider Information: My longtime family friend who lives in NOLA and is a foodie–and KNOWS what he’s talking about–highly recommends:

  • Herb Saint–Don’t you just want to sit on that upstairs balcony, eating glorious food and sipping a cocktail, while gazing at the views of New Orleans?!
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Herbsaint: Note the streetcar going by!

  • Kenton’s – Check out the seafood mousse appetizer with roe on top!  They have really fresh fish as well as good steak and chicken dishes – but their menu goes with what the chef finds that is fresh and special that day.
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Yes, please! (photo courtesy of Kenton’s)

  • Baru – great for tapas – eat until you are almost full – and then order a crispy whole fish to finish it off! The food is “Latin Caribbean.”
  • Galatoire’s  – in the French quarter – Tip from  my friend: “Ask for Shannon as your server.The only way to get served at Galatoire’s is to have a server!”
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Galatoire’s (photo courtesy of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)

  • Eat a Po’ Boy: The place for them is Parkway Bakery – – – – this is where they took Obama for his Po’ Boy.
  • Elizabeth’s – go here for breakfast – many variants of eggs Benedict – and try the praline bacon
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Elizabeth’s (photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)

  • Eat the BBQ oysters at Drago’s
  • Casamento’s – This is THE place to go for oysters! But call in advance – because if the chef doesn’t like the oysters available that day – the restaurant doesn’t open that day.  Gotta love their high standards!
  • Mimi’s Travel File Personal Fav’sBayona and August, both with lovely food and ambience. 

COCKTAILS, ANYONE?

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(photo courtesy of the Sazerac Bar)

Vogue (2016) recommends:

  • “The sophisticated uptown James Beard Award–nominated Cure whips up refreshing seasonal cocktails like the Maybe Always with a bright mezcal and negroni with hints of anise…
  • While its downtown Caribbean-inspired sibling Cane and Table slings tiki-themed rum-centric drinks and fancy Pineapple Sazerac.
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Cane and Table (photo courtesy of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)

  • The long bar at the hip, rustic Barrel Proof is for whiskey (more than 250 varietals) and beer.
  • The vino-inclined head to Bacchanal, a wine shop and leafy outdoor space set amid a torch-lit backyard with live music.
  • At the lively French Quarter landmark Old Absinthe House, vintage football helmets dangle from the ceiling and business cards are pinned to distressed walls. Sip the signature house frappe made with local Herbsaint, anisette, and a splash of soda.
  • Saunter down the street to Arnaud’s French 75, a warm, wood-paneled bar known for its elegant namesake libation, a mix of cognac, champagne, lemon, and sugar. And, upstairs, the little-known Mardi Gras Museum houses a collection of elaborate gowns and costumes from the mid-1930s to 1960s.” Mimi’s Travel File loves this classic!
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(photo courtesy of French 75 at Arnaud’s via Vogue)

LIVE MUSIC

Vogue (2016) likes:

  • “Of course, jazz is synonymous with New Orleans—just thank native legend Louis Armstrong for that. In the French Quarter, visit famous venues such as the tiny beloved Preservation Hall (est. 1961), run by local tuba player Ben Jaffe and famed for its standing room (and liberal BYOB) policy.
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(photo courtesy of Preservation Hall)

  • Uptown, the unfussy, pressed tin–ceilinged Maple Leaf Bar retains its outstanding Tuesday evening Rebirth Brass Band concert.
  • Away from the tourist-laden Bourbon Street, the alluring, indie-flared Frenchmen Street hosts a high concentration of cafés and clubs like intimate, old-school Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, along with d.b.a. and the weathered The Spotted Cat Music Club.” My family friend who lives in NOLA highly recommends “Snug Harbor – they are always reliable – and an authentic NOLA Jazz place.”
  • Mimi’s Travel File Fav: Rock ‘n’ Bowl–SO MUCH FUN! Live zydeco band plays to a packed dance floor while people are bowling mere feet away. The dancers are old, young, stylish, unstylish, black, white…all shapes, sizes and colors and all having a blast. (see below)

SHOP

Vogue (2016) recommends:

  • “For the design savvy, browse the assortment of mid-century goods like early Jens Risom chairs and ’70s Lucite table lamps at Loisel Vintage Modern.
  • Nearby, Perch (click thru to its gorgeous web site) blends vintage pieces with seriously old antiques.
  • The airy shop Loomed works with artisan weavers and stocks a bright, handsome mix of organic Turkish towels and lightweight scarves.
  • In the lower Garden District, DVRA’s vibrant tropical pouches (think: banana leaves and pineapples) beckon summer (it shares space with Tchoup Industries and vinyl outfit Disko Obscura).
  • And in the Quarter, brush up on American fiction and New Orleans history at the hidden literary landmark Faulkner House Books, where author William Faulkner once lived.
  • Pied NU: This West Magazine Street boutique features clothing, jewelry, and housewares by independent designers and an aesthetic that’s one part Anthropologie, one part ABC Carpet & Home, and one part vintage. You’ll recognize some of the brands (think: John Derian and Aigle boots), but most are small and relatively unknown.
  • Hazelnut is a quirky home shop beloved by locals and co-owned by Bryan Batt (aka Salvatore Romano of Mad Men). Come for the New Orleans–themed toile and stay for New Orleans kitsch like a King Cake Baby–inspired pin.
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I want these bags!!!! (photo courtesy of Hazelnut)

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(photo courtesy of Hazelnut)

  • Soniat House Antique Galleries: Like so many other businesses in New Orleans, this antiques shop is attached to a hotel (the Soniat House hotel). If, after a weekend in the Big Easy, you want to bring some of the feeling home, stop by to browse its collection of 18th- and 19th-century French furniture and housewares.”
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(photo courtesy of Soniat House Antiques via Vogue)

THE NOLA LOOK: Traditional meets Quirky

Bon Voyage!

San Francisco Treats

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(photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association)

Why has everyone left their hearts in San Francisco? Because SF has it all: water, great food, inspiring architecture, world-class museums, and—most important—style, glamor, romance!

San Francisco at dusk

(photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association by Can Balcioglu)

SEE THE SIGHTS

  • Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge–It’s a THRILL!
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Golden Gate Bridge (photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association)

Afterwards, bike through the Presidio, a park and former military base that’s hilly and gorgeous. Next, bike or walk along the San Francisco Bay through Crissy Field in the Golden Gate Recreation area. You will see people romping with their dogs and children, playing softball, watching the windsurfers, with the water on one side and the dense neighborhoods of San Francisco rising up its hills on the other side of this Bay-side park.

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The Presidio (courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association/photo by Scott Chernis)

  • California Academy of Sciences (Golden Gate Park)–Near the Presidio, the CAS is a great museum! Walk on its rooftop to see the undulating meadow of flowers and native California plants. Its aquarium is a tunnel that you walk through, surrounded by beautiful fish and corals. The CAS is a combination planetarium, aquarium, natural-history museum and a research center designed by star-chitect Renzo Piano to be the planet’s greenest museum.
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California Academy of Sciences (courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association): Check out that roof!

  • BONUS: The world-renowned De Young Art Museum (paintings, sculpture) is within easy walking distance of the CAS, and the Conservatory of Flowers is also nearby in Golden Gate Park. I haven’t been to the CoF but is sounds intriguing and was recommended by Travel + Leisure (2013).
  • Exploratorium (located near the Embarcadero)–One of the most fun and interesting museums to which I have ever been! This is an interactive science museum that is neither dusty nor dry. Go.
  • Museum of Modern Art (SoMa neighborhood)–I am in love with SF MOMA’s GORGEOUS big, new expansion designed by Snohetta, the architects who designed the stunning National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in Manhattan. Feast your eyes on their creation here…
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SFMOMA (photo courtesy of SFMOMA)

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close-up of SFMOMA facade was inspired by the water and fog SF Bay (courtesy of SFMOMA)

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Note the wall of green plants in the outside sculpture space (photo courtesy of SFMOMA)

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gallery at SFMOMA (courtesy of SFMOMA)

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SFMOMA’s expanded space is so big that it allows room for this wonderful indoor maze! (courtesy of SFMOMA)

BONUS: One of SFMOMA’s three restaurants is called In Situ and overseen by a Michelin 3-star chef, who recreates the signature dishes of the best chefs from around the world!

  • Seasonal Sight: If you happen to be in San Francisco the last week in June, check out the Gay Pride Parade. Coincidentally, we were there at that time and it is a sight to behold. Everyone goes around saying, “Happy Gay Day!” The SF Pride Celebration and Parade has been around for over 46 years. There is a fair amount of bare skin, so no wonder it takes place in June!
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The 40th Annual San Francisco Gay Pride Parade where the theme was “Forty and Fabulous” (Photo by Nader Khouri)

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY!

San Francisco restaurants are especially good because so much fresh food is grown year-round locally. For your eating pleasure, I have thoughtfully organized the best SF restaurants by neighborhood in this spreadsheet (san-fran-restaus). These restaurants are Michelin-starred and/or were mentioned in articles in various travel magazines stashed in  Mimi’s Travel File. The following are my favorites from our trip in September 2016.

Breakfast

  • Forget $50+ room service! Instead, wander down to the Ferry Building and have a delicious breakfast at one of its several restaurants. “This is what foodie heaven looks like: dozens of local purveyors, hawking everything from cheese to chocolate to cupcakes line the arcades of this historic, waterfront building,” per Travel+Leisure (2013). Sit outside and watch the boats bob around the bay. It’s cheaper, better, faster than awaiting room service. If it’s chilly, the FB’s interior is also nice.
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Ferry Building (photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association)

We went to Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building twice in three days! Sit outside at Boulettes Larder‘s informal cafe tables & soak up the sun.

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Boulettes Larder’s small dining room, facing San Francisco Bay (photo courtesy of Mariko Reed)

Lunch

  • Wayfare Tavern (Financial District)–good food, fun ambience, lively
  • Tadich Grill (Financial District)–is the oldest restaurant in CA (est. 1849) and memorable for its ambience. Reservations not accepted.

Cocktails: SF is a cocktail-ing kind of town!

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(photo courtesy of Stookey’s Club Moderne)

  • Stookey’s Club Moderne–This small, intimate Nob Hill bar is quietly elegant and oh-so transporting back, back, back to the 1930’s via its decor and music. The lighting is darkish with a hint of blue up lighting, the cocktails are period and knowledgeably made, and service is great. Woody Allen could film a movie set in 1930’s San Francisco here. Stookey’s CB is one of my top five fav bars in the world! It’s that good. Thank you, Travel + Leisure (2015), for recommending it to me.
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This photo doesn’t begin to capture Stookey’s wonderfulness (photo courtesy of Stokey’s Club Moderne)

Dinner

  •  Leo’s Oyster Bar: for FUN ambience and buzz! LOB’s designer described its look to Architectural Digest (2016): “Think 1950s Beverly Hills meets Manhattan club.” My husband took me here for my birthday and I was quite happy. Dress is city sophisticate.
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Leo’s Oyster Bar

  • Central Kitchen: for EXCELLENT food and relaxing ambience with low-key style…or as Travel+Leisure described it, “Confidently unfussy California cuisine in a canopied, elegantly industrial space.” Have a pre-dinn drink at Trick Dog (a T+L 2013 recommendation), the bar next door. Dress is casual.

Hotels: A Quick Word

SF hotels are EXPENSIVE, possibly more so than those in NYC or London. They’re also elusive: I found very few good recommendations among my many travel magazines and online sources. By good, I mean those that are smallish (under 75 rooms), nice and in convenient and attractive neighborhoods…and don’t cost $1,000 per night. Reasonable parameters. Here’s what I found:

  • Hotel Drisco (Pacific Heights): Expensive but warm ambience and talented staff, atop a hill in SF’s pretty Pacific Heights neighborhood, far from tourists; This is the place to stay if you’ve been to SF a few times and want to experience an upscale, quiet, urban neighborhood versus the business district’s/Embarcadero’s hubbub. The Hotel Drisco feels homey in an upscale way.
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Hotel Drisco

  • The Palace (Financial District)–Normally, I shy away from hotels that are huge, landmark, historic hotels with atriums because usually they are resting on old laurels and packed with conventioneers. BUT The Palace is an exception. It’s beautiful and stylishly decorated, having been renovated in 2015. When we entered the lobby and I saw the stantions with velvet cords in front of the check-in desk, I winced: stantions usually mean long lines to check in and out. However, the service was fast. Our room was really comfortable and decorated with panache. Located in the heart of SF’s Financial District, the Palace is a short walk from the SF Museum of Modern Art, cable cars, and the Ferry Building on lovely SF Bay. Check out the lovely Maxfield Parish painting in the bar (too bad about the tv’s that flank it)! (556 rooms)
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The Palace’s entrance: Beautiful!

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A Palace bedroom: Love those 11′ ceilings and city view!

SHOP

Sure, you can go to Gump’s at Union Square (definitely a good get) or wander into the little independent home decorating shops on Sacramento Street between Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights (Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic, Anthem, The Future Perfect, March, Sue Fisher King, to name a few good ones), BUT Chinatown is way more memorable and intriguing…

Chinatown–the largest outside of Asia. Be sure to visit an herbalist’s shop! An herbalist uses plants for medicinal purposes; like a Chinese drug store filled with plant-based remedies and charm (not a marijuana shop, FYI).

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Chinatown in San Francisco, California September 11, 2014. (Photo Copyright Nader Khouri 2014)

Neighborhoods: The Lowdown 

Travel + Leisure’s 2013 article provided the following descriptions of SF’s various neighborhoods:

  • Union Square: Big-name luxury boutiques border this central plaza downtown. MTF likes this neighborhood.
  • Mission District: The fast-gentrifying neighborhood is known for its Latino culture and standout restaurants and bars.
  • Hayes Valley: A stone’s throw from the opera and symphony hall, Hayes Street is chock-a-block with chic shops and cafes.
  • Pacific Heights: Come to this mansion-filled hilltop for postcard-worthy views of the city. MTF thinks it’s lovely!
  • SoMa: This sprawling area includes a plethora of museums, destination restaurants, and the ballpark, all amid a sea of parking lots and highway ramps.

TIP: Gotta take a cable car! They are San Francisco institutions, fun and an efficient way to get around the three neighborhoods they serve: Financial district/Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf area, and Nob Hill.

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(photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association/Scott Chernis)

Traveling Companions: To get into a San Francisco frame of mind, read Dashiell Hammett’s “Maltese Falcon” and Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club.” For more suggestions, go to Longitude Books’s website.

London (part 2/2): Eat, Drink & Shop

Organized by neighborhood…

NIGHT LIFE

Leicester Square & Soho

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  • 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

Chelsea

  • Five Fields (8-9 Blacklands  Terrace)–EXCELLENT, excellent food and service in elegant, initmate room on a charming street
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Five Fields restaurant in Chelsea

  • 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

Hammersmith

  • 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.
The River Cafe, Hammersmith, London.

The River Cafe, Hammersmith, London.

Kensington 

  • 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.

Mayfair

  • 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.

Victoria

  • Thomas Cubitt (44 Elizabeth St.)–nice, informal restaurant on a pretty street

Soho

  • 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!
Credit Photo: Paul Winch-Furness / www.paulwf.co.uk

Quo Vadis (Credit Photo: Paul Winch-Furness / www.paulwf.co.uk)

  • 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

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The following restaurants get a lot of good press, though I haven’t yet eaten there:

Soho

  • 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

Marlebone

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)

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PUBS

Chelsea

  • 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

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Belgravia

  • 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

Wapping

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Prospect of Whitby

  • 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!
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Claridge’s bar: Shake that thing!

SHOP IT!

St. James

  • 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!
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This recent window at Fortnum & Mason will give you an idea of its style.

 

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another Fortnum & Mason window

 

Fortnum & Mason Ground Floor

This photo of Fortnum & Mason’s ground floor does not do the store justice. Go up to its other floors for the best eye candy…clothes, gifts, a sweet tea salon. Go down for a small, refined, ladies-who-lunch restaurant.

  • 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

Knightsbridge

  • 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.

Chelsea

  • John Sandoe (10 Blacklands Terrace, just off the Kings Rd.)–perfectly wonderful small store, with knowledgeable staff…just what a bookstore should be!

Sandoe green bicycle

  • 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
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Oliver Brown–Lady Mary and Matthew would have bought their hunting clothes here.

  • 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!)

LINLEY Belgravia Flagship Store

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
PhilT3

stunning Philip Treacy creation

PT2

and yet another PT stunner

Mayfair

  • 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

Soho

  • 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.

Notting Hill

  • 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”

For HOTELS & SIGHTS to See, go to my London (part 1/2) post.

-posted May 2016

 

 

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