What London lacks in good weather, it makes up for in, well, where do we begin? It's one of the world's greatest cities for history and culture, a breeding ground for new fashion talent and home to a food and drink scene that spans East End curry houses, secret cocktail bars and third-wave coffee in a former public toilet. This guide is by no means exhaustive, but it includes highlights that we think you'll love. We're going to keep this regularly updated, so you can check back visit after visit for new openings and our latest discoveries.
By Tamara Abraham
A row of houses in Chelsea, London. Source: Instagram/@charlottesimone.
London is a joy for food lovers: the city’s vast dining scene is competitive and restaurants must really deliver to survive. For a real British experience, be sure to visit a gastropub for elevated comfort food in a cosy environment. The recently restored The Coach, Clerkenwell, dates back to 1790, and boasts a magical "Bear Garden", where bear baiting and cockfighting once took place. The menu is by Henry Harris, one of the UK’s most celebrated chefs. St John is famous for its nose-to-tail approach to meat, but locals also hit it up for London’s best donuts. Check out Gunpowder for some of the best Indian food you’ll eat outside of India, and The Wright Brothers for £1 oysters and a glass of Champagne.
The Coach (left), and donuts at St John (right).
In Covent Garden, visit Petersham Nurseries – if you can’t get a table at one of its restaurants, just browse/’gram the adjoining shop. The media crowd, meanwhile, is flocking to the newly revamped Soho House on Greek Street – the members’ club’s original outpost. If you’re not a member, check out Kettner’s Townhouse, the neighboring restaurant is open to the public, but has that same clubby vibe. Nearby, on the fringes of Chinatown is Xu, the city’s hippest Taiwanese - order the Chilli Egg Drop Crab.
From left: Petersham Nurseries; rose-infused lattes at Farm Girl; Maggie Jones.
Over in west London, Farm Girl’s new restaurant in Chelsea is its most ambitious outpost yet. The Insta-friendly décor is by Beata Heuman, while the menu includes jackfruit tacos and rose-infused lattes. At Granger & Co, on Westbourne Grove, order the chilli fried egg and bacon brioche roll – the most delicious hangover-killer, as long as you have the patience to wait for a table. And if you loved Vanessa Kirby’s performance as Princess Margaret in The Crown as much as we did, you’ll adore Maggie Jones. Just a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace, the restaurant takes its name from the pseudonym used by the rebel royal for table reservations.
68 & Boston in Soho is an upstairs cocktail bar and downstairs wine bar, and its upscale decor belies relatively affordable prices (by London standards) — most bottles of wine are just £20, extra special bottles are just £30. Nearby in Kingly Court is Disrepute, where you'll find Jean Vital, a.k.a. @cocktail_circus behind the bar. Milk & Honey is the London outpost of the one-time Lower East Side favorite — it's members-only but non-members can book tables if it's not too busy.
Bourne & Hollingsworth (left) and a cocktail at Disrepute (right).
The Langham hotel's Artesian bar is another must for cocktail drinkers. Its menu is inspired by life's milestones, from 'Going to Big School' to 'Falling in Love' — we're still wondering how they acquire 'tears' for 'Your Kids Left Home'... Bourne & Hollingsworth in Fitzrovia is worth a visit for its decor alone, while bookworms should make a beeline for the secret bar at the back of the Maison Assouline store on Piccadilly.
Noble Rot on Lamb's Conduit Street is one of London's most well-established wine bars, and it more than lives up to its reputation. Head east for some art school nostalgia at Spiritland, while over on Kingsland Road, TT Liquor's Cellar Bar has converted one-time jail cells into cosy booths. In the speakeasy tradition, Discount Suit Company looks unassuming on the outside, but within you'll find some of the best cocktails in London.
Britain has a reputation for being a nation of tea drinkers, but the capital’s thriving independent coffee scene is evidence of the nation’s love of coffee too. Workshop, which has five locations across London makes London’s best coffee in our opinion. Attendant is located in a former Victorian public bathroom in Fitzrovia and also does a stellar cup. The neighbourhood, just north of Oxford Circus, is also home to the highly rated Kaffeine and Curators Coffee.
The Victorian railings of Attendant (left), and brewing espressos at Prufrock (right).
London is full of Australians who have a coffee culture all their own – for a taste of it, check out Flat White. For a completely different take on caffeine, Bar Italia is a Soho stalwart serving espresso late into the night, while Fernandez & Wells is as loved for its food as its coffee.
Monmouth Coffee’s two stores (Covent Garden and Borough Market) sell and grind beans from across the globe; whether you’re sampling a new variety or getting your morning latte, the Monmouth baristas are masters of their craft. Prufrock in Clerkenwell served hand-brewed filter coffee and even teaches classes in how to make your own brew. For a more casual cup, Mr Coffee is a popular stand on the edge of Spitalfields Market.
The Connaught is one of London’s Grande Dame hotels. It is tucked away on Mayfair’s Carlos Place and is a destination as much for its Michelin-starred restaurant as it is for its rooms. We also rate the suites above dining hotspot Chiltern Firehouse, and the newly opened Kettner’s Townhouse in Soho.
The Ned, from the team behind the Soho House group, opened in 2017 and is the city’s latest ‘it’ hotel. The building, a former bank, boasts ten restaurants, including favorites like Pizza East and Cecconi’s, as well as a spectacular rooftop pool with views of St Paul’s Cathedral. Also recommended in East London is the Ace Hotel and the boutique Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green.
The Pilgrm (left), and a bedroom at The Laslett (right).
For a taste of Notting Hill living, check out The Laslett, which benefits from the charm of a residential street (it is made up of five connected houses), while being moments from the buzz of Portobello Market and the Tube – it’s also a pleasant spot to bring your laptop and work for the day. The Pilgrm is a buzzy new boutique hotel in Paddington, well-located for the Heathrow Express, and a short commute from the West End.
We also love the Firmdale Hotels group, which has eight boutique hotels across London. We especially love the Charlotte Street Hotel in the heart of Fitzrovia, London’s foodiest neighbourhood, and Number Sixteen in South Kensington.
The obvious stops for fashion lovers are Selfridges, Liberty (don’t miss its dedicated scarf space), Dover Street Market and Browns – and they won’t disappoint, but London is also home to a number of beautifully curated independent boutiques that are often overlooked by the average tourist.
Couverture & the Garbstore, just off Portobello Road, sells Regina Pyo dresses alongside Hay stationery and Mature Ha hats. There’s even an exceptionally chic selection of gifts for kids. Bypass the tourist tat and head to the Portobello Print and Map Shop for sophisticated souvenirs, and visit Rellik and One Of A Kind for expensive-but-unrivalled selections of designer vintage fashion. Friday and Saturday are Portobello’s market days. If you walk north, just beyond the railway arch, you’ll find stalls stocked with more affordable vintage and second-hand clothing.
Alex Eagle Studio.
Raey, the in-house brand from Matches has its own store on Notting Hill’s Ledbury Road: we love the heavy cashmere knits, silk separates and generously proportioned ‘Loon’ jeans.
Alex Eagle Studio on Soho’s Lexington Street is part-gallery, part-boutique, in a space that feels like the apartment of our dreams. Owner Alex Eagle has an impeccable eye, and you’ll find her own label suiting as well as pieces by Lemaire and Isa Arfen.
Mouki Mou is a boutique on Chiltern Street owned by the founder of the Rainbowwave showroom, Maria Lemos. She fills it with unique ceramic and glass homewares as well as Feit shoes and kilts by Japanese brand Hallelujah. Nearby on Marylebone High Street is the original Daunt Books, a temple to the written word. We especially love the travel section, always sure to fuel our wanderlust. Marylebone is also home to VV Rouleaux, which sells all kinds of ribbons, trims, tassels and feathers, sure to inspire creative minds.
Ribbons galore at VV Rouleaux (left) and Atelier Abigail Ahern (right).
Further north, in Islington, is the store of interior designer Abigail Ahern, where fans of her dark, dramatic aesthetic flock for mirrors, vintage furniture finds and faux botanicals.
On the east side, visit Modern Society on Redchurch Street. Owner Nazifa Movsoumova dreams up exclusive collaborations with the likes of Zanzan eyewear and Être Cécile. House of Hackney is a maximalist’s dream – pick up one of its pineapple lamps or tiger cushions. And don’t miss Spitalfields Market where vintage stalls jostle for space with big brand concept stores.
The west London fashion set get their heart rates up with HIIT and rowing classes at Core Collective in Kensington. We also love the cathartic cardio of boxing at Kobox — look out for classes by Ian Streetz and Toby Huntington-Whiteley.
Frame and TenPilates are both great reformer Pilates studios, while Studio Lagree’s megaformer workout is the ultimate core challenge. TriYoga is a popular boutique chain with a great variety of different yoga styles and levels. We also love Lumi Power - a friendly hot yoga studio tucked away in Hammersmith with excellent teachers.
Runners should hit Richmond Park for deer sightings, or chart a path along the Thames for spectacular views.
We rate DryBy, a one-stop-shop near Oxford Circus for blow-dries and manicures. Nearby at Liberty, there’s a Blink Brow Bar, a Skin Laundry and Margaret Dabbs – try the signature Medical Pedicure for the ultimate foot overhaul by a qualified podiatrist. Need a quick shape and paint? Go to Cowshed on Fouberts Place or Cheeky which has outposts at Topshop Oxford Circus, Holborn and on Redchurch Street. Hershesons is the UK’s answer to DryBar, we especially like the dedicated Braid Bar at Topshop Oxford Circus.
Mani-pedi stations at Cheeky in Holborn.
Julie Nails is a Notting Hill institution – the best mani-pedis in west London and well-priced too. It’s cash-only though, so remember to hit an ATM first. Josh Wood Atelier, tucked away in a Holland Park mews, is where the good and great of London get their cuts and color. For something more drastic, head to Bleach, where rainbow tresses are the order of the day.
Short on time? Blow Ltd will come to your home, office or hotel and offers blow-dries, make-up and manicures.