The NoMad in London’s West End has a lush restaurant atrium designed to feel like a greenhouse. Photo / Simon Upton
From boutique boltholes to boutique dining rooms, some truly delicious places have recently opened in the UK capital, writes Amira Hashish
London is well and truly back in action with a sparkling selection of new hotels and restaurants to visit. Despite a difficult few years for the UK hospitality scene, it is thriving again and there is a sense of celebration in the air. If the endless history and culture aren’t enough to draw you in, these lively hotspots should seal the deal.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for sophistication with an edge, this is it. Housed in a Grade II listed building in Covent Garden, opposite the Royal Opera House, NoMad London is a lavish escape in the heart of the theatre. Bow Street Court and Police Station has been converted into one of the West End’s most desirable hotels. The rooms are inspired by 1920s New York.
The NoMad Restaurant sits in a lush, light-filled atrium reminiscent of an Edwardian greenhouse. It’s great for breakfast but for dinner, book a table at the Side Hustle; a twist on the traditional British pub serving a menu of sharing plates paired with a list of agave-based spirits. Don’t leave without trying the fish dish Pescado a la Parilla. It’s sensational. A nightcap at The Library is another way to enjoy this luxury hotel,
Overlooking Trafalgar Square and next to the National Gallery, Page8 is a central London option with a more minimal urban style. The cafe serves locally roasted Assembly coffee with freshly baked pastries and brunch dishes. With many live events taking place in the common area, it’s a place where socializing is encouraged.
The lost poet
Fancy that Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant moment? If so, head to this Notting Hill guest house. There are just four bedrooms in the lovingly designed townhouse conversion on the pastel colored Portobello Road. A poetic love letter to this bustling part of West London, it’s characterful and romantic asshole.
This glamorous, gritty hotel is a playful addition to East London’s creative scene. Spanish top chef Dani Garcia has opened BiBo, his first London outpost, on the ground floor. Perhaps the biggest draw is the rooftop pool which is home to favorite celebrity hangout, The Curtain Club. There are sprawling city skyline views, smooth cocktails, and tasty bites. What’s not to like?
Where to eat and drink
Arts Club Sessions
In a former judges’ dining room in the design district of Clerkenwell sits London’s finest new restaurant. That’s the vision of artist Jonny Gent, who counts Tilda Swinton among his collectors, while celebrity chef Florence Knight is behind the menu. As the candlelight flickers beneath the chandeliers and you soak up the charming surroundings of the decaying walls, you’ll feel wonderfully decadent. Tables are hard to find, so book well in advance.
Chef Chet Sharma serves up chaat and grilled meats that are perfect for sharing in this super-in-demand Indian. In an old Georgian building in Mayfair, the sleek interior is inspired by Rajasthani architecture, with colorful tiled floors, polished mango wood furniture, and a carved ceiling. In addition to the dining room, there’s a cute cocktail bar with twists on the classics. Monsoon Martini anyone? bibirestaurants.com.
Next door Barbary
The team behind popular restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary (which should also be on your list) have transformed what started out as a delivery service into a proper restaurant in Covent Garden. Championing the smoky flavors of Moorish Spain and North African cuisine, the dishes never fail to taste delicious. The wine list favors Spanish, French and Moroccan bottles.
Restaurateur Russell Norman is something of a London institution and his latest Farringdon venture is a tribute to old-school Italian where more is more. The menu leans towards Tuscany with the kind of generous portions of pasta and tiramisu you hope for. Red gingham tables, soft napkin shade lighting, and a bar serving $10 Negronis make this casual affair truly irresistible.
BAO noodle shop
In the bustling center of Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, BAO pays homage to Taiwanese beef noodle shops. There is an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs do their work. Hidden underground is a bar and karaoke room if you fancy upping the entertainment.
This quirky Izakaya sits below the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, next to Hyde Park. Home to London’s first omakase cocktail bar, the menu draws inspiration from classic Edomae sushi, tempura and robata techniques. Served to the soundtrack of Japanese trap music, the space was designed to capture the energy of an evening in Ginza.
Three floors of an 18th-century townhouse in Mayfair have been transformed into a speakeasy-style restaurant and bar that could be straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. Head to the underground brasserie for a shamelessly extravagant decor where crystal, marble and red velvet intermingle. The food is as sumptuous as the surroundings and the live music will transport you to the Roaring Twenties. It’s the perfect place to put on your favorite outfit and enjoy a great night out.
Cozy nooks and crannies with charming design reflect the characteristics of four cities in this fine restaurant; the soul of New Orleans, the sophistication of Paris and the audacity of a New Yorker, all on the London stage. Prepare everything for a drink, brunch or dinner.
Insider Tip: Where to Explore
There are the obvious tick-box moments for every first Londoner; the Tower of London, the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace. You know the chorus. But getting away from the traditional attractions allows you to enjoy the more authentic side of the city. A well-spent Friday or Saturday starts at Golborne Road Market, just off Portobello Rd in Notting Hill. Here, you’ll find local antique dealers and flea market gurus displaying their finery outdoors, rain or shine.
Drop by the Golborne Deli for brunch, grab a coffee at the Flying Horse, grab a cocktail at Franklin’s Wine Bar on Westbourne Grove and book for a romantic dinner at 7 Saints on All Saints Rd or Gold on Portobello. Area fans include Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Nicole Kidman and Harry Styles, so you’ll be in good company.
For more ideas, visit visitlondon.com
There are no Covid-19 tests or vaccination requirements for travelers to the UK.