Free weekends in hospitality are like gold dust: in the past eight years since I started my career working on the door of night clubs, I can count on one hand how many full weekends I have had off. So when one does come along, we all make the most of it. Working the crazy hours we do, means you become good friends with your colleagues, so after a Friday day shift , well head to Balthazar in Covent Garden (4-6 Russell St, WC2B 5HZ, 020 3301 1155, balthazarlondon.com), which opened earlier this year. I love this place, it has a real buzz about it and the staff are great, and even though owner Keith McNally isn't around much, his team, especially Brian Silva, who heads up the bar, are so friendly and knowledgeable. I tend to order my default Steak Tartare and Fries with Reisling wine, which goes perfectly, and we sit at the bar rather than a table, for a more casual, New York feel.
Experimental Cocktail Club
Afterwards, well go to Experimental Cocktail Club in Soho (13a Gerrard St Chinatown, London W1D 5PS, 020 7434 3559, chinatownecc.com), or Opium Lounge (The Jade Door, 15- 16 Gerrard St, W1D 6JE 0207 734 7276, opiumchinatown.com) for cocktails into the early hours. Both these places lead in innovation when it comes to drinks, and are two must -visit places for anyone looking for decent cocktails.
If we are still in the area we'll pop into Gerry Calabrese and Pro Greens new club INKLDN in Leicester Square (One Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA, 020 7287 0151, facebook.com/INKLDN), which, despite the location, has a very cool vibe. Gerry is one of industry's leading cocktail legends, so youre guaranteed a good drink, and the music (grime, hip hop, garage, rock) is pretty good too.
Saturday mornings are lazy and I'll usually head to The Breakfast Club in Battersea (5-9 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HG, 020 7078 9630, thebreakfastclubcafes.com) to meet friends for a Bloody Mary and something to eat. This place is brilliant, and always has a cheerful vibe full of locals you might have seen zig-zagging down Clapham High Street the night before. They do an amazing whole grain bread with avocado and poached eggs dish, which is the perfect way to start the day.
Later on in the afternoon, especially if the sun is shining, I'll head down to meet friends either in Putney to the Dukes Head (8 Lower Richmond Rd, London SW15 1JN, 020 8788 2552, dukesheadputney.com) or go over to Chelsea to The Jam Tree (541 King's Rd London, SW6 2EB 020 3397 3739, thejamtree.com/chelsea), which has a great outdoor space and BBQ in summerIn the winter months I love The Artesian Bar at The Langham (1c Portland Place, Regent St, W1B 1JA 020 7636 1000, artesian-bar.co.uk) for quirky cocktails from bartenders Alex and Simone - some of the most creative in the industry - and friendly, unobtrusive service.
The Artesian Bar at the Langham
To kick off Saturday night, Oblix at The Shard (Level 32, The Shard?, 31 St Thomas St, ? ?SE1 9RY oblixrestaurant.com) is by far my favourite restaurant at the moment. Its like stepping into a different world - the view, food (beef carpaccio, black cod, steak) and service is second to none, and they do a mean vodka martini. Afterwards we'll head out to JJ Goodmans new venue - LCC (London Cocktail Club) just behind Oxford Circus (4 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 8PA, 0 20 7580 1960, londoncocktailclub.co.uk/oxford-circus). With my job, it's important to be aware of trends and new venues.....all in the name of research , of course. This is the largest venue of Goodmans growing enterprise and I think the most fun, with its range of tequila and mezcal, and party crowd in the bar.
Afterwards we head to The Box (11-12 Walker's Ct London W1F 0SD, 020 7434 4374, theboxsoho.com), which, even a few years after opening, is still great fun and always wows the crowd with its shows. The DJs know how to work a crowd and play a real mix of tunes.
I have a lot of friends who DJ, so if any of them are in town we'll go to see their 3am set either at Ministry of Sound (103 Gaunt St, SE1 6DP, 0870 060 0010, ministryofsound.com/club/?oblix) or Fabric. Last time my friend Michael Woods was supporting Fedde La Grande at Ministry, which was an incredible night.
Food normally comes into play again at the end of the night and the 24-hour Duck and Waffle (Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY, 020 3640 7310, duckandwaffle.com) is the perfect place. The views from the 32nd floor takes the sting out of being up all night. My friend Dan Doherty is in charge of the kitchen and always creates a flurry of exciting dishes for hungry clubbers and city boys who haven't made it home. Sunday morning I head East to Petticoat Lane market, Spitalfields and the Petticoat Lane market in the old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane. I love wondering about that area, mainly have a look at the up- and- coming designers, including one of my favourites, Adopted. Although I am a big fan of the High Street for basics, I like individual items of clothing and jewellery, especially necklaces and charms, which I pick up from all over the world.
Laden show rooms (103 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SE. laden.co.uk) is great for boots, but market stalls tend to change continually so it's hard to keep track, but that's half the fun. Summer months are more hedonistic on Brick Lane as the party spills out on to the streets from Vibe Bar, 93 Fleet East with day- time parties such as You are We and Fuse. As autumn has set in I love hiding away in Shoreditch House (Ebor Street, London E1 6AW, 020 7739 5040? , shoreditchhouse.com) or on the rooftop of the Boundary (2-4 Boundary St, E2 7DD, 020 7729 1051, theboundary.co.uk). I try and head home south of the river early evening, but Sunday nights are perfect for Gastro (67 Venn Street, SW4 0BD, 020 7627 0222), the best French restaurant around. Its authentically French, with the best mussels and frites I've ever tasted, the tables are rickety and for a moment you feel you are in Paris. Across the road from Gastro, Venn Street Records (78 Venn St, SW4 0BD 020 7738 8645, vennstreetrecords.com) is a big night with live music from the Superstokes.
The weekend comes to a conclusive close around midnight, and I fall into bed watching re-runs of Skins and eating Haribo.