London Guide

All that's hot and happening in London


Where to Stay in London

The epicentre of contemporary European culture has seen so many hotel openings in the last year, each seemingly cooler than the last… We love the Great Northern Hotel (Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Road; 002-3388 0800), right next to all the foodie and Central Saint Martins fashion action in new-look Kings Cross. It’s a classic Victorian railway hotel revamped, right down to the super-wide corridors designed for wide-skirted ladies to pass each unobstructed, now Farrow & Balled to the nth degree. The bedrooms are plush and sexy, with the smaller spaces styled like luxury railway compartments. The modern British dining room, Plum + Spilt Milk, has lots of intimate banquettes along with a Mark Sergeant menu.


When we first heard that Ace Hotel (100 Shoreditch High Street, E1; 020-7613 9800) was coming to London, we wondered if they’d be Dalston or Clapton pioneers, but they went for the safe option of Shoreditch instead, turning what was previously a curious chain hotel into a design hub, with interiors by design duo Barber Osgerby, and Hoi Polloi, a new restaurant by Pablo Flack and David Waddington of Bistrotheque and Shrimpy’s fame.

The other flash and fashion-focused recent hotel newcomer to town is, of course, Ian Schrager’s EDITION (10 Berners Street, W1; 020-7781 0000), which has taken over a whole block in Fitzrovia, on the same street that Schrager opened the Sanderson on, way back in 2000. The former king of Studio 54 has mixed opulent period glamour with space age touches, and has drafted in chef-of-the-moment Jason Atherton to bring the hotel’s vast restaurant, Berner’s Tavern, to life.

Where to Eat in London


““Irasshaimase!” The city has gone hirata mad – we’ve been hoovering up mountains of moreish, doughy, soft steamed Japanese buns with pork belly and other assorted fillings. We love the versions at recently opened Flesh and Buns (41 Earlham Street, WC2; 020-7632 9500), the new restaurant from the Bone Daddies crew, but our favourites are at Shoryu (3 Denman Street, W1; no telephone), along with their super-garlicky ramen noodles.

Of all the restaurants that have opened in The Shard (Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1; 020-7478 0540), it’s the modern European menu at Aqua Shard that we enjoy most. A round of cocktails in the bar, staring out at the skyline after dark, is a London must. There’s just nothing to match that view.

The brasserie craze shows no sign of abating. Keith McNally’s constantly glamorous Balthazar (4-6 Russell Street, WC2; 0203-301 1155) remains one of the hardest tables to score in town at peak time, but we favour the marble tiling, sourdough, steak tartare, meatballs with snails and… just about everything at the flawless, fabulous Brasserie Chavot (41 Conduit Street, W1; 020-7183 6425).


Our default mid-price West End dining room remains Green Man & French Horn (54 St Martins Lane, WC2; 020-7836 2645), for its crisped pork belly with endive and sparkling red wines. The menu is focused on all things Loire and you can have a glass of vino and a plate at the bar for a tenner, or book the booth at the back for six and make a night of it.

Where to Go Out in London

The scene remains focused on all things east. One of our favourite bars continues to be Ruby’s, the soi-disant “subterranean drinking den” (76 Stoke Newington Road, N16; no telephone). Look for the old cinema sign and head to the basement (arrive early – there’s no standing and it’s one in/one out by 10.30pm). It’s full of decorous architectural salvage, it’s very intimate, very sexy, very civilised, and the cocktails are perfect.


We avoid Jersey Shoreditch at the weekend and head to cooler Clapton – for negronis and local craft beers at the rebooted Victorian boozer The Windsor Castle (135 Lower Clapton Road, E5; 020-8895 6096). And on the first Saturday of the month, it’s Sink the Pink at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (42 Pollard Street, E2; 020-7739 7170), a heady mix of John Waters-style trash pop art happenings, trannies, high fashion, low life and party tunes.


Where to Shop in London

Hostem (41 Redchurch Street, E2; 020-7739 9733) has been the darkest, coolest, most interesting menswear store in London for the last few years – it’s been the place to find entirely offbeat Japanese deconstructed insider labels, alongside the likes of Rick Owens. Now, along with its bespoke basement (check out the cheeky Fleet Ilya custom-made leather “toys” and accessories), it has its own women’s department, with a new interior from the husband and wife team of JamesPlumb.

A few doors down, the old antiques and junk space at 45 Redchurch Street has been turned into a swish café and concept store by the Trois Garcons boys, named Maison Trois Garcons (020-3370 7761). Along with glassware, handbags and peculiar gifts, the Louis XIV inspired dog and cat baskets are amazing to behold.

The big international designers still gravitate towards Mayfair, and nothing is bigger than the newly opened Chanel flagship (158-159 New Bond Street; 002-7493 5040). It’s the largest in the world, with a huge glass sculpture by Jean-Michel Othoniel running between floors, intended to resemble Coco Chanel’s iconic string of pearls.

What to Wear in London

Modernist workwear-inspired chic designer wear from the likes of Egg and Dover Street Market. Rough and tough Rick Owens leathers with draped asymmetric dresses and separates. Smart, Jackie-O style sixties Simone Rocha dresses and coats.

Don’t leave London Without…

Some brightly coloured and luxurious textured notebooks embossed with slogans (“live, love, laugh”; “whatever”; “genius”), with gilt-edged pages from Smythson (45 New Bond Street, W1; 0845 873 2435). For seriously frivolous luxury, get the lambskin versions (£45).

Beauty SOS – Where to go for Pampering in London

The Bamford Hay Barn Spa, at the Berkeley Health Club (Wilton Place, SW1; 020-7235 6000), on the 7th floor of the landmark hotel, is one of the newest and most glamorous spa spaces to open up in the city. It’s an oasis in Knightsbridge: there’s a rooftop open-air pool and secret scented garden, and of course any amount of spa treatments featuring lush Bamford products.

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