Holiday Inspiration

The London lowdown

By Susan Ward Davies

That “no reservations” thing has got very old, and we refuse to queue, so we’re thrilled to hear that there’s going to be an offshoot of MEATliquor – MEATmission – opening on Hoxton Market this December, with bookable tables in a “salle privée”. Similarly, we love Rita’s kitchen at Birthday’s in Dalston (33-35 Stoke Newington Road, N16; ritasbaranddining.com) but the wait for a table is a faff. Instead, we always end up at the accidentally chic Turkish grill joint Mangal 2 (4 Stoke Newington Road, N16, enq 020-7254 7888; mangal2.com) over the road – Hussein Chalayan was there on our last visit, and Gilbert & George eat in every night. Bianca Jagger may have rocked up to Rita’s on its second weekend, but we can’t imagine Mario Testino queuing anywhere, which is why he’s been hanging out at Arjan Swaney’s hot new Peruvian restaurant and private member’s club, Coya (118 Piccadilly, W1, enq 020-7042 7118; coyarestaurant.com) – home to London’s best pisco sour. Meanwhile Ralph Fiennes – “the new M” – has been dining at the new, very fabulous, lowish-budget Loire eaterie from the Terroirs and Brawn boys, the Green Man and French Horn (54 St Martins Lane, WC2, enq 020-7836 2645; greenmanfrenchhorn.co).

To the recent Leon Max shop launch in W11 (229 Westbourne Grove, W11, enq 020-7221 1204; maxstudio.co.uk), complete with a set from The Kills, and the inevitable appearance of Mrs Hince (although silver-maned Kristen McMenamy was more eye-catching). We do love Max’s halter-necks and silk pleats. We also loved the three-day Miu Miu private members club, with milliner Stephen Jones’ grand installation, at the swank new Café Royal hotel (68 Regent Street, W1, enq 020-7406 3333; hotelcaferoyal.com). Guests included L’Wren Scott, Rosamund Pike and Amanda Ferry. The hotel is opening on December 5 – we can’t wait. The membership card that you really want right now is for Grace Belgravia (11c West Halkin Street, SW1, enq 020-7235 8900; gracebelgravia.com), London’s first women-only private member’s club (boyfriends/husbands can dine on Thursdays). It’s about health and fitness as much as cocktails and supper, and it’s very plush indeed.

The Valentino Master of Couture show opened at Somerset House (South Building, Strand, WC2, enq 020-7845 4600; somersethouse.org.uk) at the end of November. The man himself hosted an evening with guests Victoria Beckham (wearing hot, festive, red), Tallulah Harlech and Julia Restoin Roitfeld, and the show continues until March, so don’t miss it. Meanwhile, south of the river, the Antony Gormley show, Model, continues at the White Cube (144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1, enq 020-7930 5373; whitecube.com), aka “the gallery we’d most like to live in”. With its rooms full of curious cubes and complex brick formations, this is serious, high style sculpture.

While we’re not sure about the Marmite-sponsored lights outside Selfridges this season, we’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit with Champagne-filled nights at the Goring Hotel (15 Beeston Place, SW1, enq 020-7396 9000) to celebrate five different trees decorated by Linley, Fortnum & Mason, Cole & Son, Charbonnel et Walker and Boodles in five of the suites, and at Claridges (49-55 Brook Street, W1, enq 020-7629 8860; claridges.co.uk), where Kally Ellis of avant-garde florist McQueens has installed this year’s tree – the first time in years that the hotel has given the honour to someone other than a fashion designer. Ellis has A-list form: she does the flowers for the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Lana del Ray and Kate Winslett have both passed through the deco decked halls of Claridges in the last fortnight. Over on the eastside of town, post-punk 80s legend and button queen Judy Blame has decorated the tree at the Hostem store (41-42 Redchurch Street, E2, enq 020-7739 9733; hostem.co.uk) next to Shoreditch House.

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