The NoMad, in London’s West End, boasts a lush restaurant atrium designed to feel like a glasshouse. Photo / Simon Upton
From boutique boltholes to characterful dining rooms, some truly delectable places have recently opened their doors in the UK capital, writes Amira Hashish
London is well and truly back in action with a glittering selection of new hotels and restaurants to visit. Despite a tough couple of years for the British hospitality scene, it is thriving again and there is a sense of revelry in the air. If the endless history and culture isn’t enough to entice you there, these buzzing hotspots should seal the deal.
Where to stay
If you are seeking 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 sumptuous escape in the heart of theatreland. Converted from the The Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station into one of the West End’s most coveted hotels, the rooms are inspired by 1920s New York.
The NoMad Restaurant is in a lush, light-filled atrium evocative of an Edwardian greenhouse. It’s great for breakfast but for dinner book a table at Side Hustle; a twist on the traditional British pub serving a menu of sharing plates paired with an agave-based list of spirits. Do not leave without trying the Pescado a la Parilla fish dish. It’s sensational. A nightcap in The Library is another way to enjoy this luxurious 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 items. With lots of live events happening in the communal area, it’s a place where socializing is encouraged.
The Lost Poet
Keen for that Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant moment? If so, make a beeline for this Notting Hill guesthouse. There are just four bedrooms in the passionately designed townhouse conversion on the pastel-colored Portobello Rd. A poetic love letter to this vibrant part of West London, it is a characterful and romantic bolthole.
This glamorously gritty hotel is a playful addition to East London’s creative scene. Top Spanish 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 celebrity favorite hangout The Curtain Club. There are sprawling City skyline views, flowing cocktails and tasty bites. What’s not to love?
Where to eat and drink
Sessions Arts Club
In an old judges’ dining room in the design district of Clerkenwell lies London’s most beautiful new restaurant. It’s the vision of artist Jonny Gent, who counts Tilda Swinton among his collectors di lui, whilst much-lauded chef Florence Knight is behind the menu. As the candlelight flickers underneath the chandeliers and you soak up the charming surroundings of the decaying walls you will feel wonderfully decadent. Tables are hard to come by, so book far in advance.
Chef Chet Sharma serves up chaat and grills that are perfect for sharing in this super in-demand Indian. In an old Georgian building in Mayfair, the elegant interior is inspired by Rajasthani architecture, with colorful tile floors, polished mango wood furnishings and an engraved ceiling. In addition to the dining space there is a cute cocktail bar with twists on the classics. Monsoon Martini anyone? bibirestaurants.com.
The Barbary Next Door
The team behind much loved restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary (which should also be on your list) have turned what started as a lockdown delivery service into a real-life restaurant in Covent Garden. Championing smoky flavors of Moorish Spain and North African cooking, the dishes are never short of delicious. The wine list focuses on Spanish, French and Moroccan bottles.
Restaurateur Russell Norman is something of a London institution and his latest venture in Farringdon is a tribute to old-school Italian where more is more. The menu leans towards Tuscany with the kind of generous helpings of pasta and tiramisu you would hope for. Red gingham-clothed tables, soft napkin-lampshade lighting and a bar that serves $ 10 Negronis make this casual affair seriously irresistible.
BAO Noodle Shop
In the bustling hub of Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street, BAO pays tribute to the beef noodle shops of Taiwan. There is an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs do their thing. Hidden below ground is a bar and karaoke room if you fancy ramping up the entertainment.
This eccentric Izakaya sits below the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, next to Hyde Park. Home to London’s first omakase cocktail bar, the food menu draws on the classical techniques of Edomae sushi, tempura and robata. Served to the soundtrack of Japanese trap music, the space was designed to capture the energy of a night out in Ginza.
Three floors of an 18th-century townhouse in Mayfair have been converted into a speakeasy-style restaurant and bar that could be straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. Head to the underground brasserie for unashamedly extravagant decor packed with crystal, marble and red velvet. The food is as lavish as the surroundings and the live music will transport you back to the Roaring Twenties. It’s the place to don your favorite outfit and embrace a big night out.
Charmingly designed cozy nooks and crannies reflect the characteristics of four cities in this refined restaurant; the soul of New Orleans, the sophistication of Paris, and the sass of a New Yorker – all set on London’s stage. Lap it all up for drinks, brunch or dinner.
Insider’s tip: Where to explore
There are the obvious tick-box moments for every first time Londoner; the Tower of London, the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace. You know the drill. But straying from the traditional attractions allows you to enjoy the more authentic side of the city. A Friday or Saturday well spent starts at Golborne Road Market, just off Portobello Rd in Notting Hill. Here you will find local antique dealers and flea market gurus showcasing their finery in the open-air setting, come rain or shine.
Swing by Golborne Deli for brunch, do coffee at Flying Horse, grab a cocktail at Franklin’s Wine Bar on Westbourne Grove and book in for a romantic dinner at nearby 7 Saints on All Saints Rd or Gold on Portobello. Fans of the area includes Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Nicole Kidman and Harry Styles, so you’ll be in good company.
For more ideas, see visitlondon.com
There are no Covid-19 tests or vaccination requirements for travelers to the United Kingdom.