Get under the skin of the UK capital with these insider tips for discovering the homegrown highlights that’ll turn your stay into a royal success
James Thompson charts his food and travel exploits on Instagram, keeping his 125k followers in the loop with the tastiest finds
London is home to one of the most exciting food scenes in the world. The street food scene in particular is buzzing – there are so many options and it’s a great way for vendors to test the market before opening a restaurant. Smokestak in Shoreditch (35 Sclater St) is one of my favourites. The owner, David Carter, started selling his barbecue street food at festivals around the UK before opening the bricks and mortar incarnation. It serves the best smoked barbecue food in the city.
There are a lot of new restaurants taking risks and pushing boundaries, supported by dedicated foodies open to trying new things. Londrino at London Bridge (36 Snowsfields), which opened in December, is run by one of London’s most exciting chefs, Leandro Carreira. He is putting his own spin on authentic Portuguese dishes with an emphasis on seafood. It’s a place where you want to try a little of everything.
For a quintessentially British fine dining experience, The Game Bird at The Stafford London in Mayfair (16-18 St James’s Place) does a sophisticated take on comfort food. Signature dishes like stews, pies and puddings – as well as a mean Sunday Roast – are brought to your table on a trolley and there are works from young British artists on the walls.
A memorable meal out awaits at Sketch (9 Conduit St). Its home is the former London atelier of Christian Dior and there are plenty of rooms to explore, but I recommend you head to Pierre Gagnaire’s two-Michelin-star Lecture Room & Library.
I’ve had many memorable meals in the capital, but the simplest pleasures stand out, like enjoying pappardelle pasta with eight-hour beef shin ragu at Padella in Borough Market (6 Southwark St). Feasting on great pasta while people-watching is always winner for me.
THE STYLE SETTER
Lee Osborne, menswear consultant and founding editor of men’s style blog Sartorialee takes us on a fashionable tour of the capital
Sartor London is the brainchild of menswear designer and former pro golfer Faiyaz Amlani who established the brand to celebrate the art of dressing well, and to help recapture the essence of classic menswear from a bygone era. It utilises some of the finest materials in luxury attire.
Dagenham boy Edward Sexton and dapper socialite Tommy Nutter sent shock waves through Mayfair when they opened their now legendary tailoring house Nutters of Savile Row on Valentine’s Day 1969 – the first new establishment to infiltrate The Row for 120 years. Sexton’s trademark style of nipped-in waists and flared jackets boasting wide lapels paired with parallel trousers retains a cult following to this day. Beat a path to his HQ at 26 Beauchamp Place, where 75-year-old Sexton and his protégé Dominc Sebag Montefiore still strum considerable sartorial rock ‘n’ roll.
Fenwick of Bond Street
For menswear shopping par excellence, nothing quite compares to Fenwick (63 New Bond St). It has one of the finest multi-brand edit spaces around and I’ve been hugely impressed by the curation of niche brands from the likes of Valstar and Massimo Alba, not to mention a shoe section containing gems from Crockett & Jones and Magnanni.
Liberty of London
For those of a more sportswear-slanted persuasion, the bounty that lies within Liberty (Regent St) is hard to beat. Fresh from a 2017 relaunch that saw over 20 new ready-to-wear and accessories brands added to the edit, the store continues to showcase the very finest in quirky British ingenuity alongside some of the most sought after international brand apparel.
The trend of cult independent menswear stores bringing artisanal makers to international prominence shows no sign of abating, as Anglo Italian (57 Weymouth St) demonstrates. Jake Grantham and Alex Pirounis opened the doors last summer, with the aim of marrying the ease of soft Italian construction with the gravity of the English palette.
THE ARTS ADVOCATE
Mixed media artist Sharon White exhibits regularly in London and knows all the best places to go to immerse yourself in art and culture
Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey Village
Founded by British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes, this museum has something for everyone, from Chanel fashion classics through the ages to knitting classes. 83 Bermondsey St.
Covent Garden Market, Covent Garden
Especially the Apple Market, this is the place to go for handmade goods and crafts, with glassware, artworks, jewellery and ceramics on display. Situated close to Theatreland, it exudes charm and captures the spirit of ‘Old London Town’. 130 King St.
Hayward Gallery, South Bank
This gallery contains a rich variety of work and has amazing architecture, but it’s the story behind the incredible artisans that impresses me. Past shows have included the works of Edvard Munch and Leonardo da Vinci. 337-338 Belvedere Rd.
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
The amazing store windows invite me in and I adore the elegant afternoon tea. The art exhibitions evolve from their connections with London’s Royal College of Art and the crimson carpets and gold interiors have inspired some of my Middle East paintings. 181 Piccadilly.
Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
The world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, this iconic museum opened in 1852. It has a wonderful garden, and entry is free. Cromwell Rd.
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