Where You Need to Eat, Drink and Visit in London
Between the phenomenon that is Kate Middleton and the Olympics taking over the city, London is the coolest travel destination right now. Over the past few weeks, we've been sharing our knowledge on all things British to help those bound for the Queen's capital this summer. We compiled the definitive shopping guide for the city and even found the best places to stay while you're there. But what should you do when the shops close and you still have hours to enjoy before you return to your hotel? We take you all over the city–from Shoreditch and Soho to Mayfair and Kensington–with our list of the best places to eat, drink and see on your trip.
Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James Street, 020 3145 1000, www.bobbobricard.com
Though a mix of Russian and English classics are offered here, you won't find your standard fish 'n chips pub food at this elegant establishment. The interior is very Art Deco-inspired, providing a healthy serving of ambiance with your meal.
3 Bateman Street, 020 7287 4796, www.flatwhitecafe.com
Located on a tiny street in Soho, Milk Bar is the hip, younger sibling of the cafe Flat White. The coffeehouse offers tons of pastries and cakes to suit your sugar-free, vegan and gluten-free needs, and they make arguably one of the best cups of coffee in the city.
Visit site for locations, 020 7009 3600, www.wagamama.com
There is so much more to London dining than simple British staples. Wagamama offers a wide range of Japanese dishes centered around ramen, soba, teppan and practically every other noodle out there. Always prepared fresh, the food is delicious as well as very moderately priced. With dozens of locations around the city, you're bound to stumble across at least one. Get the kare lomen with shrimp.
London Cocktail Club
222 Shaftesbury Avenue, 020 7580 1960, www.londoncocktailclub.co.uk
A lounge bar with a lot of character and an endless menu of drinks. The giant swallows painted on the wall kind of makes you feel like you’re inside of a Sailor Jerry tattoo, and the bar's heavy rotation of late '90s/early 2000s R&B is always a crowd pleaser.
198 Shaftesbury Avenue, 020 7240 9933, www.freud.eu
This dingy little basement bar is one of the most popular places in London. The décor (or lack thereof) consists just of local art from the gallery upstairs, and allows for a very easy-going atmosphere. Or maybe the chill vibe is because of the 40-plus drinks offered on the menu, which are all priced under £10, so you're definitely going to want to try a couple. It’s only half a block or so from the London Cocktail Club, so why not make an evening of it?
The Book Club
100 Leonard Street, 020 7684 8618, www.wearetbc.com
Shoreditch is one of the best neighborhoods to visit at night because there are so many great places to go, but The Book Club stands out from the rest. In this two-level Victorian warehouse, you can drink, eat, dance, look at curated art exhibitions, play a game of ping pong and yes, read a book (you'll find an entire library in the bar's Book Room). The basement dance floor if a must-see–even if busting a move isn't your thing, pop down for a peek at the hundreds of light bulbs that covered every inch of the ceiling.
The Windsor Castle
114 Campden Road, 020 7243 8797, www.thewindsorcastlekensington.co.uk
One of the few pubs in the city that has retained its Victorian furnishings (think segregated drinking booths and etched glass), this Kensington hangout is a piece of history. Stop by for an afternoon drink to enjoy in their beer garden and order some genuine pub food (it's good, promise).
8 Southwark Street, 020 7407 1002, www.boroughmarket.org.uk
This market is a foodie's heaven. "Artisan" and "organic" are two very popular words here–from the breads and cheeses to the chocolates and cakes, everything is of the highest quality. You don't have to take my word for it though, because the vendors are eager to give you free samples of whatever you choose. Open Thursday through Saturday, the market is practically right next to the Globe Theatre, so it's definitely worthwhile to make the trek down there.
Alfies Antique Market
13-25 Church Street, 020 7723 6066, www.alfiesantiques.com
Alfies offers tons of home furnishings and antiques, but what makes it worth visiting is their incredible collection of vintage clothes and jewelry. The items are so perfectly preserved–you can purchase an authentic beaded flapper dress or an Ossie Clark maxi in wearable condition. Though its location in the posh Marylebone neighborhood means that the prices are quite high, the merchandise is unparalleled in quality.
Westgate Street, E8, 787 2463 409, www.broadwaymarket.co.uk
This Saturday market offers an assortment of treats to eat and wear. A cupcake from Violet Cakes is an essential as you walk through the market, hitting up stalls like Buddug for quirky handmade jewelry and stores like Strut for vintage designs from labels like Chanel and Lanvin.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road, 020 7377 8963, www.columbiaroad.info
On a Sunday, venture down to this market to see Columbia Road overtaken by flowers, herbs, shrubs, potted plants and everything else your horticultural heart desires. The stall owners are friendly and eager to help you find whatever you need–from £5 sunflowers to topiary trees. After the market, make sure to check out the dozens of boutiques and bakeries that line the street.
The Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, 011 44 20 7811 3070, www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk
One of the world's leading contemporary art museums, the Saatchi launched the career of Damien Hirst and introduced Cindy Sherman to the European public. Always offering unique exhibitions, it's a great place to discover your new favorite artist.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, 020 7942 2000, www.vam.ac.uk
The V&A is the best place in London for anyone interested in design. Lectures from the greats of the art world (David Bailey and Zandra Rhodes were recent guests) are offered every week and there are always incredible exhibitions centered around photography, design and fashion. Also, the gift shop is hands down the best in the city.
The Design Museum
28 Shad Thames Street, 020 7403 6933, designmuseum.org
Visit the Design Museum for unadulterated fashion and industrial design worship. Exhibitions range from celebrating the history of Christian Louboutin to the Olympic-centric 'Designed to Win,' which explores how fashion has shaped the world of athletics. There is also a cute café inside, perfect for a post-gallery snack.
The Leighton House Museum
12 Holland Park Road, 020 7602 3316, www.rbkc.gov.uk
Not a museum in the most typical sense, but the former residence of artist Sir Frederic Leighton is overwhelming on every level. The upstairs is stuffed with cushions, tapestries and art that Leighton both created and curated throughout his life, but it is the Arab Hall on the ground floor that you won't forget once you leave. A small fountain at the center of the dome-shaped room seems modest in comparison to the thousands of patterned tiles and gold-leafed details that adorn the walls.
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