From the gritty ends of east London to the posh & polished west side, Londontown is a city that has it all. The Beatles, Queen Elizabeth, and James Bond would all have to agree. London offers amazing shopping, world-class theater, and some of the best international cuisines found in one city. Whether it’s pints at the pub or you’re enjoying some worldly fare, London is a foodie’s dream! It just takes a hop across the pond, so what are you waiting for?
If it’s your first time in London, you have to do all the things: wave to the queen at Buckingham Palace, take a ride on the London Eye, stroll through Hyde Park, check out the Tate Modern, see Kensington Palace & Gardens and visit the Churchill War rooms. Then, of course, there’s the eating & the drinking that you’ll be needing to partake in! Because of the British Empire’s history of colonization, London has been established as one of the most multicultural cities in the world. You can find some of the best Indian or Chinese food in London and then some impressive international fusion concepts as well! It’s quite impressive how robust the international culinary scene is in London. Of course, you’ll have to get your fill of British fare (a few pints and a fish & chips!) while in town, too!
Similar to Los Angeles, London is quite an expansive and spread-out city with trekking between some neighborhoods being over an hour apart. Getting around London is made easier by the underground subway or “The Tube” and public transportation is my favorite way to get around the city. The actual public transit buses are double-deckers.. not for tourists like in the states! The Tube is a bit cleaner than New York’s subway and runs quite smoothly! We stayed in King’s Cross, which is pretty centrally located and it made getting around even easier since it’s a major hub for central London. It was nice not being tied down to the east or west side and is somewhat centrally located! So unless you know you’ll likely be on the east or west side, I’d recommend staying near King’s Cross! If you’re traveling to or from Paris by train (through the Chunnel!) it leaves from St. Pancras International Station, which is also located in King’s Cross!
In the past, I’ve only ever visited London in the summertime. A wonderful time to visit, but it also comes with crowds of tourists as it’s peak season! This past time I went in the middle of March – and while it can be hit-or-miss – we had the loveliest weather. Open coats and sunny skies – no ‘London Fog’ to be found!
This last time I stayed at The Standard London and I was singing its praises even before we left. The location alone was beyond ideal, it sits centrally in the city and is steps away from the tube. The brutalist building has a fun exterior elevator that looks like a little red pill going up & down! The interiors are all decorated with a sense of humor, fun, and quirky. Not to mention it has a Mexican food joint, Decimo, cocktail bar, Sweetie’s, as well as a rooftop that is ideal for summer! Let me know if you end up staying here as well!
I’ve jammed this city guide with quite a few options, but have a (*) by my favorites!! Also, because London is so expansive, I’ve included the neighborhood that each recommendation – I hope it helps you while coordinating your own itineraries!
- The Good Life Eatery (Chelsea/Marylebone) – Great for a pressed juice or healthy breakfast/lunch on the go!
- Duck & Waffle (City of London) – British and European cuisine served 24/7 in modern, 40th-floor space with floor-to-ceiling windows. Great for brunch
- *Grangers & Co. (Notting Hill/Chelsea/Kings Cross) – International dishes with an Aussie accent in an airy dining room with a central bar and leather banquettes. Get the black sesame latte, avo toast, corn fritters, and pancakes. Same owner as my favorite Aussie cafe, ‘Bill’s’, in Sydney – so good!
- Farmacy (Notting Hill) – A menu of seasonal plant-based specialties is offered at this trendy, bohemian eatery. Great for brunch!
- Beach Blanket Babylon (Shoreditch) – A fun & funky spot that’s ideal for brunch right through to late-night dinners, serving seasonal, modern European cuisine. Get the loaded sourdough and shakshuka!
- BEAM Café (Notting Hill) – Family-run neighborhood brunch spot!
- Eggbreak (Notting Hill) – Hip cafe focused on egg dishes, from omelets to eggy pastas, in casual digs with juices and liquor.
- *Lantana Cafe (Fitzrovia) – Takeaway coffee, breakfasts, Asian-tinged light lunches, and weekend brunch in an Australian-style cafe.
- *Farm Girl (Notting Hill) – A bright, casual cafe with tiled walls, for health-conscious brunches, smoothies, and sandwiches.
Afternoon Tea Service:
- The Wosley (St. James’ Place)- Elegant restaurant serves Modern European food & afternoon tea with grand, art deco glamour. It’s an iconic institution!
- *Sketch (Soho) – A quirky, 18th-century townhouse tea room that transforms into a cocktail lounge every evening. A must for afternoon tea & cocktails! A mix of contemporary art + food.. plus their Instagram-famous bathrooms!
- Savoy Hotel (Covent Garden) – Enjoy The Savoy’s world-famous Afternoon Tea in the Thames Foyer, where a stunning glass-domed atrium and an impressive gazebo takes center stage where a pianist plays during the day, creating an enchanting atmosphere.
- *Chiltern Firehouse (Marylebone) – One of my favorite spots in the city! A must for dinner or drinks on their patio! This luxury hotel has 5-star dining celebrating contemporary, ingredient-focused cooking, with an underlying American accent. Great selection of oysters and you have to get the burrata!
- *J Sheekey (Covent Garden) This British staple has been open since 1896, and is London’s most fabulous fish restaurant! It’s a great place for a post-show dinner if you happen to be seeing a play/musical in the West End! Known for their famous fish pies, also get fish and chips here!
- Rules (Covent Garden) – The oldest restaurant in London (1798), classic British food, on the nicer side, get ribeye for two with Yorkshire pudding
- The Ginger Pig (Marylebone/Borough Market) – Foodie market outpost of farm-to-plate butchers for free-range British meats and cured produce.
- *Maggie Jones’s (Kensington) – A favorite! This farmhouse-style British restaurant is themed like an old barn, including baskets and beehives. Have to get the onion soup, avocado salad, and tamarind chicken! Best for lunch!
- *The Maine Mayfair (Mayfair) – A New England-inspired brasserie uniquely combined with the classical tastes of 18th-century Britain. I’d recommend going for dinner on the weekends when they have a live band there!
- Copita (Soho) – Informal tapas bar with stools at wooden counters with a great Spanish wine selection!
- *Ave Mario (Covent Garden)- Cool Italian restaurant whipping up meat dishes, pizza, pasta & desserts, plus weekend brunch.Newest spot from the group that brought you Big Mama!
- *Churchill Arms (Kensington) – Flower-bedecked real ale boozer, filled with Churchill memorabilia, serving Thai noodles and curry.
- The Ivy (Covent Garden) – Long-standing celebrity haunt in art deco surrounds for Modern British food and a pre-theatre menu.
- *Pachamama (Mayfair, Shoreditch) – Peruvian dishes, made with British ingredients, served with cocktails in colonial-style surrounds.
- NOPI (Soho) – Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired sharing plates at Ottolenghi’s all-day brasserie.
- Tamarind (Mayfair) – Traditional North Indian cuisine and innovative seasonal dishes in an elegant, contemporary restaurant.
- *Yauatcha (Soho)- Michelin-star contemporary Chinese dining in an ultra-modern setting with expertly-crafted dim-sum and handmade sweets.
- Veeraswamy (Picadilly Circus) – High-end dining and luxurious Maharajah-inspired decor at London’s oldest Indian restaurant.
- Gunpowder London (Spitalfields) – It’s a rather small restaurant just behind Spitalfields Market that showcases intense Indian flavors and home cooking. Go for the grilled artichoke hearts in red pepper masala, the pickled zucchini in “gunpowder” spice.
- Smoking Goat (Shoreditch) – Thai barbecue with proper Thai flavors not dulled down for Western palates.
- Brat (Shoreditch) – A Basque-inspired restaurant has a very cool open kitchen that’s almost inside the dining room—a square open pass with charcoal grills all around it. The wine list is also excellent!
- Bright (Hackney) – Simple, creative Anglo-Italian fare at this outstanding wine bar.
- Gold (Notting Hill) – Seasonal, thoughtfully sourced plates are served in this cool eatery that has a great bar & a terrace.
- *Gloria (Shoreditch) – Trendy Italian fare in an elevated dining room with a marble bar, mirrored ceiling, & rich, eclectic decor. An explosive menu mixing old Italian classics, with amazing products direct from 180 small producers in Italy – plus a few fun twists from Chef Andrea.
- Annabel’s (Mayfair) – Elegant private club with a starlit dance floor for the famous, the dressed-up, and the well-heeled. The facade is always an experience! Member’s only!
- Ham Yard Restaurant (Soho)- Colourful, stylish restaurant offering seasonal British plates & drinks. They’ve got a great outside seating area – located in the Ham Yard Hotel!
- Amazonico (Mayfair) – Luxe rainforest-themed restaurant for Latin American flavors & sushi, with a glass-fronted kitchen.
- Adesse (Mayfair) – Sophisticated plant-based cuisine by Chef Matthew Kenney. Great for an upscale lunch!
- Straits Kitchen (City of London) – Showcases a melting pot of cuisines from Singapore’s many cultures. Located in the Pan Pacific hotel!
- ZUMA (Knightsbridge) – Informal, high-end Modern Japanese with sushi counter, robata grill, and natural designer interior. Fun for drinks, too!
- Zuaya (Kensington) – Pan-Latin small plates & creative cocktails, presented in an upscale setting with happy hour.
- Amazonico (Mayfair) – Luxe rainforest-themed restaurant for Latin American flavors & sushi, with a glass-fronted kitchen.
- Six by Nico (Fitzrovia) – Experience a brand new six-course tasting menu every 6 weeks – each one themed upon a different place, memory. From Chef Nico Simeone.
- Isabel (Mayfair) – Upmarket restaurant plating local & global fare, plus weekend brunch & a robust wine list.
- Casa Cruz (Notting Hill) – Wood-decked, clubby space for an upscale menu of surf ‘n’ turf and more with Argentinean influences. Romantic!
- *Hovarda (Soho)- A chic crowd frequents this busy hangout for Greek-inspired bites & cocktails in sleek digs. Go for dinner, stay for the party scene after!
- Sucre (Soho) – Sophisticated fine-dining restaurant preparing elevated dishes with carefully sourced ingredients.
- Louie (Covent Garden) – Sophisticated venue offering international plates, oysters & Creole dishes, plus a bar & a terrace.
- *Pantechnicon Roof Garden – An all-day roof garden bar and dining space complete with a south-facing terrace. The Roof Garden serves an all-day menu serving Nordic-inspired dishes. Fun for an afternoon or dinner!
- KOL (Marylebone) – Trendy restaurant serving innovative Mexican-British fusion food, plus mezcal & cocktails
- Chotto Matte London (Soho) – Japanese restaurant, grill, and sushi bar fusing traditional clean lines with a grungy Tokyo style.
- *Portland (Fitzrovia) – Pared-back, Modern European dining room serving robust flavors and seasonal ingredients all day.
- *Bao (Soho) – Intimate, wood-furnished space for steamed milk buns & other inventive Taiwanese eats & drinks.
- *Dishoom (Mayfair, Covent Garden) – Buzzy destination for Indian street food in Bombay-style digs with vintage decor & upscale touches.
- L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele (Marylebone) – Naples-style pizza.. some of the best pizza in the city!
- Brasserie Zedel – Grand French art deco restaurant with classic brasserie dishes and choucroutes in 1930s building. Has really great cocktails!
- Flat Iron (Soho) Concise steak menu in an industrial-chic restaurant decorated with meat cleavers and aprons.
- OPSO (Marylebone) – Warmly decorated bar/diner over 2 floors, serving Greek-inspired dishes until late.
- *Noble Rot (Soho) – Parisian-style wine bar nook for a vast list of wines served with a concise, seasonal British menu.
- Duck and Rice (Soho) – Stylish British pub with copper beer tanks and upstairs dining room serving elevated Chinese dishes.
- The Hummingbird Bakery (Notting Hill, Chelsea) – Famous in London for Red Velvet cupcakes, The Hummingbird Bakery is the home of authentic American cupcakes!
- Cakes & Bubbles (Picadilly Circus) – Sophisticated space hosting a dessert-only restaurant by a multi-award-winning pastry chef.
- Beigel Bagel Brick Lane Bakery (Shoreditch) – 24-hour bakery known for traditional Jewish-style filled bagels such as salt beef and smoked salmon.
- Miel Bakery – (Fitzrovia) Cozy, classic French bakery offering housemade bread, pastries & seasonal tarts, plus hot drinks.
- Udderlicious Ice Cream (Covent Garden)- Handmade ice cream shop with elevated flavors!
- *Nordic Bakery (Marylebone) – Authentic Swedish cinnamon buns and pastries!
- Violet (Hackney) – Small bakery creating American-style cupcakes, brownies, and pastries, using high-end ingredients. The bakery that Megan Markle’s wedding cake was from!
- The Marylebone (Marylebone)- Boutique hotel with a modern pub cocktail menu using botanical infusions.
- The Ned
- *Lore of the Land (Fitzrovia) – Seasonal sharing plates, pints, and premium spirits in a classic setting housing a pub since 1829. Guy Ritchie’s cool pub!
- Notting Hill Arts Club (Notting Hill) – Live music, niche club nights & art exhibitions at a popular venue with a dance floor & a stage.
- Nightjar (Shoreditch) – Speakeasy-style subterranean bar with live jazz and blues, for cocktails and rare spirits.
- Circus (Covent Garden) – Flashy club with cabaret shows & late-night dancing serving cocktails & Pan-Asian cuisine.
- *Duke’s (St. James’ Place) – Boutique hotel with a martini bar – was Sir Ian Fleming’s watering hole and it’s the legend that James Bond’s “Shaken, not stirred” started here!
- The Punchbowl (Mayfair) A fun, busy and noisy historic pub in a lovely part of Mayfair. It’s also one of Mayfair’s oldest pubs!
- Peg + Patriot (Bethnal Green) – The bar in the Town Hall Hotel!
- *Seabird London (Waterloo) – Expansive rooftop hangout with an ample oyster menu, a raw bar & creative cocktails in lofty digs. Go here for sunset drinks & oysters! Located at the rooftop at the Hoxton!
- The Anglesea Arms (South Kensington) – Traditional alehouse with gastropub menu and bar snacks, plus outdoor seating on the front terrace.
- The Windmill (Waterloo) – Lively pub with theatrical decor & clientele, serving classic English food, cask ale & craft beer. It’s almost worth going for their “buffalomi” fries.. halloumi fries with a buffalo dipping sauce!
- Lamb & Flag (Covent Garden) – Traditional Georgian pub, former haunt of Charles Dickens, once known for bare-knuckle fights. Great pub to grab drinks before a show in the West End!
- Three Sheets (Dalston) – Compact bar with an intimate vibe offering classic & modern cocktails.
- Sweeties (King’s Cross) at The Standard Hotel – cocktail bar, discotheque, and late-night lounge bringing innovative drinks and glorious misbehavior to the top of The Standard, London. Be sure to get on the list!
- *The Alfred Tennyson (Belgravia) – A smartly laid-out pub with a more formal upstairs dining room serving Modern European cuisine. This was one of our favorite pubs for an afternoon hang!
- Blind Pig (Soho) – Located above Social Eating House, The Blind Pig is an award-winning bar offering a low-lit, stylish space for canape parties and cocktail receptions.
- *Booking Office 1869 (King’s Cross) – Elevated English cocktail lounge and brasserie housed in the spectacular renovation of St Pancras station.
- Workshop Coffee – (Fitzrovia/Marylebone/The Pilgrim) Artisan coffee, gourmet sandwiches, pastries, and window seats in a compact modern cafe.
- *Monocle Cafe (Marylebone) – The publication Monocle’s light, compact, hipster coffee-house serving sandwiches, global snacks/meals, and elegant patisserie.
- Ginger & White – (Hampstead) Cakes and sourdough rolls in hip British cafe with artisan coffees served by baristas.
- Association Coffee (City of London) Hip espresso bar with bare brick and floorboards, serving gourmet coffees, pastries, and sandwiches.
- Fabrique Bakery (Fitzrovia/Covent Garden) – Stylish, bustling shop providing an array of artisanal pastries, bread & sandwiches, plus espresso.
- Tap Coffee (Soho) – Specialty coffee shop roasting their own beans!
- Allpress Espresso Bar (Shoreditch) – Small bites with artisan coffees made using beans sourced directly from exporters and roasted daily.
- L’Atelier Dalston (Dalston) – takeaway coffee with fresh juices and sandwiches – great for on-the-go brunch and does a great flat white!
- Maison Assouline Cafe (Picadilly Circus) – Bookstore & cafe – The international flagship has served as an oasis of culture in the heart of bustling Piccadilly, housed in an old bank
- *Café Kitsuné (Belgravia) – Stylish spot with a terrace serving French & Japanese fusion confectionery, plus coffee & cocktails. Located on the first floor of the Pantechnicon!
- Warehouse Coffee (Shoreditch) – A coffee shop offering espressos & pastries, plus brewing accessories, in a country-modern space.
- Turnbull & Asser (Soho, Mayfair) – Traditional shirt shop selling British-made bespoke and ready-to-wear shirts and ties.
- Hackett (Soho, Covent Garden, St. James) – Upmarket menswear store with in-house tailoring, monogrammed ties and cufflinks, and shoe shining. I got one of my favorite linen blazers here!
- Labour & Wait (Shoreditch) – Store for carefully selected new and vintage designer homeware, stationery and clothing items.
- *Trunk Clothier (Marylebone) – Stylish menswear store offering suits, casual wear, and shoes from high-end designer labels.
- Carnaby St. (Soho) – The go-to district for a good time in London, Soho hosts a wealth of world-class theaters and a compelling lineup of cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, and clubs. At Soho’s core is London’s original Red Light District and the epicenter of the LGBT scene – and thus the city’s hottest nightlife.
- End (Soho) – Men’s streetwear & sneakers.
- Studio Nicholson (Soho, Shoreditch) – The men’s and women’s clothing brand founded by Nick Wakeman in 2010, pioneers a functional, comfortable & easy aesthetic.
- *Albam (Soho) – Light-filled store showcasing the contemporary menswear brand’s clothing, footwear and accessories.
- *You Must Create (Spitalfield) – Founded in ’95, YMC has established itself as one of the most enduring & influential independent brands to come out of the UK. Located in the Trueman Brewery Market!
- *Wax Clothing (Soho) – A British label committed to creating quality, contemporary menswear with sustainability at our core.
- Goodhood (Shoreditch) – Minimalist, split-level shop for designer male and female streetwear and shoes, plus homeware.
- Browns East (Shoreditch) – Designed in collaboration with London-based architects, this playful boutique takes cues from the creativity and boldness of East London. An art gallery. A cafe. An immersive experience room. Browns East isn’t just a boutique.
- Nepenthes (King’s Cross) – The UK outpost for the Japanese-based clothing company stocks in-house brands such as Needles, Engineered Garments, South2 West8, and more.
- Machine-A (Soho) – Sleek, minimalist showcase for men’s & women’s British & international fashion, plus accessories.
- ARKET (Soho, Covent Garden)- A modern-day market offering essential products for men, women, children, and the home, as well as a New Nordic vegetarian café.
- Liberty (Soho)- Tudor-revival building filled with high-end fashion and luxury homeware, with its own fabric line.
- Dover Street Market (Mayfair) – Dover Street Market was created by Rei Kawakubo of the Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons and her husband Adrian Joffe
- Selfridges (Mayfair) – The second-largest shop in the UK, opened in 1909! A variety of stations serve up everything from raw bar to gelato in a luxury department store.
- Coal’s Drop Yard (King’s Cross) – A modern shopping complex that forms part of the King’s Cross Central development
- *Wood Wood (Soho) – A contemporary fashion and lifestyle brand founded in 2002 and based in Copenhagen, Denmark
- *House of Hackney (Shoreditch) – Moody home-decor boutique stocking designer wallpaper, lavish upholstery, plants & lighting.
- *Peruse modern art at The Tate Modern
- Check out the galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts
- *Hyde Park, Primrose Hill at Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath: great for views and picnics
- Take a ride to the top of the sky in the London Eye!
- Cross the iconic Abbey Road crosswalk – made famous by the Beatles!
- Take a trip back in time at The Museum of the Home
- *Visit the Kensington Palace & Kensington Gardens
- See where the Prime Minister resides at 10 Downing Street
- *Experience Churchill’s WWII bunkers at the Churchill War Rooms
- Check out the London Zoo, the world’s oldest scientific zoo!
- Visit some of the latest exhibitions at Somerset House
- Walk around the tranquil canals of Little Venice
- Get the best views of St. Pauls’ at One New Change
- Walk across the Millennium Bridge across
- Check out Daunt Books in Marylebone
- Brick Lane (Spitalfields) – A must for vintage shopping, have 24-hour bagel shops for late night. It operates every Sunday from around 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Camden Market (Camden Town) – The Camden markets are a number of adjoining large retail markets, often collectively referred to as Camden Market or Camden Lock, located in the historic former Pickfords stables, in Camden Town
- *Portobello Road Antique Market (Notting Hill) – Vintage goods, street eats, souvenirs & more on offer at a bustling weekly market.
- Upmarket (Spitalfields) – Stalls fill the Old Truman Brewery each Sunday, selling vintage/new clothing and crafts, plus food. (Sundays, 10am-5pm)
- *Borough Market (City of London)- Full Market: Thursday 10m-5 pm, Friday 10 am-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-5 pm) – to get the grilled cheese (Thurs through Sun only)
- *Columbia Road Flower Market (Bethnal Green): quaint, colorful street, flower, and plant market on Sundays
- Netil Market (Hackney) – Creative community of traders in arts, fashion, and food, with a bar and Saturday stalls.
- Broadway Market (Hackney) – Sat: street market from 9-5 pm, Sun: food & florist from 10-5 pm
- Franco Manca in the Broadway Market – sourdough pizza (a few locations)
- The Standard London (King’s Cross) – I can’t recommend it enough. Experience suite stays unbeatable views of. St Pancras, outdoor terraces, live music and, happenings, and sky-high dining. Located right across from King’s Cross, so taking the tube everywhere was so easy! it was also so centrally located that it was nice to not be committed to the east or west side! This is my “north star” – the location at King’s Cross is ideal!
- Town Hall Hotel (Bethnal Green)- A boutique, design, hotel in the heart of London’s East End. Offering luxury accommodations, event space, and fine dining in an iconic Edwardian building.
- The Rosewood London (Holborn) – Rosewood London combines English heritage with contemporary sophistication in the very heart of the capital.
Have you been across the pond to London? I’d love to hear from you if you’re about to plan a trip to Londontown or if you have any questions on deciding between certain spots! Safe travels across the pond and enjoy!