A new affection for chic Champagne and wine bars, local beer and homegrown gin comprises the city’s tourist landscape.
Timeless taverns and bohemian museums aren’t the only things London has to offer tourists. Here’s a guide to an elegant English experience:
Check into Dukes Hotel (St. James’ Place, SW1A 1NY) for top-notch lodging in London. Follow in the footsteps of James Bond author Ian Fleming by kicking back in the sublime Dukes Bar, where various mixologists and bartenders have been serving up tableside cocktails for more than 100 years. Their Martini, made from Sacred Gin hand distilled in Highgate, North London, produces a pure, high-class libation and should not be missed.
For a modern twist on the traditional, try The Zetter Townhouse (St. John’s Square, EC1M 5RJ). Designed by Russell Sage, this Georgian townhouse features one particularly patriotic room with a four-poster bed draped in Union Jack bunting. Other inventive touches include retro radios fitted with iPod docks and hand-knitted hot water bottle cozies.
It’s a treat to tour the former homes of two unusual artists. The ten rooms in Dennis Severs’ House are presented by way of a captivating 18th century ‘still life drama’, with scents and sounds complementing sights. The Leighton House Museum (2 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ) was the home of Victorian artist Lord Frederic Leighton. The showpiece here is the exquisite Arab Hall, bejeweled with thousands of tiny mosaic tiles brought back from the Middle East.
Wine & Food
One of London’s premium bars can be found at St Pancras train station (Pancras Road, NW1 2TB). Eurostar travelers can begin their journey with a glass of Pommery or Dom Perignon at Europe’s longest Champagne bar. Europhiles can continue to slake their thirst at the Aurora restaurant (49 Lexington Street, W1F 9AP). The wine list is international but the menu, featuring mixed charcuterie and cooked delights such as sun-blush tomatoes and garlic leaves, is pure Mediterranean.
A mile away and close to the River Thames is Gordon’s (47 Villiers Street, WC2N 6NE), reported to be London’s oldest wine bar. This candlelit cellar serves rustic cheese platters paired with wines and vintage Port and made all the more atmospheric by audible tube trains that rumble by.
Away from the city center is Hampstead’s Holly Bush pub (22 Holly Mount, NW3 6SG). Originally built as a stable block in the 1600s, it’s a popular Sunday lunch destination. Walk off your roast lamb amongst the rolling hills of Hampstead Heath, which provides far-reaching views of London. Across the Heath is the small Southampton Arms (139 Highgate Road, NW5 1LE)—a haven for purists, which only serves ale and cider made by small, independent UK breweries.
Near the boutique shops of edgy Brick Lane is the bizarre and beautiful Les Trois Garcons (1 Club Row, E1 6JX). Dishes like home-cured foie gras with brioche and seared Gressingham duck breast are sumptuous.
For an Italian treat, head to Jamie Oliver’s original Fifteen (15 Westland Place, N1 7LP). Enjoy a Negroni at the bar before taking a seat in the chilled out trattoria where seasonal specials such as homemade pappardelle loaded with rich Welsh lamb ragú and basil panna cotta will leave you feeling happily full.