Planning to be in London soon? Let our friend Joan Roca, co-founder of luxury travel concierge service Essentialist, point you in the right direction through this insider's guide of his favorite spots.
Where to Stay:
"An old High Holborn hotel received a dynamic, pitch-perfect reinvention—and in the process, a formerly anonymous bit of central London has glamorous new life breathed into it. The design, a marriage of the sleekly modern and the quirkily British, is eminently stylish. The rooms each have a remarkable individuality with leather and chrome beautifully offsetting Asian-inspired accents."
"Jeremy King, the owner of The Wolseley, The Delaunay, and Colbert, knows from scene-setting. At his 73-room masterpiece on a hushed, hidden lane in north Mayfair, he has created a paean to the elegant hotels of a bygone era—but one imbued with the best 21st-century amenities."
"Firmdale Hotels’ central-Soho pièce de resistance marries ebullient design and a modern take on five-star service, with brilliant results. It’s an across-the-board hit, from the spectacular entertaining and event spaces to its tea lounge and bar to its ethereally pretty, fairy-lit courtyard. There are floor-to-ceiling paned windows in all 91 rooms and suites. Beds are layered in down with pretty hand-embroidered coverlets. The terrace suite is a dream family home; the courtyard suite, its hall lined with novels, is where we’d love to hole up solo."
"The patrician facade belies a great deal of lovely mischief within—from the red-walled naughtiness of the bar (and its wildly creative cocktails) to the tongue-in-cheek design of the 24 rooms. The staff is young and gregarious—but always supremely competent."
"Weaving art indelibly into its DNA, Bankside is a 161-room hotel opened in 2018 steps from the riverfront, in a six-story building designed by award-winning architect Ian Simpson. The Maker in Residence program curated by Contemporary Collective invites emerging artists to create and display their work at the Makers Hub, on the hotel’s ground floor with direct access onto a communal courtyard."
Where to Eat and Drink:
"Roll up to a blue leather barstool and prepare to be wowed by Israeli street food. Well—refined, embellished versions of it, anyway. This outpost of a five-strong Jerusalem chain plays a gorgeous repertoire of Levantine and North African flavors: think labneh-filled tortellini, rock oysters singing with harissa, or pork belly atop apricots and couscous."
"Modern classic British is how this tiny, rollicking Shepherds Market bills itself; the wood grill (admittedly more of an Ibero-Mediterranean thing) lends moreish goodness to the fowl, fish, and (now famous) steak on the menu. But it’s the service—convivial, prompt, genuinely friendly, yet always with polish—that keeps the two rooms packed day and night."
"Skye Gyngell’s first solo venture became a new London classic almost from the moment it opened—the showcase for a dynamic Australian expat talent who re-interprets Continental dishes with seasonal produce to spectacular effect, in one of London’s most venerated cultural institutions. The gorgeous dining room features 10-foot-tall windows, and classic 20th-century designs (think Arne Jacobsen settees and Vico Magistretti lamps)."
"Jason Atherton’s first hotel restaurant sets his edgy, always rich reinventions of British and Mediterranean standards in a brilliantly outré masterpiece of a dining room at The London Edition. Showmanship is in the air here, and most definitely on the menu, too."
"It’s the scene of all scenes, and the service can skew epically bad. But Nuno Mendes works serious magic in his showplace kitchen at André Balazs’ perennially packed hotel. Succulent pigeon; silky octopus enlivened with eggplant and daikon; a deconstructed Caesar salad: all sublime. Lunch in the garden when the sun’s out is especially lovely."