Friends are always asking for my London recommendations, so I created this page to put them all here. London is enormous and always changing! I lived there for more than 12 years, so I have a lot of favorites, but I’ve tried to keep this list concise. I go back often and there’s always something new. Check out the list below for my favorite places to take a yoga class, eat, drink & more.
This page is updated regularly. Last update January 2018.
London Recommendations for Eating
- The Wolseley – never a disappointment, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or afternoon tea. Everything is very tasty. Unfailing popular, so book well in advance!
- The Delaunay – sister restaurant of the Wolseley. A great place for late-night dining. Order the Salzburg Souffle, which is served with apricot compote. One of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
- Cecconi’s – excellent location in Mayfair. An elegant place to have breakfast. And truffle scrambled eggs, need I say more?
- Mount Street Deli – gets really crowded on the weekends, and is probably smaller than your bedroom. But so charming, and they do excellent eggs and nice sandwiches and other food to take away and eat in Mount Street Gardens.
- The Painted Heron – my favorite Indian restaurant. A bit more upscale than the standard curry spot. Excellent seafood options.
- The Orange – I used to live around the corner from this gastropub on Pimlico Road. No reservation needed for the ground floor restaurant where they serve really good pizzas and a mix of modern British and European food. The bar has a fireplace, they are also open for brunch and a big bonus – they are dog-friendly! If you’re in Marylebone, check out their sister pub The Grazing Goat.
- Bentley’s – This is one of my favorites for great fish & seafood. You can sit downstairs in the oyster bar & grill or have a more elegant meal upstairs. Regardless of where I sit, I always get the fish pie. It is delicious and extremely filling, so I recommend a lighter starter.
- Roka – Great sushi & hot food from the robata grill. It’s trendy and very popular, so sometimes it can be hard to get a table, but there are usually spots at the sushi bar.
- William Curley chocolatier – across the square from The Orange pub, there is a yummy chocolate shop. Cute spot to have a dessert and coffee. Their chocolates make great hostess, birthday or housewarming gifts.
- Maguro – tiny but excellent Japanese food in Maida Vale. The best gyoza I’ve ever had, plus very good noodle dishes and wonderful fresh sushi. Moderately priced and a nice place for a quiet meal. It’s not very big, so you will need to make a reservation for dinner, but for lunch on a weekday, you can usually walk in.
- Locanda Locatelli – Michelin-starred Italian food in a quiet and understated setting. They do a tasty white truffle menu in season, and I also love their lobster linguini
- Garnier – Excellent French brasserie food, nothing terribly fussy – just very good food in a pleasant atmosphere, with good service.
- Franco Manca – my favorite pizza in London. Delicious sourdough crust and mostly organic ingredients.
- Ole & Steen – try the best cinnamon buns in London at this Scandi bakery. Great coffee as well. Locations throughout London.
- La Fromagerie – one of my favorite cheese shops ever. They have a sweet little cafe with excellent food – menu changing daily. I like this so much that I’ve even organized luncheons for clients there – which went over much better than the standard flashier restaurants for client entertainment. They have several locations, but I’ve only ever been to the Marylebone one.
- Kerb Camden Market – loads of great food stalls serving almost anything you can imagine. Some complain that Camden Market has been “sanitized” by this smart-looking collection of 30+ food vendors but I enjoyed it and was never a regular in Camden in its grittier days.
- Kingly Court on Carnaby Street – this another great option for lots of different food choices in one spot, but these are individual restaurants rather than food stalls.
- Lanesborough Hotel – Library bar (Knightsbridge) – a big roaring fire and loads of books. This makes you want to order a cognac or a glass of whiskey. I drink neither but feel equally cozy with a glass of champagne or wine.
- The Connaught Bar at the Connaught Hotel (Mayfair) – a truly classic cocktail bar. I always feel like I’m on a film set in this bar. Great people watching too. The Coburg Bar in the same hotel is also nice – more cozy than glamorous.
- The Orange (Belgravia) – one of my favorites for a casual bite to eat as well. I’m not usually a pub person, but this is so cozy and friendly and doesn’t have that usual stinky stale pub smell.
- The Abingdon (Kensington) – a great gastropub. Again, no stinky pub smell. Great food and a nice place to relax with a drink.
- The Holly Bush (Hampstead) – grade II listed building, centuries old pub. Espcially nice in the autumn or winter after a long walk in Hampstead Heath.
London Recommendations for Afternoon Tea
The first thing to know about afternoon tea is that it is crucial to book well in advance (as in weeks or months in advance, depending on the season). My favorite place for afternoon tea is probably Claridges. They have a fireplace and it’s really cozy on a winter’s day (or summer actually, given the UK weather) and where else can you take your tea underneath a massive Chihuly chandelier? A close second favorite would be The Goring Hotel, which is also lovely and has excellent service. They have a beautiful garden, so this is a wonderful option when the weather is nice. The Wolseley also does a great afternoon tea, but it’s a lot noisier than the two above options. The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason has great food and service and the room is nice though it can feel a bit cavernous, however the selection of tea is second to none. There are so many other great options for afternoon at many smaller hotels as well.
London Recommendations for Cinemas
Ok – if you’re just visiting London, going to see a film is probably not at the top of your list. But in the event you are up for a quiet evening, here are my favorites for a truly memorable cinema experience. If a film is not showing in one of these cinemas, rather than go to a mainstream cinema and suffer poor quality food and drinks, sticky floors and unruly fellow cinema-goers, I prefer to wait and watch it on a plane or wait for it to appear on Netflix or another service. For a real cinema experience, check out one of these:
- The Electric Cinema – this is hands-down, my favorite cinema anywhere. It is just the right combination of very cool and very cozy. It’s a renovated early 1900s cinema with only one screen. The seats are all leather with footstools, plus they have tables between each seat for storing your snacks and drinks, including your selection from their wine list. Also a number of beers on tap, and lots of posh snacks (no popcorn). I am partial to the brownies which are enormous and I would suggest that you share one with a friend, except they are too tasty to share. Next door is the Electric Diner which has replaced the Electric Brasserie following a fire in the summer of 2012. A great place for a more substantial meal before or after the film.
- Picturehouse Central – This is a close runner-up. Very glamorous feel, but it’s in Soho, which as a West London gal, always feels like a bit of a hike. Worth it once you get there, as the food and drink options are fantastic! They have a really great bar. Picturehouse has loads of locations, but Soho is the most central.
- Everyman Baker Street – This is part of a small chain of \”Everyman Cinemas\” but I always go to the Baker Street location. They have 2 screens and a nice bar/lounge area for relaxing with a drink and snack before the film. A combination of mainstream films and art house films.
- Curzon Cinema Mayfair – Another cinema which is part of a small chain, but I rarely go to any of the other locations. The Mayfair location has 2 screens and they show mostly art house films with the occasional mainstream hit thrown in. It’s more than 75 years old and actually has Royal Boxes in one of the cinemas.
London Recommendations for a Yoga or Pilates Class
If you’re like me, it’s a struggle to work in a class when you’re travelling, but so worthwhile! The below places don’t require a membership, but have top-notch teachers and are clean and well-maintained.
- KXU (Sloane Square) – Probably my favorite place to take a yoga class, because it’s ultra-clean and the classes are not overcrowded. KXU offers more than just yoga, so if you are into barre, spin or pilates, check out their schedule. They also have a nice cafe with healthy food options, including hot breakfast.
- Triyoga (Chelsea or Soho) – Purpose built studios and a huge selection of yoga classes. This is probably the best-known yoga studio in London. I frequented the Chelsea location because it was closest to me, but the Soho location is great because it’s in Kingly Court with tons of food and drink options. Note – book in advance and arrive early! Triyoga is notorious for having packed classes, particularly with some of their very popular teachers. Both locations have cafes attached, but I like to go around the corner from the Chelsea location to Juicebaby, which is hands-down my favorite juice bar in London. They also have cashew-milk lattes that are the best I’ve ever had.
- Core Collective (Kensington) – similar to KXU in that they have a variety of different workout options including personal training. Their selection of yoga classes is limited, but the teachers are very good and the studio is clean and modern. The cafe is a great place to grab a bite to eat or just relax with a coffee, and you can pre-order a post-workout smoothie or juice. The location is really nice too, right next to Holland Park.
- The Light Centre (Belgravia, Monument, Moorgate) – I lived near the Belgravia location and really enjoyed this studio which focuses mainly on yoga and pilates. They have a great selection of more restorative, yin, and special classes for posture and back care. They also have treatment rooms where you can have a massage or see a physiotherapist.
- Ten Health & Fitness (locations all over London) – I was a regular at their Mayfair studio for the reformer pilates classes, but they’ve since expanded to include yoga, barre and more. You can also workout with a personal trainer here. I found the teachers to be well-trained and the studios were clean and modern.
- Barrecore (several locations) – a friend convinced me to try these classes, and while they are not my favorite workout (nothing tops yoga for me!), I think they are a great addition to my workout routine, for variety.
London Recommendations for Enjoying the Outdoors
When in London, I walk everywhere and usually hit 20k steps per day, so it’s pretty good exercize even without going to yoga or pilates. I try to avoid the busier streets and stick to the quieter areas which are better for admiring the architecture and avoiding exhaust fumes. I also spend a lot of time in the parks.
Holland Park is beautiful and less touristy than Hyde Park. It’s also much smaller, but packs in a lot, with a beautiful Japanese garden (check out my post on my Japan trip), a formal parterre garden, a rose garden, a nice picnic area and a big section of the park which is wild and unmanicured so that you can imagine you’re in the forest instead of central London. There are also two great playgrounds and a bunch of tennis courts.
I love going up to Hampstead Heath for a walk. It’s rambling and hilly, one of the highest points in London, so you can get a great view. It’s huge, at nearly 800 acres. And there are tons of more wild areas, in contrast to the manicured Hyde Park or Regents Park. Hampstead Village is also so charming and full of restaurants and shops – great for an afternoon wander. I like to combine a brisk walk with a lunch in the Holly Bush, which is a centuries-old pub inside a grade II listed building. In the summer, Kenwood House (inside Hampstead Heath) holds outdoor concerts – I have many fond memories of picnicking with friends and listening to music.
Kew Gardens – this is more of a trip as it’s not in central London, but you can still take the tube there. While the parks above are free, Kew is a 300-acre botanical garden so there’s an admission fee, but you can take your own picnic food & drinks. There are tons of events happening all the time, so it’s worth checking the calendar for the time you’ll be in London. They have a great Christmas lights display which is fun for all ages.
London Recommendations for Souvenirs & Shopping
I don’t buy a lot of souvenirs, but inevitably I will want to bring back something for family and friends. I like the tins of tea and specialty biscuits at Fortnum & Mason. And I always make a stop at the White Company for a sweet dress or shirt for my little one. It’s my go-to for baby gifts as well. My favorite bookstore in London is Daunt Books which has several locations, though I usually end up at the one in Marylebone (check out what I’m reading here). I also really enjoy looking in the cosmetics and skincare department at Whole Foods Market Kensington, because they carry different products than Whole Foods in the States. Due to the better consumer regulations in Europe, they have a much wider selection of safer cosmetics (see my Skincare Recommendations here).
That’s it for now – contact me here or leave a comment below if you have any questions. I’ll update this page with new London recommendations after each trip.
Any thoughts? What are your favorites in London? Please share in the comments!