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London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
London’s nightlife landscape is dotted with traditional corner pubs.
 
Planning a stop in London for the Olympics this summer? You won’t want to spend all your time cheering at swim and track meets. Here, a guide to some diversions.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” So said Samuel Johnson in 1777. It’s an opinion that holds nearly 250 years later. With the city’s abundance of fashionable restaurants and clubs, charming shopping districts, and limitless cultural offerings, fatigue is not an option.


Eating out

Dinner by Heston

This is the first London restaurant by Heston Blumenthal, of the famed, three-Michelin-starred the Fat Duck in Berkshire. At Dinner, Blumenthal, known for his scientific approach to cooking, takes a historical route, basing dishes such as a 1660 savory porridge and a 1720 roast marrowbone, on meals of yore.

Mishkin’s

The latest venture from Russell Norman—responsible for the buzzy cicchetti joints da Polpo and Spuntino—Mishkin’s is “a kind-of Jewish deli.” That means classic bagels with lox and a schmear, as well as modern innovations like coleslaw from cauliflower and caraway seeds, or duck hash.

The Delaunay

Brought to you by the same team that created the much-loved Wolseley, the Delaunay is inspired by the grand cafés of Europe. Think schnitzels, soufflés, and Sacher torte.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
Left and right: The interior of The Delauney recalls the grand cafés of Europe.
 
Pitt Cue Co.

With a no-reservations policy, this tiny Soho restaurant has built up a word-of-mouth reputation. The menu is equally small but perfectly formed. It concentrates on classics: ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
Pitt Cue Co serves up mouthwatering barbecue specialties.
 
Brawn

Located on Columbia Road—the site of a Sunday flower market—Brawn, by contrast, is not really for plant lovers. Offal and charcuterie are highlights, while homemade pork scratchings—pork rinds in American lingo—are a fan favorite.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
The quaint interior of Brawn.
 

Going out

Le Baron

A branch of this Parisian club landed in Mayfair in late 2011, after Tokyo and before New York’s Chinatown incarnation. Appearances from Kanye West and Azealia Banks have ensured a steady stream of revelers. Wednesday night—when DJ the Lovely Jonjo is resident—is particularly popular.

Mark’s Bar at Hix Belgravia

The sequel to Mark Hix’s award-winning bar, nestled in the Belgraves hotel, with cocktails by acclaimed mixologist Nick Strangeway and bar snacks like fish fingers and mushy peas, it’s a beguiling mix of the modern and traditional.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
Left: Master mixologist Nick Strangeway concocts decadent cocktails for guests at Mark’s Bar. Right, top and bottom: The elegant interior of Mark’s Bar at the Belgraves hotel.
 
The Fourth Wall

Perhaps the ultimate in London’s speakeasy scene, the Fourth Wall is a “wandering bar,” which changes its location each week. Sign up on the mailing list to discover where in London you’ll end up.

Apartment 58

A new concept in members’ clubs, Apartment 58 is designed for members who want a place to work during the day, and to invite over their friends—i.e., you—in the evening. As the name suggests, there’s a homey vibe. Prepare to kick back in style.

The Shacklewell Arms

Dalston is London’s answer to Williamsburg—full of the new generation of creative types, and their hangout is the Shacklewell Arms. The pub hosts bands and club nights in the back room, while the main bar is a no-frills space to grab a beer.


Streets to stroll

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
A traditional pie and mash shop in Broadway Market.
 
Redchurch Street

With a laid-back feel and quirky boutiques and cafés, Redchurch Street is a microcosm of East London now. Sample the local art scene at Maurice Einhardt Neu Gallery, grab some good British grub at Albion or a pint at the Owl & Pussycat.

Broadway Market

The street hosts a Saturday market featuring everything from homemade sausages to Vietnamese coffee. For a quieter option, go on a weekday. Climpson’s and La Bouche, two delis, provide wholesome fare, while the new Market Café has a 1950s look and feel. Stella Blunt peddles vintage housewares to match.

Mount Street

In the heart of Mayfair, Mount Street is a frequent haunt of London’s fashion crowd. The Connaught hotel is charming for afternoon tea. Allens of Mayfair, a 120-year-old butcher shop, is a window into tradition. Kate Moss’s favorite restaurant, Scott’s, is the modern option—and fresh from a refurbishment.

Bermondsey Street

Bermondsey Street offers a cool introduction to up-and-coming but still gritty South East London. The Fashion and Textile Museum’s exhibition on post-War textiles (on until June 16) is eye-opening, or take a breather in the browse-worthy bookshop Woolfson & Tay. Chef José Pizarro provides stylish sustenance in two settings: Head to José for tapas or Pizarro for a sit-down meal.

Marylebone High Street

A charming shopping hub, Marylebone High Street is centrally located but still feels off the beaten track. Emma Bridgewater’s quintessentially English home wares are irresistible, Skandium’s Scandinavian furniture is sleek, and Daunt Books is a cult favorite now known for its trademark canvas bags. Burger joint Meat Liquor on nearby Welbeck Street is your best bet for a pit stop.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
The exterior of the Connaught Hotel, a perfect stop for afternoon tea.
 

Cultural pursuits

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
A preserved manuscript of The Canterbury Tales will be featured at the British Library.
 
Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands

until September 25, the British Library

An exploration of the UK through its most revered authors, this exhibition moves from the Yorkshire valley loved by Ted Hughes, to Wordsworth’s lakes, and J. G. Ballard’s hinterlands. An early manuscript of The Canterbury Tales is a highlight.

Bauhaus: Art as Life

until August 12, the Barbican

The first major Bauhaus exhibition in the UK in more than 40 years will take place, fittingly, in a modernist masterpiece. Prepare to be inspired by those wonderfully simple geometric forms and now-classic primary colors.

Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary

until September 30, Victoria & Albert Museum

This London-based firm has made its name designing everything from the fabulously weird Seed Cathedral for Expo 2010 Shanghai to the functional but chic Piggyback table. The latest buzz is the reworked classic double-decker bus—still in cherry red, of course—now on London streets.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

until October 14

For its annual summer Pavilion project, Serpentine Gallery this year tapped the outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Reuniting with the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, with whom he teamed for Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium, Ai is creating a subterranean space underneath the site. Expect something special.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
The drawing room at Dennis Server’s house.
 
Dennis Severs’ House

The American-born expat artist long lived in this house, in historic Spitalfields, and gradually restored it with a fictional eighteenth-century family of weavers in mind. Each room has a different tableau, some complete with smells. Book an evening visit for the full effect.

London Calling By Lauren Cochrane
Albion
2–4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD
albioncaff.co.uk
Allens of Mayfair
117 Mount Street, W1K 3LA
allensofmayfair.co.uk
Apartment 58
58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR
apartment58.com
The Barbican
Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
barbican.org.uk
Le Baron
29 Old Burlington Street, W1S 3AN
lebaronlondon.com
La Bouche
35–37 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
labouche.co.uk
Brawn
49 Columbia Road, E2 7RG
brawn.co
The British Library
96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
bl.uk
Climpson’s
67 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
webcoffeeshop.co.uk
The Connaught
Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
the-connaught.co.uk
Daunt Books
83 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QW
dauntbooks.co.uk
The Delaunay
55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB
thedelaunay.com
Dennis Severs’ House
Dinner by Heston
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
dinnerbyheston.com
Emma Bridgewater
81A Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QL
emmabridgewater.co.uk
The Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF
ftmlondon.org
The Fourth Wall
José
104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB
josepizarro.com
Market Café
2 Broadway Market, E8 4QG
market-cafe.co.uk
Mark’s Bar at Hix Belgravia
Belgraves Hotel, Pont Street, SW1X 9EJ
hixbelgravia.co.uk
Maurice Einhardt Neu Gallery
30A Redchurch Street, E2 7DP
neugalleries.com
Meat Liquor
74 Welbeck Street, W1G 0BA
meatliquor.com
Mishkin’s
25 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS
mishkins.co.uk
The Owl & Pussycat
34 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP
owlandpussycatshoreditch.com
Pitt Cue Co.
1 Newburgh Street, W1F 7RB
pittcue.co.uk
Pizarro
194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
josepizarro.com
Scott’s
20 Mount Street, W1K 2HE
scotts-restaurant.com
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA
serpentinegallery.org
The Shacklewell Arms
71 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB
shacklewellarms.com
Skandium
86 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QS
skandium.com
Stella Blunt
75 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
vam.ac.uk
Woolfson & Tay
13 Bermondsey Square, SE1 3UN
woolfsonandtay.com
 

London-based Lauren Cochrane is a freelance journalist who has written about fashion and culture for i-D, Vogue, Financial Times, and Wallpaper.

  • © PictureNet/Corbis
  • © David Loftus
  • © Paul Winch-Furness
  • Courtesy of Brawn
  • © Steve Joyce
  • © Stuart Freedman/In Pictures/Corbis
  • Courtesy of the Connaught Hotel
  • © British Library Board
  • © Roelof Bakker
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