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