Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.



It’s a grey day here in Richmond after a very late night with friends. Friends who, it turns out, are headed for Merry Old in two weeks. Asked for recommendations I could only think of the bar at Claridge’s and The American Bar at the Savoy (a pilgrimage for me as I own a copy of the eponymous cocktail book thanks to Mrs. E.), which I understand is closed pending the completion of renovations. As they have no interest in visiting Savile Row or Jermyn Street, I was stumped.

A poor showing all around. So, in an effort to not let down the side, any recommendations for digs, drinks and delectables? It’s been a number of years since Mrs. E. and I made the scene for the Art Deco exhibit at the V&A…

Thank you in advance for your recommendations. I remain your faithful correspondent,

22 thoughts on “Londontowne

  1. Wilton’s in St. James. One of R.W. Apple’s favorite restaurants, and one of the remaining strongholds of the British upper-class. Your friends will fortunately be there during game season, and can feast on wild Scottish grouse with bread sauce, preceded by Colchester oysters.


  2. I love London… will be spending the entire month of December there myself. Hmmm…. shopping on Sloane Street, lunching at Oriels, Theatre @ Sloane Square. Can you tell that I LOVE Chelsea? Hope your friends have a great time.

  3. The martini’s at the Dorchester are famous. Try the Vespa (yes- James B
    ond’s girlfriend). Also The Connaught hotel is very old and very beautiful for a late night drink.
    For a great lunch or dinner I highly recommend The Wolsley. Looks like it’s been there forever but in fact was a car dealership in it’s past life. Really good food, and a great atmosphere.
    We stayed at 22 Jermyn which is a very small boutique hotel on Jermyn street. Only ten rooms but you feel like it’s your own house.
    Your friends will have a wonderful time. PS – the Firmdale hotel chain has a number of phenomenal hotels scattered around London. Google them – they are beautiful.

  4. Dinner at The Ledbury, on Ledbury Road.

    Drinks at the Dukes Hotel bar, still.

    Kenwood House on Hamstead Heath, for art beyond the large museums.

    The Windsor Castle, on Campden Hill, W8, for a picturesque pub experience.

    Higgins The Coffee-Man for, well, coffee.

  5. Traditional British food – Rules (excellent for game; they run their own estate); J. Sheekey (fish)
    Modern British food – St. John; The Modern Pantry; Canteen (less expensive)
    Pubs – around the City – The Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street, the Blackfriar next to Blackfriar’s Bridge; The Mitre on Ely Place (enter from Hatton Garden – warning – very hard to find)
    Window shopping – Mount Street in Mayfair
    Other things to do – Borough Market (huge farmers market on Friday and Saturday); Columbia Road flower market (on Sunday mornings)

  6. Chris, I have to tell you that in all of my travels….London spoke to me the most. Eerie, I had a definite feeling I had lived there in the past. I am not one of those seer types either.

  7. Here are some of my faves:
    St John restaurant in the old smokehouse of Smithfield market. Not for people who are squeamish about food.
    The Caprice for Sunday brunch.
    Christopher’s Martini Bar in Covent Garden.
    The Diner, opposite Dover St Market, is great for lunch.
    As the Savoy is closed, try the Connaught Bar.

    And remember to book.

  8. Have to second what Sir Fopling said about Modern Pantry… especially since I had dinner with him there! Trust him on any advice regarding food to eat and places to visit!!!

  9. The V&A is currently having an exhibit called: “Maharaja: Splendors of India’s Royal Court”. This is on my list of things to see but I’m putting off a visit until April when the Grace Kelly exhibit opens. And then there is the possibility of viewing the Prince of Wales’ Highgrove gardens (sans TRH’s, which is OK as I’d rather see the garden than them). Tickets for the garden can be checked out at the Highgrove website. (google “Highgrove’). I’m exceedingly envious of their upcoming travels.

  10. At the Connaught, it’s always 1897. Inhale the lobby life and club-like atmosphere. Even if no one is staying there, go for drinks or have lunch at The Grill. This hotel is the next best thing to an invitation to Buckingham Palace. For a break from shopping/dining/markets, visit Cambridge or Oxford Universities–both equidistant day trips from London. And, of course, there is always tea at The Ritz.

  11. I always visit Forbidden Planet bookstore, as I am a big science fiction geek. I also check out the MI6 HQ building at Vauxhall Cross station, since I can’t imagine visiting London without making sure that Cmdr. Bond is still on the job. The first time I visited the nice guard with the submachine gun assured me that while no, I could not go in and look around, I could rest assured that they were doing all they could to ensure that the world was safe.

  12. Chris-
    Heading over again next month for a week of marketing calls and I am looking forward to seeing the new exhibit at the national Portrait gallery.
    Always hit Jermyn street for the ties and the Arcades for links.
    There are a host of small intependent record/cd shops behind Piccadilly circus that you can get all sorts of music.
    Try to get a reservation at the Ivy for great people watching.
    Also if they belong to any U.S. private clubs, have them check the opportunity for receptacle use while in London.

  13. – Take the Northern Line to Hampstead if the weather is agreeable (and even if it’s not!). A walk in the Heath is a must. They can wind their way to Kenwood House or up to Parliament Hill for a wonderful view of London. The high street is great, as is Flask Walk. The Coffee Cup on the high street makes wonderful breakfast eats and the creperie de hampstead is the perfect savory or sweet post hike through the Heath. The Holly Bush is a tucked away pub up that way, and Ye Olde White Bear is a friendly neighborhood spot off New End Square — pub quiz Thursday nights.
    – The Mitre Pub near the Diamond district.
    – Borough Market – hit this on a Fri/Sat morning, then wind their way to the Globe, then to the Tate, then across Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s.
    – Thai food at Churchill Arms near Nottinghill Gate.
    – Imperial War Museum near Elephant Castle stop (allow enough time… I did not)
    – Churchill War Rooms near St. James’ Park
    – A Sunday Roast is a must!
    – And a funky stroll through would be Camden Market off the Northern Line.
    – Tell them to skip the Marmite and double up on the Cadbury.

  14. And if they want an easy, delightful read to get them in the mood, 84 Charring Cross Road would be a great something to tuck into their carry on.

  15. I am enjoying these responses and intend on printing this and filing it in my London travel file. This is better than a guide book–nothing beats first-hand knowledge and hearing about personal favorites. My family loves to visit local, independent bookstores when we travel, and London must have many great ones. Mr. E., perhaps you should get input on a different city each month–before you know it, you can publish a book . . .

  16. Hello All! What wonderful responses. My friends will be overwhelmed! We are having them for supper this Friday evening and I’ll be sure to print out a small travel guide of your posts for them to enjoy! Thank you very, very much.

    Mr. Wingfield, may I stow away as baggage?

  17. I love this site – so I hope I can give a bit back by offering some recommendations. I live and work in London.

    > Definately check out Borough Market (Fri & Sat) for food stalls & pubs in the area. To get there take the tube to London Bridge – not Borough.

    In my opinion, two best pubs to find which are quite central are..

    > The Harp just off from Trafalgar Square – opposite the main Post Office. Fantastic well kept, changing selection of real ales and wonderful, friendly happy staff. The only food they serve are quality sausages in a roll. Its a narrow pub and gets busy. The tip here is to go mid-afternoon before people finish work and to get a seat upstairs where it is extremely peaceful and pleasant in a sort of gentleman’s club sort of way. A proper, honest London pub.

    > A hidden gem of a pub is the Nags Head, it has real vintage character to it and really is worth making the effort to find with its real fire, wooden panelling and the working what-the-butler saw machine. And using mobile phones is banned ! The pub is on Kinnerton Street – a road which is off from the Belgravia Square area. It’s a down a side road, a residential area sort of between Knightsbridge and Belgravia. A pub you have to go looking for – as a result it is blissfully unspoilt and has an old charm that is becoming rarer in central London pubs.

    Pity your friends wont be around Jermyn St – as the Red Lion pub just off there is wonderful at this time of year in the dark evenings, with its mirrors and orange lamp lighting.

    I wish your friends an enjoyable trip.

  18. Hello Mr. Tickle and welcome. Thank you for the compliment and for the excellent suggestions. The simple fact that the Nag’s Head bans cell phones should make it a must stop for my friends. As he is the head of IT infrastructure for the company, his never stops ringing. It will be a most welcome respite.

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