Don’t get tongue-tied trying to pronounce Marylebone (try ‘marly-bun’ if you’re asking for directions). Rather, get to work munching your way through the neighbourhood’s gourmet edibles. Fill a hamper with farmers’ market finds, La Fromagerie’s cheeses and bottles from beloved winery Le Vieux Comptoir for a post-zoo picnic in Regent’s Park.
High-street and high fashion rub cashmere-clad elbows along Regent and Oxford Streets. But save your big spending for the glamorously dressed halls of historic department store Selfridges & Co. In the summer, dig for second-hand treasures at the Cabbages & Frocks Market and stop for chilled wines and small plates along Marylebone’s Gallic-tinged high street. This area is school-holiday heaven: kids will love getting papped with the eerily lifelike celebs at Madame Tussauds. Then on with the deerstalker and out with the magnifying glass for a house call at Sherlock Holmes’ fictional home on Baker Street. Come dinnertime, dress up for scene-starters Orrery and the Providores – or make a beeline for Nuno Mendes’ crab doughnuts at hip joint Chiltern Firehouse.
The only rival to Harrods’ iconic status, Selfridges has all things for all people. Rack up outfit changes in its designer rooms, then primp from follicle to cuticle at the beauty counters. The city’s most enticing toys, homeware and tech lie behind the store’s legendary windows, too. We’d happily lose hours in the food hall or the summertime rooftop eatery.
Don’t commit to one main – a smattering of small plates better showcases the broad talents of Neapolitan chef Eduardo Tuccillo. His tapas, built on Mediterranean flavours, have Japanese and Peruvian inflections – all cooked on a Josper grill. Add happy-to-chat servers and a dynamic wine list and you’ll drink it all up, with a twist.
Already daydreaming about your next trip? This exquisite Edwardian travel bookshop will inspire. Its stylish travel guides make excellent on-the-go companions, alongside an edit of new releases for long journeys. It’s worth popping in just to wander the wooden galleries and admire the stained-glass window and William Morris prints.
This rendezvous point is an expansion of the tiny Soho bar that wooed London with its Italian pizzazz – and mix-master Tony Conigliaro’s swellegant, elegant cocktails. Luggage rails and leather banquettes create a classic setting for sipping short sharp coffees and the punch-packing house negroni. Fat Tony’s pasta pop-up offers chic carb-loading.
Make a day of exploring Regent’s Park. You could happily settle amid the 12,000 roses of Queen Mary’s Garden, but there’s also London Zoo to prowl, four playgrounds to explore, and pedalos to hire. Play tennis, stop for an ice-cream, rent bikes and scope out the programme for the seasonal open-air theatre.
A kitschy ode to Victoriana, 221b Baker Street is where Holmes and dogged companion Dr Watson solved the crimes of London’s pea-souper streets. This museum is for Conan Doyle purists rather than Cumberbatch addicts and gritty-reboot fans. A place to ponder case files and tap into the (fictional) detective’s clockwork mind.
This Soho café and bakery is a heavenly vision. The stacks of nut-studded brownies, piles of fat cinnamon buns and berry-bursting frangipane tarts are mesmerising. The sensible can opt for fluffy scrambled eggs on toast and a plateful of show-stopping waffles, virtuously slathered with coconut yoghurt, fruit and edible flowers. Succumb to a box of oozing doughnuts – a signature bake since its early days trading at Borough Market. Don’t leave without trying the salted caramel-honeycomb combo.
Sometimes overlooked for London’s flashier neighbourhoods, Marylebone has come into its own with one of London’s most exciting dining scenes
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