In London, the days are as long as you make them. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, there’s always a moment just waiting to be seized in this vibrant city. Arriving on an evening train? There’s still time to sip a cocktail in a bar near your hotel, or to find a local gem for dinner in the area. Mornings in London are just as pleasant: a great excuse to tuck into a hearty breakfast, or to amble around usually lively neighbourhoods while the city still slumbers. We’ve picked four hotels, and two nearby suggestions for each, to help you make the most of your stay in town.
Just a stone’s throw from crowded Holborn and the imposing colonnades of the British Museum, this garden is a peaceful retreat, hidden behind a low wall. After a few laps of the park, it’s time for a well-earned breakfast. Head for the Fields Bar and Kitchen, a café with Scandinavian flair over by the tennis courts. Go for a full English, or moreish French toast with bacon and maple syrup.
The decor is no-frills, but the food is outstanding. Chef Guirong Wei hails from Xi’an and is a master of biang biang noodles, dressed in a spicy sauce or beef stew. Her first restaurant as a solo act is always full. Adventurous foodies and Chinese students flock here to fill up on smacked cucumber salad, hand-stretched noodles and scrumptious spicy burgers. A wallet-friendly feast.
Tucked under the brick vaults of a former industrial warehouse, this Bombay café is famous for its lively atmosphere and the home-style dishes shared at each table. Here, you’ll find generous plates of Indian cuisine, reinvented with a cosmopolitan twist. Dishoom’s signature dish is free-range bacon in a hot naan roll, fresh from the tandoor oven. Enjoy it with a sweet spicy chaï for an exotic breakfast experience.
Forget a cup of herbal tea in the evening: sip instead on the Meister Collins, a verbena-infused gin cocktail. In this impossibly glamorous bar, barmen play on endless variations of smoky, herbaceous and fragrant notes. These with-a-twist classics are a draw for the bright and beautiful – a taste of London’s nightlife at its most elegant and creative.
No filters needed in the early morning light. Don’t leave London without walking across (and snapping a shot of) the infamous wobbly bridge. The structure earned its nickname when, in 2000, it opened unsteadily with a fault that has since been corrected. Its elongated form is impressive, with incredible views of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern at either end of the footpath.
The forty or so booths that stand in this former paper mill are entirely devoted to street food. Every evening, the young and the cool crowd here for a culinary world tour. Vietnamese salads, fresh ravioli, Turkish kebabs, rice bowls, and beer brewed right on the premises are on the menu, among many other delicacies. The Mercato Metropolitano is the place to be for cheap and easy dinners on the go, in a friendly atmosphere.
There’s nothing like crossing the Thames to shake the cobwebs away: set out for a morning visit of the South Bank. Coleman Coffee Roasters are renowned in the neighbourhood for their filling Staffordshire oatcakes, and their secret garden is a tranquil spot for an expertly brewed flat white. As a bonus, take home some freshly ground coffee beans: they’ll make your suitcase smell heavenly.
Get a taste of Turin at this sweet-scented gelateria, a standout in the neighbourhood. Venchi’s ice cream is prepared in small batches, with high quality ingredients such as Bronte pistachios, Piedmont hazelnuts and, of course, chocolate, the house speciality. A little pleasure to be savoured year-round, while strolling beneath the seductively lit archways of Covent Garden.