London's Best Restaurants, Bars & Activities, According to Our Expert London Advisors

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The Modern Travel Agency


    Fora Advisors have the best taste — and the best insider recommendations. On a recent multi-day site visit in London, we explored all the city has to offer with our London-based advisors (and a few London-loving jetsetters who flew in). Below, they provide their favorite places to eat and drink in the British capital, plus their top things to do.

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    London’s best restaurants for Japanese, Indian, Italian and everything in between

    London’s culinary scene is dynamic and varied, the result of its vibrant multiculturalism. Unsurprisingly, the city’s Japanese food game is strong. Fora Advisor Chloe Kletsa recommends AKIRA, a “hidden gem [with] excellent sushi on par with the likes of Nobu but understated and wonderful!” 

    Fora Advisor Lola Banjo loves Roka Mayfair, which she explained serves high-quality contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine, a style of cooking akin to barbecue. Also on our Mayfair list is Sexy Fish, a recommendation from Fora Advisor Tolu Adekanmbi, where guests dine amongst live coral reef tanks and artwork by the likes of Damien Hirst and Frank Gehry. At the neighborhood's ikeda, you’ll savor “intimate, upmarket Japanese” food in a traditional setting, per Fora Advisor Michael Kelley.

    For something especially intimate, head to seven-seat Sushi Tetsu, Michael advised. The hidden gem is found in an unassuming alley, and reservations are only taken by phone on the first and third Monday of each month, from 11 am to 4 pm. 

    You can’t visit London without sampling its incredible Indian cuisine. Fora Advisor Steve Michailidis recommends Dishoom (there are multiple locations), which is inspired by Bombay’s Irani cafés. “Hot tip,” Steve said, “try the house black daal. You're welcome!” Michael loves Speedboat Bar, an “awesome Bangkok street-food brought to life in London's Chinatown."

    As in any global city, small, lovely local gems abound. You just need to know where to find them. For seasonal Persian cuisine tucked away on a quiet residential street, Fora Advisor Aleksandra Coric loves the intimate Kateh. The authentic, family-owned neighborhood spot Ida comes highly recommended by Chloe; it’s the perfect combination of casual and romantic, she said.

    Fora Advisor Stephanie Muhr loves Straker’s, in Notting Hill, “where the cool locals go for a weekend brunch / lunch,” she said. Also a must for breakfast, brunch or lunch is the Buttery, in Belgravia, another favorite of Stephanie’s. 

    “This restaurant is small but has a great breakfast,” she said, “and the thing I love most is the not-so-secret secret garden in the back. It is definitely one of my favorite places to sit for a drink with girlfriends or have lunch when it's warmer.”

    Another hidden gem is La Delizia, Steve said. “Shhh! It's one of Chelsea's best-kept secrets,” he added, “a cozy restaurant serving Italian classics with plenty of Italian flair, popular with local, regular customers.” 

    For more Italian, head to the legendary River Café, Michael said, where a daily-changing menu highlights the season’s best, freshest ingredients. Don’t sleep on London’s eastern Mediterranean cuisine, either. Michael recommends Fezmangal, “an oasis of sumptuous Turkish cuisine in the heart of Ladbroke Grove.” Chloe, a London-based Greek, is partial to Fitzrovia’s Meraki, “the best Greek in London,” she said. Gold, in Notting Hill, offers more Mediterranean-inspired fare served in a cool, refined but casual setting, Chloe said. Her advice? Sit in the garden area.

    Michael touted José Pizarro in Bermondsey as the place to go for the best authentic Spanish tapas. Plus, he said to visit La Petite Maison in Mayfair for an upscale French-Mediterranean restaurant with a sharing concept, adding that it’s perfect for a fancy date night. More French food, with a Creole twist, can be found at Louie, where the food and vibes are always on point, Stephanie said. Plus, its Alligator Bar turns into a club on the weekends.  

    London’s best bars, for any drinking style

    Speaking of bars, London is awash of drinking institutions of all types. For martinis prepared tableside in a swanky setting, DUKES Bar is a must, Fora Advisor Ashley Emala said. Matthew recommends the creative cocktails at Scarfes Bar, at the Rosewood London, ranked among the world’s 50 best bars. For “timeless glamour with a contemporary twist,” Aleksandra said, head to Fitz’s Bar, “a chic hotel bar on Russell Square.”

    If tiki, tropical vibes are what you’re after, heed Tolu’s advice and go to the fun, energetic Laki Kane. Also on Tolu’s list are Nightjar, a “speakeasy bar with live jazz and blues,” the Alchemist, where the expert mixologists are as great as they come and Mr. Fogg’s, a welcoming tavern with a “Victorian explorer's vibe,” she said.

    For locally made alcohol, the best negronis and delicious shared plates, The Hide is the obvious choice, per Michael, who also loves The Vault, a “chic bar hidden behind a bookcase in the back of a whisky shop,” and Bar Termini, an “intimate cocktail bar where the house-made negronis rule the roost.” He added, “insider tip: order the Rosato, the rose-infused negroni!” But if you’re craving “a traditional pub with a country feel,” Matthew said, you can’t go wrong with The Crabtree, with “its tree-filled riverside garden and relaxed lounge bar.”

    The best things to do and enjoy in London

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    Kew Gardens

    Although London is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, it’s home to numerous green spaces to explore. In the spring and summer, Chloe loves Richmond Park. Within the park, Isabella Plantation is particularly lovely. It’s one of London’s wildest parks, she said, where bluebells bloom in April and May, and where, in June and July, you’ll see hundreds of baby deer. Also lovely is the Kew Gardens, Lola said, “London's largest botanical wonderland with lush landscapes, vibrant blooms and glass houses.” She added how it’s “best to go in spring, when the flowers bloom, or during winter, when the illuminated trails come alive during Christmas.” 

    The local shopping is also not to be missed. Borough Market, Chloe said, is “great to browse on the weekends, try delicacies on the spot or shop for home.” Peruse Columbia Road Shops & Flower Market, a favorite of Michael’s. “Columbia Road is one of the few streets in the country composed of sixty independent businesses,” he said. “Small art galleries sit next to cupcake shops, vintage clothes stores, English and Italian delis, gardening and antique shops. There’s also a wealth of great pubs, cafés and restaurants.”

    For satisfying your inner flâneur or flâneuse, Hampstead Heath is the place to be, Aleksandra said. “If you want to experience village life, a walk in Hampstead will do the trick,” she said, advising to prioritize “the Heath for greenery, the village itself if you want to envision local life.”

    If museums are top of mind, Tolu recommends the Tate Modern, a hub for “contemporary and international modern art.” Additional contemporary art can be found at the White Cube, Michael added, “one of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries, representing over 60 international artists and artist estates,” he said.

    Finally, F1 enthusiasts should make a beeline for F1 Arcade London, Tolu said, where you’ll partake in a “full-motion racing simulator experience.”

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