This was my first full year in London, having moved last October, so it has been all about getting out and exploring a little of what the city has to offer.
There is so much more still on my list, but here are fourteen of my favourite places from this year, from restaurants to tourist attractions.
This list is in no particular order, except that I’m putting Vinopolis first, because it’s one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited and it will be closing its doors at the end of this month. If you’re London-based and a wine lover and somehow haven’t been before, you have to visit this December. I’ve been here for a wine-tasting and for dinner, and both were brilliant. As good as the wine is the design of the place, under the railway arches.
I can hardly believe I only discovered this place at the beginning of the year, because I’ve already been there enough times to feel like a regular. I wrote about it already here. The Darling cake is one of the best things in the world, and their afternoon tea is this pretty:
I love the Natural History Museum too, but since I visited at the end of last year I can’t count it! The Science Museum is equally massive and interesting – I need to go back and see the rest.
We went to the rooftop cinema at the Golden Bee, one of many, many weird and wonderful ‘cinemas’ in London. There were sofas and blankets, cocktails and popcorn, and Mean Girls to quote. Brilliant night!
Madison is a rooftop bar (there’s a theme here…) with a brilliant view of the city, in particular St Paul’s (and let’s be honest, that’s probably the best-looking building here). For a place to show off to visitors, or for date night, this is a good choice.
If you’re killing time somewhere central, this is actually a pretty great place for a drink. It’s right in the middle of Covent Garden itself, upstairs. It could be expensive, but you can get a glass of sparkling wine for £5 (good for London, if that needs explaining!) and if the weather’s nice you can sit on the balcony.
I had never been to one of these until I moved to London, but it is one of the few places where there is loads on the menu for me to choose from, and their sundaes are ridiculously good. If I can’t decide where to go for food, this is a good option.
Fancier, pricier, yet they have the best macaroni cheese I have ever eaten. (And that any of my friends have ever tried, apparently!)
I went to Film4’s Summer Screen, and we saw West Side Story. Come armed with cushions and blankets and food, and this is another unusual place to watch great films.
My sister and I had such a laugh at Madame Tussauds. Yes, it is busy and kind of expensive, but it was so much fun.
I love gimmicks, so a bar made entirely of ice – from the bar itself to the chairs to the glasses – is basically a must-visit for me. My sister was dressed for the thirty-degree heat outside, so, despite the capes and gloves you are given, we had to leave five minutes before the end of our forty-minute slot to warm up again!
The restaurant Sarastro in Drury Lane describes itself as ‘The show after the show’. They have live entertainment several nights a week, and the décor is theatrical enough in itself. It was a really lovely place to have dinner (and the roast vegetable pasta was amazing).
Another Theatreland restaurant, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays is Piano Brunch, where someone plays show tunes on the piano while you eat. The walls are covered in posters from shows, and I got to have a Mac Ragu, which is a pork and beef ragu topped with macaroni cheese. I really don’t think you can ask for more than that.
All the theatres
I’ve visited rather a lot of theatres this year: the Shaftesbury Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Queen’s Theatre, Victoria Palace Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Apollo Theatre, Novello Theatre, Phoenix Theatre… to name a few off the top of my head! All of them are beautiful and all are home to fantastic shows. It is by far one of the best things about London.
There we have it! I really could have written a list entirely of bars and restaurants, since I’ve now remembered the bottomless champagne brunch at the Villandry. And one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten, the rocky road brownie, from the Angus Steakhouse. (I don’t care if it’s a chain, there’s CHEESECAKE in the brownie!)
Sometimes London life is a little crazy, but there is one brilliant thing about it that is undeniable: no matter what you want to do, you’ll probably be spoiled for choice!