Discover Michelin Star restaurants, stunning luxury hotels, fantastic museums, gardens, and architecture, and so much more. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comment section below, and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.
A Brief History of London
From iconic red phone booths to “Big Ben” and Buckingham Palace, London is one of the world’s most iconic cities. London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, and is the United Kingdom’s largest city. Technically ruled by a monarchy, the British Royal Family, London has long been an important city for trade, scientific development and industrial revolution, politics and diplomacy, and it’s one of the most powerful cities in the world to this day.
Heavily devastated during the fire bombing and multiple attacks during World War II, London has been built and rebuilt over throughout the ages and still stands strong in a world that is moving away from tradition and monarchies and towards democracy, diversity, and a dynamic, shared history of triumphs and tribulations. Read on to discover the full London Luxury Travel Guide.
When to Visit
London is beautiful all year long, but the city’s gardens, which grace nearly every building in some way, shape, or form are at their peak from May to July. This is also when temperatures are warmest, and the weather is the most pleasant. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, which brings warm air and prevents the city from being as cold as its counterparts on the North American continent, London is generally much more comfortable in the cooler months as well, meaning there’s never a bad time to visit this beautiful urban paradise.
How to Get to London & Getting Around the City
As one of the most frequently visited cities in the world, reaching London is very simple. Fly into either Gatwick or Heathrow airport from any major city in the world, or take a train into London’s King’s Cross station that services much of the United Kingdom. Driving or taking a bus via the “Chunnel” from mainland Europe is also an exciting option that offers travelers a unique and interesting perspective of the United Kingdom, and London.
Once in London, buy an Oyster card from any major rail station or airport kiosk and load this pre-paid travel card up to take the red city buses or underground, commonly called The Tube, practically anywhere you could want to go in the city. During the entire week we traveled around London, we each spent roughly £50 with our Oyster cards, which made traveling so simple and convenient. Simply tap the card at the front of the bus or the gate of underground, continue to your destination, and then tap out at the back of the bus or the subway exit and your card will automatically be debited. It wasn’t the most elegant way to travel, but it was surprisingly comfortable and extremely convenient and authentic, so I decided to include it in this London Luxury Travel Guide for your consideration.
There are kiosks inside any train or underground station that allow you to check the balance of your card or “top up” your card and add more funds to it via credit card or cash. It’s seriously so convenient!
Taxis and ride sharing services are also available in London, but can be costly. Unless you’re familiar with driving on the left side of the road, driving in heavy stop and go traffic, and driving a manual vehicle, I don’t recommend renting a car as it’s nerve wracking even for experienced drivers, very expensive, and parking is hard to come by in the city.
Walking is of course always a great option as well, just much slower if you want to go form one neighborhood to another.
Where to Stay
We loved our stay at the 5-star Kensington Hotel in the fashionable South Kensington neighborhood of London. It was a beautiful place to stay, convenient located near many of the major attractions we wanted to see, but still quiet at night and very relaxed yet elegant. It was just a block away from the South Kensington underground station, which made traversing the city and heading to places like Kew Gardens or The Ivy Chelsea a breeze. Read the full hotel review here.
Other beautiful 5-star hotels like Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London, Corinthia Hotel London, The Dorchester, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, and Rosewood London are gorgeous luxury accommodations fit for any king or queen. In fact, royal families from around the world frequent these six hotels, so of course I couldn’t exclude them from my London Luxury Travel Guide.
What to Do
A person could live in London their entire life and never do everything the city has to offer. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting places in the world, because if you can dream it up, chances are high that you’ll find it in London. Below are some of our favorite things to do in London, in no particular order.
Enjoy afternoon tea in the city at Ting Restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel, The Ritz Carlton Hotel, or at The Kensington Hotel
Have a pint at a British pub, we recommend Churchill Arms or Zetland Arms pub
Head to the Sky Garden Observation Deck
Ride a Boat down the River Thames
Ride a red double decker bus
Ride the London Eye Ferris wheel
Stroll through Hyde Park, or bring a picnic lunch to enjoy there
Stroll through Kensington Park
Stroll through St. James Park & Gardens
Tour Buckingham Palace in the summer while the queen is away (no photography is allowed inside)
Visit Big Ben (under construction until 2021)
Visit the colorful buildings of Notting Hill
Visit Kew Royal Botanic Garden
Visit Platform 9&3/4 from Harry Potter at King’s Cross Station
Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum
Walk the Princess Diana Memorial Walk
Walk the Tower Bridge
Watch tennis at Wimbledon
Where to Eat
London is home to 69 Michelin Star restaurants, including famous British chef Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant “Gordon Ramsey” which has held three Michelin Stars, the highest possible ranking, since 2001. In addition to this astonishing amount of Michelin Star restaurants, London is home to a plethora of vegan, gluten free, halal, and exotic eateries with cuisine inspired by the global residents of London, an increasingly international metropolis. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in London as part of my London Luxury Travel Guide.
Chuc’s Café, South Kensington
Casual English food, their breakfast is a great way to start the day, and there are plenty of options for those with special dietary needs.
Daiquise Polish Restaurant, South Kensington
This Polish restaurant was one of our favorite places to eat in all of the United Kingdom. The food here had so much flavor, which was a welcome relief compared to some of the disturbingly bland English food we had at places that were excluded from this list. The mixed salad with fennel & orange, and the potato and onion dumplings were simply delectable, and the atmosphere was surprisingly romantic, making it the perfect spot for an intimate dinner.
Dozo Japanese Restaurant, South Kensington
A beautiful Japanese restaurant, located near the South Kensington Station. Intimate private dining downstairs, with indoor water features, and English takes on Japanese traditional cuisine. The waitstaff here were very kind and happy to practice Japanese with us!
Le Gavrouche, 3 Michelin Stars
This beautiful, French restaurant has an entire tasting menu dedicated to vegetarians, which made it simply irresistible to us. The plating and presentation is brilliant, and the atmosphere is fun and laid back, yet elegantly unassuming.
Ikoyi, St. James Markets, 1 Michelin Star
This beautiful restaurant exists due in part to a number of collaborations between potters, extremely talented chefs, and design experts. If you’re looking to try something completely new in London, head to Ikoyi. We recommend the blind tasting menu, but if you need exceptions made for allergies or dietary restrictions, you’ll need to call ahead as they don’t offer an a la carte menu.
Itadakizen Vegan & Organic Sushi
Europe’s very first organic, vegan Japanese restaurant, Itdakizen was a place my husband surprised me by planning this stop without telling me. I LOVE Japanese food (if you hadn’t noticed by the fact that half of my food recommendations are Japanese restaurants), so believe me when I tell you this place was amazing. I recommend making a reservation, because it’s very small and fills up quickly, but even if you aren’t vegan, this place is absolutely worth a stop!
The Ivy, Chelsea
Situated inside a gorgeous orangery, and boasting a large and inviting garden patio, The Ivy Chelsea is a delightful spot to grab brunch, lunch, or dinner with friends or loved ones. Everything we had was delightful, and there were plenty of options for vegetarians.
The Kew Greenhouse Café, Surrey
This beautiful greenhouse/café is located just outside the Kew Gardens station stop, and is not connected to the gardens, but they served up tasty café style food, and had lots of delightful gluten free options, making it the perfect place to stop on our way back from the gardens.
Kitchen Table, 2 Michelin Stars
Only 20 seats fill this small restaurant, but with such an intimate settings comes the opportunity to learn from the chefs, interacting with them as they prepare multiple courses from a set menu that changes daily. If you’re up for something new and interesting, head here.
Le Pain Quotidien, Chelsea
This brunch spot was a beautiful way to start our day, and despite being called “The Daily Bread”, they had lots of gluten free and light, fruit laden vegan options, which was a delightful and refreshing way to start our day before heading to Kew Gardens.
Located just around the corner from the Tower Bridge, Zen Café is a sweet, and tranquil Japanese style café serving Japanese pastries, teas, and coffees.
Other Cities Near London
Edinburgh is a 4 hour train ride away, making it the perfect weekend destination from London. It is also one of my favorite places I’ve ever been!
Safety in London
We never once felt unsafe in London, although admittedly we did stick primarily to Chelsea and South Kensington after dark, which are notoriously safe. It was eerie how early the streets cleared out. I remember one night we were walking back from Itadakizen near King’s Cross Station heading back towards The Kensington Hotel just after sunset, and for several blocks we didn’t see another single solitary soul. We worried perhaps that others knew something we didn’t, but we didn’t have any troubles whatsoever.
Just like in any large city, when traveling around it’s always best to keep any valuables securely stored in inner pockets, and keep handbags in front of your body in large crowds. Be aware of your surroundings, and use common sense and you shouldn’t have any troubles.
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Londons Top Luxury Hotels.
The 11 Best Restaurants in London
BY ALEX MARTIN
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and as a result boasts one of the most eclectic dining scenes. Whichever cuisine takes your fancy, London has a variety of restaurants capable of taking your breath away.
With 67 Michelin-starred restaurants in the 2020 Guide, it is also one of the top-ranked cities in the world for fine dining. Although a Michelin star is not the only indicator of excellence, it is still the award that chefs covet most.
Here, we take a look at some of the best restaurants in London, covering everything from long-established culinary institutions to exciting new concepts.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
One of just three London restaurants with three Michelin stars, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester has long been regarded as the city’s ultimate fine-dining destination. By retaining its third star in the 2020 guide, it celebrated a decade with the honor having first earned it in 2010. Ducasse’s career has been laden with Michelin stars, currently holding 18 and at one stage having as many as 21.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester offers contemporary French cuisine in modern and elegant décor along with professional and friendly service. The seasonal menu changes frequently, but diners can expect a mix of British ingredients and French technique. There is also a vegetarian menu (Jardin) in an ode to the changing habits of diners.
The restaurant also houses the most famous dining table in London. Located in the center of the dining room, the Table Lumière is surrounded by 4,500 shimmering optical fibers which drop dramatically from the ceiling cleverly allowing guests to enjoy the ambiance and buzz of the restaurant whilst being nearly screened from view. Guests also dine off of stunning Hermès china sets and Puiforcat silverware and drink from Saint-Louis crystal glasses.
Hélene Darroze at The Connaught
This two-Michelin-starred restaurant showcases the talents of renowned French chef Hélène Darroze. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the restaurant closed for two months to undergo a total refurbishment. Parisian design team Pierre Yovanovitch Architecture d’Intérieur were brought in to give the restaurant a fresh look, brightening the interiors and adding a spectacular pink marble chef’s table overlooking the pass and the kitchen.
Not only were the interiors modernized, but the menu as well. It reopened with a new a la carte offering that put a greater emphasis on British producers but still retains odes to her classic French training. The British-themed offerings include ‘caviar with langoustine, oyster and runner beans’ and ‘Denbighshire pigeon with beetroot, wild blueberry and Mexican molé.
Lecture Room & Library at Sketch
Occupying what used to be the headquarters of Christian Dior, Sketch is chic, glamorous and trendy. In the Michelin Guide 2020, it was elevated to the maximum three stars, putting it in an elite group alongside Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
The Lecture Room & Library, at the top of the Grade II listed building, offers haute-cuisine by the extraordinary chef Pierre Gagnaire in a plush setting of studded ivory leather walls, ornate plasterwork ceilings, and rich furnishings in purple and crimson. Gagnaire has a global empire to run, so he entrusts Johannes Nuding to run the kitchen in his place.
Diners can choose between a seven-course tasting menu (vegetarian available) or a full a la carte menu. There is also a vast wine list containing some impressively expensive vintages on offer. An added bonus here is the guest bathrooms, which look like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film and are without doubt the most Instagrammable toilets (if there is such a thing) in London.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Combining contemporary elegance, an intimate ambiance and unparalleled service, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is a must for the culinary connoisseur. It has retained three Michelin stars since 2001, making it one of the longest-standing three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.
Since its opening, it has continually wowed diners with its consistent devotion to quality. The menu prides itself on superb ingredients and sublime flavor combinations, whilst the size of the restaurant – only 14 tables – ensures every diner receives an exceptional degree of attention.
The restaurant has retained its high standards despite losing the incredibly talented Clare Smyth, who left her position as head chef in 2016 to open her own London restaurant, Core, which also features on this list. Today, Chef de Cuisine Matt Abé, who worked under Smyth, is responsible for the kitchen.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
The first London venture of UK culinary master Heston Blumenthal, Dinner was one of the city’s most anticipated openings. It has since gone on to justify the excitement and is now widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the country.
Paying homage to historical British cooking, the menu reclaims traditional dishes dating back to the 16th century, reinventing them for the modern day. The menu lists dishes with the year they were first cooked, and Heston’s trademark wit is on top form with clever hints of antiquity and lights that resemble classic jelly molds.
Fans of Heston’s molecular gastronomy will enjoy the signature ‘Meat Fruit’ while the crowd-pleasing triple-cooked chips retain a place on the menu almost three decades after he first pioneered the dish.
Core by Clare Smyth
Previously head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth struck out on her own and has since established one of the best restaurants in London. Core was widely tipped to gain a coveted third star in the 2020 Michelin Guide but was instead held on two stars to the surprise of industry experts. Still, it seems only a matter of time before Smyth joins her former boss, Ramsay, at the three-star table.
The vibe at Core is different to what you might expect; Smyth calls it “casual luxury,” taking humble ingredients like the potato or carrot (the Lamb Carrot, a dish of braised lamb but with the carrot taking center stage, is one of Core’s signatures) and “flipping it on its head” to create sustainable haute cuisine.
The blend of high-end and casual is in a refreshing twist that adds to Core’s atmosphere. Smyth wants everyone who comes in to have a good time and to make sure diners relax enjoy themselves, something that she thinks is more important than winning awards.
La Dame de Pic
Set within Ten Trinity Square, the former Port of London Authority HQ that was recently re-masked into a breath-taking Four Seasons Hotel, La Dame de Pic is the work of internationally acclaimed chef – Anne-Sophie Pic. Coming from a family of successful chefs (Pic’s father and grandfather both attained three Michelin stars at the family restaurant in Valence), Pic’s decision to open a London outpost was met with huge fanfare across the capital.
With a relaxed feel, the restaurant’s pared-back interior focuses on offering guests a completely unpretentious experience, giving full attention to Pic’s beautifully presented cuisine. Offering a menu that flits between British and French cuisine, the majority of the ingredients are British produce. Pic’s ability to merge these two neighboring nations is what makes La Dame de Pic so spectacular and shows why she is widely regarded as a legend in the restaurant world.
The imposing Hide Restaurant opened in London’s upscale Mayfair last year and has, without a doubt, become one of the best restaurants in London. It sealed this reputation when it earned its first Michelin star just six months after opening its doors. The restaurant’s early success is due to a number of factors, including its incredible wine list, the beautiful Instagram-worthy interiors and the ingenious food from one of Britain’s most talented chefs, Ollie Dabbous.
The restaurant is an innovative concept and is split into three distinct areas – Above, Ground and Below – and a selection of stunning private dining rooms. It is at Hide Above that Dabbous displays the pinnacle of his culinary ability but until recently the only way to experience it in the evening was in the form of a five or eight-course tasting menu.
Hide Above’s menu changes often but the signature dish is the Nest Egg, an eggshell filled with a concoction of egg yolk, smoked butter, toasted mushrooms and cream – is an ingenious little dish and worthy of its reputation.
Although The Ritz is the epitome of old-school luxury, its restaurant continues to lead the charge with innovative and ingenious haute cuisine. The kitchen, run by head chef John Williams, holds one Michelin star although industry experts will tell you it deserves at least one more. The dining room is an experience in itself with Louis XVI-inspired décor, towering marble columns and rows of chandeliers. The sense of luxury is maintained with an old-fashioned dress code: Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie at all times whilst in the restaurant.
Head chef Williams is passionate about British produce and champions it wherever possible. The seven-course Epicurean Menu takes diners on a journey around the British Isles, from the Cornish moors to the Scottish Highlands. The service also stands out here with the staff adhering to the highest standards of traditional values.
Australian chef/patron Brett Graham has been wowing diners at The Ledbury since 2005. It earned its first Michelin star just a year later and added a second in 2010, which it retains to this day. The restaurant has benefitted from Graham’s continued presence and continues to win the hearts and minds of well-heeled Londoners.
Diners can order à la carte from a spectacular array of expertly prepared dishes or, if they are feeling bold, experiment with an eight-course tasting menu, particularly fun in larger groups. The menu champions seasonal ingredients and comes with an excellent wine pairing. It is also available in vegetarian.
Davies and Brook
Opening its doors in 2019, Davies and Brook is the newest restaurant on this list by a considerable margin. However, considering the level of culinary talent in the kitchen, it was impossible to leave out. The restaurant was opened by Daniel Humm, the genius behind New York’s Eleven Madison Park and inarguably one of the world’s best chefs.
Situated in Claridge’s Hotel, no expense has been spared on the restaurant’s furnishings. The room is minimalism at its best with high ceilings and pale walls with white-framed photographs of British moors running through the middle.
The kitchen is headed up by executive chef Dmitri Magi, who formerly worked at Eleven Madison Park. His signature dish is dry-aged duck, which is served with honey and lavender, and glazed with rhubarb and daikon. It’s opening came too late for the Michelin Guide 2020, but expect Davies & Brook to join the best restaurants in London with its own star(s) very soon.