When it comes to food, London's West End district in the city center doesn’t have the best rap. Many locals will say that you need to venture out of zone one to eat some authentic cuisine. I disagree.
There are nine million Londoners, one-third of whom were born outside the UK. Thousands travel into the West End daily to work and play — and they’ve got to eat somewhere. My immigrant parents sure knew it, so in the 1980s, we opened a Chinese takeaway in Covent Garden. On weekends we would exchange meals with neighboring Indian and Caribbean restaurants. We also held all our big family gatherings in Chinatown. Then at Christmas, Mom would splurge on dinner at a fancy hotel to “take photos”.
Admittedly, the West End can be expensive. After all, it's home to the city's poshest neighborhoods, most iconic attractions, museums and theaters. I’ve fine-dined and partied across the city for decades, thanks to TopTable deals (aka the 2000s' Groupon), media invitations when I worked in television, and opting out of a pension plan completely (not recommended). I love to share tried-and-tested spots, so when my friends are visiting they are not eating at chain restaurants in Leicester Square or tourist traps by Buckingham Palace.
Here are my favorite places to eat in the West End right now.
My favorite place for breakfast with company is The Riding House Café, open from 8am on weekdays. They have three casual-chic outposts, including Fitzrovia (tube: Oxford Circus). If I’m feeling indulgent I’ll do the malted deep-dish pancakes (£13.50), otherwise it’s always the large eggs benedict with Kassler ham (£13.20). Bloody Marys are served from 10am.
If I’m alone and catching up on work, then I’ll go toThe Hoxton, Holborn for Rondo, their lobby restaurant. It’s a nice spot to be undisturbed, so bring a book and enjoy the morning at leisure. The Full English breakfast (£15) is so filling I’ll skip lunch.
Russell Square is such a gorgeous stroll, but before you enter, stop at the red phone box at its east entrance. Inside there’s a café called Walkmisu (tube: Russell Square). It’s only open Friday to Sunday, and the best thing about it is the homemade tiramisu. They have rotational flavors beyond the classic, like strawberry and pistachio, and they’re always under a fiver.
Many museum cafés in Central London are worth visiting for coffee. Try Espresso Bar by Muriel's in The National Gallery (tube: Trafalgar Square); Café Bar in The Photographer’s Gallery (tube: Oxford Circus); or the Courtyard Café in The Wallace Collection (tube: Bond Street).
For something quirky, visit Fitzrovia's Attendant (tube: Goodge Street). a tiny coffee bar located within a former Victorian men’s public toilet (yes, really). Built in 1890, it still has
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This cheery diner might be located deep in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, but it’s immensely popular, particularly with families. It’s both child- and dog-friendly, and there’s an enormous play area out front. Once you’ve finished snapping photos of the kitsch interiors, sink your teeth into a mushroom Swiss burger or enjoy a refreshing glass of sarsaparilla from the restored 1940s soda fountain.
Born and raised in Hebei—the province that, on the map, appears to wrap two arms around Beijing in a loving hug—restaurateur Amy Li moved to the Chinese capital some 26 years ago to live and work. In the time since, she and husband Jonathan Ansfield have run several food businesses (the latest, Vietnamese restaurant Susu, was conceived after a friend observed a dearth of such cuisine in the city.) Li loves Beijing's multifaceted nature, citing both the “powerful sense of order” wrought by such landmarks as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Wall as well as the messy chaos of Old Beijing's hutong—here, she lays out what you can't miss of the old as well as the new on a visit.
Hotel Lutetia Paris named hotel of the year, Capella voted leading luxury hotel brand, Japan shines as most popular holiday hotspot and Portrait Milano recognised as best new hotel, while Dubai wins multiple airline and airport accolades.
The ultimate tropical getaway, the Caribbean conjures images of palm-fringed beaches, rum-fueled dancing and lush jungle excursions. Pick any of the 700-odd islands that form an arc between Florida and Venezuela and you’ll get all these things and more.
The best Christmas markets seem to turn back time, transforming areas of cities into timeless wonderlands. In the UK, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to savour the comforts of the season, with artisanal, themed and traditional Christmas markets popping up across the country from November onwards.
One of the most delightful holiday traditions is counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar, especially with one filled with chocolate. The tradition of advent calendars dates back to 19th-century Germany, where people marked the days leading up to Christmas with daily small treats. The first printed advent calendar appeared around 1903, with religious images behind small numbered doors. Over time, the concept evolved to include a variety of themes, from chocolates to toys and was adopted outside of Germany too. Here are ten of the finest luxury chocolate advent calendars, created by the world’s top chocolatiers.
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