The entire team from the Timothy Oulton galleries at Bluebird and Heals contributed to this guide, as well as the our founder Timothy Oulton's kids, who are Londoners too. The London TO family may come from all different walks of life, but they have one thing in common: a desire to seek out the very best that London has to offer, whether these are family friendly activities, or the most fabulous and trendy restaurants that the capital has to offer.
Berners TavernBreakfast / Brunch
Tucked inside the London Edition Hotel, the dining room at Jason Atherton’s Berners Tavern is simply spectacular. The incredible baroque space features double-height ceilings, huge chandeliers, plush leather and mohair booths and hundreds of gold-framed pictures. The effect is awe-inspiring to the point where you feel lucky to be dining in such a space. The food is great too - mainly modern British with European influences. We particularly recommend coming for breakfast or brunch, where the best of British ingredients really shine through and it just feels particularly indulgent to be there at that time. The Brioche French Toast with Smoked Streaky Bacon comes highly recommended.
10 Berners Street, London W1T 3NP I +44 (0)207 908 7979 I Open for breakfast Monday - Sunday from 7:00am - 10:30am. Brunch is served on Saturdays only from 12:00pm - 4:00pm. Sunday roast is served on Sundays from 12:00pm - 4:00pm. For lunch and dinner opening hours, please check the restaurant’s website I Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Rd or Oxford Circus
On a cold miserable Sunday in London, there is nothing more comforting than a delicious Sunday Roast and award-winning Blacklock is the place to come for this. The restaurant, which won an OFM award for Best Sunday Launch in 2016 is known for its top quality meats from Cornwall Butcher Phillip Warren, with a focus on chops cooked over charcoal and seared with antique Blacklock Foundry clothes irons. The Sunday menu is to the point, and family style, with just a few starter options and then a choice of either roast beef, lamb or pork with all the traditional trimmings. Dessert is a cheesecake. All this for £20 is pretty good value for London, and for this quality.
Venues in Soho, the City and Shoreditch. please refer to website for location details and opening hours
Dishoom breakfasts have a cult-like following amongst diehard fans of Indian cuisine, or those looking to start their day with something a little different. The restaurant’s bacon naan, with its accompanying sweet chilli jam is quite special, and a fantastic alternative to a bacon butty. The other dish that comes highly recommended is the Keema per Eedu - a powerful mix of spicy chicken keema and chunks of chicken liver, served with fried eggs and buttered buns.
Various locations across London - please refer to website for information
The River CafeLunch
This three decade old Italian restaurant on the banks of the Thames might seem like too obvious a choice for an Insider Guide, but we think The River Cafe is the ultimate al-fresco dining spot in London, and therefore must be included. Book well in advance for a long lazy lunch in the patio garden during the (sometimes) warm British summer. We love the honest simplicity of the menu here. It’s not cheap of course, but every dish is exquisitely prepared and the experience is really very special indeed. A lovely way to walk off your meal is to step onto the tow path right in front of the restaurant and head towards Hammersmith.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA I +44 (0)207 386 4200 I Open for lunch Monday - Saturday from 12:30pm and on Sundays from 12:00pm. Open for dinner Monday - Saturday from 6:30pm I Nearest Tube station: Hammersmith
The WolseleyBreakfast / Brunch / Afternoon Tea
Located the heart of Piccadilly, The Wolseley is stunning restaurant, with black and white marble floors, towering Venetian-inspired pillars, and arches and stairwells creating an incredibly elegant and grand space. Their breakfast and brunch menu is particularly good, and their afternoon tea is one of the best in London.
160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB I +44 (0)207 499 6996 I firstname.lastname@example.org I Breakfast is served from Monday - Friday from 7:00am - 11:30am, and on Saturday and Sundays from 8:00am - 11:30am. Afternoon tea is served Monday - Friday from 3:00pm - 6:30pm and on weekends from 3:30pm - 6:30pm. For lunch and dinner hours, please refer to the website I Nearest tube station: Green Park or Piccadilly.
La Bodega NegraDinner (Mexican)
The neon sign outside reads ‘sex shop’ and the mannequin in the entrance wears a gimp suit. Head down the stairs however, and you will find yourself in a nightclub come Mexican restaurant. The atmosphere at La Bodega Negra is electric, the food slightly less so. But that’s not the point. Come for a damn good time and some decent food (the lamb shank comes highly recommended).
9 Old Compton Street, SoHo, W1D 5JF I +44 (0)207 758 4100 Open Monday - Tuesday 5:30pm - 12:00am, Wednesday - Saturday 5:30pm - 1:00am, and Sunday 5:30pm - 11:00pm I Nearest tube: Leicester Sq or Tottenham Court Rd
When you are craving a bowl of comforting and well executed pasta, this cute pasta bar is exactly where you will find that satisfying hit. The short, concise menu has a few belters on it, including the excellent ‘silk hankerchiefs’ with walnut butter and confit egg yolk. Best of all, this fun little pasta bar is very reasonable considering it’s prime central location.
Cinnamon ClubDinner (Indian)
The Cinnamon Club specialises in in imaginative, contemporary Indian cuisine with a particular emphasis on fish and game. The restaurant is housed in an impressive Grade II-listed building, (once a library) and the high-ceilinged, book-lined gallery creates a sense of grandeur. A regular haunt of Westminster politicians, this is quite a serious spot to eat, and the prices are pretty serious too. The food however is quite spectacular and maybe even worth the eye-watering bill. A far cry from your standard curry house.
Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BU I +44 (0)207 222 2555 I Nearest tube: St James’s Park or Westminster
We kind of have to include the UK’s best restaurant as per the 2018 National Restaurant Awards in our list, especially as this particular restaurant is surprisingly unpretentious, affordable and utterly brilliant. Self-taught Ben Chapman has mastered the art of charcoal-fired cooking and applied it to rural Thai cuisine, using the finest British produce. The food is exciting, and thought-provoking, the destination fun, and the experience wonderful. Get in there!
58 Brewer Street, London W1F 9TL I Open Monday - Thursday from 12:00pm - 3:00pm and from 5:00pm - 11:00pm. Friday - Saturday from 12:00pm - 11:00pm and on Sundays from 12:00pm - 10:00pm I Reservations downstairs for groups of 4 or more only. For the upstairs counter seating (where the cooking action is at) or for groups smaller than 4, walk-in only I Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Noble RotDinner (Wine Bar)
Noble Rot is a wonderfully friendly and unpretentious wine bar that happens to also serve consistently high quality food. Whether you choose to come for a quick £5 glass of wine or stay for a three course meal and bottle of top quality Bordeaux, you will be welcomed with open arms and guaranteed a good time.
51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB I +44 (0)207 242 8963 I Open Monday to Saturday from 12:00pm - 11:00pm I Nearest Tube: Russell Square
The former chef and General Manager of the infamous Barrafina restaurant opened Sabor together in 2018, with an aim is to take diners on a gastronomic journey through the tapas bars of Andalucía to the asadors of Castile and the seafood restaurants of Galicia. Like Barrafina, Sabor now holds a coveted Michelin star. Downstairs a large tapas bar overlooks the open kitchen and the menu features a good balance of interesting seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes. Everything we tried was exceptional. Hard to pick standout dishes but definitely don’t miss the Pan con Tomate, Aroz Negro (black rice), and Baby Gem salad. Upstairs is the ‘asador’ (wood fired oven) featuring grilled specialities. The Suckling Pig is the dish of choice up here from what we have been told but it would be near impossible to go wrong here, so instead just go!
35-37 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BR I +44 (0)203 319 8130 I email@example.com I Open Monday - Saturday for lunch from 12:00pm - 2:30pm and for dinner from 5:30pm - 10:30pm I Open Sundays for lunch only from 12:30pm - 4:00pm I Nearest Tube: Picadilly Circus
The BarbaryNorth African / Middle Eastern
Be prepared to queue for a table at this insanely popular but tiny North African / Middle Eastern restaurant. Queuing here isn’t so bad however as delicious bar snacks are served while you wait, and if the queue happens to spill outside the door, you’ll find yourself in Neal’s Yard, which is one of London’s prettiest pedestrianised courtyards. Once inside, the 24 bar counter chairs are arranged in a horse-shoe shape, allowing every diner a great view of the chefs at work in the open kitchen. Trust us, every dish that comes out of said kitchen is divine, so we won’t bother recommending any particular dishes. Our only advice is to go with one or two others only as it is a very lively place, and awkward to chat or even get a table if there are more of you.
16 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP I Open Monday - Friday for lunch from 12:00pm - 3:00pm and for dinner from 5:00pm - 10:00pm. Open Saturdays from 12:00pm - 10:00pm and on Sundays from 12:00pm - 9:30pm I Nearest Tube station: Covent Garden
Ham Yard HotelBar
The bar at the Ham Yard Hotel is one of the most photogenic drinking holes in town and guarantees fantastic people watching. It’s a fantastic spot for pre-dinner drinks, and even a spot of bowling at the property’s very pretty bowling alley.
1 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT I +44 (0)203 642 1011 I Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
This atmospheric speakeasy is seriously cool, but relaxed at the same time, with its exposed brickwork and dark wood furniture lit by candlelight, and the warmly glowing bar that churns out the most unbelievably moreish cocktails. The nightly live jazz adds to the sultry prohibition vibe of the place and guarantees a fantastic night out.
129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB I +44 (0)207 253 4101 I firstname.lastname@example.org I Open Friday & Saturday 6:00pm - 3:00am, Thursday 6:00pm - 2:00am, Sunday - Wednesday 6:00pm - 1:00am
Pub on the ParkPub
This buzzing London pub seriously draws in the crowds - especially in the summer. Whilst it is certainly nothing fancy, what makes it special is the big outdoor terrace that snakes around two sides of the pub, right on the edge of London Fields. The DJ plays the most incredible music, from disco to soft rock to 80s and more, adding to the party atmosphere. It’s impossible not to have a fun night here!
19 Martello Street, London E8 3PE Open Monday to Sunday from 12:00pm - 12:00am I Nearest tube: London Fields Overground
The Nickel BarBar
The Nickel Bar is the lobby bar at the extraordinary Ned hotel, located the City of London. Upon walking into this former Midland Bank building, it’s impossible not to gasp at the soaring ceiling height, towering windows and stunning interior design. The building is huge, so huge in fact that it’s almost daunting. Most of the 10 restaurants and bars within the complex have mixed reviews, but the Nickel Bar is a safe bet, and really quite a sensational venue. Grab a booth for a pre-dinner cocktail and settle in for fabulous people watching while taking in the performances on the raised circular stage. The quality of the acts is top-notch, ranging from jazz and acoustic guitar to emerging acts.
The Ned, 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ I +44 (0)203 828 2000 I Open Monday - Fridays from 8:00am - 2:00am, Saturdays from 9:00am - 3:00am and on Sundays from 9:00am - midnight I Nearest Tube: Bank
For food lovers, this is an absolute must-do destination. Open Wednesday - Saturday, locals and tourists alike flock to the market to stock up on incredible produce from around the Uk and across Europe. There are countless stalls selling every possible type of food and some of the most popular producers have queues snaking around the block. Our favourite lunch time treat is to chow down on one of the infamous Chorizo Rolls from the fantastic Spanish retailer, Brindisa. Words cannot describe the happiness felt when taking the first bite out of this divine street eat.
8 Southwark Street, London SE! 1TL I Nearest tube: London Bridge I Open Wednesday & Thursday 10:00am - 5pm, Friday 10:00am - 6:00pm and Saturday 8:00am - 5:00pm.
BoxparkFashion / Homeware
Refitted shipping containers plonked artfully underneath Shoreditch High Street Overground station make up this contemporary shopping and eating pop-up mall. The mall is filled with cool local and international clothing, jewellery and homeware brands. Some very cool food and drinks outfitters complete the set up at this unique destination.
2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6GY I Food & Beverage outlets open Monday - Thursday 11:00am - 11:00pm, Friday - Saturday from 11:00am - 12:00am and Sunday from 11:00am - 10:30pm. Retail closes at at 7:00pm Monday - Saturday and 6:00pm on Sundays I Nearest tube: Shoreditch High St Overground
Burlington ArcadeFashion / Beauty
This beautiful, carpeted shopping arcade is one of London’s iconic shopping destinations and has remained largely unchanged since Lord Cavendish built it in 1819. Through impressive archways, and lit by the natural light of the vast window-paned roof, 47 shopfronts line England’s longest arcade. A mix of heritage labels and prestigious brands dominate, all under the watchful eyes of the Beadles, the arcades own private police force, who enforce the rules of the arcade, which include no running, whistling or opening umbrellas.
51 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0QJ I Open Monday - Saturday 8:00am - 8:00pm, Saturday from 9:00am - 8:00pm and Sunday 11:00am - 6:00pm I Nearest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus
Columbia Road Flower MarketFlowers
This has to be London’s most visually appealing market. Each Sunday from 8am-3pm, market traders line the narrow street selling bucketful of beautiful flowers, houseplants, herbs and shrubs. The market gets very busy, so best to get there early before the masses arrive before lunch. DOn’t be afraid to bargain the the vendors, they are used to it! Surrounding the market is a variety of cute cafes, restaurants and boutiques, so worth exploring once you have have had your fill of all things floral.
Columbia Road, London E2 7RG I Open on Sundays from 8:00am - 3:00pm. I Nearest tube: Hoxton / Shoreditch High Street Overground
Dover Street MarketFashion / Jewellery
A mecca for the fashion set, the breathtaking Dover Street Market champions London’s pioneering fashion designers as well as showcasing founder Rei Kawakubo’s own Comme des Garçons label and a few other select brands. There is a jewellery and perfume section on the ground floor of the complex as well as a great tea room on the top floor called Rose Bakery. Perfect for a caffeine pick-me-up after some serious browsing.
18-22 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4DG (entrance on Orange St) I Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Charing Cross I Open Monday - Saturday 11:00am - 7:00pm and Sundays from 12:00pm - 6:00pm.
Of all the department stores in London, Liberty is by far the most beautiful, and, we would say, most discerning in their collections. The building itself was built in 1875, and is absolutely striking in its black and white splendour. It was in fact constructed from the timber of two ancient war ships. Inside, there are all manner of beautiful products to browse, from fashion to homeware to flowers and beauty. We do particularly recommend checking out the fabric floor, where Liberty's own iconic prints can be found. There are also many own-brand products in every department, brandishing these instantly recognisable patterns.
Regent Street, London, W1B 5AH. I. Open Monday - Saturday from 10:00am - 8:00pm and on Sundays from 11:30am - 6:00pm
Timothy Oulton at BluebirdFurniture / Accessories
The Timothy Oulton Gallery at Bluebird is a retail experience like no other. Enter the gallery and take the lovely staff up on their offer of a glass of Champagne while you browse the incredible products on display at this emporium of all things beautiful. Don’t be shy to try out the sofas, put your feet up on a coffee table and ask as many questions as you like. You’ll definitely have some when you spot the Apollo . . .
Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5UU I Open Tuesday - Saturday 10:00am - 7:00pm and Sunday from 11:00am - 5:00pm. Closed Mondays I Nearest tube: Sloane Square
God's Own JunkyardNeon Neon and more Neon
Chris Bracey has been the Neon Man for 37 years, creating iconic art pieces for the likes of David la Chapelle, and collecting pieces from some of the most iconic movies including Batman and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. God’s Own Junkyard is Chris' shrine to all things neon - from salvaged and reclaimed signs, old movie props and retro displays, to fairground and circus lighting, it’s a veritable wonderland. The destination is also incredibly instagrammable, having featured on many a celebrity’s page. If you are peckish during your visit, pop into The Rolling Scones Café next door.
Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Estate, London E17 9HQ I email@example.com I Nearest tube: Walthamstow Central
Secret CinemaImmersive Cinema
Imagine being able to step into your favourite film! To not only be immersed in the film’s world, but to interact with the characters, uncover hidden secrets and become part of the story yourself. Always in a secret location, Secret Cinema opens up the doors to an evening of suspense and spectacle. Dressed as part of the cast, you can choose to blend right in with the crowd or take centre stage as your reality blurs with that of the story. A unique way to spend an evening and a really phenomenal experience! Check out the website for updated schedules.
London with Kids
Cycle through Richmond ParkParkcycle
A National Nature Reserve, Richmond Park has protected status as an important habitat for wildlife. The park is a top UK site for ancient trees and supports a range of rare species including fungi, birds, beetles, bats, grasses and wildflowers. Its 2500 acres of gorgeous greenery is also home to some large deer herds, which can usually be easily be spotted when cycling along one of the many routes in the park. Parkcycle is Richmond Park’s Cycling Centre located at the Roehampton Gate car park, offering a range of bikes for all ages and sizes to hire. All bikes are supplied with a helmet, and all trails are traffic free, making this a really safe way to cycle with children of all ages. Please check Parkcycle’s website for opening days, times and prices as these are subject to change depending on the season.
Roehampton Gate Car Park, Richmond Park, London SW15 5JR I firstname.lastname@example.org
London Zoo is one of the best designed zoos we have had the pleasure of visiting, and will keep old and young entertained for hours. There is an impressive and seemingly endless array of wildlife on display, from Komodo Dragons to lions and tigers, pigmy hippos and Galapagos Tortoises. Some of the exhibits are interactive, making for a particularly exciting experience. We love walking through the lima enclosure, and watching the cute little creatures jump all around you. It’s also possible to book close encounters with giraffes, penguins and meerkats. For the real animal fanatics out there, you might like to try being a keeper for the day, or spending the night in one of zoo’s the little cottages. Check out ZSL’s website for more details.
Outer Circle, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY I Open from 10:00am daily. For closing times, check the website I Nearest Tube station: Camden Town
Hidden away at the end of a long muddy track, Petersham Nurseries comprises a boutique selling a collection of stunning, mainly antique French furniture, plant pots, glassware and exquisite tableware. There are also a couple of greenhouses selling more beautiful plants than you could ever dream of stuffing into the boot of your car. Finally there is also a restaurant, family friendly tearoom, and several additional greenhouses filled with quirky tables and rickety chairs on which to eat your lunch from the tearoom. A lovely array of soups, salads, hot dishes and cakes await the line of yummy mummies who seem to flock to the tea room from all over West London, brandishing multi-coloured bugaboos filled with sleeping little darlings. After lunch, head to the brilliant playground that’s just through the nearest entrance to Richmond Park on Petersham Road (5 mins walk away).
Church Lane, Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 7AM I +44 (0)208 940 5230 I email@example.com I Teahouse is open Tuesday - Sunny from 12:00pm - 5:00pm. The Teahouse serves cake from 10:00am - 4:30pm and lunch from 12:00pm - 3:30pm. Please check website for shop and restaurant opening hours.
This museum is absolutely fascinating and incredible fun for both kids and adults of all ages. We can’t recommend it highly enough. Seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits await visitors, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator. The Pattern Pod introduces children aged 2 - 8 to the importance of patterns in contemporary science and the Wonderlab is an insane interactive gallery filled with over 50 mind-blowing exhibits for kids to discover. Several shows and live experiments take place during the course of the day in the Wonderlab and all are excellent.
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD I Nearest tube station: South Kensington I Open daily from 10:00am - 6:00pm (last entry 5:15pm) I Entrance to the museum is free but need to pay for Wonderlab and the simulator rides. Best to book Wonderlab tickets online in advance.
If this Insider Guide has inspired you, please do get in touch
so that we can help plan your trip.