For more than 20 years, El Pirata has hit the spot as London’s top restaurant for traditional Spanish tapas. Located in the heart of Mayfair, it’s the perfect place for a true taste of the Mediterranean in a chic yet friendly setting. Informal, inexpensive and above all, authentic – the restaurant uses the finest Spanish produce, including jamón ibérico, to create its classic dishes. Celebrity fans include Brian May and Johnny Depp, and food critics are unanimous in their praise, describing it as a ‘Spanish gem’ (Zagat) with ‘surprisingly good prices’ (Hardens), and ‘a favourite with Mayfair’s Spanish community and converts to the new Iberian cause’ (Square Meal). Mon-Fri noon-11.30pm, Sat 6pm-11.30pm, closed Sun.
TRADITIONAL PUBS The Blackfriar
This Grade II-listed Art Nouveau pub, which opened more than 100 years ago, offers traditional cask ales. www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk. 174 Queen Victoria St, EC4V 4EG. T: 020-7236 5474. E9. Station: Blackfriars.
The Dog and Duck
A real-ale pub with regularly changing cask beers as well as pub food and bar snacks. Figures who have visited in the past include John Constable and George Orwell. www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk. 18 Bateman St, W1D 3AJ. T: 020-7494 0697. D7. Station: Tottenham Court Road.
This 17th-century pub boasts Byron and Shelley as past patrons and is allegedly haunted! www.theflaskhighgate.com. 77 Highgate West Hill, N6 6BU. T: 020- 8348 7346. Off map. Station: Highgate.
The French House
Creative, bohemian types love this quirky pub in the heart of Soho. www.frenchhousesoho.com. 49 Dean St, W1D 5BG. T: 020-7437 2477. D7. Station: Tottenham Court Road.
The George Inn
This historic pub was established during the Medieval period and still retains its original coaching houses. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ george-inn. 75-77 Borough High St, SE1 1NH. T: 020-7407 2056. E10. Station: London Bridge.
The Magpie & Stump
This pub, opposite the Old Bailey, dates back to the 1500s, and once doubled up as a public viewing spot for hangings at Newgate Prison. www.magpieandstump.com. 18 Old Bailey, EC4M 7EP. T: 020-7248 5085. B8. Station: St Paul’s.
This popular Mayfair-based pub-cum-restaurant was once owned by film director and Madonna’s ex-husband, Guy Ritchie. Enjoy a variety of ales in the unique, classy surroundings. www.punchbowl london.com. 41 Farm St, W1J 5RP. T: 0207- 493 6841. E6. Station: Green Park.
The Spaniards Inn
Follow in the footsteps of past regulars, including highwayman Dick Turpin and novelist Charles Dickens, at this historic pub, which is one of the oldest in London. www.thespaniardshampstead. co.uk. Spaniard’s Rd, NW3 7JJ. T: 020- 8731 8406. Off map. Station: Hampstead.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
This landmark pub has wood-panelled walls and vaults that are thought to date back to a 13th-century Carmelite monastery which once stood here. If only its walls could talk! 145 Fleet St, EC4A 2BU. T: 020-7353 6170. D9. Station: Blackfriars.
BARS & CLUBS 68 & Boston
Sophisticated Soho venue with separate cocktail and wine bars. The ground-floor wine bar boasts many varieties from lesser-known regions, and all bottles are £20. Nightly food menu. www.68andboston.com. 5 Greek St, W1D 4DD. T: 020-7287 3713. Station: Leicester Square.
The Bar at Bellamy’s
Cocktails and wines served in a chic setting, which is decorated with vintage ski posters. www.bellamys restaurant.co.uk. 18/18a Bruton Place, W1J 6LY. T: 020-7491 2727. E6. Station: Oxford Circus.
Booking Office Bar
The ground floor of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel has a 95ft-long bar surrounded by cavernous arched ceilings and stone walls dating back to 1873. www.bookingofficebar.com. Euston Rd, NW1 2AR. T: 020-7841 3566. C7. Station: King’s Cross.
This fun music venue at The O2 arena boasts a 12-lane bowling alley, three bars and a restaurant serving US favourites, from delicious burgers to fried chicken. www.brooklynbowl.com. The O2, Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX. T: 020-7412 8778. Off map. Station: North Greenwich.
At ‘Bring Your Own Cocktail’ simply pay £25, bring a spirit of your choice and the mixologist will create cocktails for you. You are advised to book in advance to avoid disappointment. www.byoc.co.uk. 9-11 Basement, Camden High St, NW1 7JE. T: 020-3441 2424. Off map. Station: Mornington Crescent.
Timeless luxury Bellini and cocktail destination with Art Deco surroundings and excellent service. www.cartizzebar.com. 4 Lancashire Court, W1S 1EY. E6. Station: Bond Street.
Jason Atherton offers spectacular food and drink surrounded by breathtaking views of London. The bar is impressive, with its amazing Art Deco interior and Prohibition-inspired cocktail list. www.citysociallondon.com. Tower 42, 25 Old Broad St, EC2N 1HQ. T: 020-7877 7703. D11. Station: Liverpool Street.
C.O.L.D Bar (The City of London Distillery)
A well-stocked, retro-styled cocktail bar. Tastings, classes and tours are available. www.cityof londondistillery.com. 22-24 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT. T: 020-7936 3446. D9. Station: Blackfriars.
The Dolls House
This stylish cocktail bar and private members’ club offers mixed drinks in The Parlour and is tastefully furnished. There is also a first-rate food menu. www.thedeaddollsclub.com. 181 Upper St, N1 1RQ. T: 020-7288 1470. D7. Station: Highbury & Islington.
A Spanish-style bar that serves rare sherries which have been aged in ancient oak barrels. There are also craft beers, a range of natural wines and a selection of Andalucian tapas dishes to choose from. www.drakestabanco.com. 3 Windmill St, W1T 2HY. T: 020-7637 9388. D7. Station: Goodge Street.
Experimental Cocktail Club
This bar in an old Chinatown townhouse is tucked away but worth the search for its stylish cocktails. Booking is recommended. www.experimental cocktailclublondon.com. 13a Gerrard St, W1D 5PS. T: 020-7434 3559. E7. Station: Leicester Square.
A super-club that champions cutting-edge dance music. The venue attracts fans of dance, house, techno and dubstep played by some of the most popular DJs in the world. www.fabriclondon.com. 77a Charterhouse St, EC1M 6HJ. T: 020-7336 8898. D9. Station: Farringdon.
This popular gay-friendly venue attracts a trendy crowd to the stylish cocktail bar and the nightclub underneath. It is well worth a visit. www.freedombarsoho.com. 60- 66 Wardour St, W1F 0TA. T: 020-7734 0071. D7. Station: Tottenham Court Road.
Located in The Shard, Gong is one of the highest Champagne bars in London and the ideal place for sunset cocktails and late-night drinks. www.shangri-la.com. 31 St Thomas St, SE1 9QU. T: 020-7234 8000. F10. Station: London Bridge.
Gordon’s Wine Bar
London’s oldest wine bar has been uncorking bottles since 1890 in this stone-walled basement. It is very popular and welcoming. www.gordonswinebar.com. 47 Villiers St, WC2N 6NE. T: 020-7930 1408. E8. Station: Embankment.
Mark Hix’s bar shows off his trademark interest in modern art – see an installation by Helen Chadwick of an Underground train carriage. www.hixrestaurants.co.uk. 16 Great Guildford St, SE1 0HS. T: 020-7921 9508. E9. Station: Southwark.
Mews Cocktail Bar
Deep leather sofas and an 18th-century chandelier set the tone for exquisite wines, fresh fruit cocktails and light dishes. www.mewsofmayfair.com. 10 Lancashire Court, W1S 1EY. T: 020-7518 9388. E6. Station: Bond Street.
Enjoy Prohibition-era cocktails in this basement bar in Shoreditch, with live music most nights. www.barnightjar.com. 129 City Rd, EC1V 1JB. T: 020-7253 4101. C10. Station: Old Street.
Old Bengal Bar
This place is converted from a former warehouse located in a quiet back street, with original brick walls and leather sofas. Enjoy classic cocktails. www.oldbengalbar.com. 16A New St, EC2M 4TR. T: 020-3503 0780. D11. Station: Liverpool Street.
Opium Cocktail Bar
This stylish upstairs bar tucked away in Chinatown serves innovative Chinese-inspired cocktails. www.opiumchinatown.com. 15 Gerrard St, W1D 6JE. T: 020-7734 7276. E7. Station: Leicester Square.
Spacious cocktail bar hidden beneath Smithfield Market, with live swing, jazz and blues music most nights. Beautiful interiors and incredible drinks inspired by the old world, new world and Orient. www.oriolebar.com. Smithfield Markets, East Poultry Avenue, EC1A 9LH. T: 0203457 8099. D9. Station: Farringdon.
Enjoy a range of cocktails at this laid-back bar, which stages free live music every night. www.primobar. co.uk. Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, SE1 7UT. T: 020-7620 7282. F8. Station: Waterloo.
Reverend JW Simpson
This cocktail bar is a real slice of ‘shabby chic’ – and is the genuine ex-abode of the good Reverend, proved by the Blue Plaque outside. Scruffy sofas and a laid-back vibe are its hallmark. www.revjwsimpson.com. 32 Goodge St, W1T 2QJ. T: 020-3174 1155. E7. Station: Goodge Street.
Part of the luxury hotel Rosewood London, this elegant bar is named after Gerald Scarfe, the cartoonist famous for his satirical illustrations. He was commissioned to create cartoons of iconic British figures, which are cast on panels around the room. Enjoy cocktails and Indian-inspired snacks. www.scarfesbar.com. 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN. T: 020-3747 8611. Station: Holborn.
Searcys Champagne Bar
Europe’s longest Champagne bar has a huge selection of bubbly, plus seafood platters. www.searcyschampagnebars.co.uk. St Pancras International, Euston Rd, N1C 4QL. T: 020-7870 9900. C8. Station: King’s Cross St Pancras.
This Tiki-style basement bar and restaurant is more than 50 years old. Try the Mai Tai cocktail in an exotic setting. www.tradervicslondon.com. London Hilton on Park Lane, 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE. T: 020-7208 4113. E6. Station: Hyde Park Corner.
The Whisky Bar
This specialist bar, at the Athenaeum hotel in Mayfair, has 270 different types of whisky alongside other spirits, cocktails and Champagne. www.athenaeumhotel.com. 116 Piccadilly, W1J 7BJ. T: 020-7640 3333. E6. Station: Green Park.
The Zetter Townhouse
Tony Conigliaro, known for his amazing blends, brings his mixology magic to this intimate cocktail lounge (p. 73). www.thezettertownhouse.com. 49-50 St John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ. T: 020-7324 4567. Off map. Station: Farringdon.
CASINOS The Casino at the Empire
There is a dedicated poker room and the latest table and electronic games at this spectacular venue, housing a contemporary Asian restaurant and several bars. www.thecasinolsq.com. 5- 6 Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA. T: 020-3733 1315. E7. Station: Leicester Square.
This landmark venue has gaming on three floors, plus the Heliot Steak House. It also hosts live music, such as The Late Jazz Jam (every Thur from 11pm). www.hippodromecasino.com. Cranbourn St, Leicester Square, WC2H 7JH. T: 020-7769 8888. E7. Station: Leicester Square.
The Sportsman Casino
Traditional and electronic gaming, including three-card poker and American roulette. Enjoy the poker lounge, sports bar, informal dining and elegant restaurant. www.thesportsmancasino.com. Old Quebec St, W1H 7AF. T: 020-3051 4616. D6. Station: Marble Arch.
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT 606 Club
A relaxed members’ jazz cellar and restaurant, specialising in British-based artists, playing blues, r’n’b and soul. The food is great, too. www.606 club.co.uk. 90 Lots Rd, SW10 0QD. T: 020-7352 5953. Off map. Station: Fulham Broadway.
Angels Gentlemen’s Club Soho
Six show and cocktail stages plus Red Rooms, VIP booths and the Leopard Room where Peter Stringfellow’s ‘Angels’ dance at your table. The venue includes the Angel Bar and restaurant. www.stringfellows.co.uk. 201 Wardour St, W1F 8ZH. T: 020-7758 0670. D7. Station: Oxford Circus.
The Blues Kitchen
This busy music venue stages blues, soul and jazz music most nights, plus a DJ at weekends. There are more than 80 varieties of bourbon and rye. www.theblueskitchen.com. 111 Camden High St, NW1 7JN. T: 020-7387 5277. Off map. Station: Camden Town.
The Comedy Store
One of the country’s best and most famous venues for stand-up and improvised comedy. www.the comedystore.co.uk. 1a Oxendon St, SW1Y 4EE. T: 0844- 847 1728. E7. Station: Piccadilly Circus.
The world-famous jazz venue has hosted top musicians for more than 50 years including Prince and Ella Fitzgerald. The venue has a restaurant and bar. The weekly Sunday Jazz lunch has no minimum age, so it’s perfect for families. There are acts every night, plus Sat and Sun lunch. More intimate gigs Wed. www.ronniescotts.co.uk. 47 Frith St, W1D 4HT. T: 020-7439 0747. D7. Station: Tottenham Court Road.
Over the years, a vast number of celebrities and members of the public have enjoyed a memorable evening of entertainment supplied by more than 80 ‘Angels’ dancing at their tables at Peter Stringfellow’s world-famous Gentlemen’s Club and restaurant, which is located very close to Leicester Square in the heart of the capital. Make sure you visit the opulent, velvet-adorned Red Rooms. Entry is free to Stringfellows if you are dining – a visit to the restaurant is highly recommended as the food is extremely impressive. www.stringfellows.co.uk. 16-19 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9EF. T: 020-7240 5534. E8. Station: Leicester Square.
Oils, masks, serums and deep conditioners – the world of hair treatments can often seem confusing.
Looking after your hair isn’t just about washing it regularly, it’s also about having a healthy scalp.
Over the past decade, has become the holy grail of hair oils. Argan oil, a natural oil from Morocco that is used for cooking and in cosmetics, is also loved as a hair and skin treatment. When salon owner Carmen Tal had a hair disaster – a colour treatment that went wrong – she tried out the oil on her hair and it worked wonders. Tal launched the product to a rousing success: it is now used in salons, fashion shows and by celebrities.
in Mayfair, which was awarded Day Spa of the Year by Condé Nast, offers luxurious hair treatments: the Moroccan Voyage (£75; 45 minutes) applies warm Moroccanoil to your scalp, followed by a scalp massage, then finishes with a hydrating mask; while is an award-winning Spanish cosmetics brand that has just entered
Spa Illuminata Moroccanoil Miriam Quevedo
the UK market. Its Scalp and Hair Treatment (£65; 45 minutes) is made with caviar to restore elasticity and shine to ageing hair.
has collaborated with Daniel Galvin to offer two new treatments: the Express Hair Treatment (£24; 15 minutes) and the ESPA Hair Ritual (£50; 30 minutes). Daniel Galvin is one of the country’s leading hairdressers: he was awarded an OBE in 2006, and his past clients include Madonna and Margaret Thatcher. He was also Princess Diana’s hair colourist for 10 years.
ESPA Life at Corinthia
The Express Hair Treatment uses the spa’s new shampoo and conditioner, both of which have been created using protein-rich plant extracts and are free from silicone, while the ESPA Hair Ritual combines the Hair Treatment with a shoulder, neck and head massage. Fancy a little privacy? Book the Movie Makeover Room – a private space that has 100 films to watch on demand, an iPad, wi-fi and Skype.
The newly opened near The Shard, offers treatments that range from a blow dry to a massage, while the hair treatment (from £15) is a quick and effective way of targeting your hair concerns. The session begins with a consultation, where the stylist uses a device to zoom into your hair 600 times. Want your hair stronger, shinier or smoother? No worries, as the stylists will mix a personalised Fusio-Dose – there are 20 tailor-made options – to give you healthier hair. Spa Illuminata, 63 South Audley St, W1K 2QS. ESPA Life at Corinthia, Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD. O’Sullivan’s, 6 Shard Arcade, SE1 9SG
TICKET INFORMATION Oyster cards & Travelcards
An Oyster card is a pre-paid travel smart card. It’s the cheapest way to pay for single journeys by bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail train services in London.
You can buy a Visitor Oyster card before you leave home for a £3 fee and pre-load it with credit at visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk. The system has nine zones. Zone 1 is in central London.
Visitors can buy Oyster cards and Day Travelcards from stations, Visitor Centres and any Oyster Ticket Shop. UK visitors can also pay for their travel with a UK-issued contactless payment card. See tfl.gov.uk/visitinglondon.
An Oyster card also gives you a 25 per cent discount on London’s cable car, the Emirates Air Line, and a 10 per cent discount on single journeys on most MBNA Thames Clippers river buses. For more information, visit visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk.
For 24-hour travel information, visit the Transport for London ( TfL) website tfl.gov.uk/ visitinglondon or call T: 0343-222 1234.
London Underground (The Tube)
tfl.gov.uk. See London Underground Map (opposite). Services run Mon-Sat 5am-12.30am and Sun 7.30am-11.30pm on most routes. Subject to delays, night Tube services should soon run all night Fri-Sat on the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines. Fares vary; a Zone 1 adult fare costs £4.80 (£2.30 with an Oyster card).
London buses run 5am-12.30am. Night buses (midnight- 4.30am) operate on main routes (several services are 24-hour). You can’t pay for a London bus fare with cash, so use a Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card, Travelcard, UK-issued contactless payment card or the Where Pass. Visit tfl.gov.uk/buses. Single fare is £1.50 with an Oyster card or UK-issued contactless payment card.
tfl.gov.uk. See London Underground Map opposite. Trains run Mon-Sat 5am-midnight and Sun 7am-11.30pm on most routes.
Docklands Light Railway
Trains run approximately every three-anda-half to 10 mins. Mon-Sat 5.30am-12.30am; Sun 7am-11pm. T: 020-7363 9700.
Paddington serves the West Country, Wales and the South Midlands.
Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street serve East Anglia and Essex. Euston King’s Cross St Pancras Marylebone and St Pancras International (connects to King’s Cross St Pancras) serve north and central Britain, and southeast England. Charing Cross
London Bridge Waterloo and Victoria serve southern England.
For times and tickets, visit nationalrail.co.uk or call T: 0845-748 4950.
Eurostar uses St Pancras International. Go to eurostar.com for more information, times and ticket prices. Call T: 0344-822 4777 (or if you’re outside the UK, call T: 01233- 617 575).
You can hail a black cab (taxi) in the street. Fares increase after 8pm. You cannot hail private-hire vehicles or minicabs, which you must book. We strongly advise against you using any vehicle that approaches you in the street, except for licensed black cabs. For more information, visit tfl.gov.uk.
Make sure your driving licence is valid for the UK and see ‘Congestion Charge’ below. Hertz T: 0870- 844 8844. hertz.co.uk. Kendall Cars Ltd T: 020- 8542 0403. kendallcars.com. Enterprise Rent-A-Car T: 0800- 800 227. enterprise.co.uk.
There is a congestion charge to drive into central London, Mon-Fri 7am- 6pm. Payable in advance or on the day of travel (£11.50), or the day after (£14). UK: T: 034-3222 2222. International: T: +44 20-7649 9122. cclondon.com.
It’s often quicker to get around London by walking. Look out for blue and yellow Legible London street maps. tfl.gov.uk/legiblelondon.
There are 10,000 bicycles for hire from 700 docking stations throughout central London. For details, visit tfl.gov.uk/santandercycles or call T: 0343-222 6666.
London’s main coach services use Victoria Coach Station, which offers travel to UK destinations and some parts of Europe. SW1W 9TP. T: 0843-222 1234. tfl.gov.uk/coaches Victoria.
tfl.gov.uk/river. MBNA Thames Clippers: T: 020-7001 2200. thamesclippers.com. Catamarans leave major piers every 20 mins. Services run between Waterloo Pier and The O2 (North Greenwich Pier) and on to Royal Arsenal Woolwich Pier, stopping at 20 main piers. Adult single fare starts at £3.90 with an Oyster or Visitor Oyster card. River Roamer day pass gives unlimited hop-on, hop-off travel from £17.35.
Emirates Air Line cable car
London’s only cable car runs between Greenwich Peninsula ( The O2) and the Royal Docks (ExCel London). tfl.gov.uk/emiratesairline.
Deaf and disabled travellers should visit DisabledGo at visitlondon.com/access and openbritain.net.
AirPortr (Luggage delivery service)
Same-day luggage transfer between London’s airports and hotels – travel bag-free and make the most of your time here. Prices start at £15 for one bag plus £5 for each additional item (any size or weight). T: 020-3384 6677. portr.com.
How would you start your day?
I’d get up at the crack of dawn and do yoga.
Where would you have breakfast?
Duck & Waffle in Bishopsgate. I’d probably have truffled eggs and mushrooms, with a bit of smoked salmon and avocado. The restaurant has gorgeous views and is beautiful in the morning.
What is your favourite building?
The Royal Albert Hall. The first concert I played there, in 2001, was sold out. It was really special. I remember walking out and seeing a full house – it was an emotional and powerful moment.
What museums and galleries do you like?
I like going to the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. At the moment, there is Otherworlds:VisionsofOurSolarSystem exhibition at the Natural History Museum, which has a soundtrack by Brian Eno.
Where do you like to shop?
Denmark Street in the West End, where most of the music shops are based. It used to be known as Tin Pan Alley. You have all of these inspiring music shops: you can buy great guitars at Hanks Guitar Shop, and Rose Morris sells a combination of guitars and keyboards. One of my favourite possessions is a National Steel-resonator guitar I got in Denmark Street.
Which green spaces do you like?
I lived in Wandsworth for 15 years and ran on Wandsworth Common a lot. There’s a lake with ducks and swans. It’s pretty chilled.
What places in the city inspire you?
Since Jude Kelly came in as artistic director, she has done a lot for the Southbank Centre. I love walking around that area. I like eclectic venues, too, such as the Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican Centre. Somerset House never fails to surprise, either. I’m even on the board!
Where do you like having lunch?
Donostia Social Club in Pop Brixton. It’s a bit like being on the set of BladeRunner – imagine a shanty town with old shipping containers. I love eating the tapas – it’s incredible!
What would you do as an extravagance?
My ideal indulgence would involve seeing a great show every night for a week. There has been some great stuff on recently: I saw the English National Opera’s TheMagicFlute at The Coliseum, and the next day I went to see TheEncounter by Simon McBurney.
Where would you stop for tea?
I’d have a coffee at Bar Italia in Soho. It’s open all hours, and I don’t sleep very much.
What pubs or bars would you go to?
After Bar Italia, I’d pop over the road to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
Where would you go for dinner?
I’m a big fan of Dishoom – I’d go to the King’s Cross branch. I did a yoga project with them a while ago and know the restaurants really well. I love the black daal and the rose lassi.
Who would be your ideal dining partner?
Noam Chomsky. He is one of the finest political writers of our time. He’d probably shed light on information we are often misfed – or fed.
What would you do in the evening?
My perfect evening would be seeing Simon McBurney, founder of the theatre company Complicite, on stage saying whatever comes into his head. I know him well, but he is one of the most entertaining people I have met.
What makes London stand out?
London is a hub of creativity. There are so many movements, especially musical ones such as UK garage, drum and bass, dubstep and punk. From a musician’s point of view, London is a really exciting place. People come from all over the world to play in its venues.
Where would you spend the night?
I would spend the night at the Planetarium in Greenwich. I would love to sleep under the stars, even if they are not real! The Big Dance Pledge. 20 May. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX. www.southbankcentre. co.uk. T: 020-7960 4200 Wandsworth Common; Nitin Sawhney; Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club; the Planetarium; the Royal Albert Hall; Donostia Social Club in Brixton