Soho

Little Black Book to London 2018

Londoners don’t know how to stay in - and why should we? In a city where every evening brings another pop up bar or bijoux bakery, there’s simply far too much fun to be wrung out of the city.
Here’s our guide to the capital’s coolest new spots

 

Kettner's
Iconic London venue Kettner's has flung open its doors following a two year refurbishment by The Soho House Group and early reviews are glowingly good.
Kettner's - whose high profile past guests include Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde - now houses a champagne bar (that’s open until 2am) and a restaurant serving French comfort fare. Expect a Vol-au-vent of kidneys, sweetbreads, black truffle and vegetables, Omelette with smoked eek and hollandaise and Poulet de Bresse au foin (chicken cooked in hay) - all washed down with Ruinart.
If you’ve overdone the drinking, wander upstairs to the 33 bedrooms which boast William Morris wallpaper, twenties chandeliers and velvet fringed armchairs.
Kettners Townhouse, 29 Romily Street, London, W1D 5HP (http://kettnerstownhouse.com/)


Dominique Ansel

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Cafes and coffee shops abound all over the capital but the buzz right now is  about Dominique Ansel - the first London branch of the famous New York bakery.
On arrival, chances are you’ll be dazzled by the display of Cronuts ®  - a croissant-doughnut hybrid created and cannily trademarked by Monsieur Ansel. We doubt there’s a single food group in them but even girls who survive on a diet of spirulina and soups, have been known to go loopy over one of the most talked about sweet treats in history.
Once you’ve managed to drag yourself away from the cake counter, sink into plush banquette seating and wait for your goodies to arrive. In addition to the celebrated Cronuts, there’s the ‘DKA’, a caramelised deep-fried croissant and Dosa Mille Feuille - Puff pastry dosa shell, hazelnut coffee, whipped chantilly, lemon curd and candied lemon peel - to get stuck into, as well as a good selection of sandwiches and soups (we can vouch for the Avocado toast and Creamy roasted pumpkin & Yorkshire soup).
Cappuccino (£3) and a Cronut (£4.80) here can be a pricey experience, but it is special and staff are charming.
21 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RP (http://dominiqueansellondon.com/)


The Blues Post

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The folks behind Barbary London and The Palomar have opened The Blue Posts - a three storey food and drink emporium over on Rupert Street.
The ground floor is given over to a pub boasting a menu of independently brewed cask ales, craft beers & ciders including Mondo Brewing’s flavourful Denis Hopp’r, Sussex SeaCider, and  ‘World’s Best Pale Ale’ winner Sambrook’s Wandle.
More of an oenophile? Head upstairs to The Mulwray - a stylish cocktail lounge (expect a marble-clad bar and comfy velvet seats) where the drink to order is Forget It Jake, aka a Margarita with a twist.
Last but not least there’s Evelyn Table - a teensy, tiny 11-seater restaurant, led by The Barbary’s head chef Nacho Pinilla specialising in Modern European plates that all scream for attention.
Encompassing all things under one roof, this quirky, unconventional place shows what it’s possible to do with an old Boozer. Someone has done their homework here and it definitely shows.
28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ (http://theblueposts.co.uk/)


Hoppers
 

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If you have ever visited Sri Lanka and want to recapture that feeling, head here.
The Sethis, who are basically Midases of the restaurant world having brought us Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and Bao to name but a few, have opened a second branch of Hoppers - their acclaimed Sri Lankan restaurant.  Happily however for those who are averse to queing for hours on end, the new outpost is bookable.
Hoppers 2.0 is spread over two floors, with an extra 16 seats outside and a private dining area split into four private dining ‘vaults’.
The menu features signature Hoppers dishes from the original site in Soho - read String hoppers ( a bowl shaped breakfast dish made from fermented rice and coconut batter and filled with curry) and hearty mix of rice and curries, as well as new dishes such as Jaffna beef rib fry and Tuna and tapioca cutlets with avocado sambol.
Finish with a sensational watalapam - spiced ‘set’ coconut custard that’s addiction on a plate. If you’re in St Christopher’s Place this is a culinary must.
77 Wigmore Street, W1U 1 QE (ww.hopperslondon.com)


Jack Solomons
There’s a new speakeasy bar in town: take a bow Jack Solomans which opened at the end of 2017, on Soho’s Great Windmill Street.
Inspired by the legacy of Jack Solomons, an iconic Soho character whose boxing gym was located here throughout the 1940s and 50s, Jack Solomons Club epitomise a bygone era of London clubs: look out for the pewter-metal bar counters, shaded velvet furnishings and red leather walls.
Entry is via a hidden door accessed via an after-hours street-side deli, that brings you to the bar area where a live band play. Descending the stairs you’ll pass a glass wall peering into the neighbouring kitchen’s butchery chamber before reaching the basement - home to a subterranean speakeasy cocktail club to one side, and dance floor to the other.
Even better? Entrance to this pleasure pit is absolutely free, all of which means that a night out in Soho doesn’t necessarily equal financial destitution.
41 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7NB (www.jacksolomons.com)

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Sleeping in a slammer

Anyone interested in spending a night in the slammer? Check into The Courthouse Hotel.

Record numbers of tourists are expected to visit the English capital this summer – partly due to affordable exchange rates, and partly because of exciting new exhibitions such as Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the National Portrait Gallery and celebrations like the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Planning on joining the party? Now all you need is somewhere to sleep. Given that the capital is chock full of accommodation options from hostels to hotels and homely Airbnb abodes you might find it odd that, on a recent long weekend in London, TNT decided to spend the night in a slammer.

But panic not: we didn’t fall foul of the Metropolitan police.  Rather the hotel where we chose to lay our heads - The Courthouse London - was once a courthouse jail. Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have both been held in the Grade II-listed building. These days the renowned Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court has been transformed into a stylish Soho hotel.

Located only a stones throw from the iconic Carnaby Street - which has recently undergone something of a renaissance - The Courthouse  boasts 166 impressively spacious (for central London) rooms and suites. If you’re feeling flush, plump for the Magistrate Suites which occupy the high-ceiling Judges quarters on the first, second and third floor of the original building and are bedecked with original Robert Adams fireplaces and oak flooring.
 



It’s not just the suites that elate: so too, do the restaurants. There are several places to eat including Carnaby Brasserie - a top spot for a leisurely breakfast - and the superb Silk Restaurant Room.

Located in what was the infamous Number One Courtroom where luminaries like John Lennon and Oscar Wilde once stood trial, this striking oak-panelled dining room is the place to enjoy innovative Asian fusion cuisine. Head chef Rajesh Parmar’s menu has been inspired by spices found along the silk route: think Tiger prawns (char grilled prawns with quinoa and baby spinach, mango and cherry tomato salsa) and Tandoori chicken (char grilled boneless chicken thighs with sprouted bean salad, mint sauce and naan).

But it's the bar that gets our vote. Be sure to book ahead and reserve a private table: situated in three of the original prison cells, they’re the perfect place in which to sip one of The Courthouse Hotel’s expertly mixed legal-themed signature cocktails.

Or, weather permitting, head up to the Soho Sky Terrace – a smart, secret escape that is fast becoming one of our favourite rooftop hangouts. And for a good reason: refreshing cocktails, light bites and mellow grooves against a backdrop of the Soho skyline – make for a spectacular experience.

Worried you might leave a lot larger than when you arrived? Ward off the weight gain in the basement fitness centre (where you’ll also find a heated swimming pool and sauna). Of course if that sounds too much like hard work, you could just hit Sanook spa for a spot of pampering…

 

 

After which, you’ll be ready to shop till you drop at Toppers on Oxford Street or perhaps pop to the Palladium to catch Cee Lo Green (26 May), Beverley Knight (25 May) or Foreigner (7 June) in action.
 

All told if you want to live life to the full in the heart of London, The Courthouse Hotel on Great Marlborough Street is the address to hit.

 

Hotel of the fortnight: Ham Yard Hotel

In a city that, this year, has become home to more high end hotels than you can shake a stick at, you might question the need for one more.

However a stay at Firmdale’s Ham Yard Hotel – the new 91 boutique hotel located on Soho’s last undeveloped Blitz bomb site - should put that thought to rest. Building began on the development (which takes its name a neighbouring18th century pub called The Ham), more than three years ago. But trust Haute Time: Ham Yard Hotel is most definitely worth the wait.

Designed by husband and wife team, Tim and Kit Kemp, it’s the most ambitious protect from Firmdale Hotels (the group behind the gorgeous Covent Garden Hotel and Crosby Street Hotel) to date.

Chances are you’ll arrive at the £100 million hotel a little later than you planned. For Ham Yard Hotel is accessed via a tree filled pedestrianised public thorough-fare that’s lined with 13 individual specialist stores – including Brazilian beach brand Frescobol Carioca and luxury Australian home ware store, Dinosaur Designs – whose shiny wares are sure to lure you in. “We wanted an urban village feel, and for people to stop and have a coffee or browse in one of the little independent shops,” says interior designer, Kit Kemp.

Should you manage to make it to your suite, further wave of happiness will wash over you. Despite being individually designed – no two rooms are alike – all are a riot of colour, pattern, texture and art for which Kemp is world renowned. They’re also luxurious and comfortable: think large elegant headboards, full length curtains and generously sized marble bathrooms stocked with Kemp’s new range of bath products, Rik Rak.

Beyond the bedrooms, there’s the Soholistic Spa (with its shell mirrors sourced from one of Kit Kemp’s favourite dealers in France) and gym – complete with a hypoxic chamber for altitude training – for those looking to shape up for summer.

The rest of us can hang out in the buzzy, Ham Yard Bar & Restaurant and enjoydishes such as Seared scallops with tempura courgette flower and Glazed candy beets with goat’s curd, mustard, orange and walnuts washed down with a Black Margarita.

Make the most of the  balmy temperatures by eating and drinking al fresco – either on the hotel’s terrace or up on the charming roof top garden that offers sweeping views of the London skyline.

However if the weather refuses to play ball and reverts to type, panic not. Simply curl up in the lovely ground floor library with its honesty bar, oversized Chesterfield sofas and shelves stocked with carefully curated books by literary expert, Philip Blackwell. Or watch a film in the 190 seat theatre – we love the tangerine orange leather seats – before retiring to the Dive bar (named in honour of a 3ft neon lit lady diver that hangs on the far wall) for a nightcap under neon signs evoking a rock ‘n’ roll vibe.

But Ham Yard Hotel’s biggest headline grabber has to the bijoux 1950s bowling alley – imported pin-by-pin from Texas… Bottom line? With so much on offer, you might be booking your next stay before your first has even finished…

 

London's hottest new hotels

Trust Haute Time: this summer we’re all going to be hanging out in hotels thanks to a slew of red hot and happening new openings.

The biggest buzz is arguably about Andre Balazs’s Chiltern Firehouse. Located in a former fire station, this flaming hot new hotel/restaurant is the celeb hang out du jour: just last week the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Nigella Lawson, Ellie Goulding, One Direction, David Beckham and Rita Ora were all papped at the W1 property with Ora Instagramming a picture of a bottle of champagne from her room: “Thank-you my Firehouse family!!! Love you boys!!!”

Bradley Cooper, Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Noel Gallagher and Lily Allen are other A-listers who have been spotted slipping into the suave entrepreneur’s first London venture.

But while Chiltern Firehouse is most definitely making its mark in Marylebone, it’s not the only hot ticket in town.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts recently opened a property in the capital over at the Shard with the official ribbon cutting led by London's Mayor, Boris Johnson. The hotel - the first luxury property to open south of the River Thames - occupies floors 34-52 of Europe’s tallest building and is all about jaw dropping views: anyone checking in can expect arresting vistas of London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Meanwhile in Mayfair, Jeremy King and Chris Corbin - the dynamic duo behind the buzzy Brasserie ZedelThe Delaunay and The Wolseley - are preparing to open The Beaumont. Corbin and King’s debut hotel, with its Listed Grade 11 Art deco exterior,  promises to herald a return to “the pre-war elegance of Mayfair hotels” and will boast 73 rooms plus a New York style restaurant and bar and a sculpture created by Sir Antony Gormley.

And a stone’s throw away in Soho, Firmdale’s Ham Yard Hotel is set to launch on 1 June.  Designed by Tim and Kit Kemp, the new 91 boutique hotel located on Soho’s last undeveloped Blitz bomb site is aiming to create an “urban village.” Building began on the development (which takes its name from an 18th century pub called The Ham), more than three years ago. But, given that the hotel will offer an original 1950s four lane bowling alley imported pin-by-pin from Texas, a 188 seat cinema, ‘Soholistic Spa’, bar, dance floor and, our favourite, a rooftop garden alongside the suites, we think it will be worth the wait.

The opening of the £100 million Ham Yard Hotel will complete the remarkable transformation of the south west corner of Soho.

However it’s not just the former Red Light District that has undergone a renaissance - so too has Holborn. Holborn has long been associated with suits but the arrival of Rosewood London - a 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque gem in what was once an insurance company office building - has helped raised the bar. And it’s only set to get higher: later this summer The Hoxton Hotel will open, housing two restaurants from the Soho House Group.

Staying east, the Gansevoort Group is also opening a property (word is that it will feature the group’s trademark rooftop pool) on Curtain Road in 2015.

And last but by no means least, The Mondrian is setting up shop this summer bringing a taste of Miami Beach to the South Bank. Assets at the Tom Dixon-designed hotel will include a rooftop bar and brasserie.

Welcome to London: the city that keeps on giving...

London's top five coffee spots

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Forget the fact that London is traditionally renowned for tea drinkers. In 2014 it’s the friendly bubble of coffee perking that can now be heard all across the capital. From a quick pick me up in the morning to several strong black cups to beat the 4pm slump to a leisurely cup after dinner, most Londoners now drink coffee every day.

But where to head for your caffeine fix? Haute Living has done the hard work for you. Allow us to let you in on London’s best coffee shops…

     

Bar Italia Coffee bars come and coffee bars go, but this little gem opposite Ronnie Scott’s is a Soho institution that has witnessed many fascinating glimpses of passing theatrical life. Bar Italia is as loved for the stories it could tell, as it is for its authentic Italian coffee. The cakes are also heavenly, so ditch the planned post Easter diet and give into temptation... Life's too short to exist solely on salads.

The Espresso Room Ben Townsend’s temple to java won Time Out’s coveted ‘Best new cup of coffee' award when it opened back in 2011 – and rightly so. The Espresso Room’s team of trained baristas rarely get things wrong. Whether you’re in the mood for a milky coffee, a macchiato, a strong espresso or something sweeter – perhaps a toffee-like 'Costa Rican brown sugar' – you can satisfy your caffeine craving at one of the two L shaped benches at this tiny, yet charming Great Ormond Street coffee bar.

Kaffeine Flocks of fans regularly return to Kaffeine and it’s not hard to see why. The shiny Synesso espresso machine – aka the Rolls Royce of espresso machines – serves up a superior range of rich espressos. That said the baristas also know how to make a fabulous flat white or full-fat latte. Kaffeine's food is fabulous too: feast on innovative salads and decadent brownies.

Patisserie Valerie Feted for its top notch coffee and delicious but naughty cakes, Patisserie Valerie also offers a tempting range of soups, salads, sandwiches and savouries. Service can be slow but it’s never hostile. This is a great place to visit for a cup of Joe and a chat with friends, before hitting Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

Workshop Coffee Co Situated at the corner of Clerkenwell Road and St John Street in Farringdon, Workshop Coffee Co is the kind of café you wished you lived around the corner from. It’s got style (expect plenty of exposed brickwork) and substance. All the usual coffee suspects feature but, while coffee is undoubtedly king, there’s also a decent wine list worth exploring in the evening. On the food front, tuck into French toast with poached rhubarb, orange mascarpone and hazelnuts for breakfast or Roasted ocean trout – a generous plate of fish on a bed of miso, ginger, lime and chilli, barley, cucumber, broad bean and fennel salad for a not so light lunch.