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The insider's guide to dining and shopping in London

An insider's guide to a world of dining and shopping

Published: Jul 6, 2019 10:00:00 AM IST
Updated: Jul 5, 2019 07:53:28 PM IST

The insider's guide to dining and shopping in LondonLondon is a delight for those who love to walk and shop
Image: Willy Barton/Shutterstock

I travel to London every four to six weeks for reviews and meetings at the company headquarters and business units located across the United Kingdom. One of the first things you notice, at the airport itself, is the flood of people from around the world, from different cultures and ethnicities. I usually fly in on a Sunday evening as it’s relatively quiet, but the city never stops bustling.

I usually stay at the St James’s Court, of Taj Hotels, which is located minutes from St James’s Park, Victoria train station and Buckingham Palace. The hotel is walking distance from our office.

If your work or activities are confined to SW1, then Conrad London St James, opposite St James’ tube station and walking distance from Westminster is excellent, especially if you are a Hilton Honors member. You could also choose from one of the several Marriott properties, including the County Hall on the Thames and close to London Eye, or any of the nice boutique hotels that are part of the Marriott Autograph collection.

I am a foodie, so I am spoilt for choice in London. My favourite—and rather simple choice—on arrival on a Sunday evening is a good old fashioned ‘pint and a pie’ at a local pub. From Thursday to Saturday, you can head to Borough Market for a wide collection of pubs, bars and restaurants. I love Italian food in Mayfair (Cecconi’s or San Carlo Cicchetti), Lebanese food in Belgravia (Abd El Wahab), Japanese food in Mayfair (Roka or Hakkasan) or Soho (Aqua Kyoto), and steaks at Hawksmoor. For burgers, try Honest Burgers (several locations) and if you are craving Taiwanese food, then Bao (several locations) is fantastic. If I’m ever rushed during work, I seek out food trucks, serving unique street food from around the world.

Getting around
I would recommend the Tube (with the Oyster Pass), black cabs (with the most knowledgeable drivers in the world) and Uber (for cost effective travel in the evenings).  I enjoy walking in most parts of the city, and make it a point to walk to and from work every day, so I can enjoy St James’ Park during early morning and evening.

After hours
London is arguably one of the best cities in the world when it comes to nightlife. Name it, and London has it—from excellent pubs and bars, to speakeasy bars in Soho, to late-night clubbing. Start your night at The Wellesley Knightsbridge’s cigar bar, or with dinner at The Arts Club in Mayfair. The club scene is dotted with exclusive members-only spots. Topping the list in terms of exclusivity and (relative) secrecy is 5 Hertford Street. Annabel’s is another favourite in Mayfair. In the West End, Maddox and Cuckoo come to mind for electronic music.

For shopping, visit the back streets of West End, Bond Street, Kings Road (off Sloane Square). In Chelsea, go to YMC in Soho, Paul Smith, Wolf and Badger, Broadway Market in Shoreditch, and Selfridges on Oxford Street. For a tailored suit, head to Saville Row. 

The writer is managing director, India, BAE Systems
(Coordinated by Jasodhara Banerjee)

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