From the Borough Market’s exceptional food stalls to Dover Street Market’s world-class shopping scene, Michael de Cozar from The Ritz in London shares his picks around The Big Smoke.
When my friends are in town, I take them for a drink at… Gŏng, on the 52nd floor of The Shard – the tallest building in London – for the magnificent city views. It has a great cocktail menu; my favourites are the peach and pear bellinis. It’s where you’ll see all the bankers from London’s nearby financial district entertaining their business associates.
For a business meeting I always book a table at… The Wolseley restaurant. It’s open all day and has a buzzy atmosphere – which people like in London, even for business meetings. It’s also popular with celebrities; David Beckham and Elton John have their favourite tables here.
The restaurant that best shows off London is… Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. It’s nothing much to look at but the attention to detail is amazing and the main dishes, as well as the accompaniments, look like works of art.
My favourite breakfast place is… Duck & Waffle at the Heron Tower. I love its signature dish – crisp duck leg confit served with duck egg and maple syrup. It has great views and an outdoor area for clear days.
If you want a food market experience, don’t miss… the Borough Market. It’s open every day except Sunday, is always buzzing with people and has great food stalls. I go there for my tapas fix and I also like the cheese shops.
For designer fashion make your way to… Old Bond and New Bond streets. Between them they have all the top labels covered. For trendy brands, go to King’s Road in Chelsea or the Dover Street Market, where Victoria Beckham has just opened a store.
And for vintage shopping? The Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is still the best. It’s heaven for lovers of vintage clothes and antique jewellery.
The best place for a memento or gift is… Lillywhites sports shop at Piccadilly Circus. If you’re a football supporter – or you know one – give touristy trinkets a miss and go for a personalised football shirt, whether it’s Chelsea or Arsenal or another major team. The shop can print your name on the shirt.
Couples looking for a romantic experience should… have a meal at The Ritz Restaurant, the main restaurant at this hotel. There’s a live band that plays jazz on Friday and Saturday nights, the tables are lit with candles and chef John Williams’ British-influenced French food is divine.
When it’s raining… which it does quite often in London, make your way to one of the city’s excellent museums or art galleries. My favourite is the British Museum. Its permanent collection is great but there are other exhibitions that change all the time. You can spend a whole day here; there’s so much to see and the architecture is awesome.
The best daytrip is to… Windsor Castle, about an hour west of London. Explore the castle, have lunch in one of the riverside cafés and leave some time for shopping. The town has some beautiful arcades that you can wander around for a few hours.