Step off the beaten track and explore some of the Capital’s lesser-known neighbourhoods, packed with independent businesses from butchers and bakers to cafes and restaurants
Spotlight on… Connaught Village, W2
Just minutes from Marble Arch, Connaught Village is a tranquil escape from the shopping bustle of the West End. As part of the Hyde Park Estate, the area is a rich blend of architectural heritage and exclusive green squares.
Step inside this French-style wine shop where you’ll find everything from prestigious bottles to interesting regional grapes. Discover the downstairs tasting room, which can be booked for wine tastings and private parties, where director David Farber and his friendly team can guide you.
Take a tip from this artisan cheesemonger and prepare a simple party cheeseboard that presents a variety of styles of cheese. You can’t go wrong with a delicious English trio of Dorstone goats’ cheese, Appleby’s Cheshire and Cornish Blue served with some Damson Fruit Cheese and Charcoal Crackers.
This is the destination for some gorgeous kitchenware in a myriad of lovely colours. Designed by Shelley Simpson, all the individual pieces combine craftsmanship with style and functionality. Everything is handmade in Sydney and this is their only store in Europe.
This stylish Indian restaurant is a great destination with private dining and bespoke menus. The Goan fish curry bursts with flavour and every Tuesday make a date with the veggie feast including salad and a dessert for just £19.90.
The oldest coffee shop in the village (opened in 1957), choose from 34 varieties of coffee beans from 13 different countries to select your perfect brew. The knowledgeable staff will even roast it for you in store using the original machinery.
From the founders of the renowned, Casa Malevo, the Abasto food store blends the twin passions of coffee and food to create a little slice of Argentina in London. From the expertise of their resident butcher to the wine cellar/café, they are well-known for their empanadas with many favours to choose from including vegetarian.
Serving prime quality beef and a host of fantastic Argentinian wines, would-be gauchos will love this stylish restaurant.
Home to boutique kitchen specialists, this two-floor showroom comprises a wealth of kitchen displays with a free one-hour consultation service, to help you plan your perfect design.
Nearest Underground: Paddington, Marble Arch
Spotlight on… Portman Village, W1
The area around Seymour Street and Great Quebec Street area may few minutes walk from Selfridges but it’s a world away from the crowds of Oxford Street.
The Grazing Goat
A favourite watering hole with local residents who cram into the bar after 5pm although the ground floor is open for a very good breakfast from 7.30am and you’re welcome for coffee any time. The first floor restaurant is gaining a good reputation for well-priced British fare and there’s eight comfy bedrooms if you fancy stopping overnight.
A must-visit to see the Alice in Wonderlandesque outdoor/indoor garden by UK street artist, Shuby. They serve a famous Aussie bottomless brunch at weekends. During the week pop by for breakfast bar or a healthy lunch from the overflowing ‘kitchen table’ counter.
Giorgio Locatelli is considered by many to be one of the finest Italian chefs in the UK and his Michelin-star restaurant, which he runs with wife Plaxy, is delightful. They are serving an Italian feast on New Year’s Eve, £195 per person.
When a restaurant is named after the owner’s daughter you know there’s going to be a lot of love around.Enjoy a menu of North Indian and Pakistani delicacies divided according to cooking method, from the pan, grill, tawa or oven. The desserts are to die for.
A new independent butcher, deli and grill who have sourced a premium selection of ethically reared produce from British farms. The Deli serves charcuterie, cheese, pies, pasties, beer, marinades, wine and coffee.
Churchill Bar & Terrace
Had enough of shopping and fancy a cocktail? Make a date on the alfresco Terrace at the Churchill hotel on Portman Square. Decked out with fur throws and kept cosy with plenty of giant heaters, we can recommend the Smoked Applewood Cheddar & Bacon fondue with bread and potatoes to dip.
La Petite Poissonnerie
This fabulous French and Japanese fusion fishmonger always has a stunning show of fresh fish on show as well as platters of fresh sashimi, French wines and Japanese groceries.
Philglas & Swiggot
With a reputation as one of the friendliest places in London to buy your wine. They also offer wine tasting evenings for up to 20 people at £30pp and gift vouchers for wine-loving friends.
Nearest Underground station: Bond Street
Spotlight on… Ham Yard, W1
In the midst of Soho and moments from Mayfair, Ham Yard has an urban village feel revolving around a tree-filled pedestrian-only courtyard with a bronze sculpture centrepiece by Tony Cragg.
Ham Yard Hotel
Part of the super-swish Firmdale group with award-winning interiors by co-owner Kit Kemp, the hotel has 91 bedrooms and suites alongside a restaurant and rooftop terrace, there’s even a bowling alley and a cinema.
My Cup of Tea
A tea drinker’s paradise committed to providing the very best black, green tea and tisanes. Established in 2008, this is a modern tea makers sourcing and blending the highest quality tea products. The shop holds regular tastings or enquire about bespoke group tastings.
A sushi hand roll grab and go kiosk, just opened at No1 Ham Yard. Created by Australian entrepreneur Jeremy Bliss and Charlie Hall, of CODE Hospitality, Inigo brings the Japanese-inspired sushi handroll to the streets of Soho.
Combining the traditions of sushi with the portability of the sandwich, finished with a quick blow-torch to deliver a delicious and fresh sushi experience.
Over Under Coffee
Drawing on his experience of cafe culture in New Zealand, and Dublin and New York where he has lived over the past five years, the founder of this cool coffee brand has created a space that reflects this diversity. Breakfast is highly recommended.
Nearest Underground station: Piccadilly Circus
And there’s more…
Columbia Road, E2
Well known for its Sunday flower market, Columbia Road is best visited at the weekend. Arrive early to snap up the freshest cut flowers and pot plants, pop into Vintage Heaven & Cakehole (no82) for antique china, glasses and tableware – and homemade cake. Take a pit stop at The Birdcage (No80) a lively Victorian pub for a glass of craft beer.
Nearest Underground station: Shoreditch High Street.
Shepherd Market, W1
With a slightly seedy reputation due to historic associations with prostitution, the narrow network of passageways are now home to an array of boutiques and some excellent restaurants, bars and pubs. Home to Kitty Fisher’s a GQ Restaurant of the Year.
Nearest Underground station: Green Park.
Chelsea Green, SW3
A closely guarded secret amongst the wealthy locals, discover a mixture of galleries, boutiques and cafes. The Chelsea Fishmonger, Jago’s butchers and wine merchants Hayes, Hanson & Clark keep the larders in their well-heeled neighbours well stocked. Phil Howard’s Elystan Street and London Restaurant of the Year is here too.
Nearest Underground station: South Kensington