London’s Top Hidden Gems
From Hyde Park and Tower Bridge to some of the best shops, art galleries and members’ clubs in the world, our fair city has many infamous charms. But perhaps the best thing about global cities such as London are the many well-kept secrets that only insiders frequent - one’s own favourite hidden gems. Here are ours:
FOR A HEALTHY +
INSTAGRAMMABLE LUNCH: FARM GIRL
INSTAGRAMMABLE LUNCH: FARM GIRL
Touted as a “healthy haven for the fashion-forward”, Farm Girl gets through more than 3k avocados a week and over 3.5k eggs. The real farm girl is charming founder Rose Mann, who grew up on a farm in Australia. With locations in Soho, Chelsea, and the original one in Notting Hill, Farm Girl has an Antipodean brunch menu that includes charcoal, rose and hibiscus lattes, BLTs made with coconut ‘bacon’. There’s a hearty (real) chicken sandwich too, and other options for non-vegans. Oh, and don’t miss the berry buckwheat pancakes.
FOR A DESIGN-LED DINNER: THE COAL OFFICE, TOM DIXON
Decked out in the interior guru’s signature slick futuristic style and overlooking Granary Square, Tom Dixon’s new The Coal Office at Kings Cross HQ is a visual feast in itself.
The restaurant, part of the compound, is a creative partnership between Dixon and Israeli restaurateur Assaf Granit, chef-patron of several notable restaurants in Jerusalem and also the award-winning The Palomar and The Barbary in London. For dessert, order the fig leaf and fig leaf’s oil ice cream.
FOR ANYTHING, REALLY: BLAKES HOTEL
Known as the world’s first boutique hotel, when Blakes Hotel opened in 1978 by esteemed interior designer and former Bond girl Anoushka Hemepel, the Chelsea hotspot was indeed an antidote to the impersonal corporate luxury hotels in the centre of the city. Each of the 45 rooms at Goop-approved Blakes are designed with varying influences, but mostly Asian, Moroccan, and Colonial styles. (We love the Corfu Room.) The hotel's bar and restaurant is an institution in its own right, featuring a fusion of Hempel's favourite cuisines – Japanese and Italian. Stop for a drink: Blakes Hotel is at 33 Roland Gardens in South Kensington.
FOR 360 WELLLNESS: GLOWBAR
A one-stop shop for self-care with infrared sauna pods, a superfood cafe and natural-beauty boutique, Glowbar is a multidisciplinary concept space with wellness and at its core. Starting out by launching an adaptogenic supplements range, founder Sasha Sabapathy takes painstaking care to ensure every deal is considered at the new space: from the Clinique scrubs in the showers to a variety of flavoured kombuchas to alkalise on the way out.
FOR TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD: THE CONDUIT
The Conduit, which only opened this September, is the concept of Rowan Finnegan, the founder of sustainable investment firm Regenerative Investment, and Paul van Zyl, a South African activist and former lawyer who is also behind the sustainable fashion brand Maiyet. The focus of this club is for those who are making a social impact, such as NGO leaders and others working in the charity sector, as well as investors looking for philanthropic opportunities.
The Conduit’s commitment to the environment and doing things for the common good is not just lip service. More than 170,000lbs of recycled materials have been used to form the club’s interiors, while energy-saving and biophilic design schemes are set to help reduce the club’s carbon footprint.
FOR NATURAL ZEN: HOLLAND PARK’S KYOTO GARDEN
Sometimes, all you really need is a good walk in the park. For this, you really can’t find a better ambience to take a breather in than Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden. Opening in 1991, the traditional Japanese garden was a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate the long friendship between Japan and Great Britain.
It’s got tranquil tiered waterfalls, a pretty pond full of beautiful koi carp, stone lanterns, Japanese maple trees and often, you’ll spot a peacock. Holland Park is at Ilchester Pl, London W8 6LU, with the Kyoto Garden is situated right in the middle of the park.