London needs little introduction. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, high tea at four o’ clock: even on the beaten tourist circuit, this city is a charmer. But it’s also a high-energy international center that manages to be old-world classy and cutting-edge trendy all at the same time. English-speaking and cute accents… how can you go wrong? What’s on in Londontown, after the jump…
8 Southwark Street
+44 (0) 20 7407 1002, BoroughMarket.org.uk
Food is inherently sexy — fulfilling appetites, sensually stimulating, pleasing to the eyes and the mouth. And there’s nowhere better for foodies than the Borough Market, the oldest food market in London and one of the world’s premiere fine food destinations.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
145 Fleet Street
There’s nothing more British than a few pints with lunch — and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has the best fish-n-chips in London. Re-built in 1667, Dickens and Tennyson used to hang out here. Now its dark, narrow rooms are the perfect place to hide out from the English gloom. With a Pimms-and-Lemonade, of course.
9 Norwich Street
+44 (0) 20 7831 1622, Volupte-Lounge.com
Bad burlesque is trashy; good burlesque is sexy, no matter which way you swing. And the ladies at Volupté Lounge put on a titillating show. While the nighttime cabarets are loads of fun, the best time to go is on Saturday for the Afternoon Tease—where you’ll sit down to a full British tea, with scones, finger sandwiches, champagne… and nipple tassels onstage. Why wait until dark?
Charlotte Street Hotel
15-17 Charlotte Street
+44 20 7806 2000, Firmdale.com
Just a block north of trendy Soho sits the Charlotte Street Hotel, a classy, modern boutique with cozy suites and a lively bar downstairs. The fifth-floor penthouse (with a private en-suite steam room… we can think of a few uses for that) commands views of the entire London skyline.
50 Berners Street
+44 (0) 20 7300 1400, SandersOnLondon.com
Philippe Starck knows how to design ‘em, and this self-titled “urban spa” in the upscale West End is as sexy as they come. On an (admittedly rare) pleasant London evening, lounge around the Courtyard Garden to wine and dine by the fountain.
St John’s Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
+44 (0)20 7324 4444, TheZetter.com
“Clerkenwell is hot, and so is the Zetter,” wrote The London Times — and that about sums it up. An up-and-coming neighborhood in London’s eastside, Clerkenwell is hot with the artsy types. So the Zetter, a converted 19th-century warehouse, fits right in, with exposed brick walls and vending machines in the hallway where you can grab anything you need, be it shampoo or champagne.
198 Shaftesbury Avenue
+44 (0) 20 7240 9933
You won’t find Freud (written, in the Roman style, FREVD) very easily; it’s in an unmarked basement down an unassuming staircase off busy Shaftesbury Avenue. But downstairs is a hidden cave-like treasure of a bar, with art exhibitions on the walls, always exciting cocktails, and classy-but-upbeat crowd. Come back the next day for lunch or a perfect cappuccino.
Ain’t Nothin But
20 Kingly Street
+44 (0) 20 7287 0514, AintNothinBut.co.uk
If you’re into live music—or into guys who like live music—head to this friendly little blues bar, located in Soho but screaming “New Orleans.” A different live band plays every night of the week, drawing a fun-loving crowd to highbrow Soho.
77A Charterhouse Street
+44 (0) 20 7336 8898, FabricLondon.com
This pulsing labyrinth of a nightclub isn’t exactly the place to strike up a conversation with the sexy Brit at the bar. But if you’re looking for a night of no-holds-barred action, Fabric is your place—always packed, but still (borderline) civilized. With a killer DJ lineup and stunning laser lightshow, it’ll keep your feet pounding until you stumble out, dazed, into the early morning light.
DINNER A DEUX
5 Dean Street
+44 (0) 20 7287 4582, PierreVictoire.com
Tucked down a narrow Soho street, this low-lit French bistro is perfect date fare—shareable starters, perfect steak frites, and desserts to savor together. With flickering candles and rustic French décor, Pierre Victoire is almost painfully romantic. (But that shouldn’t be a problem.)
48 Lower Marsh
+44 (0) 20 7928 8778, Cubana.co.uk
Leave romance to the French—but trust the Caribbeans for a good time. This colorful, high-energy spot south of the Thames serves fresh Cuban fare and fantastic mojitos that’ll get you ready for the live salsa music Wednesday through Sunday nights.
25 Heddon Street
+44 (0) 20 7434 4040, MomoResto.com
A city as international as London has plenty of exotic food options, but none are done quite so well as the Moroccan at Momo. Start with a bottle of the Lebanese red as you wait for your clay-pot tagines and spicy couscous. But the real fun comes with the four flavors of hookah and belly dancers that’ll make you feel like you’re in Marrakesh.
6 Monmouth Street
+44 (0) 207 497 5262, Pop-Boutique.com
London did the sixties better than anyone else—and the Mod look never really goes out of style. So for a serious vintage store, head to Pop Boutique in Covent Garden, with clothing that goes way beyond the Twiggy look to dresses, coats, and period accessories spanning five decades.
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road between Golborne Road and Westbourne Grove
While London has a number of all-purpose markets, Portobello Road in Notting Hill is the one worth a visit. On Saturdays, Portobello’s usual antique stores and mum-and-pop shops are dwarfed by the street vendors, out on the sidewalks with more pashminas and handmade jewelry than you’ve ever seen. Though there’s a lot of generic market stuff to wade through, the treasures are there for those with the patience.
Coco de Mer
23 Monmouth Street
+44 (0)20 7836 8882, Coco-de-Mer.com
From supple leather handcuffs to pearl-plated “intimate massage” rings, Coco de Mer meets all your erotic luxury needs. The beautiful lingerie selection is largely PG-13, but some of the more inventive contraptions are decidedly not. Whatever your desires, though, the staff are knowledgeable, respectful, and always discreet.