Best of London: Our 2018 hit-list

We think that discovering a new place that’s distinct, beautiful, and extraordinary, is a treat in itself; so here’s a roundup of some of our favourite discoveries in 2018 so you can start get a little bit less ordinary inspiration for the new year.

1. Duddell’s - A Church Conversion straight out of HK 
East literally meets west (in a design perspective at least) at this beautifully designed church conversion for Hong Kong based Cantonese eatery - Duddell’s. Set in this stunning grade II-listed chapel, Duddell’s  functions both as a restaurant and a gallery space. Combining the church’s original gothic elements with the retro aesthetic of Hong Kong’s tea rooms. Safe to say, Duddell’s has definitely got top marks from us for both design and originality.

2. Lina Stores – A new lease on life for an old Italian Deli
The original Lina Stores is a Soho Institution and has been around since 1944. Thanks to the team at Red Deer, it has taken on a new lease on life as a diner-style eatery. Think pale green, a retro Formica bar top, exposed concrete walls, and high counter seating. At the helm of this new endeavour is Chef Masha Rener, who offers up unpretentious family style Italian with panache. We recommend doing as the Romans do and going for a second plate. After all, it’s the holidays and carbo loading is no longer a choice, but an inevitability. When the pasta is this good — why the hell not?

3. The Room at the Beaumont - How black can black be?
The Beaumont Hotel is a timeless five-star London classic, but don't be fooled by its handsome wood panelling and opulent art deco interiors, because this Mayfair icon is also home to one of the city’s most unique hotel rooms. The hotel’s impressive beaux-arts exterior is broken up by a giant cubist sculpture care of Antony Gormley. Inside you will find the sleek minimalist space of ROOM, a space that encourages its guests to reach another level of consciousness. But if you don’t reach transcendent levels of relaxation, then at least enjoy Antony Gormley’s breathtaking high-concept modernist interiors.

4. Mãos Blue Mountain School - A pared back hybrid space
When we came across this breathtaking hybrid space on Redchurch Street, we were definitely taken aback. Because Mãos Blue Mountain School certainly has that allure that not a lot of spaces can achieve. Sprawled over 6 floors in a nineteenth century building, this place’s pared back design, muted colour palette, and effortlessly cool aesthetic has gained it a sure spot on our Advent Less Ordinary hit-list. Not to mention, their superb weekly supper club by Nuno Mendes, and the curated roster brands that make the rounds at Mãos Blue Mountain School, some of which include Thom Browne and Amy Revier.

5. Bombay Bustle – Bursting with colour in Mayfair 
Bombay Bustle isn’t your ordinary Mayfair joint. Inspired by dreamy pastel toned train journeys and set in a retro-Mumbai train carriage ala Orient Express, this place has all the makings of a Wes Anderson film set. Bombay Bustle is a place for everyone, and immediately extinguishes any preconceived Mayfair stereotypes the moment you walk into the door. Every dish was made to be shared, so bring some friends and try some of their starters like the Rarah Keema Pao,and the Achari Lamb-chops. They are so good — and potentially friendship ruining.

6. Kudu - Favourite Peckham neighbourhood haunt 
Saying that we’re ‘a little’ obsessed with Kudu, is the understatement of the year. Ever since this rose tinted Peckham spot opened in early 2018 - we’ve been dreaming of its inventive ‘hunter and forager’ inspired dishes, and casually cool aesthetic. Fancy a barbecued cauliflower dish amidst exposed light pink concrete walls, mid-century modern furnishings, and teal blue velvet banquettes — then definitely give Kudu a visit. 

7. Luca – A taste of Italy in London 
Minus all the first-degree clichés, Luca is a wonderfully contemporary slice of Italy in London. Stepping into Luca’s private garden room is like stepping into a courtyard in the middle of Florence in the summertime. (Luca is also one of Florence Welch’s favourite London spots — so I guess that makes perfect cosmic sense!) If you’re still looking to book a private dining room this Christmas, why not give our pals at Luca a call? 
8. Canova Hall - Brixton’s Department Store Rework 
Any wealthy Parisian is familiar with the Le Bon Marché, its gilded halls, precious crystal, and effortlessly elegant designers. Canova Hall on the other hand, which located in what used to be the luxury French department store’s first UK branch, is anything but precious. Designed by Red Deer, Canova Hall is a co-working space by day, and a casual diner at night. Raw concrete walls, exposed beams, and an industrial pale green palette all make Canova Hall a respectful yet modern homage to its department store past and our favourite Brixton spot. 
9. Cecconi’s - Underground Italian out East
Located in Redchurch Townhouse, the latest Shoreditch opening in the Soho House empire, Cecconi’s is definitely our top pick for Less Ordinary date spots in town. Enter through a dimly lit art-deco space, and dive straight into crowds of Shoreditch’s creative-set. Black and white mosaic tiles, concerto windows, and a muted colour palette of olives and greys — all add to an ambiance that is both intimate and achingly cool. Amidst all of Shoreditch’s stylish restaurants, Cecconi’s just stands out for being really good, without needing any bells and whistles.
The first hotel opening from the Experimental Group, the Henrietta is a beautiful art deco hideaway in the West End. This stunning 18 room hotel is spread across two Victorian Townhouses that boast an impressive literary history. (One that includes George Orwell and Daphné du Maurier to say the least!) Imagine retro headboards, copper light fixtures, marble tiling, an Ollie Dabbous menu, an impressive drinks list care of the Experimental Cocktail club — and voila! You get the Henrietta Hotel.  
11. Berenjak - Distinct Surroundings to Match the Food 
Berenjak is not your average kebab. With Michelin star chef Kian Samyani at the helm, Berenjak takes the hole-in-the-wall kebab shop concept (and the kebab itself) to new heights. Berenjak is the latest opening by the JKS Restaurants group - so we know it’ll be a hit. Take a seat near the open kitchen and lose yourself to the aroma of the flaming tandoor and vertical rotisserie, or dabble in Berenjak’s truly delicious Mezze selection. We assure you — no other kebab experience will come close. 
12. Coal Office - Tom Dixon’s Design Flavour 
King's Cross is absolutely on fire and it's probably because of the recently opened Coal Drops Yard. Not only is this new spot slowly becoming a buzzy creative hub for some choice independent London brands (including our pals at Bonds Hackney, and Christopher Raeburn) it is also Tom Dixon’s new playground. Together with Chef Assaf Granit, Tom Dixon has launched Coal Office, a restaurant that highlights the best of both food and design. Expect all the usual Tom Dixon signatures, and great Mediterranean food care of Chef Granit. 
13. Walmer Yard - An architect’s Playground 
Walmer Yard is not just an architectural playground, bit also an architectural masterpiece. This breathtaking collection of four townhouses in Notting Hill is the result of 13 years of planning and building, and is Peter Salter’s first completed project in the UK. Each house interlocks with another, and almost seem like rotating mechanisms around every curving stairwells. Handsome wood panels, yurt shaped rooms, moving walls, and hidden doorways make Walmer Yard a masterclass in Brutalist design, and a thrill to discover.
14. Jolene - Bakery indulgence on the GreenPrimeur and Western Laundry are tried and tested hotspots for North London creatives that we really love. Lucky for us, the team behind these two local haunts have opened a restaurant/bakery, called Jolene. A  wonderfully executed farm to table concept in Newington Green, that ticks all of our requirements for Less Ordinary. After winning best restaurant design fro London Eater - this soulful, man-stealing, country gal has nowhere to go but up. 
15. Cornerstone - A minimalist concrete marvel 
Named after Chef Tom Brown’s favourite Arctic Monkeys Song, Cornerstone is a sleek minimal space located in a converted industrial warehouse in Hackney Wick. This much anticipated new opening pays homage to Tom Brown’s Cornish heritage, whilst taking advantage of his culinary grandstanding through their performance kitchen. 
16. Native - Zero Waste & Forage-First 
Nostalgia is a massive aesthetic trend that informs everything from fashion to food, but Native takes Nostalgia to palaeolithic levels — taking inspiration from hunter gatherer times. This beautifully pared back London Bridge restaurant is dedicated to a zero waste policy. In fact, you’ll often find chefs/founders, Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis foraging in the British countryside for that week’s menu.
17. Corner Room - A real light show in a converted town hall
You’ve probably seen the Corner Room’s impressive hanging light display on your Instagram feed at one point or another, but beyond its prolific feature wall Corner Room has a lot more to offer than a large variety of lamps. Located on the Town Hall hotel, this casual neighbourhood spot showcases a lovely seasonal menu care of Chef Simon Shand. 
18. Bar Douro - A splash of Portuguese style in London 
Bar Douro was designed to recreate the memory of travelling through the Duo Valley in Portugal, and it really succeeds in doing so. From Lisbon’s traditional cervejarias (breweries) and tascas (taverns), to the distinctly blue and white Azulejo tiles, everything about Bar Douro breathes a colourful kind of charm  — and we’re all for it. 
19. 1251 - Light Bright and Airy on Upper Street 
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding James Cochran and James Cochran TM as of late, but his new spot in Islington proves that his talent goes beyond the trademark. 1251 features all of James Cochran’s inventive signatures, but in a light, bright, and airy new spot on Upper Street. 
20. Xu London – Where east meets West 
Amidst the red lanterns and street food hawkers of Chinatown, Xu Teahouse is set apart as a stylish Taiwanese eatery. Imagine stepping into a freeze-frame of Wong Kar Wai’s cult-classic, In the Mood for Love, but in the middle of Soho and reworked for 2018. We’re definitely in the mood for Xu. 
22. Kettner Townhouse - The Townhouse Makeover of our Dreams
Kettner Townhouse has been at the pinnacle of Soho frivolity ever since its founder, August Kettner (supposedly chef to Napoleon III) opened its doors in 1867. Today, under the wing of Nick Jones and co, it reopens as a stylish spot that combines Soho House’s winning formula of hotel, restaurant, and spa, while still keeping its ostentatious charm.
23. Grays & Feather – A Stylish Spot for Sparkling Wine 
If you love bubbly then Grays & Feather will be your new best friend. Following their successful run at the Southbank Food Market, Grays & Feather brings bubbles, sparkling wine, from independent producers the world over. Not to mention, you also get to enjoy the bubbles amidst Grays and Feather’s stylish botanical inspired interiors. 
24. Pilgrm: A Townhouse with a Contemporary Spirit 
What the Pilgrm lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in charm. Located in a painstakingly restored Victorian Townhouse, (of which a 200 year old Mahogany staircase is certainly the focal point) the Pilgrim is A 73 bedroom hotel that’s all about quality and craftsmanship. Perfect for the ‘pilgrims’ of the modern age. 
We’ve got a few festive surprises for our Community up our sleeves  — so keep an eye out for our #AdventLessOrdinary this December and head over to our profile to stay in the loop.
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Words by Hannah Tan-Gillies 

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