Living London from the inside is a privilege only the most daring get to enjoy. A town of contrasts and avant-garde styles, the British capital changes at such an amazing pace. To experience the city like a local, just follow us as we take you to the coolest places in town.
MNKY HSE, Restaurant and Bar
MNKY HSE and its Latin American fare could just hit the spot for that unusual food craving. Located behind a discreet entrance on Dover Street, this stylish restaurant reveals the perfect blend of London sophistication and Latin spirit. The subdued dinning atmosphere changes once the DJ arrives. The space is transformed to accommodate dancing and encourage table-hopping. The dishes are just as tantalizing as the atmosphere. They're all designed to share. That's how chef Pablo Peñalosa Nájera devised his experimental menu. Try the Pork chop Iberico marinated in miso, sake and special MKNY HSE sauce or the tostadas – aka. crispy tortillas - with octopus and chorizo and chilli mayonnaise. Don't miss the cocktail list available in the restaurant and in the upstairs bar lounge. Signature cocktails, such as the Bolivian beauty with Belvedere Vodka, lemon, freshly pressed yellow pepper juice, rose syrup, vanilla, apple juice, bitters and egg white, are served alongside a vast list of pure and heady mescals.
Mind the gap. It's time to go underground and back in time. Put on your Fedora hat, two tone brogues and 1940s zoot suit, Cahoots awaits. Head down the old wooden escalator and enter an abandoned air raid shelter hidden deep within the London tube system. The old station has been entirely transformed to remind you of an era circa 1946 with sandbags, leather suitcases, vintage tube maps and mismatched carriage seats. Even the staff are dressed in character. Outfits, accents, nicknames and a biography, it's all there. At the bar, classic cocktails meet pre-WWII black market inspired drinks served up in tins and hipflasks. Savour the Saturday Squiffy Picnic made up of sandwiches, pickles and Moët & Chandon champagne served in a traditional hamper.
The Cocktail Trading Co, Bar
More than just a bar in Brick Lane, The Cocktail Trading Co is a great place to get up to scratch on your bartending knowledge. Don't let the cosy pub-like atmosphere scare you off you. The caricatures and newspaper front pages plastered all over the walls add to the friendly, intimate feel of the place. The staff regularly set up cocktail masterclasses to learn about spirits and mixed drinks. They even organize them for just two people. You just need to ask. The full 90-minutes hands-on experience gets you firmly behind the wooden bar. You get to make your own cocktail and ask as many questions as you like – including the silliest ones: ingredients, sourcing, gestures. You ask, they'll answer. Every masterclass is tailor-made, so no two sessions are alike. They could also reveal how they make their Hennessy-based Eggsperimental cocktail cup.
Newport Street Gallery, Art Gallery
When British artist Damien Hirst decided to show his art collection to the world you just knew it would be impressive. Opening Newport Street Gallery is as ambitious as his art collection is vast. A keen collector since the late 1980's, Damien Hirst has accumulated over 3,000 works, now regularly known as the 'Murderme collection', which include pieces by Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon and Richard Prince. With the regular purchase of artworks from up-and-coming artists, the collection just keeps growing. Set in the midst of South London's Vauxhall neighbourhood, Newport Street Gallery features 6 exhibition spaces split over two levels. The space is a fitting tribute to the building's former life as an early 1910s' scenery painting studios for the booming Victorian theatre industry. Nowadays you can admire paintings, sculptures and videos alongside natural history specimens, taxidermy and anatomical models
The Clove Club, Restaurant
When Scottish chef Isaac McHale opened The Clove Club, in Shoreditch Townhall of all places, you just knew you we are in for something a bit different. For a start, the concept is refreshing and full of surprises: you choose between the five-course or nine-course tasting menu when you book. Once settled in the restaurant, you get the surprise of what you're actually going to eat. The atmosphere is super relaxed and casual. Not a whiff of stuffiness in sight. The décor is stripped down to its bare minimum: soft white walls, warm lighting, wooden chairs and tables. All very chic and low-key. The open kitchen adds to the homey-feel of the place. What really makes the restaurant special though is the food. It is quite simply delicious. Signature dishes include raw Orkney scallop with Périgord truffle, hazelnut and clementine as well as haggis doughnuts. A revelation for the eyes and taste buds. Isaac McHale has brilliantly redefined the art of fine dining.
Dover Street Market, Shopping
From prestigious Dover Street in Mayfair to bustling Haymarket… What were Comme des Garçons's Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe, founder and director respectively of Dover Street Market, thinking? The answer is simple: in keeping with their avant-garde approach to fashion, they are quite simply shaking things up once again. Its location on Haymarket is none other than the former Burberry head office, a historic building erected by Thomas Burberry in 1912. In the vast space, three times bigger than its previous haunts, DSM London – as it is now known after opening in Tokyo, New York, Singapore and now Beijing – offers its very own cutting-edge vision of fashion. Well-established labels like Céline, Raf Simons and Gucci stand side-by side with new inventive brands like Simone Rocha, Vetements and Molly Goddard. Fashion crowds flock to the shop. People watching is just as fun as window-shopping. But if it all gets too intense, pop-up to the third floor for a sultana scone with cream and jam at Anglo-French café, Rose Bakery.