Experiencing the city like a true Londoner 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. Get to know the city like a local as we take you to the coolest places in town.
MNKY HSE, Restaurant and Bar
Latin American restaurant MNKY HSE is the perfect spot for a unique dining experience. Located behind a discreet entrance on Dover Street, this stylish restaurant showcases an ideal blend of London sophistication and Latin spirit. The intimate dining atmosphere changes once the DJ arrives, and the space is transformed to make way for dancing and to encourage table-hopping. The dishes are just as tasty as the atmosphere and they’re all designed to share. That’s how chef Pablo Peñalosa Nájera devised his menu. Give the tostadas – aka. crispy tortillas a try - served up with octopus, chorizo and chili mayonnaise or try the Pork chop Iberico marinated in miso, sake and special MKNY HSE sauce. Don't miss out on the cocktail list available in the restaurant and in the upstairs bar lounge. Unwind with trademark cocktails, such as the Bolivian beauty, created with Belvedere Vodka, lemon, freshly pressed yellow pepper juice, rose syrup, vanilla, apple juice, bitters and egg white. Served alongside a long list of pure and heady mezcals.
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 subway system - known as “the tube” or “underground” among locals. The renovation of the old subway station will remind you of an era circa 1946, complete with sandbags, leather suitcases, vintage tube maps and mismatched carriage seats. Even the staff are dressed in character. Outfits, accents, nicknames and biographies - it's all there. At the bar, classic cocktails meet pre-WWII black market inspired drinks served up in tins and hipflasks of the time. Enjoy the Saturday Squiffy Picnic made up of sandwiches, pickles and Moët & Chandon champagne served in a traditional picnic basket.
The Cocktail Trading Co, Bar
More than just a bar in Brick Lane, The Cocktail Trading Co is a great place to brush up on your bartending knowledge - but don't let the cozy pub-like atmosphere scare you off. 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 also organize them for groups of two - just ask! The full 90-minutes hands-on experience gets you firmly behind the wooden bar. There is no such thing as a silly question, and you’ll get to ask as many as you like while you make your own cocktail –. From the correct gestures and sourcing to ingredients used: you ask, they'll answer. Every masterclass is tailor-made, so no two sessions are alike. And you might even find out how they make their Hennessy-based Eggsperimental cocktail cup.
Newport Street Gallery, Art Gallery
When British artist Damien Hirst decided to showcase his art collection to the world, we 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 over 3,000 works, now known as the 'Murderme collection', which include pieces by Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon and Richard Prince. And as Damien continues to buy artwork from up-and-coming artists, the collection just keeps growing. Set in the midst of South London's Vauxhall neighborhood, Newport Street Gallery features six exhibition spaces split over two levels. The space is a tribute to the building's former life as an early 1910s' scenery painting studios for the booming Victorian theater 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 Town Hall, East London - of all places - it was obvious that it would be a little bit different. For a start, the concept is refreshing and full of surprises: you are asked to choose between the five-course or nine-course tasting menu when you book. Once settled in the restaurant, the second surprise arrives in the form of what you're actually going to eat. The atmosphere is relaxed and easy-going. 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 simply delicious. Signature dishes include raw Orkney scallop with Périgord truffle, hazelnut and clementine as well as haggis (a Scottish delicacy) doughnuts. A feast for the eyes and taste buds. Isaac McHale has brilliantly redefined the art of fine dining.
Dover Street Market, Shopping
From the 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 simply shaking things up 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, making people watching just as fun as window-shopping. But if it all gets too intense, check out the third floor for a sultana scone with cream and jam at Anglo-French café, Rose Bakery.