Where to drink
This will sound odd, but the Blue Bar in the exclusive Berkeley Hotel isn’t quite as blue as it used to be. And we mean that literally. A recent refurbishment has seen the bar turn from a more classic style to a slightly busier art deco look. As you can imagine, this is not the place to go if you’re after a cheap pint but if you’re willing to splash the cash a little bit, the cocktails are divine. In a charming twist, all cocktails are categorised by colour: yellow, green, blue and red. And they also boast a handsome whisky and champagne list worth a browse. The whole place feels as though “Mad Men” met “A Clockwork Orange”. It has to be seen to be believed.
The Berkeley, Wilton Pl, SW1X 7RL
To some, the bar at the Mandarin Oriental is little more than a glorified holding room for Heston Blumenthal’s eponymous restaurant upstairs. But that’s absolutely no reason not to stop by and try the drinks here on their own merit. Set around a palatial island bar, the Mandarin is modern, sleek and desirable. The drinks are suitably elegant with a large choice of wine and champagne. And of course there are cocktails available too. For those of you who can’t get a table at the famous restaurant, they also serve delicious nibbles.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
And you thought we were only going to send you to fancy cocktail bars? No, at Addison Lee, we think of everyone. For an altogether more British experience head to the Paxton’s Head. Built in 1632, this quintessentially London pub still bears the classic Victorian architecture that’s so endemic to the area. Inside it’s all oak panelling, stucco veneers and etched mirrors. They serve a great range of ales, absolutely no cocktails and boast a hearty pub grub menu. This is what a London pub should be – it’s even named after the designer of the city’s once famous Crystal Palace. Stick your head into the function room for a real treat.
153 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7PA
Where to eat
Burger & Lobster
There are any number of utterly fabulous places to eat in Knightsbridge so we thought we’d start by pointing you towards its more affordable end. Head to the top floor of Harvey Nichol’s and weave your way through the extensive food court and you’ll happen across the warm and inviting restaurant Burger & Lobster. The choice here is simple: pay £20 for either a burger or a lobster (grilled or steamed). The food is delicious, if a little messy – although they do provide bibs, and they offer a full wine and beer menu to back it up. In fact, ask them for pretty much any cocktail you like and the excellent bar staff will usually oblige.
Fifth Floor Harvey Nichols, 109 - 125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
Dinner By Heston Blumenthal
Now to the serious stuff. If you’re not yet familiar with the food of the mercurial gastronomic alchemist Heston Blumenthal, prepare to be blown away. Dinner is all about the theatre. Both the restaurant and the food immediately create a genuine sense of experience. And while it’s perhaps not quite as outlandish as The Fat Duck (his other restaurant), dishes like Powdered Duck Breast set the imagination – and palate – racing. Sounds great right, what’s the catch? Aside from it costing a little above average, it’s also pretty tough to get a reservation. Ideally you want to book a few weeks in advance, especially for the weekends. But it’ll be worth it – trust us.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
We’ve tackled the affordable and the decadent. Now wouldn’t it be nice to find something in between? No such luck – this is Knightsbridge after all. Set in the five-star Bulgari hotel (yes, that Bulgari) Rivea is a French-Italian restaurant that oozes class. But don’t panic, just because it’s fancy doesn’t mean you’ll be walking away with tiny portions. The chef here is all about provencale cooking which means bags of flavour and plenty of food. Everything – including the food – is exquisitely presented, and you can even enjoy a three course lunch here for just £32. Which, we have to say, is remarkably reasonable.
Bulgari Hotel London, 171 Knightsbridge, SW7 1DW
What to do
Just like we can’t talk about Knightsbridge without mentioning Harrods, you can’t visit the area without dropping into the world’s most famous department store. Set over seven enormous floors, Harrods is almost too huge to take in all at once. From the brasserie style restaurants downstairs to the incredibly exclusive brands and retailers above, Harrods is alive with colour, style and cold hard cash. If you’re worried it’s all a bit too exclusive for you, remember that Harrods slogan is “Omnia Omnibus Ubique”, or “All Things for All People, Everywhere” to non Latin speakers. Window shopping is perfectly allowed.
87-135 Brompton Rd, SW1X 7XL
Royal Court Theatre
Who would have thought that one of London’s most innovative, original and daring theatres would be in fancy Sloane Square? The Royal Court has been known as the testing ground for some of the city’s most avant-garde and provocative theatre for well over fifty years now. Promoting both young and exciting playwrights as well as some of the country’s most famous and well established. Tickets are far more reasonably priced than the West End and quite a lot of these shows end up there anyway, so it’s always worth dropping in. Get up early on a Monday and there are limited £10 tickets available.
Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Natural History Museum
Let’s get one thing clear, London’s Natural History Museum is not just for kids. Built in 1881, this stunning building has been exciting and fascinating its visitors ever since. From the moment you walk in and are presented with the giant Diplodocus skeleton, you know you’re in for a treat. The museum houses both a vast animatronic dinosaur exhibition and a disturbingly creepy insect house. Not to mention dozens of other incredible and interactive exhibits. Like all London museums admission is a snip at ‘completely free’, although there are sometimes paid events that are worth attending.
Cromwell Rd, SW7 5BD