The Traveling Man - London

Finding the Finest of Everything in Europe's First City

AS SAMUEL JOHNSON, the English poet and essayist, once said, “If you don’t like London, you should just kill yourself.” Well, those weren’t his exact words, but the sentiment was the same. And the fact that he said it in the 18th century makes no difference: if you can’t find something to like about London now, you sir, are wrong. The food in London used to be bad, but now it’s great. The culture used to be homogeneous and staid, but now it’s world-leading. The weather used to be grey and awful. That mostly remains. But suck it up, it’s London, for Pete’s sake. Here are our picks for your next trip to Jolly Old. 

Streetwear meets high fashion meets steampunk minimalism at this carefully stocked Shoreditch boutique. Located in what’s known as the Williamsburg of London, this ultra-hip menswear shop stocks the likes of Rick Owens, Visvim and The Elder Statesman, as well as other obscure brands that will score you immediate cred with your fashionsavvy friends back home. HOSTEM.CO.UK

Not to be confused with the John Lobb retail stores around the globe (they began as the same company, but now the other one is owned by Hermès), John Lobb Bootmaker is perhaps the best place in the world to purchase bespoke footwear. From the wood-paneled splendour of their St. James Street shop, Lobb has provided elegant shoes and boots for kings, princes and all manner of celebrities for almost 150 years. Stop in for a fitting, and in six months or so (you can’t rush perfection), you’ll receive your first pair. JOHNLOBBLTD.CO.UK 

Between Bond Street, with its acres of Swiss watches, Savile Row’s abundance of fine tailoring and the combined temptations of Selfridge’s, Harrod’s and Liberty of London, it’s not hard to spend a sheik’s fortune without leaving central London. But any serious shopper who misses a visit to the Late Night Chameleon Café (LN-CC) is doing themselves a serious disservice. Hidden behind a side door beneath a nondescript office building in northeast London is a combination retail space and art gallery featuring some of the world’s top fashion brands (Yohji Yamamoto, Jil Sander, Yang Li, et al.) expertly curated in a setting reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. By appointment only. LN-CC.COM

Tucked away on a narrow St. James side street, steps from Buckingham Palace and the shops of Mayfair, the Stafford is an oasis of old-world luxury. Built in the 16th century (it’s rumoured that Charles II used an underground tunnel from the Palace to the hotel’s wine cellar to visit his mistresses) and operating as a hotel since 1912, the Stafford boasts large suites, a gym and top-notch modern British cuisine courtesy of chef Brendan Fyldes. The American Bar (pictured)—so-called because it was one of the first places in London to serve cocktails—is an ideal spot to sip a G&T after a day’s sightseeing. KEMPINSKI.COM

 Like steak and roast chicken? If not, find somewhere else to eat. Veteran chef Mark Hix’s newest establishment serves little else. Beneath a massive Damien Hirst sculpture of a life-sized cow submerged in an aquarium with a rooster perched on its back, Tramshed’s dining room offers the choice of entire free-range roast chickens and well-marbled sirloin steaks by the 250 g serving. Sides are simple and classically English (think buttered sprout tops, scrumpy fried onions and Yorkshire pudding), while the cocktail list is ever-changing and innovative. CHICKENANDSTEAK.CO.UK

While Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver’s culinary empire has recently expanded to include a hotel in London’s Chinatown, their Smithfield bar and restaurant remains at the top of any traveling gastronome’s itinerary. A pioneer of nose-to-tail cuisine, the Michelin-starred St. John elevates seasonal game, seafood and livestock with creative and well-executed takes on things like lemon sole and steak-and-kidney pie. Their on-site bakery also makes some of the best bread in the city. STJOHNGROUP.UK.COM

If you’re into mixology, or just appreciate a well-balanced martini, here is an off the-radar spot that will not disappoint. Hidden behind an unmarked door in Chinatown, this intimate subterranean speakeasy specializes (as the name suggests) in cutting-edge cocktails with unusual ingredients. Reserve by email to make sure you get a seat. EXPERIMENTALCOCKTAILCLUBLONDON.COM

If London is the playground for the world’s rich, Hedonism Wines is their liquor store. Opened in 2012 by Yevgeny Chichvarkin, the eccentric Russian telecommunications mogul, it contains one of the finest collections of wines and spirits ever put on public display. The main floor boasts 1,500 kinds of spirits, including an impressive selection of Scotch (Macallan 50 year old 1928, anyone?), while glass panels in the floor reveal the wine cellar below, home to 4,500 varieties. Along one wall glows a complete collection of Château d’Yquem, backlit for dramatic effect, with bottles dated every year from 1894 to 2008. Similar displays are devoted to Penfolds and Pingus, while a separate room exclusively contains back-vintages of Château Mouton Rothschild. Save some room in your luggage for a nice bottle of something. Or better yet—have them ship you home a case. HEDONISM.CO.UK 


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