My top Italian neighbourhood restaurants in London

My favourite neighbourhood Italian restaurants in London. Think where to sample the best smouldering, caliginous wood-fired pizzas and super cosy trattoria-style gaffs where the pasta is executed to precision, and risottos luxuriate in butteriness yet retain their al dente form. Most of my picks are family run, valued mainly by locals in the know, and seriously affordable. Some…

Secret Streets: Clarendon Cross W11

Confession: Holland Park doesn’t normally get me excited. Once you’ve seen one stucco-fronted Victorian mansion flanked by a parliament of 4×4’s with personalised number plates, you’ve seen them all. But Clarendon Cross is interesting enough to drag me away from my regular haunts in Notting Hill. It’s like a mini village square, with its wrought-iron…

Quiet Spaces: Bonnington Square Garden SW8

Walk into Bonnington Square Garden, and you’re smacked with the fat, spicy smell of rosemary. The hazy, sweet, laundered perfume of lavender soon follows. It’s like you’re not in London at all. The only sound is the grating screech of the magpies skimming between the Mediterranean palm trees, and the contralto murmur of the bees….

Quiet Spaces: Mount Street Gardens

This hidden, little-known Mayfair square – festooned with exotic trees and endowed with two fascinating churches – gets few visitors. But it’s one of London’s best secret gardens. The discreet gate entrance, slightly set into an alleyway, doesn’t even graze the corner of tourists’ eyeballs, which are too fixed ahead as they make a beeline for…

Secret Streets: Albemarle Street W1

At first glance, Albemarle Street is just another Mayfair backroad: handsome, empty, intimidating, uniform. But this deserted Georgian boulevard is full of exciting secrets. Let me share some of them with you. Thousands  of people walk past Albemarle Street each day while trekking down Piccadilly, or on their way to Old Bond Street, without giving…

Soho’s hidden shopping treasures

A selection of my favourite off-the-radar Soho shops, including an off license that started life dealing in confiscated goods and a bookshop doubling as a private cocktail club. Gerry’s Wines and Spirits The best off-license in London, basically. Think shelves lined with rare bottles of alcohol and eccentric cocktail ingredients, from watermelon liqueur and guava syrup to…

The best jazz bars in London

My favourite jazz bars in London, from spiritual jazz in a Medieval church crypt, to swing jazz in Streatham, plus insider tips, including what night to go, where to sit and what food and drink to order while you’re enjoying the music. Vortex, Dalston It’s located inside the Dalston Cultural Club, a building that resembles…

My favourite secret art galleries in London

The most intriguing hidden art galleries in the capital: think on a train platform; in an old police station; and in a working fish factory. Banner Repeater – Hackney Downs Tube A reading room and artist space hidden behind a door on platform 1 of Hackney Downs railway station. Look out for the converted office with tubs of…

London’s quirkiest museums

The weirdest museums in the capital. Expect treats like an original Coco the clown costume, Freud’s patient couch, and ECG equipment used on King George VI in 1951. Clowns Gallery Museum Bluebottle, Gingermutt, Spotty and Mattie run this clown museum located in a Dalston church, and open on the first Friday of every month. Inside is a…

The best secret bars in London

I’ve trawled across London in search of the capital’s best clandestine drinking dens, from Shoreditch and Soho to Kensal Rise. I’ve discovered whisky joints hidden behind bookcases , password-only speakeasies, and even a cocktail club in unassuming art dealer’s shop. Plus, don’t miss my insider’s tips, from what to order to the best tables to nab….