Have You Heard Of It? is not yet a year old but you’ll already find over 150 recommendations for bars, restaurants, cafés and events in London and beyond – a curated collection of only the best places, so you don’t have to worry about sifting through the average places to find the gems – I’ve done that for you!
If ever you feel spoilt for choice, how about looking on the HYHOI guide map – it’s the easiest way to see where all the good stuff is in relation to your location 🙂
As the end of 2014 draws near, I wanted to recognise my ultimate favourites of the year…
How many of them have you visited?
Do you agree with my choices?!
Best Casual Restaurant: Bone Daddies, Soho
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been here with Richard. Get used to eating at unconventional hours to beat the queues, and order the T22 or Kimchi ramen. Never disappoints.
Best ‘Special Occasion’ Restaurant: Corner Room, Bethnal Green
Affordable luxury at its best, Corner Room serves up beautiful plates of locally sourced fare in a delightful setting in Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel. I only discovered this one a week ago, and it’s stolen the top spot for the whole year!
Best Coffee Shop: TAP Coffee, Soho/Fitzrovia
With the most Instagrammable interior in London, TAP’s treacle tin sugar pots and vintage collector’s spoons make this my top choice for drinking in. Sign up for a TAP coffee subscription to bring the tip-top caffeine fix to your home too.
Best Takeaway Coffee: Department of Coffee & Social Affairs, Piccadilly (formely called Tonic)
For those on the go, hit this tiny espresso bar – beautiful in green subway tiles, coffee service is super speedy and the View of the Sea espresso is always a winner.
Best Bar: Peg + Patriot, Bethnal Green
Matt Whiley runs his bar like a laboratory, with distillers and flasks bubbling and fizzing behind the bar. With a beautifully dark interior and an intriguing and witty menu (the Sumac My Bitch Up contain greek yoghurt gin!?), this was an obvious choice for the #1 spot.
Best Hotel: Brody House, Budapest
More of a guesthouse than a hotel, Brody House is without a doubt the most unique and beautiful place I’ve ever holidayed. Each room is themed on a different artist and the rates are totally reasonable. Budapest is a fantastic city too – I had a wonderful stay.
Best for Dates: Discount Suit Co, Spitalfields or Wilton’s, Tower Hill
If it’s moody lighting and comfy sofas in the city you’re after, hit Discount Suit Company, the underground bar in the former suit maker’s just off Petticoat Lane (affordable cocktails and cheese platters are on the menu).
Or for a more quirky vibe, Wilton’s is the oldest surviving music hall in the world and is so beautiful – it houses a pub and a cocktail bar, so all bases are covered.
Pick either of these and you’ll impress your date, promise.
Best for Groups: The Running Horse, Mayfair
I’ve been to The Running Horse with large groups of people several times and they are always so friendly and accommodating. Great breakfast in the pub, a big coffee meeting with colleagues, or wonderful juleps in The Whip cocktail bar upstairs – always fantastic and super friendly. The nicest, chicest pub you’ll find in London.
Best Interior: Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell
I will let the pictures speak for themselves – the cocktails are fabulous too!
Best Breakfast: Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
A reasonably priced breakfast served in utterly splendid surroundings – I have yet to find somewhere that beats Berners Tavern for that early morning glamour fix.
Best Brunch: Dishoom, King’s Cross/Shoreditch/Covent Garden or Hubbard & Bell, Holborn
Dishoom will always be a favourite, for the granola, chai and bacon naan rolls – and I think the new restaurant at King’s Cross is the best branch yet.
This year there was a new opening in The Hoxton Hotel which is vying for the top spot too: Hubbard & Bell is wonderfully designed and makes the best steak and eggs for breakfast. Wash it down with a crystal glass of Sandows cold brew coffee and you’ll be set to face the weekend.
Best Lunch: Lantana, Fitzrovia
My go-to spot for lunch on a work day – the slightly pricey lunch box is supremely tasty. I always go for a slice of salmon with seasonal salads, and have never regretted my choice. The homemade cakes are always hard to resist too…
Best for Tea & Cake: The Teahouse at Petersham Nurseries, near Richmond
Eating organic cake and drinking pots of tea in a greenhouse was always going to be pretty great, and Petersham Nurseries has truly created a haven amongst the greenery, just outside of Richmond.
Best Activity: clueQuest, The City
The adrenaline junkie inside me has had me taking part in live escape games left right and centre this year. clueQuest was probably my favourite – not just because my team and I broke the record for the fastest escape, but also for how well it was put together. You and your team have an hour to escape from a locked room, via a series of puzzles, clues and tasks – huge amounts of fun.
Best Burger: Bukowski, Brixton
I’m so glad this restaurant is just on my doorstep in the Brixton Village Market – so much so that I have been known to visit 3 times in a single week! Absolutely delicious dirty burgers, cooked to perfection with mountains of toppings – be sure to order the tobacco onions on the side, and a Sour Cherry Bomb slushy cocktail!
Best Pizza: Pizza Union, Spitalfields
Superveloce is its motto, and Pizza Union certainly is super fast – and super cheap and super tasty. We’re talking fabulous thin pizzas for £6 a pop, or a delicious Nutella-stuffed pizza crust for dessert. Perfectly placed, on the back streets near Spitalfields too. I heart Pizza Union.
Best Dessert: Mishkin’s, Covent Garden
Mishkin’s, the Jew-ish brasserie, is by no means a pudding specialist, but the chocolate brownie with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream was absolutely stunning. We shared one helping between three, and the deliciousness made us all rather ruthless with our spoons!
Stay tuned for more of the same throughout 2015 – or follow me on Twitter @WrittenByFitton and Instagram @NinaFitton for real-time updates.