When one considers the expression ‘hiding in plain sight,” it’s hard to imagine it could be applied to a neighborhood in Central London. Yet we managed to browse the vinyl for years at the former Rough Trade Shop in Neal’s Yard without a clue that its surrounding neighborhood was actually called Seven Dials.
The micro-hood is also home to our fave London sleep (and easily one of the city’s coolest), the Covent Garden Hotel – which just turned 20 this year. And over those two decades, its seductively trad/mod styled rooms have held the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, Bono, Stella McCartney, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Orlando Bloom…the list could genuinely go on (and on). It even had a starring role in Woody Allen’s Match Point.
From its plush Drawing Room and Library to its elegantly cool Brasserie Max (our go-to spot in the capital), every inch of the hotel is a perfectly realized tableau of Englishness, but as captured by a true modern iconoclast (Firmdale Hotels proprietor-designer Kit Kemp, of course). And its Monmouth Street location almost makes it feel as if you might have nipped off to the Cotswolds – but that Soho’s shopping and nightlife are just ten minutes away.
London is one of our favorite holiday season weekend getaways. So we asked the hotel’s charming General Manager Helle Jensen to take us through a perfect couple of days worth of activity in Seven Dials. (N.B. they’re offering a special package which includes tickets to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.)
Just over the road from the hotel, a fantastic café that roasts and sells coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives. They travel extensively throughout the year bringing the most interesting varietals back to Covent Garden.
Every Saturday we host the Brunch Film Club in the luxury cinema in the hotel. Two courses and a prosecco or bloody mary at our Brasserie Max, plus the film, is just £40.
Neal’s Yard is a wildly colourful courtyard hidden down a small alleyway opposite the hotel – and named for the 17th century developer, Thomas Neale. After hitting shops like Neal’s Yard Remedies and Neal’s Yard Dairy, have lunch at Wild Food Café (raw/veggie), Homeslice (gourmet pizza), Barbary (North African) or the impossibly hip outpost of Paris’ Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (below).
Walter Conway and Herbert Thorn started the business in 1946 and it’s still going strong today. Worth a visit to browse through their stunning 20-piece optical range and other products such as notepads, lambs’ wool scarves and key rings, all made in England. A gift for her? A pair of incredibly chic Lavender Crystal Blyton sunglasses.
Irish contemporary designer Orla Keily is known for her unique retro prints and designs, and her store in Seven Dials is one of only two in London. From a small collection of accessories – commissioned by Harrods following her graduation from the Royal College of Art – the range has grown to include a complete ready-to-wear collection, travel, homeware and stationery.
Ahead of any night, we recommend gentlemen visit Murdock London. They have a great range of English made colognes and daily essentials, as well as barbershop experiences to stay sharp. For the perfect holiday gift for him, choose from exclusive grooming kits like The Stay Sharp Straight Razor Box and The Handsome Beard Box.
Keeping fit during any trip is important, so I’d recommend visiting this brand’s new fitness boutique. Focusing on cycle, HIIT and yoga, the best part is that they don’t require any membership or joining fees – which is perfect for our visitors.
During its 24-year history, the Donmar has won over 100 awards for its artistic excellence, gaining it an international reputation. It’s a 251-seat, not-for-profit theatre on Earlham Street and is renowned as one of the UK’s finest – we’re looking forward to seeing Gemma Arterton in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan this December. Nip back to the bar at Brasserie Max after, for a Med G&T or Silly Mid Wicket cocktail, and scintillating post-theatre chat.