Not a lot of tourists see London as a culinary destination, but it’s actually home to some of the best restaurants in the world. In fact, the city has over 66 dining spots that have been awarded Michelin stars as of date.
The restaurant scene in London is just as diverse as its population, so you can expect to find a plethora of culinary experiences, from hole-in-the-wall to gourmet and everything in between.
Even if you’re traveling on a tight budget, it does not mean that you should forgo dining at a Michelin-star restaurant altogether. Everyone should experience world-class dining from time to time. You can take public transportation instead of renting a car or trade a night’s stay at an expensive hotel for an affordable hostel in London for a taste of luxury.
So if a memorable dining experience is on your bucket list, make a reservation at one or two of these renowned restaurants.
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
Hélène Darroze has emerged during the worst year for hospitality with a third star, bumping up the visionary chef in the list of culinary greats. Seasonal produce is the star of her farm-to-table menu, but what will wow you is that you get to pick your own ingredients and the chefs will craft your meal around your selection. Top that off with a dizzying wine selection and an atmosphere that doesn’t intimidate.
Core by Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth, a protege of Gordon Ramsay, has made a mark in the culinary world as the first female chef to earn three stars in the UK just three years after opening Core. Experience the best of British produce with the restaurant’s thoughtfully crafted tasting or seasonal menu, paired with great wine and cocktails.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Among the list of chefs in the UK, Gordon Ramsay’s worldwide fame is unparalleled, and for good reason. His signature restaurant in Chelsea has kept its three stars since 2001. The menu selections are diverse and even features a Vegetarian option. His modern interpretation of classic French dishes has been regarded as polished and consistent.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Pure gastronomic pleasure—that is what will experience from the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world. While the restaurant is set in the luxurious Dorchester hotel, the restaurant has a casual vibe. But expect nothing less than haute cuisine and impeccable service. Critics say that Ducasse’s contemporary take on French cuisine is unrivaled.
Sketch Lecture Room & Library
Sketch, owned by iconoclastic chef Pierre Gagnaire, is both a culinary and creative hub located in Mayfair, London. In this house of fun created by Gagnaire and Mourad Mazouz, patrons are in for a unique and memorable experience with its avant-garde menu rooted in French cooking and unique setting often described as a mad hatter’s fantasy.
Chef Andrew Wong’s brainchild is the first Chinese restaurant in the UK to earn two stars. The open kitchen and al fresco dining signal a relaxed atmosphere, but each dish is serious and refined. The menu features traditional dishes such as dim sum, buns, spare ribs, and Sichuan chicken, but with a modern, elegant twist.
The Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs makes the theater of cooking in full view with its open kitchen and counter-only setup. The chefs can interact with patrons and vice versa, a welcome treat during the three and a half-hour, multi-course tasting menu.
Muse is the brainchild of celebrity chef and proponent of experience-led dining Tom Aikens. The menus all inspired by the chef’s travels and personal experiences. Half restaurant, half autobiography, Muse is an example that food can be both intimate and daring, nostalgic and provocative.
If you’re a certified foodie on a quest for trophy meals, what better place to dine than the Michelin building in London itself. Bibendum is located in the iconic Michelin House and is run by celebrated chef Claude Bosi, so you can expect a dining experience like no other.
Benares Bar & Restaurant in Mayfair serves up modern Indian food with a contemporary British twist. Run by Chef Atul Kocchar, the restaurant has a fine dining room serving refined tasting menus, and a more casual lounge bar offering street food and quirky cocktails.
If you’re looking for an informal but high-end dining experience, SOLA is the perfect find. Owned and led by Victor Garvey, with Salvatore Greco at his side, the restaurant brings playful and relaxed Californian cooking to Soho.
Get an authentic kaiseki experience in London at Umu Restaurant in Mayfair. The tasting menu features elegant dishes inspired by nature and the seasons and is crafted by Yoshinori Ishii, a globe-trotting rising star from Kyoto.
A Mayfair newbie, HIDE is worth a stop in your London itinerary. The airy, well-lit, three-floor building sets the mood for a unique dining and drinking experience that could last for hours. The third level has private dining rooms with views of Green Park, while the ground level has a more casual vibe and informal menus. The basement is a cozy retreat to grab some classic and contemporary cocktails to cap off the day.
With its dizzying array of dining hubs and world-class restaurants, London has earned its place as one of the best gastronomic destinations in the world. Visit some of these restaurants and get a taste of what London and its talented chefs have to offer.