London CITY GUIDE

London remains, in all likelihood, the best place on the planet to do business. Yes, the financial crunch has hobbled many of Britain’s banks, while growth remains a drain on the economy and its currency. But London is a many-sided coin. Unlike, say, Frankfurt, Perth or Los Angeles, it isn’t dependent on a single industry: finance in all its myriad forms can be found here, alongside global media and entertainment industries, and a coterie of blue-chip corporate giants. Small businesses still make it here every year, while London, with its steady tax regime and surprisingly reliable infrastructure, remains a great place to cut deals and do business.

It’s also a great place to kick back and relax, to wine and dine and, of course, to enjoy the pub scene, a great place to break through the (still very present) British reserve and mix business with leisure.

Breakfast/Brunch

The Wolseley on Piccadilly rarely disappoints. Great for lunch and dinner, but renowned foremost for its excellent breakfasts: a place where financial and political power-players start the day. A hop and a skip away lies Automat, an American-style diner and staple of London’s cuisine scene, this is a great place to do dinner, but a better place to catch breakfast. Always rammed, so book in advance. Further upscale is Mews of Mayfair, a genuinely elegant breakfast/brunch option on New Bond Street, perfect for formal business lunches in the dining room or on the terrace. Also hosts a great cocktail bar that fills up quickly after work with moneyed types from the nearby hedge fund and auction scenes.

Lunch

Five minutes from Bond Street tube station lies La Petite Maison. If you can’t impress clients in this classic, light, air restaurant, you probably never will. Book well in advance and enjoy some of the best mixed Mediterranean cuisine in the world. Close by Leicester Square, surrounded by the media crowd, you’ll find The Ivy, another great restaurant for impressing potential clients. Again, book well ahead.

Balthazar on Russell Street, is an émigré from New York, which opened in early 2013, offering the same exquisite food from brunch through to closing time. Hawksmoor Seven Dials, in the heart of Covent Garden, is another recent opening, offering some of the best steaks in town. Over in London’s new financial centre, Boisdale of Canary Wharf offers cigars and riotous after-hours entertainment to go with the champagne and excellent Aberdeen Angus burgers. Affordable and the best place to do (financial) business in town.

Dinner

London is home to some of the world’s best homegrown and imported restaurants. It’s hard to go wrong, so long as you know where to go. Trouble is, most people don’t know where to go to impress that client, so here are a few choice – and affordable - destinations.

Sale e Pepe
in Knightsbridge is your classic Italian restaurant: a great atmosphere, and one of the best places in London to do business. There are two Rokas, one in Canary Wharf, the other on Charlotte Street (north of Tottenham Court Road tube) but both are simply excellent places to enjoy some of the best Asian/Japanese fusion food in town.

Go to Kai in Mayfair for a genuinely excellent twist on Chinese cuisine, blending north and south mainland dishes. Michelin-starred and for good reason, this clean-lined and bright restaurant is one of the best business destinations in town.

An excellent homegrown option can be found at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge, in the able form of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. If the snail porridge doesn’t grab you, the Herefordshire rib-eye or black foot pork chop will. Stay after dinner for drinks at the MO’s bar, one of the best places for cocktail and spirits in town. And for a pot luck option, head to Bodean’s on Poland Street in the heart of Soho. The best buffalo wings in the city, along with a host of smokehouse options including top-notch baby back ribs, all at affordable prices. Head downstairs for comfort and good service.

The Pub Scene


One might think it’s hard to go wrong with pubs in London. But go to the wrong watering hole and you might end up drinking flat beer from rusty pipes. The options are immense, but it’s still important to think and plan carefully in advance if you’re planning on impressing.

There are five Draft Houses in London now, sprinkled around the city. The ones near Tower Bridge and near Goodge Street tube station are two of the best, offering beer ‘provenance’, emulating restaurants and wine estates. Some of the best and most varied beers on the planet can be found here.

Or head to Guy Ritchie’s Mayfair pub, The Punchbowl, on Farm Street in Mayfair, a prized Georgian pub dating back to 1750 with an excellent menu to boot. In a similar vein, The Gunin Coldharbour, a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf, is consistently rated one of the best pubs anywhere in London.

In Chelsea, The Phene on King’s Road, a mixture of pub and high-end bar, has been spruced up in recent years and is now one of the best meeting spots anywhere in this glitzy end of town. For those seeking olde times, head to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street. Wonderfully wonky, a curio of a building, it was rebuilt in 1667 after being gutted in London’s great fire, and now offers the full range of bar meals and Samuel Smith ales. A regular stamping ground for bankers, traders and headhunters.

Cocktails

London isn’t all about hops. The city also boasts a host of great wine and cocktail bars, catering to any fancy and wallet. Lounge Lover east of Shoreditch High Street station kills two birds with one stone, being a great cocktail bar bang in the heart of the city’s trendy tech scene. Hix on Brewer Street in Soho boasts both a great wine list and wonderful cocktails – and has the added benefit of being the best place to buy oysters in town.

Another likely destination here is Archer Street, a highly civilised cocktail bar, also in the heart of Soho, and a great place to head after work. And if you or your client find your feet heading in the direction of Mayfair, why not stop in at the Mayfair Hotel on Stratton Street, a great place for complex cocktails and after-work drinks.

Bed Down for the Night

The Andaz Hotel next to Liverpool Street station, couldn’t be more handy for anyone seeking to cut a deal in the heart of the City. It also boasts five great restaurants and excellent videoconferencing and hosting facilities.

East and north of the Andaz, in the heart of Hoxton, home to London’s thriving tech scene you can find the Hoxton Pony. This is a rare gem: a trendy boutique hotel that’s also old-fashioned, offering private meetings clad in old wood with exposed brick walls, catering to groups of up to 55. A surprisingly excellent business-oriented hotel.

Head to The Soho on Richmond Mews to find another excellent boutique hotel, hosting a great bar for after-work and late-night drinks. For peace and solitude – and top-of-the-range business service facilities, look no further than The Halkin in leafy Belgravia, a stone’s throw from Hyde Park.

The Knightsbridge Hotel meanwhile in southwest London also acts as a true home-from-home. There’s no restaurant but there is a lovely library, and the hotel hosts suites of all grades and sizes. Last but far from least there’s The Cumberland near Marble Arch, an award-winning boutique hotel that won’t break the bank.

Private members clubs

If you’re in London regularly on business, you might want to take out a membership at one of the city’s large – and growing – number of excellent private members clubs.

The range of options these days on such clubs is just staggering. For those seeking a bit of old-school pampering, head to the Savile Club near Bond Street tube station. Pricey but excellent, with old-fashioned British service. South of Covent Garden, close to the banks of the Thames, lies Adam Street, a proper new-fangled destination, and a great place to meet and mingle with the new media crowd and London’s best and most driven entrepreneurs.

Home House on Portman Square, in reaching distance of Selfridges, has blazed a trail for a new generation of members clubs. Everything from a hotel and a gym/sauna/plunge pool with a restaurant and multiple bars, all under one roof. Attracts successful people from all walks of life. Finally there is Century on Shaftesbury Avenue, a great place to meet people from across the media and entertainment worlds. Also a great place to just plain entertain.

Insider knowledge

If you are tired of London, you are tired of life. The old refrain is as relevant as ever, as there is simply so much to do here.

Whether it’s a ride on the London Eye – something everyone should do, at any age – or a jaunt around Tate Britain on the South Bank, you’ll always find a worth diversion. Take in a football or a cricket match at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, or at Lord’s or Oval cricket grounds – can anything be more English than drinking ale while hearing the crack of leather on willow.

Stroll in Hyde Park and, if it’s a good day, hire out a bicycle on the excellent and easy-to-use Barclays bike-hire scheme. If you avoid the busy streets and bottlenecks, London’s a very cycle-worthy city. Finally, if you fancy watching a movie, head to the British Film Institute on the South Bank, which always has something for everyone. And if none of that stands out, and you can’t decide to do next with yourself (or your business client) just head to the pub. You can’t go wrong.