London has been our home for the past month during my husband's restaurant research. It's been one fast-moving, high-dining ride since December. While there was plenty of work on our plates, too, we were fortunate to be staying with family and had a very relaxing holiday, and smartly, there was a long weekend in Rome carved out for the two of us. We're back in Ithaca until Josh graduates in May, but it's looking like we'll be seeing more of London soon...Here are a few places that made my Would-Go-Back-in-a-Heartbeat List:
Starting with wellness...
This holistic beauty boutique in Marylebone stocks all of my favorite organic skincare brands as well as some sweet new finds (Inika organic eyeliner, Konjac beauty sponges, Nourish, Studio 78 Paris) and they offer Tata Harper facials and non-toxic Kure Bazaar manis and other treatments. Naturally, I went here for all of my grooming needs during our stay.
I took classes at both the Soho and Chelsea studios but found that I preferred the teaching styles at the latter. I loved the Anusara-inspired class as well as the Level 2 Vinyasa class. Another bonus at Chelsea is the on-site cafe, which had a variety of raw and vegan dishes to choose from (Raw Pizza, Rocket & Avocado Tortillas, Quinoa Salad, Mini Tofu Toasts) as well as a full range of juices.
Frame's industrial studio tucked away on New Yard Inn is a fun environment for the cheeky sounding lineup - Ass & Abs, Resist Yourself - and the well-rounded offerings make firming your frame a lot more interesting.
Lomax Bespoke Fitness
I wandered upon Lomax on my way to Triyoga Chelsea one day and decided to give it a go. The downstairs cafe has delicious healthy options (ratatouille, raw oatmeal raisin cookies, "Supple Skin Pots", smoothies, buckwheat wraps) to support all of the hard work you do in the studio upstairs. Spinning, pilates, personal training, nutrition, and spa treatments are available here, but it was the Blast class that caught my eye. Described as one of the best calorie burning workouts in London, I completed a 60 minute circuit of high intensity cardio intervals that included spinning, squats, weight training, and ab work all timed to kick my ass. Just when I thought I couldn't push for another second, the timer would beep and I'd move on to the next exercise. This was the most challenging workout I found in London.
Moving on to decadence...
The Zetter Townhouse and 69 Colebrooke Row
We attended a masterclass with cocktail mastermind Tony Conigliaro at 69 Colebrooke Row and loved the experience so much that we headed back for drinks at the intimate and innovative spot. For NYE, we headed to the Zetter, Tony's second drinking venture, and were met with the finest hospitality and quality of drinks that I've experienced anywhere. Skip the 5 Star Hotel bar and just come here.
We fell hard for the cornmeal crusted by-the-slice pizza action at this modern Notting Hill spot and quickly bonded with the owner (his hair is so much cooler than mine). I have dreams about the red lentil kofte cashew cheese pizza, and there are at least two other veganizable options (both incredible).
Pollen Street Social
While we had quite a few vegan tasting menus booked in London that were impressive and rave-worthy, Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social won us over on one of our last nights in town. We both found it interesting that some of our best veggie meals were not at veggie restaurants, but at Michelin-starred restaurants. Pollen Street served truly unforgettable food and drink (the cocktail list is worth noting) with an atmosphere that was relaxed and natural.
This Bombay-style cafe was another lunchtime hit for us. The delicious Indian small plates were enhanced by the detailed and playful decor and inviting environment.
If there is one hotel bar that gets its drinks right, it's the Artesian at the Langham. Voted Best Hotel Bar in the World for a reason, there's tiki inspiration for those that want to stray from the classics, serious dedication to the craft, all in a beautiful bar that was built for buzz.
It's been called the Best Chinese Restaurant in London, and I'm going to agree. This Mayfair hotspot wowed us from the wine menu all the way to the tea service and every point in between. There is a vegetarian menu with many vegan options, with the most outstanding being the Aromatic Crispy Beancurd, Kai's veggie take on Peking Duck. They even say on the menu that "For too long have vegetarians been excluded from the experience of enjoying the iconic Crispy Duck."
Thanks to the amazing folks who made us feel right at home and gave us the vegan lowdown on London. We had a blast at Vegan Drinks at Tibits and some ridiculously tasty vegan Japanese food cooked by new friends in North London. Until next time!