NFT London Trafalgar Square / The Strand

Trafalgar Square / The Strand

The hawkers came and removed the flying rats and lo! the Square was clean and visible. This ain't Mary Poppins -- don't feed the birds, you dirty tourists. Instead go to Terroirs and pretend you know a lot about wine. Eat at Wahaca, one of London's few good Mexicans, then walk it off on Waterloo Bridge and watch the sun set over the Thames. Aah. That's why you love London.


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Posted By:  Justine Forrest
Photo:  Justine Forrest

Ora Salon
A girl's relationship with her hairdresser is one of the most important in her life, and the quest to find a good one can be harder than finding a good man. I've suffered some bad haircuts and dreadful dyes over the years, and had the disappointment of finding a good hairdresser only for them to disappear on me. But after over a decade of looking, my search final ended a few years ago when I found the Ora Salon. Ora and its stylists are trendy without being intimidating. The stylists clearly know and love their work, but they always listen to you--you aren't going to come out of here with an asymetrical cut that takes hours to maintain (unless that is what you want, of course). The salon is bright white, made less stark by various plants and comfy seats. Whilst most salons play relentless dance music regardless what time of day, the soundtrack at Ora could be a mix of The Smiths, Nouvelle Vague, New Orleans jazz or something you've never heard before, but want to hear more of. Prices vary depending on the level of experience of the stylist, but being able to get a decent cut in Covent Garden for around £50 is pretty reasonable.

Posted By:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow

You know those people who think they know about wine? Those people who have watched Sideways and always order a Californian Pinot Noir? Yeah, I'm not one of those. I like to drink, and I know what I like to drink, and I'm not going to pontificate about it (I have however, discovered that the Portuguese do a very good white: just a tip). There is something about Terroirs which is easy and natural, and appeals to this sensibility. We had the charcuterie platter, a selection of three cheeses with our abundant breadbasket, and a Domaine de Menard, which hit the spot. For the connoisseurs, it really did have "beautifully defined citrus flavours" and "mineral notes". The wine list is an entertaining read actually, organised by geography with quotations from the likes of Jacques Brel and Jerome K Jerome. If you're really stuck for choice the staff are fantastic. We asked our Provençal waiter what on earth he was doing in miserable London and he told us, "If you're interested in wine, this is the place to be". He even confessed that the French can be overly proud when it comes to wine. Cheers to wine drinking sans pretension!

Posted By:  Lee Mannion
Photo:  Lee Mannion

Masters Diner
Sieving the city for it's best burger is an unending quest. A new joint is always springing up promising Gourmet this or Classic that but I'm suspicious of the new pretenders to the throne, which is why I'm often tempted to let the old-school have a punt. A charitable urge to support the underdog in the face of the flash new upstarts sucked me inside Masters. The plastic tables are wipe down friendly and the overall colour scheme is classic '70s caff yellow and brown. The burger turned up looking homemade from the smallest kitchen in the world, complete with a gherkin (always a good sign). As I stuffed it in my gob an ooze of oil drained out of it that made me suspect it had been deep fried, rather than grilled--not good. The onions went into the sandwich in an attempt to glean some taste from the whole package but it was to no avail and I was reminded why the new kids on the block are doing so well while my arteries hardened. Pros are its not McD's, the salad was fresh and the heaving plate cost a bargain £6.

Posted By:  Justine Forrest
Photo:  Justine Forrest

Victoria Embankment Gardens
I would like to think of Victoria Embankment Gardens as my own special place, somewhere that nobody else knows about. But clearly that isn't the case, as plenty of other people have discovered this modest little park, tucked away near Embankment station. The park has beautiful lawns and flowers, and plenty of history, making it a great place for a lunchtime stroll, but the absolute high point of it for me are the concerts. In the summer months, hundreds of striped deckchairs are laid out around a stage that plays host to bands playing classical, traditional and jazz music. Some of my happiest hours have been spent lounging here in a deckchair, reading a book with the sounds of Gershwin drifting through the air. It is spoilt only by the fact that I must return the office when my hour is over.

Posted By:  Anne Seymour
Photo:  Anne Seymour

Gordon's Wine Bar
You just wouldn't expect it. A piece of utter drinking perfection, right under the tourists' noses. Tourists give it a wide berth because outside it has the dog-eared appearance which threatens only asbestos poisoning. But step inside and Gordon's will give you such a romantically, timelessly, enchantingly, cosily, captivatingly gorgeous evening that you’ll become one of the now far too many who call it their favourite bar in London. Lovingly preserved for almost 120 years, its entirely candlelit atmosphere is thick with character and history and the sweet nothings of its loved-up patrons. For drinks it sells only wine--indeed it's London’s oldest wine bar (as well as a former home of plague-dodger Samuel Pepys and everybody’s favourite colonialist Rudyard Kipling)--but you can choose, or be expertly helped to choose, from their enormous wine list. They also serve exquisite cheeses, olives and salmon (and pork pies, if you must) to complement your wine. The only downside of being such a perfect bar is that you'll be far from alone in trying to get a seat...

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