The London Design Festival West London crib list

The end of summer is buffered by some serious back2back creative fun and games. London Fash Week overlaps with Open House and London Design Festival before Frieze jets into town with all the bling in it’s wake. Then we’re off into film territory next month. So I thought I’d put some ideas together for added inspiration round each of these hot spots.

People often go a bit blank around South Ken and the so called ‘Brompton Design District’ so here’s a list to get you up the curve. Assuming that the Design Festival is the culture this is basically a list of drinking and eating spots:

The Sampler

The pubs are rather average in this neck of the woods, with the unfussy tourist hordes resulting in places that can’t be bothered to make an effort. So why not try this place instead, ostensibly an off licence but one where you can try a large range of wines from cheap and cheerful to rare and expensive from their enomatic machine dispensers and a charge card. Minimum spend is £10 but with two people you can get through a healthy number from a couple of 30p sips worth up to a full glass. It’s a great way to try stuff you’d never normally buy, and makes a change from sitting in the pub. The shop even has its own dog. Any place with an animal  in residence usually gets a thumbs up. MB.

The Sampler, 35 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HP

020 7225 5091 

Mon-Friday 11.30 – 9.00 , Saturday 10-9.00, Sunday 11.30 – 7.00

Good for: wine buffs, quick pit stops

Bad for: cosy drinking

Le Cave a Fromage

If you’re after wine plus a nibble, then head here nearby. Like The Sampler, it’s basically a shop but one where you can sit in at a few high tables and be served a quality cheese platter and glass of wine by the knowledgable staff. Good people watching out of the window on to the street. Cheese never sleeps! MB.

Le Cave A Fromage, 24-25 Cromwell Place, SW7 2LD

020 7581 1804

Mon-Tues 11.00-7.00, Wed 10.00-7.00, Thurs-Sat 10.00-9.00, Sun 11.00-6.00

Good for: taste sensation

Bad for: slow dining


La Bouchee

South Ken is the Gallic hotspot – you’ve got the Lycee and the French Institute. This bistro is home from home for the local French. Dark, lots of wood, candles and classic fare like steak hache and snails on the menu. Textbook! Fabulous busy joint – the best table by far is the one at the back next to the hatch. Ask for it if you book for 4. MB.

La Bouchee 56 Old Brompton Road SW7 3DY

020 7589 1929

Open Mon-Thu 12pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 12pm-11:30pm; Sun 12pm-10:30pm

Good for: THE quintessential French experience

Bad for: spontaneous dining – always busy

The Crown

Amid a sea of naff bars on Fulham Road this sweet Spanish bar stands out. It’s….cool! Gasp. Both modern and well designed with retro touches around the place such as formica tables. Good tapas, great wines.

The Crown, 153 Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 6LB

020 7352 9505

Good for: A life saver when you need a little place that isn’t overrun by red cord wearing big haired gents.

Bad for: vegetarians


Oh what a perfect spot. Utterly charming staff, refined Polish fare and good cakes. This café hadn’t changed an iota since it opened in 1947 until a terrible fire ripped through the place. What rose from the ashes is even better having been brought up to date with great sensitivity. I can’t think of anyone who would fail to fall for this little gem.

Daquise, 20 Thurloe Street, SW7 2LT

0207 589 6117

Open 7 days, midday until last guests leave

Good for: Warm, professional service, all day dining.

Bad for: n/a!



Hmm funny old place. I can’t claim to have eaten here but this Polish Club has survived fifty years in an elegant building with a bar, spacious dining room and a stunning terrace overlooking private gardens. It’s got rather square conference-esque furniture but once you’ve installed a bunch of friends getting busy with some vodka and pierogies (Polish ravioli) you won’t notice it.

Ognisko, 55 Exhibition Road, London SW7 2PN

Good for: Big groups in the bar, vodka. Lots of space.

Bad for: Cool hunters.



Smart but accessible classic French neighbourhood restaurant. Despite being on the main Knightsbridge drag it’s certainly affordable, especially with the prix fixe on offer right the way through the week. Dishes such as filet au poivre, lapin à la moutarde, tête de veau, soupe de poisson. Salads of mountain goat’s cheeses and herbs, aioli of cod. 

Racine, 239 Brompton Road
London SW3 2EP

020 7584 4477

Good for: A calm, slick French experience

Bad for: Light fare


Egerton House Hotel

If you need to up the ante in an instant, make it martini time. The barmen here are the masters and it feels like you’ve been invited into somone’s front room to enjoy them.

Egerton House Hotel, 17-19 Egerton Terrace, London, SW3 2BX

020 758 92412

Good for: a unique martini drinking experience in a cosy environment.

Bad for: Loud, rowdy groups.


Nags Head

Gorgeous, louche little pub on a quiet mews street in Knightsbridge. There always seems to be a lush at the bar clutching bags from the department stores in one hand and a G&T in the other, whatever the time of day. One red one white wine on offer. I believe they’ve relaxed the rules on hanging coats up and using mobiles.

The Nags Head, 53 Kinnerton Street, London, SW1X 8ED

020 7235 1135 

Good for: An intimate drink, summertime drinking

Bad for: Getting a table. Best to go at strange times to enjoy a quiet time.


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