If you are going to London for a mid-week or weekend break, check out our favorite hotels, restaurants and cafes in the Covent Garden area.
(1) Neighbourhood to stay in: Covent Garden
Why? Central location, walking distance to excellent boutiques, cafes and restaurants; close to theatres and museums. If you are traveling on the Eurostar, the Leicester Square Tube stop is only a few stops from St. Pancras station.
(2) Favorite hotel: St. Martin’s Lane Hotel
Why? Cool, modern boutique hotel close to Covent Garden square and Leicester Square, surrounded by excellent restaurants, cafes, theatres and shops. The hotel has a chic bar and nightclub, and a decent Asian-fusion restaurant.
(3) Restaurants in Covent Garden area
Polpo: Calls itself a Venetian bàcaro (tavern) serving cichetti (small bites) and small plates inspired by Venetian cuisine. Try the mackarel tartare with horseradish, duck and green peppercorn ragu with pappardelle, spicy pork and fennel meatballs, anchovy and chickpea crostini. Serves food until 11:30 pm, which is perfect if you’re leaving the theatre or opera house late. Address: 6 Maiden Lane in Covent Garden or 41 Beak Street in Soho.
Dishoom: Modern Indian restaurant serving innovative Indian small plates for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a lively atmosphere up the street from St. Martin’s Lane Hotel. My favourites are bhel (puffed rice with spices, pomegranate seeds, onion, tomato, lime, tamarind, mint); house black daal; chole-chawal (spicy chickpeas on rice); keema pau (spiced minced lamb on a bun; and to drink, bhang lassi (mint, ginger, grenadine, candied fennel sprinkles and coconut milk). Address: 12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden.
(4) Cafes and wine bars in Covent Garden area
La Gelatiera: fantastic gelato place run by Italians who know what gelato is. Located on 27 New Row, just around the corner from St. Martin’s Lane hotel.
New Row Coffee: excellent espresso and cappuccino on 24 New Row Street, a couple of doors down from La Gelatiera. They also serve cakes and sandwiches.
Notes: A quiet civilized place on St. Martin’s Lane to have coffee and cakes or wine (they hold wine-tasting sessions) and small plates with comfortable seating, classical music, and good coffee. You can actually have a conversation here and you won’t be surrounded by laptop zombies. No Wi-Fi. Addresses: 31 St. Martin’s Lane or 36 Wellington Street, Covent Garden.
Canela cafe and wine bar: Portuguese/Brazilian cafe and wine bar tucked away on a side street in Covent Garden, serving delicious small plates and salads, reasonably priced Portuguese wines by the glass or bottle in a quiet civilized environment (no loud bar patrons here). Try the chorizo in wine, cheese bread, Portuguese cheese plate and if you’re really hungry, go for the feijoada (Brazilian national dish). Perfect for a pre-theatre meal. Address: 33 Earlham St.