INSIDER GUIDE: COVENT GARDEN

Written by: SJ Thomson | Illustrations by: Emily Nash

Covent Garden is a world-class shopping and dining destination attracting food-lovers and fashionistas alike. Buzzing with the excitement of the opera and theatreland, the area boasts some of the best shopping destinations in London’s West End. From Apple to Paul Smith and Petersham Nurseries to Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop, the area offers a unique blend of global and independent brands, curated to satisfy every shopping need.

Whether it’s breakfast or brunch, pre-theatre dining or burgers alfresco, Covent Garden is also a foodie’s paradise, filled with a diverse array of gastronomic options to suit all taste buds. Renowned five-star restaurants including the likes of Frenchie, SUSHISAMA, Cora Pearl, The Oystermen and Balthazar offer world-class dining in the heart of London’s West End. With so much to discover, it’s only fair that I share a few of my favourites!

Covent Garden’s social media guru (and the person we ask for all of her restaurant recommendations) SJ Thompson takes us on a tour of her favourite hotspots.
 
    
The place you eat most often is…
    
Tough opening question as there are so many amazing places to eat in Covent Garden. Lately it’s been a mix of Avobar as their tuna poke bowl is amazing or SUSHISAMBA because the cocktails and the view are second to none.
When you need a quiet moment you go to…
  
My happy place is The Shop at Bluebird, the store is absolutely stunning and filled to the brim with amazing finds. For the ultimate sweet treat, go to… Ladurée, always Ladurée. Their macaron counter is the ultimate sweet treat destination, with salted caramel being my all-time favourite. In the summer, Ladurée ups the macaron game with the ice cream macaron sandwiches – my ultimate indulgence. 
   
  
The perfect selfie spot is…
   
Front of the Market Building, every time. Our Head Gardener is so incredibly talented and always makes such stunning backdrops. You see queues of people waiting to take the perfect shot every day from dawn to dusk! For an after-work cocktail, visit… Henrietta – the current cocktail menu is inspired by the books around the restaurant. Henrietta hotel, restaurant and bar is run by the Experimental Cocktail group so you know you are getting a good drink whenever you go.
  
Covent Garden’s best hidden secret is…
  
Floral Court, a hideaway connecting two streets and the perfect place to sit with a coffee and relax. 
  
The brunch spot you’d recommend...
  
Balthazar has been a favourite of mine for over five years. The service is always outstanding and the menu is filled with so many options that you’re bound to please everyone at the table. Plus, best scrambled eggs in London – don’t @ me. 
  
The ideal date spot is…
  
People will always say Clos Maggiore as it is London’s Most Romantic Restaurant but I am much more of a Frenchie girl. Their bacon scones served with maple syrup and clotted cream are the quickest way to my heart. For dinner, go to… Cora Pearl opened last year and has become a firm favourite dinner spot for me. The chips are life changing (just ask Giles Coren) as are the ham and cheese toasties, one visit is never enough! Cora Pearl also do one of the best Sunday Roasts in London in my opinion. 
   
   
Your ideal day out in Covent Garden?
   
For summer, it’s all about breakfast on SUSHISAMBA’s Piazza Terrace. They have taken the humble breakfast favourites and elevated them beyond. Their lobster-filled croissant with hollandaise, caviar and quails egg is unbelievable. Once brunch is done, I am all about the shopping! Browsing The Alkemistry where you can now have your ears pierced, The Shop at Bluebird, For Art’s Sake sunnies and more. To rest my feet from the cobbles, a cup of tea at Abuelo as it is run by an Aussie family so this small coffee shop is super friendly and chilled. If I am feeling fancy it’s all about Mariage Freres. I’d finish my day with dinner al fresco if nice in Floral Court or if the weather is troublesome I’ll pretend I am in Peru at FLORAL by Lima who serve a mean pisco sour with a side of Peruvian fried chicken.
   
The most famous person you’ve seen in Covent Garden is…
   
Kylie! Ms Minogue switched on our Christmas lights in 2017 and she was so wonderful. Also spotted Emma Thompson directing her next movie with Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding which I cannot wait to see.
   
   
Most people don’t know that…
   
The top of the lanterns in the Market Building have pineapples on them as this was the first place you could ever buy them!
   
You love For Art’s Sake because…
  
From trends to classics, it’s a brand that has it all. I especially love the attention to detail, from mermaids curving around the glasses, to mood-changing gems. I also love the jadestone nosepads which don’t irritate or mark the skin and have spotted my next pair which are rose gold cat eyes and I cannot wait!
   

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