10 New London restaurants to try this season

After a summer hiatus the London restaurant scene is back up and running, and there seems to be a new opening almost every day to try. It is exciting to see a range of different cuisines, vegetarian gems, speciality seafood eateries and new fine dining venues. Here’s my top restaurants to try across the capital this season.

Bubala

Bubala – Following a series of successful supperclubs Bubala opened up its first permanent site in Spitalfields this year. The all-vegetarian Middle Eastern restaurant is wow-ing crowds with the addictively good plates and welcoming service. Don’t miss the the Laffa flatbread and the luxurious halloumi with black seed honey.

Vardo

Vardo – A new concept from the Caravan team, Vardo is an all day dining venue on the King’s Road. The futuristic space immediately catches your attention, and continues to thrill with a diverse menu of internationally inspired dishes. I recommend visiting for breakfast when you can also try their great coffee and baked treats.

Legare – Tucked away in Tower Bridge, Legare is another pasta bolthole, ideal for warming you bones and filling your stomach in the freezing winter weather. The chef Matt Beardmore, worked at pasta mecca, Trullo is Islington, and brings this experience to the short menu at Legare. I was particularly fond of the Orecchiette with fennel sausage & cavolo nero ragu.

Norma

Norma – Charlotte Street is awash with great restaurants, and now Norma has joined the family. This cosy and sophisticated eatery comes from chef Ben Tish, and is an ode to the food of Sicily. The comforting menu showcases the best of the region from traditional pasta recipes to exceptional raw seafood, seasonal antipasti and cannoli for dessert, of course!

seabird

Seabird – I love the Hoxton Hotels and was overjoyed when the first South London branch opened earlier this year. The huge site has beautiful common areas, a new co-working space (coming soon), and wonderful restaurants. Seabird was created in partnership with Premiere Enterprises (from New York’s Maison Premiere), and is the found on the 14th floor, boasting epic skyline views of the city. The seafood inspired menu has a range of appetising dishes and is the proud home of London’s longest oyster list.

officina 00

Officina 00 – Just when I thought there were enough great homemade pasta places on the London restaurant food scene another opens and steals my heart. Officina 00 is thriving in Old Street, kneading and shaping all the pasta in full view of the diners, it is an atmospheric experience. The rich and flavoursome pasta dishes cost between £8-12 and showcase the chef’s wide pasta repertoire. I enjoyed Pumpkin gnocchi with smoked ricotta and Occhi filled with braised pork Genovese.

Folie – A newbie to Soho, this stylish restaurant promises a taste of the Riviera. I was happy to see Provence staples like panisse (essentially chickpea chips) on the menu, and remember the desserts being brilliantly moreish and refined. The perfect place for a glamorous weekday lunch in central London.

Forza Wine

Forza Wine – The long-awaited Forza Wine finally opened this Autumn, perched on top of the newly transformed Bussey Building in Peckham. It is the sibling to the wonderful pasta haven Forza Win round the corner, but this venue very much has it’s own personality and menu. The concise menu changes regularly, with bold punchy ingredients taking centre stage. As the name suggests, wine is a major part of the offering here, and the drinks list is both interesting and reasonable.

Robuchon

Comptoir de Robuchon – Joel Robuchon’s death last year was one of the food world’s greatest losses… his restaurants (in London and further afield) have always delighted me, and I couldn’t be happier that a new Robuchon has opened in town. The grand but relaxed eatery is found in Green Park / Mayfair with a delectable deli by the same brand next door. The menu is long and everything is delicious and inventive while still staying true to the great chef’s classic dishes. Don’t miss the legendary mashed potato and the lamb chops.

Paradise, Soho

Paradise – A new Sri Lankan restaurant has taken over the former-Spuntino site, bringing vibrant flavours and plenty of spice to Soho. The small plates menu is split into sections, I recommend trying one or two from each, I particularly loved the Mutton Shoulder Rolls and the homemade soft drinks.

Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome

Rome is such a special city full of natural beauty and stunning architecture, so it feels fitting to stay in an equally beautiful hotel when you are in this city. Elizabeth Unique Hotel is in a beautiful 17th-century restored palazzo and is located in an artistic area of town, just minutes away from the famous Spanish Steps and within walking distance of many other landmarks.

Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome

Art and design is very much at the heart of this hotel, an impressive selection of modern artwork from Italian artists hangs dramatically on the walls in all of the common areas, many of the pieces are for sale or available to buy on request.

Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome

There are 33 rooms at the hotel (including 8 suites) and bedrooms are decorated in a similar theme, with ornate decorative wallpaper, grand beds, and stylish contemporary furniture. We were incredibly comfortable in our pretty Deluxe bedroom, it was cosy in feel but plenty big enough for a city break home-away-from-home. Despite being conveniently in the centre of town, the hotel was wonderfully quiet at night and we slept blissfully in the wonderful bed.

Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome

The bathrooms at Elizabeth Unique Hotel are kitted out with all the modern amenities and some technological features, like the bubbling bathtub, which I was excited to discover. We were delighted with the big fluffy bathrobes and fragrant toiletries. If you are lucky enough to be staying in one of the top suites you may even get a private sauna in the room!

Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome

There are thoughtful touches throughout the hotel and quiet corners to relax with a book. In the bedrooms, guests will be delighted to discover the complimentary minibar, stocked with a wide selection of drinks including speciality local soft drinks and delicious snacks.

Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome

The hotel restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy a hearty a la carte breakfast, an afternoon aperitif or a romantic evening dinner. The relaxed eatery showcases high quality Italian produce in sophisticated and delicious recipes. We relished our morning coffee and breakfast here, giving essential sustenance before a day exploring Rome’s finest sights.

During our 24 hours at Elizabeth Unique Hotel I felt completely at home. We couldn’t have found a more lovely place to rest our heads in the iconic Italian capital.

I stayed at Elizabeth Unique Hotel, Rome as a guest of the hotel, more information and book a room here.

How to Host with Airbnb

Like many people, I decided to try being an Airbnb host after some great experiences being an Airbnb guest around the world. I live in a small but cosy two bedroom flat in London with my husband. We found that our second bedroom was completely empty and unused. Hosting guests in the room has enabled us to earn a bit of extra money and to make friends with lovely, like-minded travellers from all over the world.

In this blog post I hope to dispel a few misconceptions and worries that potential hosts might have, while also highlighting some of the best bits about the experience.

Find out more details about being a host here.

This post is sponsored by Airbnb.

Airbnb

  • Anyone can be an Airbnb host

Whether you have an entire empty property or just a small bedroom to fill, you can be an Airbnb host. When I first posted about our second bedroom I assumed no one would want to stay in our area, sharing a bathroom, but Airbnb helped us position our offering so it was geared towards the right audience. Airbnb also offers a recommended price to help your property get more guests.

  • Who will come and stay and what will they be like?

This is the aspect I was most worried about prior to becoming a host on Airbnb, but I needn’t worry at all. The rating and reviewing system on Airbnb means you can always see what has been said about guests interested in staying at your property. You can also ask potential guests questions to ensure they are the right fit for you. We usually welcome single guests, but have also had couples. Some guests stay for just 2 nights, while one Australian couple stayed with us for over 2 months. We always welcome guests into our flat and find out a bit about them when they first arrive but also give them the peace and quiet if they wish to just chill out. Within 24 hours you’ll become aware of what kind of interaction your guests are after.

  • Will the guests be respectful of our home?

Over the last four years, we have never had a guest mistreat our home. After clear explanations at the start of the stay about how to lock up, and use the bathroom and kitchen, we have found that every guest has been clean and conscientious. Guests who stay for a short time are usually out for the majority of the time exploring the city. They barely use the kitchen, and the bathroom has been easy to share. If a guest hadn’t treated our home appropriately it is easy to review accordingly on Airbnb, and their profile will be updated with those details for all future hosts to see.

Airbnb

  • Make some easy cash

I was amazed by how quickly the sums added up when we started our journey as a host. It may only be a small amount per night but after just 1 month we had enough money to repaint several rooms in the flat and make luxurious changes that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. This was a particular relief when I was out of work for a few months and we needed the extra income to pay the mortgage.

  • Flexibility

Unlike a permanent housemate, on Airbnb you have the flexibility to have guests as and when you choose. Block out dates when you need the place to yourself or have friends to stay, or lower your price per night if you have a particular need for the extra cash. It has also enabled us to Host in the entire flat (rather than just one bedroom) when we’ve been travelling for extended periods of time.

Airbnb

All in all, I can’t recommend being an Airbnb host enough. In the last four years we’ve had guests who have invited us back to stay with them elsewhere in the world, we’ve shared meals with lovely guests and we’ve spent many nights chatting about shared travel experiences. As a London writer, it has also been a great way for me to share my knowledge with keen tourists, so they see the best of the city.