BAFTA-Bound? How to Do London in Two Days
THR asked director Stephen Daldry and actress Eva Green, among other U.K. industry elite, for advice on what to eat, drink and do around the Feb. 8 awards at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Like many in London, BAFTA chief Amanda Berry finds the Zagat-topping The Wolseley (160 Piccadilly), housed in a grand Mayfair building next to the The Ritz London (and down the road from BAFTA headquarters) difficult to beat at the start of the day: "The full English breakfast is my guilty pleasure, and yes, I do eat it all — including the baked beans and black beans."
London's creative hub of Soho is awash in cafes, but British actor Johnny Harris (the upcoming Monsters: Dark Continent) likes the famed Bar Italia (22 Frith St.), which sits on the site where the first public demonstration of the television was given in 1926. "My favorite times are either very early in the morning, while you watch Soho slowly coming to life, or in the evening, soaking up the atmosphere just before popping over the road to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club," says Harris. For visitors who want to catch a flick, he also recommends a new art house cinema, the Curzon Victoria (58 Victoria St.), which boasts five screens, a bar and reclining seats. "They always have a great selection of films to choose from, and it's a lovely place to hang out afterward."
Josh Varney, partner at production and management outfit 42 (Rupert Friend, Tom Hooper), recommends the elegant Soho House-owned Dean Street Townhouse (69-71 Dean St.), set in two 18th century residences, "because Marta who runs it is the best!" For something farther afield, he opts for the fried chicken at Moral Fox (103 Talbot Road) in Notting Hill. Berry suggests the nighttime celeb magnet Chiltern Firehouse (1 Chiltern St.) in Marylebone — but for lunch. "I love eating outside, and the courtyard is spectacular. Terrific food, charming and impeccably dressed staff, and an excellent wine list."
Model-actress Lily Cole (the upcoming film adaptation of Martin Amis' novel London Fields) turns to the tucked-away bookstore Claire de Rouen (125 Charing Cross Road) in Central London when seeking a new read: "It's almost hidden, up a flight of steps. It's run by my friend Lucy, who stocks an amazing collection of art, fashion and photography books. Every time I go I find a gem."
Multiple BAFTA winner Ricky Gervais likes to impress "big-shot Hollywood types" with 360-degree views from the Michelin-starred French restaurant Galvin at Windows (22 Park Lane), on the top floor of the Hilton near Buckingham Palace. He recommends it for its "great service and modern French cuisine, including the most amazing apple tarte Tatin you will ever taste. If you sit at the right table, you see the queen in her kitchen eating her supper."
At the classy Brasserie Max (10 Monmouth St.), in the Covent Garden Hotel, Carnival Films boss and Downton Abbey producer Gareth Neame goes "through the doors with yogurt and fruit in mind, but invariably I settle down to scrambled eggs and bacon. This is London, after all."
St. John Bread and Wine
Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry, up for a foreign-language BAFTA for Trash, praises the "freshest Tuscan comfort food this side of Florence" at Italy native Liliana Tamberi's Food Lab (56 Essex Road) in Islington. His favorites are the "gnocchi with crab sauce, slow-roasted porchetta and homemade pappardelle with lobster." If Spanish is more your style, Neame says he's "a big fan" of Sam and Eddie Hart's Barrafina (54 Frith St.) in Soho, "a counter-only affair, with some of the most delicious and inventive tapas I have ever had. It's great for a quick lunchtime meeting, but it is equally as pleasurable when you have half an hour to dine alone and think."
Actress Alice Eve calls tea salon The Rosebery (66 Knightsbridge), at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel, "a safe haven to have a cozy, relaxing tea."
For those "indulgent, spur-of-the-minute purchases," BBC Films head Christine Langan enjoys the "Hogwarts-meets-Oxford vibe" of the iconic 19th century Tudor revival department store Liberty (Regent St.) in the West End. "An exquisite perfumery, adjacent to the most decadent chocolate section in London and a gorgeous florist. What's not to like?"
The simple, locally sourced fare (like lamb with barley and radishes) at St. John Bread and Wine (94-96 Commercial St.), near the artsy Old Spitalfields Market, is a favorite of Penny Dreadful star Eva Green: "It's all about the ingredients." Feasts for large groups include whole suckling pig and rabbit-and-bacon pie.
Phoebe Fox (The Woman in Black 2, the upcoming Eye in the Sky) heads to Slim Jims (112 Upper St.) in Islington for a late-night snifter: "It's got an impressive lineup of whiskeys -- think American dive bar but in London."
WHERE TO BUNK FOR BAFTA
Residential Fitzrovia's Edwardian hotel Berners got a seven-year, £33 million ($50 million) redux by Ian Schrager. It reopened in 2013 as the 175-bedroom Edition, Marriott's new upmarket lifestyle brand. The clublike lobby features Belle Epoque ceilings and leather chairs, and the wood-paneled rooms have king beds with fauxfur throws. 10 Berners St.; rooms from $400
The 202-room hotel, which opened in May, occupies the top floors of Renzo Piano's Shard, formerly Europe's tallest building. It features an indoor infinity pool and some of London's largest rooms with customizable beds and butler service. 31 St. Thomas St.; rooms from $715
South Place Hotel
A younger crowd bunks down in the first hotel from D&D London (behind such hip eateries as Skylon and Quaglino's). The 80-room property, designed by Conran & Partners, has glass-sided clawfoot tubs and smallbatch gin in the minibars. 3 South Place; rooms from $299
Adam H. Graham contributed to this report.