10 London Restaurants For Serious Interiors Inspiration
Eat, drink, and contemplate investing in statement wallpaper.
Heritage tiles. Brass light dimmers. Deep breath—tonal grouting. If you just had the kind of reaction you once reserved for foam parties or foreplay, then we have a feeling your passion for interiors has hit the big leagues. We see you. We understand you. And we too have followed an alarming number of ‘70s interior accounts on the ‘gram. But as all flooring and furniture enthusiasts know, there are few places better for some aspirational interiors than London restaurants. From clean cut Japanese woodscapes to a more-is-more Amalfi daydream, here’s where to eat, drink, and get that all important tasteful foliage fix.
For anyone who bought a bunch of cacti in the B&Q sale and has no idea what to do with them.
Decimo’s dining room is the kind of sweeping, dramatic space you walk into, raise a single finger, and say something ridiculous like “bring me a margarita, and everytime you see it half empty, bring me another”. The Spanish and Mexican-inspired restaurant is open-plan with floor-to-ceiling windows, two big buzzing bars, skyline views over King’s Cross, six-foot cacti (!!), and a mildly haunting wooden statue that looks like a dementor got a bamboo makeover. It’s a bit ‘70s, a bit trip to Mérida, and entirely over-the-top. If you’re not willing to throw down a casual £100 per person on tacos, a caviar-clad tortilla, and some cocktails, then pop in for a drink at the bar instead. After all, you’re not here for the food, you’re here to get a free lesson in interior design.
For anyone who is physically unable to stick to one theme.
Three floors. Three themes. Ave Mario in Covent Garden is what you’d find if you looked inside our minds. A beautiful, chaotic mess, filled with a ginormous chocolate gelato cake being paraded around and the truffle pasta of dreams. The first space is all back-to-back red velvet booths, crisp white tablecloths, and a floor-to-ceiling mirrored bar. Go down a set of stairs and you’re on the Amalfi coastline. Rattan chairs not your thing? Keep walking. The basement is the Studio 54 x parmesan collaboration our sad little London hearts deserve. Pick your destination, no passport necessary.
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The Drunken Butler
For anyone whose lifetime aspiration is to buy somewhere that’s been featured on The Modern House.
Introducing Yuma Hashemi. Chef, restaurant owner, and profoundly talented table-maker. He’s the man responsible for this homely living-room-like space in Clerkenwell, and in our humble opinion, he’s also single handedly responsible for having to whisper ‘please sir, how do you keep this many plants alive’ while mid-bite of a smoky khask bademjoon. Sorry Yuma, that’s just the price you have to pay for flawless foliage and trust us, the Persian food is just as exceptional. There isn’t a menu, so just sit back, let Yuma take the wheel, and think of incredibly elaborate reasons why you couldn’t possibly leave come midnight. Open to new roomies, Yuma?
Sessions Arts Club
For anyone who has ever typed ‘artfully distressed’ into Pinterest.
You enter Sessions, in Clerkenwell, through a red, lantern-lit door, via a wonderfully hazy Diptyque-ish and boudoir-like reception desk, before being directed into a small brass-detailed lift. The drama of which must never be understated. The lift takes you to a vast, regal room with carefully distressed walls that are art-covered, and the entire place feels like it’s solely lit by flickering candlelight. You could picture a modern day Miss Havisham holding up the bar here. Only she wouldn’t be wasting her time alone, she’d be having an illicit affair. Or some equally seductive buttery squid, tomato, and calamarata.
For prospective millionaires who just really need their chandeliers to make the right statement.
The Wolseley in St James's was once a car showroom and now it’s the most famous place in London to look beautiful while doing beautiful things, like eating a stack of thick sugar-sprinkled pancakes. If that doesn’t give you faith in your pending plans to convert that decrepit spider hotel you call a shed into a smart home office, nothing will. A proper jaw-dropper of a space, this all-day brasserie is at its best first thing in the morning when your caffeine addiction will be thankful for the doorman’s smile and the patriotic glory of the full English. Of course, if you currently don’t have the funds to invest in vaulted ceilings and wrought iron chandeliers, it’s still a masterclass in ‘20s gold detailing meets monochrome opulence.
For anyone who wishes the rainbow had more neutral shades in it.
So you think you’re above primary colours? Bask in the neutral tones and excellent sushi at this 10-seater omakase restaurant in Mayfair. It's an intimate setup with wooden wrap-around counter seating that gives you a front-row seat to the open kitchen. It’s comfortable enough that you won’t feel like you’re encroaching on your neighbour’s conversation. But cosy enough that you could nod knowingly at the person across the counter after hearing them say that the otoro temaki was their favourite too. Enjoy the clean cut Japanese aesthetic and the stunning handmade ceramic crockery, all while eating some of the best sushi London has to offer.
For anyone who just can’t let cottage-core go.
Really, this is all Aiden Turner’s fault. One day you’re innocently watching Poldark and the next you start buying anything in a 10-mile radius that involves wicker. However, this classic British restaurant has been championing that rustic home counties look for decades. Long before Taylor Swift donned a wool cardigan, or the algorithm started pressuring you into buying dried wild flowers. Not only is this Kensington spot named after Princess Margaret’s alias from when she used to sneak here for clandestine date nights, there is a truly glorious assortment of twee knick-knacks, and the ceiling is covered in everything from flowers to… saddles. It’s undeniably cosy and perfect for winter nights when London’s best fish pie is matched by the feeling that Heathcliff might pop his head around your church pew.
For anyone in a co-dependent relationship with Etsy’s eclectic pillow offerings.
The first time we went to Berenjak we realised that installing a rotating tower of tender shawarma meat into our own kitchens would be a very dangerous business. We also realised the sheer unadulterated appeal of owning a rug that’s origin story doesn’t involve us going to Ikea primarily for meatballs. This corridor of a restaurant serves Iranian mazeh and perfectly pink—CC: Pantone samples—chenjeh kebabs, alongside all the evidence we need that you can do a lot with a small space, when you have the right large bulb fairy lights and a statement rug. But really, the constant smell of that rotating shawarma is our stomach’s favourite feature.
For anyone who believes that cluster globe lighting is a love language.
Frenchie has the look of a place we’d like to live in once we can be trusted to drink pinot noir at the same time as balancing on an impossibly chic grey and ivy leather stool. One day people, one day. A modern French restaurant on Henrietta Street, it’s ideal for any and all lighting nerds. The globe lampshades make the bar area incredibly warm and if you leave without grand plans to turn your storage cupboard into a gorgeous and exquisitely lit cocktail den, then you’re doing it wrong. The grown-up space is matched by an assortment of dream canapés like parmesan gougères, smoked eel tartelettes, and the signature bacon scones. If you’re in the market for a big meal, get involved in the £33 three-course set menu. After all, you’re saving for that cupboard conversion, right?
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
For anyone who finds comfort in terracotta walls and quirky lampshades.
Cosy is a word that doesn’t do this inviting pan-African restaurant in Southwark justice. It’s physically impossible to eat the mashed rice and groundnut soup in this warm and welcoming dining room without deciding you want to spend the entire evening here. Tatale is a place for taking chef Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s delicious edible memories and making them your own. Savour them with anyone who already loves you enough that they’ll forgive you for eating the last of the plantain crisps while they’re distracted by another woven lampshade. Or anyone who can accept that tonight they won’t have your full attention. Tatale will.