Whether you’re a fully paid-up member of the ‘restaurant nerd society’, or prefer fast-food to fine-dining, it’s almost guaranteed that you have heard of the Michelin guide. Having being published for more than a century, Michelin’s annual guide detailing the very best restaurants in specific countries is renowned all over the world and gaining a Michelin star is an ambition of several chefs in the industry. The Michelin guide was first published in the UK in 1911 and the highest award it doles out is three of its coveted stars.
If you’ve ever been confused about the rating or why the number of stars only goes up to three, let us explain. Michelin states that one star represents “a very good restaurant”, while two stars means “excellent cooking that is worth a detour”. The highest rating of three stars is described by Michelin as “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”. The list of starred restaurants is updated on an annual basis, and in the last few years, the UK outpost of the guide has held a glitzy ceremony in London, in which all of the ‘winning’ restaurants are announced.
Throughout history, only a handful of UK restaurants have achieved three Michelin stars, with currently just five UK restaurants boasting the accolade. In 1994, at the tender age of 32, Marco Pierre White became the first British chef to ever be awarded three stars. His eponymous restaurant closed its doors in 1999, but there are still a handful of UK restaurants flying the Michelin flag that you can experience for yourself.
If you’ve made it your mission to try out every three Michelin star restaurant in the UK, we’ve rounded up all of the restaurants below. You can find most of them in London, but there are a few outside of the capital’s borders too. So, next time you’re in need of somewhere for a celebration meal (or you need the answers to a very niche round in a pub quiz) our list of three Michelin star UK restaurants should help you out.
Three Michelin star restaurants London
It’s not surprising that England’s capital is home to the biggest number of three Michelin star restaurants in the UK, considering London’s reputation as one of the greatest foodie cities in the world. Check out the London restaurants boasting three Michelin stars below.
Helene Darozze at The Connaught
What: Having studied under Alain Ducasse, Helene Darozze has a similarly classical French style to her legendary mentor. The lightness of her touch coupled with her choice of ingredients and flavour combinations ensures nothing becomes too rich or heavy, all whilst steadfastly remaining opulent. The dining room itself has had a recent makeover and now benefits from a light and feminine - in Darozze’s own words – feel, creating a relaxing ambiance in which to relax. With tasting menus setting you back upwards of £120, this is a special occasion spot that’s worth saving up for.
Where: Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
How long has it held a Michelin star? Helene Darozze at The Connaught was first awarded a Michelin star in 2009, just six months after opening. In 2011 the restaurant’s second star followed, while 2021 saw the accolades rack up to the maximum three Michelin stars.
Core by Clare Smyth
What: This isn’t the first time Irish-born Clare Smyth has headed up a three Michelin starred kitchen (having run Gordon Ramsay’s Chelsea flagship for some years, becoming the first female chef in the UK to hold the accolade of three Michelin stars), but to have it under her own name must taste all the sweeter. Smyth’s cooking champions seasonality and British ingredients in a technically brilliant way that manage to take diners on an exciting journey over the various courses of her tasting menus. A cult favourite which demonstrates her style succinctly is the ‘potato and roe’ starter which is made up of a seaweed beurre blanc and a skin-on Charlotte potato topped with roe. As with all of Smyth’s work, this highly nuanced plate elevates each simple ingredient, combining them to make something that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Where: 92 Kensington Park Road, W11 2PN
How long has it held a Michelin star? Core by Clare Smyth skipped one star altogether, earning two Michelin stars in the 2019 awards, just two years after opening. In 2021 Core by Clare Smyth was awarded three stars.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Mayfair
What: Alain Ducasse is one of the most recognisable chefs in the world and his eponymous restaurant at equally revered London hotel The Dorchester is a lesson in haute cuisine. Luxury ingredients abound and are pulled off with finesse – just take a starter of Scottish langoustine which arrives topped with caviar and paired with Ducasse’s own-selection Champagne. Prices are as eye-watering as you’d expect, but the three-course set lunch (including two glasses of wine) is a little less daunting at £70 per head.
Where: Park Lane, W1K 1QA
How long has it held a Michelin star? Alain Ducasse gained two Michelin stars in 2009 and was upgraded to three Michelin stars a year later in 2010, which it has held on to ever since.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Chelsea
What: Gordon Ramsay may have used his culinary prowess to launch an international restaurant empire, but it’s his eponymous Chelsea haunt that is the darling of Michelin’s inspectors. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is the longest running three-Michelin star restaurant in London, having first gained the award in 2001, and is infamous for its long waiting lists (we’d recommend booking at least two months in advance). The wait will be worth it though, when you can tuck into hi-spec dishes such as ravioli filled with lobster and langoustine, or Cornish turbot served with celeriac and topped with black truffle shavings.
Where: 68 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HP
How long has it held a Michelin star? Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was initially awarded two Michelin stars in 1999, but it has held three Michelin stars ever since being upgraded in 2001.
Sketch: Lecture Room & Library, Mayfair
What: While Sketch’s bubble-gum pink Gallery and egg-shaped toilets might get all the love on Instagram, serious foodies know to head straight to the Lecture Room & Library. The high-ceilinged and richly coloured dining room provides an appropriate backdrop to chef Pierre Gagnaire’s unconventional and multi-layered dishes. Wondering what we mean? Feast your eyes (and your taste buds) on the likes of pig’s ear terrine with parsley root and black garlic. Those with a savoury tooth can round off their meal with the cheeseboard, which comes served with green tomato chutney and white and red grape sorbet.
Where: 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
How long has it held a Michelin star? Sketch: Lecture Room & Library gained its first Michelin star in 2005, before being upgraded to two Michelin stars in 2012. The restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 2019.
Three Michelin star restaurants Berkshire
The only other area of the UK to boast restaurants with three Michelin star status is Bray in Berkshire. This leafy suburb packs a serious punch when it comes to fine-dining, so check out its duo of three Michelin star restaurants below.
The Fat Duck, Bray
What: Heston Blumenthal burst on to the UK’s restaurant scene with a unique brand of often intriguing and sometimes bizarre flavour combinations. Amidst all of that theatre and spectacle though, is some seriously skilled cooking. Much-loved dishes at The Fat Duck include ‘cereal’ boxes full of crispy grains and jellies, as well as whisky-flavoured gummy sweets. Of course, this unique kind of immersive experience comes at a cost, with dinner here setting diners back a whopping £325. If you’ve got the cash though, there’s no denying that this is a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience, full of culinary wizardry and a real sense of fun.
Where: 1 High Street, SL6 2AQ
How long has it held a Michelin star? The Fat Duck initially gained a Michelin star in 1999. In 2002, the restaurant was upgraded to two Michelin stars, before achieving three Michelin stars in 2004. The restaurant lost its three-star status in 2015 during renovation work, but regained the award in 2017.
The Waterside Inn, Bray
What: The Waterside Inn, headed up by renowned chef Alain Roux, boasts the coveted title of the longest running three Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK, having first gained the prestigious award in 1977. It’s easy to see why it’s so well regarded, but before you even get to the food you first have to appreciate the picturesque setting which opens out onto a riverbank. The menu features a seasonally changing offering of dishes rife with Gallic pomp – on your visit, you might come across the likes of spit-roasted Challandais duck served with chestnut choux buns, followed by warm banana soufflé for pudding.
Where: Ferry Road, Bray, SL6 2AT
How long has it held a Michelin star? The Waterside Inn gained its first Michelin star in 1974 (back when it was headed up by Michel Roux), before being promoted to two stars in 1977. The restaurant has held three Michelin stars from 1985.
If you’re happy with just one or two Michelin stars, check out our full list of Michelin star restaurants in London.