We'd all love to play royalty for the day, but it's unlikely that any of us will ever get to sit on Her Majesty's throne (unless Prince Charles happens to be reading this). The next best thing though is to visit a London restaurant with a royal connection, so you can at least feast like a member of the world's most famous family. Better dust off that crown…
Bellamy’s, Mayfair (above)
The Queen was papped at this discrete Franco-Belgian brasserie on Bruton Place in 2016, having last visited precisely 10 years before for her 80th birthday bash, thrown by the Queen Mother’s former lady-in-waiting, Lady Penn. On this basis, we’re going to go right ahead and call it her favourite haunt – though if you go to this queen-spot, be prepared for a lengthy sit-in. Back in 2006, HRH dined on smoked eel mousse with 25g of caviar, followed by roast quail – it’s under wraps what made the royal plate most recently, but we hope she downed the glass of vodka which accompanies the caviar…
Bunga Bunga, Battersea (above)
Ahhh, bunga bunga. So named after the wild (read: seedy) sex parties which Silvio Berlusconi likes to attend. Now, we wouldn’t like to comment on what Her Majesty thinks about them but it appears that Prince William and Kate Middleton certainly like a bit of bunga. They attended this flamboyant Battersea bar for a friend’s birthday bash in 2014. And you too can party like a royal, feasting on pizza by the metre before heading up to Il Club for cocktails named after Italian saints and sinners.
Coach & Horses, Mayfair
This Mayfair boozer is on Bruton Street, where the Queen herself was born, don’t you know. A coaching inn in the 18th century, the punters now arrive in Ferrari- and Maserati-shaped coaches for an old-school pub experience. Expect Greene King IPA and Hogs Back TEA on tap, seasonal cask ales on rotation, all accompanied by traditional pub grub.
The Connaught Hotel, Mayfair (above)
A hotel steeped in royal history, The Connaught is named after Queen Victoria’s seventh child, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. In 1992, the Queen Mother visited the hotel to open the new kitchens, and Prince Charles visited later that year. But enough of the history lesson. The Connaught Bar is everything a bar should be: shining marble against a backdrop of silver, platinum pink and polished pistachio, with immaculate (and rather head-spinning) cocktails, much like the crowd.
Fortnum & Mason, St James's
A British icon, you can practically hear ‘Rule Britannia’ playing in your ears as you browse Fortnum's aisles of royal insignia-stamped shortbread in pastel-coloured tins. Not surprising, given that Fortnum & Mason has a royal warrant. Its afternoon tea is not only the epitome of Englishness, it was good enough for the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge, who visited together in 2012.
Franco’s, St James's (above)
A venerable gentleman of Jermyn Street, this tasteful Italian has been serving St James's for more than 60 years. Indeed, its longevity is probably attributable to the sophisticated yet relaxed vibe which was no doubt a deciding factor in the entire Middleton family (with Prince William in tow) dining there a couple of years ago. It’s open for a business breakfast, light lunch or leisurely dinner, with dishes such as smoked swordfish carpaccio and roast guinea fowl championing the menu, but beware the royal price tag to match.
The Goring, Belgravia (above)
Probably the first place that pops into your head when asked about venues with royal connections (that happens often, right?), The Goring holds its very own royal warrant and was thrust into the limelight when Kate Middleton spent the night before her wedding here. With interior design by the Queen’s nephew, Viscount Linley, and the late Queen Mother partial to their eggs Drumkilbo (a seafood cocktail with egg mayonnaise), if bowler-hatted doormen and a hearty menu are your thing, you’ll love it.
The Ivy, Covent Garden (above)
Pop prince and princess Liam Payne and Cheryl Cole were seen at The Ivy this week on their first date night after the birth of son Bear. But who needs reality-show royalty when you can have the real thing? The Queen herself was papped at the legendary Theatreland restaurant in May for a friend’s birthday. (Also in attendance were Prince and Princess Michael of Kent – you can’t have everything.) One only hopes the restaurant’s very posh bangers and mash (grilled Nidderdale pork sausages with creamed potato and cider gravy) were on the birthday menu served to HRH. And we’d recommend Her Maj returns for breakfast at one of The Ivy Cafés: their eggs royale is fit for a queen.
The Langham, Marylebone
The opening ceremony in 1865 was performed by Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales and the Langham has continued to be a favoured spot with members of the royal family, most particularly Diana, Princess of Wales (so much so there is a memorial fountain dedicated to her there). If you fancy playing princesses (or princes), head down to the Artesian bar at The Langham. Voted ‘world’s best bar’ by an industry bar mag, its Manhattans are served in an internally strobe-lit, white faux fur, cumulus cloud-like cluster – a useful talking point should conversation dry up.
Quaglino's, St James's (above)
Quaglino’s claims to the first public restaurant that a reigning British monarch dined in (our Liz ate here in 1956), and when it reopened after a lavish refurb in 2014, loveable rogue Prince Harry was one of the first through its doors. When it comes to the food, style sometimes wins over substance, but those who sweep down the famous staircase into the impressive dining room can’t help but make a grand entrance.
Rules, Covent Garden (above)
Rules don’t apply to royalty, or so they say. Indeed, Queen Victoria certainly didn’t think so when she ordered a throughway to be made in Maiden Lane (where Rules restaurant is) so that her carriage didn’t have to turn around at the end of the cul-de-sac having dropped her at the Adelphi Theatre. Claiming to be the oldest restaurant in London, Rules’ patriotically British menu of game, oysters, pies and pudding would no doubt get the royal seal of approval. But would the Queen enjoy sitting beneath the mural of Baroness Thatcher?
The Chelsea version of Mayfair’s Hawaiian hangout Mahiki, Tonteria is Guy Pelly’s (best friend of Prince Harry) Mexican baby and attracts a similar crowd of young royals (and their hopeful counterparts). Indeed, we can’t confirm that the Queen herself has visited, but her diligent grandsons have taken it upon themselves to give the tapas-bar-cum-nightclub their royal patronage; both have been spotted sneaking out in the early hours. Ever-popular, we’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s the Tequila Express (a train delivering shots) or whispers about the princes arriving any minute which has been fuelling Mexican-madness for over three years now. The best bit? Having caused mischief you can go and repent of your sins in the confession box photo booth.
Wiltons, St James's (above)
Wiltons has no fewer than six royal warrants – put that in your pipe and smoke it. Alternatively, get down to this regal St James's dining room for an oyster feast. In 1884, the restaurant was awarded a Royal Warrant for Purveyor of Oysters to Queen Victoria and the current Prince of Wales has retained it. Women are still a rare sight at this antiquated Mayfair establishment, but it was a favourite of Princess Margaret’s.
Looking for more royally good places to eat? Take a look at our best British restaurants list and follow up with one of the best restaurants in London for afternoon tea