The Coolest Place for Lunch in London
The coolest place for lunch in London may not have Michelin stars or where you’ll be star-spotting. And it may seem a bit touristy, or perhaps a little bizarre even. But the coolest lunch I had in London was at Selfridges department store, on Oxford Street. You get to walk through the fancy lights and the tall buildings to get there, gawk at the windows that are even more impressive than Macy’s, and then take your pick from the several restaurants and bars in the massive space. It really is very cool.
Perhaps you’ve watched a bit of the Netflix series Mr. Selfridge, which tracks the opening of London’s most impressive department store. If so, you’ve been able to get a taste of the real thing. The Selfridges name has now expanded to other English cities, but in 1908 it landed in London and has been going strong ever since.
At Christmas it’s particularly sparkly – they set up a whole section of Christmas merchandise, but also decorate the entire store in baubles, tinsel, and lights.
Selfridges is in the fashionable (and pricey) Mayfair neighbourhood, which places you in a great spot to explore the swanky shops there, and in neighbouring Marylebone. The Marble Arch and Bond Street tube stations are very near, and you’re only a few blocks from Grosvenor Square and Hyde Park. It’s a very reasonable walk from Paddington, if you are staying at The Pilgrm.
If you are staying in a nearby city, like Brighton or Oxford, it’s only about an hour into London to Paddington Station, and then you can hop on the tube to Selfridges in time for lunch.
There are numerous restaurants and bars in the London Selfridges, many Instagram-worthy and with great reviews. I think the cool factor is highest at Brasserie of Light, where the mirrors and bar glasses make everything sparkle. Wherever you choose to eat, you should consider a reservation.
At Brasserie of Light, I had the zucchini fries, and the white onion soup. Both were excellent, but I would recommend the soup. We sat at the bar, since we hadn’t booked ahead, but it was ideal for people watching and seeing what others ordered. The whole menu looked delicious so I can’t imagine you can go wrong. And – the restaurant was absolutely packed with diners. We were told as walk-ins at 12 noon, that we couldn’t possibly be seated at a table before 2 pm!
The Coolest… Bathrooms?
This is perhaps an odd recommendation, but please do not visit the Brasserie without visiting the loo. And bring your phone – you’ll want a selfie in the cubicle, with the floor to ceiling art deco mirrors and bright pink toilet.
We ended up listening throughout lunch to the manager calling up recent applicants and offering them jobs at the Brasserie. Unlike in Canada where this is a weeks-long process involving emails, interviews, follow up phone calls, and interminable (and rude) waiting periods hoping employers will answer, this woman just phoned up an applicant, asked some questions about his resume, and immediately booked him for a trial shift the following week. No fussing, no waiting, no B.S. You could get used to this kind of job hunting…
Even if dining in a department store isn’t top on your list, it’s quite a thing to say you’ve done. And forever more after, when someone mentions Selfridges, you’ll have a slightly different memory to think about.
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