London restaurants: how great thou art! London has the best art galleries in the world, fact, but you don’t have to wander round an airless Victorian rooms to enjoy some of the world’s best art, plenty of the restaurants and bars in town also have incredible artworks on the walls. So here are some venues you can Banksy on…
Tramshed, the Farringdon restaurant from Mark Hix, is probably most famous for its Damien Hirst artwork as it is for anything else. Set in a former tram generator building, the pared back surroundings only focus ever more attention on the centrepiece, Cock ‘n’ Bull. A cockerel and bull preserved in formaldehyde, it’s provocative and stunning, though may have you ordering from the veggie menu…
Where: 32 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3LX, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Old Street (0.3 miles)
If there’s one thing that everyone knows about Brasserie of Light it’s that the whole place is dominated by one piece of art. And it’s a thing of beauty. The Damien Hirst 24ft crystal encrusted Pegasus statue was designed specially for the space and is Hirst’s largest scale artwork in London. Of course there’s plenty more beauty to be found in the restaurant, but the chances are that you’ll not even notice the Martin Brudnizki designed interior or the art deco surroundings, because you’ll be staring at the massive great sculpture dangling over your head.
The Lanesborough is a regency masterpiece itself, dominating the West, and Belgravia, side of Hyde Park Corner. Previously St George’s Hospital, it’s now one of London’s smartest hotels. but when it transitioned from a hospital to hotel they needed to return the sort of artwork that belongs in a building of such grandeur. A swift whip round the top British and American auction houses brought in all sorts of pieces, including three Joshua Reynolds, all easy to catch in the vestibule.
Where: Hyde Park Corner, London, SW1X 7TA, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner (0 miles)
Annabel’s is endlessly sumptuous. Every single room is an artwork in itself thanks to a £60m makeover. And in the land where money only exists to be flaunted, it’s fitting that you should stumble across a £20m Picasso the moment you walk through the door. The lesson? However grand you think you are, know that Annabel’s is grander. Ingeniously lit from above, the painting sets the scene for a visit that won’t fail to be unforgettable.
Not a restaurant as such, but with no shortage of grand dinners, brand launches and so on often taking place at London’s Banqueting House it seems that their ceiling deserves a mention. Next time you get a quote for having your living room painted, show them this stunner by Rubens as inspiration. Most likely commissioned by Charles I, it was probably one of the last sights the king saw as he was led out of the grand Banqueting Hall window and onto the scaffold erected outside. Minutes later his head lay in a basket. Something to think on as you dine.
Roast London plays host to celebrity photographer Tom Sheehan as he exhibits his various pics of iconic British musicians. Icons to be found on the walls at Roast include Mick Jagger and David Bowie as well as local shots of Paul Weller and Siouxsie Sioux, taken in nearby Floral Court. Sheehan’s art has appeared on the album covers including Radiohead, The Smiths and Coldplay.
Flemings Mayfair has celebrities in every single room. Not just because it’s one of London’s most popular hotels, but because celebrity photographer Andy Gotts has his pictures in every room. The photographer has snapped anyone who’s anyone and his black and white portraits are in high demand. Snaps adorning the walls at Flemings include Harrison Ford, Kylie Minogue, Dame Judi Dench and Kate Moss, all of them photographed at Flemings Mayfair itself.
Where: Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, London, W1J 7BH, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
Resplendent in its marble-clad Victorian interior, you might expect Boyds Grill & Wine Bar to choose super-trad artwork to match, ornate golden-framed landscapes perhaps. Instead they’ve juxtaposed their own interior with a bold piece of modern art courtesy of artist Donnagh McKenna. The huge piece, ‘Haidhausen’, takes centre stage in the dining room where the artist himself would often dine and Boyds owner Charles Boyd describes his relationship with the restaurant’s art, saying ‘Emotion is what drives my love of art … the work needs to talk to me’. Whatever your thoughts on the artwork, it certainly does that.
Richard Corrigan, the eponymous chef owner of Corrigan’s Mayfair, lends the restaurants pieces from his personal collection. Currently works from Scottish contemporary artist James Lambie are hanging. He specialises in colourful sculptural installations made from everyday modern materials and his work can be run in the bar and restaurant.
Where: 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 7EH, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.4 miles)
It’s long been rumoured that the art at The Groucho Club is worth more than the building (three prime-location Soho townhouses). The collection is splashed across every available piece of wallspace with Tracey Emin originals vying for space with Banksys and pieces by Charming Baker (pictured) tussling it out with art by Sir Peter Blake (who also designed the club’s iconic membership card).
Scott’s boasts London’s most expensive private dining room. So what does £6m buy you? Well, aside from the striking semi-previous stone floor, the glass panelled walls and the Lalique light fittings it gets you a Renoir, a Pisarro and a Chagall. The art in the room makes this the fine dining equivalent of sitting in your favourite art gallery.
Central London may be full of Picassos and Damien Hirst installations, but head out to Richmond and they don’t need all that razzmatazz. The restaurant at Bingham Riverhouse spills across a number of rooms, each with art that you’d actually want to look at and enjoy over your dinner. Like Kate Boxer’s splendid ‘I won’t eat you’ lion! The playful print adds to an atmosphere that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but always serves up a treat.
For this summer only, Mews of Mayfair are hosting artist Anna Mazzotta whose inspiration informs the selection of hedonistic burgers and the evening boho- cabaret style setting. Think that Italian food’s just about pizza and pasta? Think again.
Sexy art at Sexy Fish includes installations by Damien Hirst, a large bronze relief panel featuring a mermaid alongside a shark (a reference to Hirst’s iconic formaldehyde sculpture). The restaurant, designed (as ever) by Martin Brudnizki, also includes artworks by Frank Gehry and Michael Roberts.
Where: Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London W1J 6BR, UK
Nearest station: Green Park (0.3 miles)