Travel News

Skye Gyngell’s guide to London

From sour cherry and ricotta gelato to the best flat white in town, Australian expat chef Skye Gyngell of restaurant Spring in London’s Somerset House reveals her little black book of London.

By Maggie Scardifield
Shopping and fashion
"I really love shopping in Marylebone. It's less homogenised than other high streets and has a community feel. Mouki Mou in Chiltern Street is my favourite boutique - it's a beautiful little shop and really well curated. Egg is another favourite, in Kinnerton Street. The owner, Maureen Doherty, is wonderfully creative and it's the most beautiful shop in London. Some other very gorgeous shops in the area are Plain English, Ortigia, Caravan and Prism. In Notting Hill, I like to shop at Matches and Aime, both on Ledbury Road. At Matches you can pick up pieces from Roksanda Ilinčić and Emilia Wickstead, who are two of my favourite London designers."
Dining out
"There're so many great restaurants to choose from in London. I really love Lyle's in Shoreditch. The menu changes regularly and chef James Lowe does an event called The Guest Series where he invites different chefs from all over the world to come and cook with him. I try to go to as many as possible because it's such a great way of trying their food. For lunch, Hoppers in Frith Street, Soho is delicious. It's Sri Lankan small plates, noisy, busy and completely addictive (be prepared to queue though; it has a no bookings policy). An oldie but a goodie? Definitely The River Café. There's still nowhere nicer in London to eat outside on a sunny weekend afternoon. And for a drink, the Fumoir in Claridges - it's the nicest bar in London."
Coffee and snacks
"On weekends or on my day off, you'll always find me at Marylebone Farmers' Market. On a Sunday morning I generally have breakfast at La Fromagerie before wandering over to the market and buying my food for the week. Allpress Espresso in Dalston has great coffee, but my favourite has to be Monmouth in Borough Market. And when it comes to indulging a sweet tooth in London, I head straight to Gelupo for their sour cherry and ricotta gelato."
"I love Tate Modern. Late at Tate is one of the nicest things to do in London (it takes place on the first Friday of April, June, August, October and December). It's the best way to see an exhibition as it's generally quiet, and Southwark has some really nice places to eat afterwards, like José Tapas Bar in Bermondsey Street. The Serpentine Galleries in Hyde Park are among the nicest little galleries in London - always quiet, great exhibitions and completely free."
Heading out
"When people come to London to visit, I generally take them on my drive to work. I live in West London and on my way to Spring I pass Hyde Park, Park Lane, Buckingham Palace, St James Park and Big Ben - it always makes me think of the Monopoly board so I think that's a pretty good starting point. The best time to visit London is definitely spring. London looks glorious then. The streets and parks are awash with daffodils, magnolia and blossom, and everyone is out and about because the weather's warmer. It generally feels exciting to know that summer is just around the corner, too. August is another great month because London is really quiet and it doesn't get dark until around 10 o'clock, so it's a really nice time of year to walk the streets. You can't leave London without visiting some of its parks. London is the greenest city in the world and its parks are varied and beautiful, from Richmond Park with its deer and wild unkempt vistas to Regent's Park with its manicured flowerbeds and zoo. I love to be outside in the summer. On my days off I often go to Hampstead Heath and swim in the ponds."
"For family vacations we go to Ibiza every year in August and stay with family friends. It's my favourite holiday of the year. We also go to Antibes for a week in July. My eldest daughter lives in LA so I visit her a couple of times a year or we meet halfway in New York. Apart from that I try and get home to Sydney as much as possible. I still miss Sydney and my family there a lot."
"I don't go anywhere without Eve Lom Kiss Mix lip balm and Environ products for my skin (I think it really takes a battering working in a hot restaurant kitchen). I'm addicted to trainers, so in my weekender bag you'll definitely find a pair of those - and always a book. I find reading is one of the things that really allows me to switch off."
On Spring, her London restaurant
"Our menu at Spring changes weekly and we work very seasonally. We work with a biodynamic farm in Herefordshire called Fern Verrow. Their produce is so beautiful and changes almost weekly through the spring and summer months. I love working with everything they bring us but especially their salad leaves. Our bread, our house-made kefir butter, cordials, tonic water and ice-creams - I think they are all signatures of Spring."