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‘Ugh! Can’t think of anything worse than eating a meal on a plastic stool that doesn’t have a back!’ This WhatsApp from a 23-year-old gal-about-town lays bare part of the challenge that Jacob Kenedy has set himself in Vico, his new fast-food restaurant (an outpost of Bocca di Lupo and Gelupo) in Cambridge Circus. The stools are indeed plastic, and backless. Other challenges include a site next door to a Polpo, easy-to-dislike decor and an ordering system so unconventional it has to be explained to first-timers. Most food (pre-cooked) sits on the counter awaiting your choice, though there’s also raw fish and shellfish deep-fried to order and brought to your table by the waiting staff. Everything else you carry to the table yourself. It’s not all that different from a deli counter or buffet, but in a place like this, the idea takes time to get used to. And I give full credit to Mr Kenedy and Co for making numerous changes to food and setting (some in response to customer feedback) during the course of an unusually lengthy soft launch. So: what about the food? I have been to Vico five times now, first in soft launch (which doesn’t really count) and more recently after proper opening. One part of a single dish was an out-and-out dud. The rest has ranged from good to pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming fabulous. Deep-frying is a particular strength, both in dishes cooked to order and in arancini and polpette, deep-fried balls with daily-changing fillings. Pizzas feature thick but featRead more
One of the world's oldest museums, the British Museum is vast and its collections, only a fraction of which can be on public display at any one time, comprise millions of objects. First-time visitors generally head for the mummies, the Rosetta Stone, Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Indeed, the Sutton Hoo finds provide the centrepiece for the new Sir Paul and Lady Jill Ruddock Gallery (Room 41), designed to display the museum's exceptional early medieval collection. Covering finds from across Europe from AD 300 to 1100, the Ruddock Gallery shows off not only the Anglo-Saxons' iconic Sutton Hoo masked helmet, but also late Roman mosaics and such extraordinary objects as the fourth-century Lycurgus Cup, made to change colour in different lights, and the Kells Crozier, a holy yew wood staff decorated and adapted many times from the ninth century onwards. Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the eighteenth century is a permanent exhibition of around 5,000 objects chosen to cast light on the period between the mid-eighteenth and the early nineteenth century, a time of great discovery and learning when the British Museum was founded by an Act of Parliament. It is displayed in the restored former King’s Library – a huge neo-classical room built in the 1820s to house the books collected by George III. Living and Dying, a permanent exhibition in the Wellcome Trust Gallery, explores the ways in which people throughout history have diagnosed and treatRead more
The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator. The Wellcome Wing showcases developments in contemporary science, medicine and technology. The Medical History Gallery in the museum's attic contains a substantial collection of medical history treasures. Pattern Pod introduces under-eights to the importance of patterns in contemporary science and Launch Pad is a popular hands-on gallery where children can explore basic scientific principles. Exhibits in the Exploring Space galleries include the three-metre-high, 600kg Spacelab 2 X-ray telescope that was flown on British space missions and full-scale models of the Huygens Titan probe and Beagle 2 Mars Lander. The Clockmakers' Collection, previously held at the Guildhall, will move to the museum on October 23 2015. It's the oldest display of clocks and watches in the world, with most of the 1250 exhibits dating from between 1600 and 1850. The museum’s in-house IMAX cinema shows scientific films in 3D, allowing visitors to be surrounded by space or submerged in the depths of the ocean. Tickets start at £11 for adults and £9 for children, and booking is recommended. The shop is worth checking out for its wacky toys, while the Dana Centre is the Science Museum’s adults-only centre for free lectures and performance events on contemporary scientific issues (www.danacentre.org.uk). See more of London's best museumsRead more
A swish Bombay brasserie in the style of the old post-colonial 'Irani cafés' of Bombay, Dishoom is filled with retro design features: whirring ceiling fans, low-level lighting and walls adorned with vintage Indian magazine advertising. The look is certainly distinctive, but the effect can be so slick when compared to the real thing that the venue can feel rather soulless and corporate. This doesn’t stop the design-conscious and Indophile thronging here through the day, from breakfast (for sausage nan rolls with chilli jam) to dinner (for the stir-fries and tandoori grills). The main attraction though is the menu, loosely styled on Irani café food with birianis, bhel (crunchy puffed rice with tangy tamarind chutney) and even pau bhaji (toasted white bread rolls with a spicy vegetable stew as a filling). Our black dal was exemplary, and the lamb biriani suitably moist. We particuarly like the endlessly refilled house chai (Indian-style tea), but the other drinks are interesting too – excellent lassi concoctions, good wines by the glass, even the soft drinks Limca and Thums Up in glass bottles imported from Mumbai. Queues are common in the evening (bookings are taken for breakfast and lunch, but only for groups at dinner), though the basement bar helps make the wait more than bearable.Read more
Both a research institution and a fabulous museum, the NHM opened in Alfred Waterhouse’s purpose-built Romanesque palazzo on the Cromwell Road in 1881. Now joined by the splendid Darwin Centre extension, the original building still looks quite magnificent. The pale blue and terracotta façade just about prepares you for the natural wonders within. Taking up the full length of the vast entrance hall is the cast of a Diplodocus skeleton. A left turn leads into the west wing or Blue Zone, where long queues form to see animatronic dinosaurs- especially endlessly popular T rex. A display on biology features an illuminated, man-sized model of a foetus in the womb along with graphic diagrams of how it might have got there. A right turn from the central hall leads past the ‘Creepy Crawlies’ exhibition to the Green Zone. Stars include a cross-section through a Giant Sequoia tree and an amazing array of stuffed birds, including the chance to compare the egg of a hummingbird, smaller than a little finger nail, with that of an elephant bird (now extinct), almost football-sized. Beyond is the Red Zone. ‘Earth’s Treasury’ is a mine of information on a variety of precious metals, gems and crystals; ‘From the Beginning’ is a brave attempt to give the expanse of geological time a human perspective. Outside, the delightful Wildlife Garden (Apr-Oct only) showcases a range of British lowland habitats, including a ‘Bee Tree’, a hollow tree trunk that opens to reveal a busy hive. Many of the musRead more
Venue says: Come and try our brand new spring menu including aubergine meatballs, pumpkin fritters, farfarelle à la crème, Cuban salad and more!
There are reasons why Ethos might make you wary. It’s near Oxford Circus, it’s vegetarian, it’s a self-serve buffet and you pay for your food by weight. (That’s the weight of the food, not your weight.) This ‘comida por quilo’ system is a popular economy-restaurant style in Brazil, but it’s been relatively unexplored in the UK. Adding to the gimmicky potential, on any given day the main menu might include more than a dozen dishes from the diverse cuisines of Japan, Southeast Asia, Italy, Korea, India, Mexico and Lebanon – and anywhere else that does brilliant vegetarian dishes – plus a few of their own creations. You can choose as few or as many as you like, building your own bespoke meal, before having your plate weighed and then paying at the counter. The concept may seem incoherent at first. Standing by the platters and bowls at the buffet – hot on one side, room temperature on the other – wondering whether the Korean kimchi might go with some nasu dengaku (Japanese miso-roasted aubergine), or the restaurant’s Indian-inflected ‘scotch egg’. But sitting in the spacious, box-fresh surroundings – the decor is predominantly Nordic white and blue, with some bucolic trunks of silver birch reaching skywards – you taste the food and think: ‘Hang on, this is really good.’ Rather than worrying about whether Thai sweetcorn fritters are complemented by a lovage-laced tomato and bread panzanella salad, the world tour of dishes becomes a mini-adventure in flavour, colour and textuRead more
Venue says: Join us for bottomless brunch every Saturday and Sunday. £30 for brunch with unlimited rum punch, bloody marys and bellini's for two hours!
There surely can’t be a more jolly place to drink in Notting Hill: colourful wooden wall-slats and furniture fill the upstairs bar, and down in the party-time basement there’s good reggae, very friendly staff and rum, rum and more rum. The selection is enormous, and you could spend weeks here without getting through it all. On the cocktail front, there are plenty of big fruity numbers, but the classicism of a perfect daiquiri makes us think this is the way to go. There’s a happy hour from 6pm to 8pm too. If you stay later, you’ll probably find yourself unable to resist the lure of jerk chicken, saltfish fritters or just an enormous bowl of sweet potato fries.Read more
Thanks to its industrial architecture, this powerhouse of modern art is awe-inspiring even before you enter. Built after World War II as Bankside Power Station, it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of Battersea Power Station. The power station shut in 1981; nearly 20 years later, it opened as an art museum, and has enjoyed spectacular popularity ever since. The gallery attracts five million visitors a year to a building intended for half that number; the first fruits of work on the immensely ambitious, £215m TM2 extension opened in 2012: the Tanks, so-called because they occupy vast, subterranean former oil tanks, will stage performance and film art. As for the rest of the extension, a huge new origami structure, designed by Herzog & de Meuron (who were behind the original conversion), will gradually unfold above the Tanks until perhaps 2016, but the work won’t interrupt normal service in the main galleries. In the main galleries themselves, the original cavernous turbine hall is still used to jaw-dropping effect as the home of large-scale, temporary installations. Beyond, the permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated. There are vertiginous views down inside the building from outside the galleries, which group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction)Read more