This renowned London institution is technically part of the Savoy next door, but it seems untouched by the £220 million refurbishment the famous hotel received in 2010. It’s like a public school refectory on a grand scale, with rows of tables (some looking rather scruffy around the legs), white linen, heavily varnished wall panels and huge chandeliers. An old-fashioned sense of British formality pervades – which is a major reason diners come here.
You’ll see plenty of retired colonel types, although Simpsons is also popular with tourists looking for an apparently unadulterated experience of bygone London. The signature dish is roast beef, and great haunches of it are wheeled around on trolleys to be carved at table. However, we feel this 185-year-old stalwart is resting on its laurels. Beyond the beef (with all the trimmings), there’s not much on the menu to excite. At a recent breakfast, the classic dishes (eggs royale, muffins with bacon and eggs) were no more than OK. The pricing is cynical – £7.50 for a pot with two Twinings teabags and some boiling water. At least use loose leaf. For a sense of tradition, Simpson’s is hard to beat, but some traditions aren’t always worth upholding.