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The best restaurants for celebrity-spotting in London

Our guide to the London eateries whose flavours bring all the celebrities to their yard

By Nicola Arencibia
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Looking for a side-order of stardust with your meal? Then allow us to point you to London’s best restaurants for celebrity-spotting. They’re not all big, they’re not all clever – but enough about the celebrities (ho ho); let’s hear it for the starriest restaurants in town.

Restaurants for celebrity-spotting in London

Paul Winch-Furness

34 Mayfair

Restaurants Contemporary Global Mayfair

Celebrity spots: Anna Friel, Lily James, David Gandy, Luke Evans, Naomie Harris, Matt Smith, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, Courteney Cox, Jourdan Dunn, Emma Thompson, Cyndi Lauper, Adam Lambert, Donna Air, Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Imelda Staunton. Convinced?

34 is a brilliant example of a Caprice Holdings destination restaurant, and it has the rich and famous addicted. Upscale decor, tinkling piano music and a sexy vibe complement a kitchen that can turn its hand to anything, from ceviches and grilled wagyu to please the calorie-controlled A-listers, to blue cheese-stuffed burgers and truffled lobster mac and cheese for normals (or what counts for normal in Mayfair). Basically, if you don’t see a celebrity here, you’re not trying hard enough.

Balthazar

Restaurants French Covent Garden

Celebrity spots: The Beckhams, Shane Lynch from Boyzone, Henry Holland, Caroline Flack, the Hemsley sisters, style blogger Bip Ling.

Restaurateur Keith McNally is a demi-god across the pond, having opened more than his fair share of the most talked-about restaurants in New York over his decades-long career. So when he opened a Covent Garden outpost of this French-style brasserie, people went a little nuts. It’s fair to say that Balthazar London attracts less shiny stars than its US counterpart, but it still has pulling power. Anyway, the duck shepherd’s pie and peach soufflé are stars in their own right.

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Bar Boulud

Restaurants French Knightsbridge

Celebrity spots: Janet Street Porter, Neil Tennant, Jarvis Cocker.

Chef Daniel Boulud’s London restaurant may play second fiddle to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal one floor up, but it’s still something special – a smart-pretending-to-be-casual brasserie with airbrush lighting, a killer vibe and a pulled-pork-laden ‘Piggie’ burger that pre-dates the dude-food craze. The fact that it’s located in the Mandarin Oriental hotel gives you a higher-than-average chance of spotting a famous person enjoying a nightcap. (It’s also a favourite of off-duty chefs, if they’re the celebrity category that floats your boat.)

Venue says Stylish bistro and wine bar by Daniel Boulud in Knightsbridge. Seasonal French cooking with an American touch!

Big Easy - Kings Road

Restaurants American King’s Road

Celebrity spots: Big Brother’s Casey Batchelor and Made in Chelsea’s Ollie Locke with Francesca Hull.

Where do off-duty telly botherers go to unwind? Just down the road from daddy’s SW3 pied-à-terre in the case of the ‘Made in Chelsea’ brigade. You can’t blame them for liking Big Easy, though – its mixture of lobster, ribs and shareable cocktails coupled with happy-go-lucky Americana and live music wins over most skeptics. If the MiC ‘stars’ are partying elsewhere on your visit, you’ll have to content yourself with the ready supply of B-side TV presenters and lower-league footballers.

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C London

Restaurants Italian Mayfair

Celebrity spots: Simon Cowell, Joey Essex, Cesc Fabregas.

For a celebrity whose talent is flaunting it, a famous-ish face in need of a profile boost, and semi-legit slebs who just happen to be in the area and fancy eating Italian, there is no better haunt than C London and its complement of paps. The dining room is smart without being stylish, its polished wood panelling, monogrammed upholstery and fake portholes conjuring up a cruise ship. Which is perhaps something some of its celebrity clientele should consider...

Cecconi's

Restaurants Italian Mayfair

Celebrity spots: Madonna, Stella McCartney.

Any restaurant that’s part of the exclusive Soho House Group is guaranteed its fair dose of celebs, and so it is for this cosmopolitan all-dayer (right at home among the Ferraris and facelifts that are par for the course in Mayfair). Cecconi’s is pure professionalism, so it’s for discerning types rather than publicity whores (though that’s not to say celebs don’t get papped here). After a huge Italian meal here, you’ll probably feel relieved when the paps pass you over.

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Chiltern Firehouse

Restaurants Contemporary European Marylebone

Celebrity spots: Everyone who’s anyone, from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, to David Beckham and Noel Gallagher. Oh, and if you don’t spot LiLo, you get your money back (not).

This glamorous sibling to LA celeb-magnet Chateau Marmont, and the hotelier behind them, Andre Balazs, sure know how to pack in the stars: lighting that’s flatteringly soft while still allowing you to see exactly who’s who in the industrial-luxe dining room; food that would be a talking point in itself if there weren’t so many famous faces to gawp at; and, most importantly, a good-times vibe coupled with the thrill of exclusivity. No has-beens allowed: this place is A-list central.

David Jensen

China Tang

Restaurants Chinese Park Lane

Celebrity spots: J Lo (the world’s favourite bottom before Kim Kardashian), Hugh Grant, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Stephen Fry.

Where do celebrities go when they fancy a Chinese? Not anywhere as pedestrian as their local takeaway, but to The Dorchester hotel, where immaculate waiters have been serving all-day dim sum and classics such as Peking duck in its opulent, gilded dining room for over a decade. The snacks from the bar menu are also top-notch – although some slebs have a habit of heading straight for the Singapore slings, then tumbling out to face the paparazzi...

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© Rob Greig

Colbert

Restaurants Contemporary European Sloane Square

Celebrity spots: Liz Hurley with David Furnish, Jasper Carrott, Nigel Havers, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice with Fergie.

Colbert may be a more low-key affair than its star-struck sibling The Wolseley, but it plays host to a surprising number of off-duty celebrities – albeit mainly those who call Chelsea home. Inside, this Continental brasserie is cosy and olde-worlde, with a chequered floor, vintage posters and myriad mirrors teeing up expectations for classic French dishes that range from croque monsieur to cassoulet. Even if you don’t spot anyone famous, you can still get your people-watching fix at the pavement tables.

Hakkasan Mayfair

Restaurants Chinese Mayfair

Celebrity spots: Kanye West, Will Smith, Rihanna.

Perhaps pap-bait celebrities cleave to this high-end Chinese because its interiors are so dark even the waiters won’t realise who they’re serving. Or perhaps, like Hakkasan’s mortal clientele, they like the familiarity and consistency of its luxury dim sum, the east-west cocktails, and the sexy ambience. Whatever: at this expensive, exclusive chain, you’re guaranteed a good night (and a good dinner) regardless of whether you spot a screen star, pop idol, or (in the case of Kanye West) the Third Coming.

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