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Belgravia and Knightsbridge area guide

Saunter round the shops, take a trip to the museum or indulge in some very fine dining, Knightsbridge-style

© Jonathan Perugia

The bright lights of Knightsbridge lure in tourists from around the world as well as Londoners with a bit of spare dollar to spend come pay day. And spend it you shall, on exotic items buried deep within Harrods or stylish new threads from Harvey Nics. If you’re not interested in treading the floors of these world-renowned superstores, how about a tour of some of London’s finest museums, all conveniently found on one thoroughfare. After all that time on your feet, a slap-up dinner in one of Knightsbridge’s swanky restaurants is in order – you’ve been warned about the price tag, though.

What are your favourite fancy Knightsbridge spots? Let us know in the comments.

Love London Awards: this year's winners

The Orange Public House & Hotel
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The Orange Public House & Hotel

Venue says: “We are welcoming spring with our wonderfully tasty spring menu.”

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The Fine Cheese Co Belgravia
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The Fine Cheese Co Belgravia

And artisanal cheese shop and charcuterie, with a cafe you can eat in at and a 'wine wall' to select from.

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria's husband in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall's vast rotunda was once described by the monarch as looking like 'the British constitution'. It has been the venue for the (now BBC) Proms since 1941, despite acoustics that do orchestras few favours. The Royal Albert Hall's splendid exterior is matched by the regal red-and-gold interior which is crowned by a domed stained-glass skylight. Occasional classical concerts are held throughout the year – look out for recitals on the Willis pipe organ. Other key events in its calendar include pop and comedy gigs (including the annual Teenage Cancer Trust shows), and circus extravaganzas from the likes of Cirque du Soleil. In addition to seasonal tours during the Proms, the RAH has launched daily Secret History Tours, which draw on a rich seam of stories about London's largest hall for hire and offer access to areas not normally open to audiences.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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The Thomas Cubitt
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The Thomas Cubitt

Venue says: “Our chefs have created the most amazing menu to welcome spring.”

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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See the full results of this year's Love London Awards

Restaurants in Knightsbridge

Hawksmoor Knightsbridge
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Hawksmoor Knightsbridge

Anyone remember Frankie’s? It was a bizarre – yet bizarrely fun – place; a dark, windowless basement, with garish tiles and giant disco balls, serving pizza to a party-loving Knightsbridge crowd. Well, Frankie’s is gone, and in its place stands the latest branch of Hawksmoor, which couldn’t be more different. In true SW3 fashion, it’s had a facelift and splurged on a new wardrobe, now combining ‘classic Hawksmoor’ (leather seating, a ‘clubby’ vibe) with plenty for the ultra-wealthy local clientele (pale marble, gorgeous loos).The menu is even more noticeably ‘Knightsbridge’, with meat playing second fiddle to luxury seafood – from oysters and caviar (with or without frozen vodka) to crustacea, including all manner of lobsters. We sampled a trio of fat, garlicky Palamós prawns (with sourdough toast for mopping up the juices), a plate of zingy seabass tiradito and a messy but delicious devilled lobster, smothered in a Sriracha-meets-sweet chilli sauce. The non-seafood dishes were just as memorable though: from a rich, gooey mac ’n’ cheese, to a beautifully chargrilled rib-eye steak, a deliciously light Caesar salad, or the ‘Ferrero Rocher’ – an indulgent tennis ball-sized pud with dark chocolate ganache, three kinds of hazelnut (mousse, ice cream and brittle) and a spot of gold leaf. Oh, Hawksmoor, you really are spoiling us. When you also consider the expert cocktails, thoughtful wine list and exceptional service, this new branch has a lot going for it. Just watch the bill –

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Rivea London
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Rivea London

Internationally renowned chef Alain Ducasse is championing his talented protégé Damien Leroux who is at the helm of the new restaurant.Inspired by the vibrant food markets in Italy and Provence, Rivea offers French and Italian cuisine in a chic, convivial and relaxed setting. The delicate menu of small plates incorporates the classic flavours and vivid colours of the Riviera.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Zuma
Restaurants

Zuma

Out of simplicity can come excellence, and the food at Zuma is a case in point. The venue may be swish (with well-to-do patrons propping up the amply stocked cedar bar), the fixtures and fittings expensive, but when it comes to the food, much of the wow factor is down to high-class ingredients that haven’t been messed around with too much. Own-made silken tofu, presented in a cedar saké cup, was rich, creamy and light. The barley miso, freshly grated wasabi and other accompaniments allowed the tofu to shine. A more indulgent dish of spicy miso with lobster also had a clarity of flavour, with the sweet shellfish the star. An ample house special of deep-fried lemon sole was served with a fresh, tangy ponzu sauce and cleverly presented in a bowl made of the curved and deep-fried skeleton of the fish. Our waiting staff couldn’t have been nicer, and even the chefs behind the imposing robata grill seemed to be having a good time. This is one contemporary Japanese restaurant that we’re happy to come back to time and again. Be sure to give the saké list a proper look too, there are more than 40 to choose from.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Mr Chow
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Mr Chow

Mr Chow has been playing host to the ‘rich and famous’ since 1968 and it continues to attract Knightsbridge’s money-no-object diners – a fact evident from the number of customers on our visit. We sat in the small but glossy room on the ground floor, the space buffed up by modern art, soft leather banquettes and elegant rosewood chairs. Having pioneered the upmarket, western-friendly form of London’s Chinese restaurants, Chow’s remains a crowd-pleaser with its Tinsteltown take on Cantonese cooking. We enjoyed a starter of minced squab chicken with diced vegetables, but turnip puffs were dry and only just saved by a garlicky chilli sauce. Beef fillet was tender, yet came with too much oyster sauce, making it a bit gloopy. Chicken served with prawns, scallops and wood-ear fungus had been sautéed with an excess of rice-wine vinegar, but the fried rice was blameless. The chatty service team have been here for a long time, and it’s good to see that they have built up a relationship with the regular customers. Our request for a doggie bag was accepted without a hint of snobbishness, which went some way towards justifying the 13% service charge.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Knightsbridge

V&A

V&A

The V&A is one of the world’s – let alone London's – most magnificent museums, its foundation stone laid on this site by Queen Victoria in her last official public engagement in 1899. It is a superb showcase for applied arts from around the world, appreciably calmer than its tearaway cousins on the other side of Exhibition Road. Some 150 grand galleries on seven floors contain countless pieces of furniture, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, posters, jewellery, metalwork, glass, textiles and dress, spanning several centuries. Items are grouped by theme, origin or age: for advice, tap the patient staff, who field a formidable combination of leaflets, floor plans, general knowledge and polite concern. Highlights include the seven Raphael Cartoons painted in 1515 as tapestry designs for the Sistine Chapel; the finest collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy; the Ardabil carpet, the world’s oldest and arguably most splendid floor covering, in the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art; and the Luck of Edenhall, a thirteenth-century glass beaker from Syria. The Fashion galleries run from eighteenth-century court dress right up to contemporary chiffon numbers; the Architecture gallery has videos, models, plans and descriptions of various styles; and the famous Photography collection holds over 500,000 images. Over more than a decade, the V&A’s on-going FuturePlan transformation has been a revelation. The completely refurbished Medieval & Renaissance Galleries are stunning, b

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

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 mus

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Buy tickets
Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria's husband in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall's vast rotunda was once described by the monarch as looking like 'the British constitution'. It has been the venue for the (now BBC) Proms since 1941, despite acoustics that do orchestras few favours. The Royal Albert Hall's splendid exterior is matched by the regal red-and-gold interior which, crowned by a domed stained-glass skylight. Occasional classical concerts are held throughout the year – look out for recitals on the Willis pipe organ. Other key events in its calendar include pop and comedy gigs (including the annual Teenage Cancer Trust shows), and circus extravaganzas from the likes of Cirque du Soleil.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Buy tickets
Science Museum

Science Museum

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. Tickets to the museum’s in-house IMAX cinema cost extra. 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 museums

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs in Knightsbridge

Mandarin Bar
Bars and pubs

Mandarin Bar

The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge is more famous as the location of Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner, and when we were here, there were at least four other parties who’d settled in for a drink while praying for a walk-in at the restaurant. If you’re going to choose a waiting room, you can’t do much better than this. The room is dazzling, with a central bar and an array of of glass, wood and marble. It’s deliberately sleek, modern, high-fashion hotel luxury, and if that look appeals, then the Mandarin will too. The drinks side of things is done expertly. Their own cocktails are devised with good sense, and classics are well handled – and with serving sizes to match the high prices. Polished service, good bar snacks. If you’re weighed down by bags of treasure from nearby Harvey Nicks, this is a good place to rest your feet and indulge in some deep relaxation therapy.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Blue Bar
Bars and pubs

Blue Bar

The name isn’t just a caprice: this David Collins-designed bar really is as blue as a Billie Holiday album. The sky-blue armchairs, the deep-blue ornate plasterwork and the navy-blue leather-bound menus combine with discreet lighting to striking effect. It’s a see-and-be-seen place, but staff treat all-comers like royalty, and the cocktails are a masterclass in sophistication. Not everyone can afford to scale the frightening heights of the bar list, worth perusing just to confirm that there is such a thing as a £4,210 bottle of champagne or a £925 shot of whisky (Macallan 55-year-old). Leave those to the A-list, and just enjoy the elegance and luxury of one of the finest hotel bars in the city.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Buddha-Bar
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Buddha-Bar

The Buddha Bar started life in Paris in 1996, the creation of entrepreneur Raymond Visan. The bestselling Buddha Bar mix compilations by French DJ Claude Challe ensured the success of the club, bar and brand – and its expansion. This included a branch in London, which closed a couple of years after opening in 2008. This new Buddha-Bar is merely ‘linked’ to the original (which possibly explains why this second London incarnation now uses a hyphen in the name). The upper-mezzanine level is a bar while the basement level is an oriental restaurant. The interior is Orientalism in its most obvious and crudest forms, while also trying to touch discordant references in popular culture. The result looks like a warehouse decorated after a trip to Homebase. A screen wall is made of breeze blocks; a curtain of metal Buddhas is held together like chainmail; a film poster from ‘Trainspotting’ jars behind the bar. But worst of all was the dreary Europop music – we suspect Monsieur Challe wasn’t responsible for this playlist. The restaurant tries to convince that pan-Asian cuisine is back in fashion, and although the execution of our dishes was good, prices were simply too high and portions too small. A tiny serving of black cod costs £27.50; some foie gras and eel sushi rolls £22.80. Budget to pay around £50 a head on food alone if you’re eating. There are no bargains on the drinks lists either. The service on our visit showed poor training. Our booking had been lost; a simple drinks order

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Book online
190
Bars and pubs

190

In a library-like atmosphere of dark wood and low lighting, the bar staff at the Gore Hotel in South Kensington go about their business of providing varied, classy cocktails to a varied, classy clientele. Beaumont des Crayères is the bubbly of choice; the wines and beers display a Spanish touch, but the Iberian management could surely do rather better than the desultory tapas on offer. On a happier note, there are 30 varieties of vodka, including Snow Leopard and Grey Goose, and the service is excellent. The clientele is occasionally starry and always rich.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars

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