Establishment neighborhood
Corner Guilford St. & Russell Sq., Bloomsbury
The dining room at Neptune is almost as good as the food, a soothing blend of rose, peach, and blush tones, and lighting that’s warm and low. Given that Neptune is the Roman god of the sea, it’s no surprise that the menu is pretty much all fish, and the food is great, but the bar is better. Slide onto a stool, order a few of their bar snacks—buttery crab rolls, bracingly tart pickles, cheddar cheese puffs, chips—and a martini. The people-watching (full of Bloomsbury locals) is first rate.
Rough Luxe Hotel
1 Birkenhead St., Bloomsbury
Ignore the fading yellow 'No Vacancy' sign above the entrance and walk into this painstakingly artful hotel that features small rooms with perfectly cracked paintwork, fading wallpaper, and impressive contemporary art (Rough Luxe features two artists in residence). What the accommodations lack in size, the proprietor, Leo, makes up for in service and exquisite taste: Croissants fresh from famed local brasserie Ottolenghi served at breakfast are just one delicious example.
Abigail Ahern Flowers
196 Tottenham Court Rd., Bloomsbury
Faux flowers get a bad rep, but in the hands of designer Abigail Ahern they can add mood, beauty, and texture to a room. She first started her pro-faux crusade at her Islington shop, and it quickly caught on to the point that Heal's, the home emporium, has given Abigail a stand-alone "florist" shop. You'll find endless fake varieties—from ferns to hydrangeas, to ridiculously cute moss dog sculptures—another quirky Ahern signature.
Noble Rot
51 Lamb's Conduit St., Bloomsbury
One of the best wine magazines by the same name—a magazine that's made wine cool, accessible, and well, un-stuffy—has opened a live extension, a wine bar with the very same qualities. The bar itself has been around since the early 18th-century—cozy fireplace included—but under the ownership of Noble Rot founders Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew, it's alive again with a whole new spirit. There's a delicious, seasonal menu of rich, homey pub-style cuisine for one. And for two, the extensive wine list is more like a booklet, with informative, chatty, friendly descriptions of each wine category—the owners are serious aficionados after all.
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