Cnr of Guilford Street and, Russell Square, 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.
Thornback & Peel
Cockpit Yard, Northington St., Bloomsbury
With a very fitting location on Rugby Street, in good company among other quirky and cool independent shops nearby, Thornback & Peel provides hand-printed home goods and textiles. Juliet and Delia's (Thornback and Peel, respectively) whitewashed shop is full of their colorful flora and fauna: It's a perfect spot for gifts in particular.
Tavistock Hotel Basement, Bedford Way, Bloomsbury
While you can walk in and bowl, booking ahead is strongly recommended. This is a great place for parties.
59 Lamb's Conduit St., Bloomsbury
The books here are by women, about women, and for busy women who don't have time to wade through bigger chains in search of that perfect book. The collection contains 96 beautiful, unique and intelligent books, which make wonderful gifts for the women in your life. The beautiful reprints all feature a custom Persephone grey jacket, the same color as the shop's façade, which remains virtually unchanged since its construction in 1702.
Pentreath & Hall
17 Rugby St., Bloomsbury
Located in a tiny Victorian shopfront in the heart of Bloomsbury, Pentreath & Hall sells carefully chosen homewares and an ever-changing variety of unusual delights. Many of the objects for sale here satisfy the "looks great under a glass cloche" category requirement. Photo: Simon Bevan
52 Lamb's Conduit St., Bloomsbury
This is a full-on lifestyle store for the geometrically obsessed. There are handcrafted leather goods, hand-bound notebooks, colorful pillows, and throws, all within the very tasteful bounds of the owner's aesthetic. Expect to find many a British brand you haven't heard of yet.
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.
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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