Tag Archives: Covent Garden

Four to Eight: high quality Italian food in Covent Garden

The ever-changing nature of London’s restaurant and bar scene means that not infrequently I go to eat or drink somewhere and spend most of the time thinking: ‘What used to be here?’

Thankfully with Four to Eight, a new Italian restaurant in London’s West End which has opened right in the heart of London’s Theatreland – it is in fact located right in between those West End behemoths Mamma Mia! and The Lion King – the answer is easy to find, because the previous owners are the current owners too.

Four to Eight Italian restaurant Covent Garden
Four to Eight used to be a sandwich bar but is now a high-end Italian restaurant

Gino and Leo Zambito, Sicilian brothers who came to England in the 1960s, used to run the Franco and Gino sandwich bar on the same site, where every actor from Sir Michael Gambon to Felicity Kendall popped in for a cheap bite to eat.

Their new foodie incarnation is certainly a step up, even if Gino still talks wistfully of providing cups of tea and sustenance to London’s cabbies day and night. Four to Eight is bigger, for a start, with the ground floor dining area surrounded by huge glass windows so you can watch the world go by, and a massive and fittingly theatrical central wine cabinet right in the middle of the room. Downstairs is a more intimate, darker affair but still buzzing thanks to the open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs in action. Continue reading Four to Eight: high quality Italian food in Covent Garden

One Aldwych: a slice of luxury in London’s West End

There was a lion right outside my hotel room. Well, to be more accurate, a Lion King.

one aldwych
The view from my bedroom at One Aldwych hotel in Covent Garden

The Lyceum theatre in Covent Garden, which has been home to the hugely successful Lion King musical for more than 15 years, was about 10 metres from my bedroom window. I peered down on the crowds as people started gathering for the evening’s performance, safe and unseen in my warm sanctuary…that is, until I realised that I was being spied on in turn, by  people peeping out of their window at the very top of the theatre. It was time to stop people-watching, and retreat to the spa.

one aldwych
One Aldwych is right at the heart of London’s West End

One Aldwych hotel is situated right on the corner which marks the beginning of of the Aldwych semi-circle which also houses the Australian and India High Commissions and Bush House, once home to the BBC World Service. As a Central London location it is hard to beat, with not just Theatreland on its doorstep but Covent Garden, the Strand, Holborn, the South Bank and Somerset House all just a few minutes walk away.

In spite of being on the corner of one of London’s busiest streets, the hotel itself is an oasis of tranquility, particularly in its subterranean spa which includes an 18-metre swimming pool. Continue reading One Aldwych: a slice of luxury in London’s West End

St Martin’s Lane hotel: top location and afternoon tea with a difference

It’s just as well that an overnight stay at St Martin’s Lane hotel comes with complimentary membership of the gym next door.

By the time I finally checked out after what seemed like 24 hours of continuous eating, I would not have been at all surprised to find that I had doubled in size.

st martins lane hotel
The lobby at St Martin’s Lane hotel – complete with chaise-longue and gold teeth stool…

Dinner the night before had involved a pretty huge amount of food on its own, but added to a hefty breakfast and a frankly massive amount of food which I dutifully sampled as part of its signature ‘Cafecito‘ afternoon tea and I felt as I rolled down St Martin’s Lane towards Trafalgar Square that I wouldn’t need to eat again for at least a week or two.

Continue reading St Martin’s Lane hotel: top location and afternoon tea with a difference

TGI Fridays Karen Forrester on how she turned the company around

karen forrester interview TGI Fridays

Under Karen Forrester, the TGI Friday’s restaurant chain has undergone a big recovery – and it all began with a fire that gutted one of its flagship sites.

While most bosses would consider this an unmitigated disaster, Forrester saw the destruction of TGI Friday’s restaurant in Birmingham as a chance to start again. Continue reading TGI Fridays Karen Forrester on how she turned the company around