Pillow Talk: Between the Sheets of NoMad Hotel, London

The rooms at NoMad London have an elegant, Manhattan-style vibe
The rooms at NoMad London have an elegant, Manhattan-style vibe | Courtesy of NoMad London / Booking.com
Alicia Miller

This New York hotel brand is breathing new life into one of London’s oldest quarters, thanks to the revival of the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.

Covent Garden is a London landmark eternal. But don’t go thinking it’s staid. With the opening of a long-awaited New York import, the NoMad London, the West End has reinvented itself once again as the British capital’s must-stay corner. Book into this palatial pad – set in the historic Bow Street Magistrates’ Court – and you’ll be spoilt from check-in to check-out with fine dining, plush bedrooms and first-rate people-watching. But the best bit? You’ll have the opportunity to live like a local in one of the capital’s most iconic districts. Here’s how to get your stay right.

1. NoMad London

Hotel

NoMad London
Courtesy of NoMad London / Booking.com

The bones don’t get more old-world London – the 1880s Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, where the likes of Oscar Wilde and the Kray twins went on trial. But the interiors, befitting the NoMad’s NYC roots, are elegant Manhattan, with dusty-rose tones and sharp blacks in bedrooms and a grand yet intimate vibe in the NoMad Restaurant – London’s hottest new ticket. Book well ahead to feast on crafted chef plates here, or go laid-back with dressed-up nibbles – think a hotdog with black truffle – in another corner, the Library.

2. 26 Grains

Cafe, Restaurant, Healthy

Clients sitting, relaxing, chatting, drinking in Neals Yard courtyard, outside 26 Grains restaurant. Seven Dials, London, England, UK
© Elizabeth Leyden / Alamy Stock Photo

Yes, you can get brunch at the NoMad. But you don’t want to miss 26 Grains, a cafe just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Settle into the wooden chairs at this cosy Neal’s Yard haunt, and tuck into sweet-savoury banana tahini porridge or cheesy scrambled eggs in a St John’s brioche bun smothered with house date and tamarind ketchup. A flat white or ginger hot chocolate will get you ready for a day of sightseeing.

4. Barrafina

Bar, Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas

Barrafina_DL-Bar-eating-4_JohnCarey
© John Carey

Fat, juicy gambas. Silky slivers of jamón (dry-cured ham). Wobbling tortilla. You’ll get a proper taste of Spain when you step into this Covent Garden outpost of what is perhaps the finest tapas restaurant in London, Barrafina Drury Lane, a two-minute walk from the NoMad. Snag a countertop seat at the polished bar and clink glasses with your mates as you down simple but perfect pan con tomate (bread with tomato). Besides being delicious, the energy of the place is infectious and will make you feel as though you’re right in the heart of the action – which, indeed, you are.

5. Alex Monroe

Shop

Alex Monroe - Covent Garden Boutique Floral Street - Boutique 1_cropped
Courtesy of Alex Monroe

We don’t need to tell you Covent Garden is great for shopping; from souvenirs in the historic market hall to the chic clothing boutiques of Seven Dials, you’ll find it all here. But if you’re after gorgeous bling that won’t break the bank, head to cutesy Floral Street and the tiny jewellery shop Alex Monroe. The space is cluttered with lovely gold pieces featuring small figurines – think chains with tiny bumblebee pendants or earring studs shaped as whales or swallows.

6. American Bar at The Savoy

Bar, Cocktails

The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, London
© Mark Kelly / Alamy Stock Photo

If the NoMad represents the newer side of London’s hotel scene, the Savoy, a five-minute walk away, is quite the opposite; the first luxury hotel in the city opened back in 1889. Its American Bar, the oldest surviving cocktail bar in Britain, is a thing of pure palate-pleasing beauty. Signature cocktails are inspired by popular songs – penned by famous musicians who have visited the bar at one time or another – but if you have a hankering for a classic martini, it’ll nail that in this art deco space, too.

7. Neal’s Yard Dairy

Shop

Neals Yard Dairy, shop, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London.. Image shot 2012. Exact date unknown.
© tony french / Alamy Stock Photo

You’ll probably smell Neal’s Yard Dairy before you see it. This cheese shop of dreams, a few minutes from the hotel, is somewhat whiffy, but that’s because it stocks some of the finest artisan dairy made in Britain. Stock up on creamy baron bigon brie, veiny stichelton and nutty coolea – and don’t forget the gourmet biscuits, pickles or fruity damson paste to complete the spread. Real connoisseurs will love the st jude – an oozy, fragrant round inspired by the French st marcellin.

8. The London Transport Museum

Museum

The London Transport Museum, England, UK
© Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo

Sure, a museum dedicated to London’s various modes of transport – bus, Tube, etc – doesn’t, on paper, sound hugely exciting. But this interactive space at the edge of the Covent Garden market will inspire even the most apathetic with its interactive exhibits. Discover the history of the first underground system in the world, explore abandoned stations and see old-school Routemaster buses salvaged from yesteryear. The gift shop, too, is enticing, and don’t be surprised if you leave with a vintage moquette pillow, modelled from the fabric of Tube carriage seats. You’ve been warned.

9. Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Bar, Wine Bar, European, French

Courtesy of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
There are many places to drink wine in Covent Garden, but few take their tipples as seriously as Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. An extensive by-the-glass menu of natural picks, ranging from waxy German riesling to cherried burgundy pinot noir, will keep wine lovers sated all evening long. Feeling plucky? Order a glass of the Mystery Wine – if you can guess what it is, you’ll win a bottle to drink. Should you get it wrong, you can nurse bruised egos with a treat of aged madeira – wines dating back to 1973 are available by the glass.

For other places to stay in the capital, discover our guide to the most famous places to stay in London and book now on Culture Trip.

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