The line up for the summer in London is as exciting as it is daunting. Try and do too much and you'll be running all over town, exhausting yourself. Take it too easy and you'll be kicking yourself for missing half the action. A little careful planning will go a long way if you're planning to take part in London's many festivities this summer. We caught up with Tom Marchant, co-founder of bespoke travel company Black Tomato, for his rundown of secret locales, restaurants, and tips.
Q: There's a lot of discussion about the transport system and how it will cope with the millions of visitors heading your way. What's your preferred way of getting around town?
A: London is bigger than you think so it depends on how far I'm going. I just got a new dog (Ernie), so try and walk as much as I can. When I am not with him, for short distances, I use a Boris Bike (nicknamed after Boris Johnson, our mayor) you can rent them from all over town for a pound a day. When the suns out there's no nicer way to get around. For long distances, I use taxis. My new find is HAILO, an app that lets you hail Black Cabs without even leaving your seat—useful when it's raining!
Q: London's got some great restaurants at the moment. What are your favorite places to eat?
A: The food in the UK used to get a bad rap, but now London has some really great restaurants. I live east so tend to stay on that side of town. Some of my current favorites are A Little of What You Fancy (Kingsland Road), Brawn (Columbia Road), Maida (Indian food on Bethnal Green Road), and the best steak in town is at Buen Ayre on Broadway Market. When I'm missing NYC, I go to Meat Liquor, just off Oxford Street—burgers and cocktails and no reservations—just like NYC! For street food The Rib Man is becoming an obsession.
Q: And what about after dinner?
A: London's got some great late night venues at the moment. For bars, The Alibi (Kingsland Road), Happiness Forgets (Hoxton Square), 3 Blind Mice (Ravey Street) and Lounge Bohemia (Great Eastern Street).
Q: …and after that?
A: Passing Clouds (Richmond Road)
Q: There is a huge amount going on in London this summer, what are you most excited about?
A: Yes, from the Jubilee to the Olympics, the celebrations are going on until at least September. There are a massive amount of festivals going on in the city which I'm looking forward to, the Damian Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern shouldn't be missed, and there are great gigs coming to town. My favorite venue is The Strong Room Bar on Curtain Road.
Q: Where do you recommend for shopping?
A: My wife is the expert on that! I love looking at Vintage furniture at The Dog and Wardrobe on St. Andrews Road (just off Broadway Market). For clothing this year we launched Beach Tomato Shack, which we're doing all our summer shopping on (of course!). For books, nothing beats Artwords on Broadway market.
Tom Marchant, 33, is entrepreneur and cofounder of Black Tomato, a US- and UK–based award-winning luxury travel company that specializes in cutting-edge tailor-made travel experiences that truly get under the skin of a country and its people—whether it’s hiking the Himalayas, hunting with San Bushmen in Namibia, kicking back on an exotic beach in Papua New Guinea, or swimming with whale sharks in Isla Holbox, Mexico.
Tom splits his time between his East London and New York offices. He regularly writes and talks on trends and the future of the luxury travel and lifestyle industries. Over the summer Tom will be giving us his hot insider tips for travel near and far—how to live like a local in London during the Olympics, his favorite 24-hour escapes, or how to get down inside a volcano in Iceland.
Related: London Insider's Guide