The Gallery at Sketch
Do not visit The Gallery if you’re averse to pink. Almost everything here is nude-y shade of flamingo, from the ceiling down to the chairs, which are party wafer silly, reminiscent of sponge fingers and blancmange. Settling into one makes you feel part glam, part giddy, and a little like you’re about to eat dinner inside a giant boob. The room is home to some witty art work from David Shrigley, who created no less than 239 original drawings for the walls. Of course, it would be very remiss not to take a trip to the famous alien-egg loos while you're there.
Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
Holborn Dining Room
Holborn Dining Room is the name of the restaurant, not just the room, and although it may not be the swankiest in town there are plenty of features which add together to earn it a place on this list. The vast dining room sweeps around the side of the bar and is filled with low, red, bench-style seating which gives the feeling of almost being in a booth — cosy and ensconced — the kind of place you can bed into for a few hours. It also boasts some of the most dramatic light fittings in London, like spaceships hovering, waiting to land. On the other side of the hotel, you'll find London's largest gin bar. Important.
Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
The Gilbert Scott
You’d expect this 19th century dining room within the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel to be dramatic, and the experience of gazing around that vast room is certainly one of the highlights of eating there. The food is solid, if not particularly exciting, but the room is thrilling, with its marble-columned walls and features inspired by great historical rail stations. Some of the best seats are those at the edges, facing into the room — prime real estate for people-watching and general admiration.
The Gilbert Scott, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, Euston Road, NW1 2AR
We had to include The Ritz in this list. They describe the room as, “a dining room of unadulterated opulence” and they're not joking. Ceiling frescoes, marble columns, gilded neoclassical statues — there’s so much gold, fabric and lampshade action here it’s hard to take in. Combine it with a dose of tableside culinary theatre in the form of crepe Suzette, plus some live music and you’ll need to lie down in a dark room for 24 hours just to get over it.
The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
This is a dining room that makes you say “wow” when you walk through the door. It feels part stately home, part swanky hotel, part dining on board Titanic, with its intricate plasterwork ceiling, walls stuffed with pictures and sweeping bench seating. It’s a curious mix of old and modern styles on a huge scale, which somehow dodges becoming a headache, in part due to some fabulous lighting. The cocktail bar looms large on one side like a giant bookcase of booze, bottles ready to be plucked and poured. It’s impossible not to have a good time in a room like this.
Berners Tavern, 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
While many of the rooms on the list are about opulence, the dining room at Spring is as light and dreamy as they come. It’s the décor equivalent of slipping into fresh, Egyptian cotton bedsheets and makes such a welcome change from the dominant macho approach to restaurant design. Almost everything is white, which must be a bitch to maintain, but the effect is stunning, elegant and actually very soothing. Sometimes your eyes just need a break. Soothe those peepers.
Spring, Somerset House New Wing, Lancaster Place, WC2R 1LA
The Oscar Wilde Bar at The Café Royal
Formerly known as The Grill Room, this bar was renamed after one of its most famous patrons and is reportedly the place where he fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, or so the Café Royal tells us. Established in 1865, it’s a riot of red and gold, with Louis XVI detailing and a grand piano. It’s more of a champagne bar now, but they also do a creative afternoon tea. Touristy, but worth doing once.
The Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, W1B 4DY