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Test Driving The Londoner - Leicester Square's new luxe hangout

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareThe Shima Garden 'outside' bar at 8 at The Londoner complete with retractable skylights.

So what do we need to know about The Londoner?

You'll probably have seen news stories about the 'iceberg' or 'super-boutique' hotel that's just opened on Leicester Square. But the photos really don't do justice to this new opening. Not only is it an utter departure for the area, it really is quite a stunner. It has a pub, a champagne bar and a restaurant all on the ground floor and then a Japanese restaurant and rooftop bar up on the eighth floor.

Where is it?

You'll find it at the bottom corner (south side) of Leicester Square where the Odeon West End used to be. The nearest tubes are Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

Before this opened, our recommendation on Leicester Square would always have been the lovely Cork & Bottle. But now you've a plethora of places to pick at The Londoner. There's the pub, Joshua's Tavern and the lobby Champagne bar - complete with Champagne trollies and live music. But it's clear that there's one place that's already very popular and that's the bar at 8 at The Londoner. To find that you'll need to head to the far right corner of the lobby where there's a separate lift up to the eighth floor.

Once up on the eighth, you can see that right now this is where the party is at The Londoner. And part of that reason is that this is an extremely vibey bar which is partially outdoors, but not so that you'd notice (it's very sheltered). There's a huge open fire in the centre of the room, a DJ, and tables set around the outside. There isn't a view over Leicester Square, but you won't need one - you'll be checking out the other guests instead.

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareA pretty short cocktail list is split into martinis, sparkling and on ice. Our Lychee Rosé was probably a bit sweet for our tastes (£16) but then that was our fault for ordering that over the jasmine margarita.

What's on the menu?

For dinner, we returned back to the ground floor to Whitcomb's which they bill as "a corner of the French Mediterranean" which is a bold claim for anywhere this close to the M&Ms shop. But, with tables laden with Provencal herbs and fresh lemons and a nice buzz, The Londoner's signature restaurant is actually a pretty nice place to be.

Here's what we had:

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareTuna tartare with confit egg yolk and Oscietra caviar (£18) - very prettily presented and a really nice tartare.

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareCarpaccio de boeuf - Beef fillet, black truffle and lemon zest (£16) -  this was a good carpaccio that really didn't need the zest.

We also had a lovely bowl of calamari that, unfortunately, we took just too bad a photo of to feature here (sorry).

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareRigatoni au homard - seared lobster with rigatoni and Scotch bonnet labneh crème (£28). Priced somewhere between similar lobster pasta dishes at Pastaio and Novikov, we would have liked a little more lobster in this, but that Scotch bonnet sauce was the business.

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareFilet mignon with chanterelle and aged Parmesan crème (£34) - a dish that came with SO much sauce that you're 100% going to want to order....

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester square...the amazing frites (£5) which are really thin confit potatoes and all the better for it. They proved perfect for sauce dunking too. 

Room for dessert?

Just about. Desserts are all pretty rich - with millefeuille, tarte tatin and french toast with Grand Marnier as options.

the londoner hotel and restaurant review leicester squareWe opted for the beignets (£14) - which came warm from the oven and served with three sauces to dip into, dulce de leche, Valrhona Organic Andoa Dark Chocolate and spiced orange.

What about wine?

To match the Med theme, the wine list here focuses on France, although not exclusively. There are some high-end options available, thanks to Coravin, by the glass and carafe including Puligny-Montrchet and Tiganello.

Overall thoughts:

Leicester Square is trying to be more of a place Londoners would actually want to be, and the arrival of The Londoner does a massive job in helping that along. It's a genuinely lovely place to pitch up for drinks or dinner - and a handy spot to know if you're in the area and looking for somewhere non-touristy to escape to.

Photo credit for 8 at The Londoner bar - Henry Bourne

 

More about The Londoner

Where is it? Whitcomb Street, London WC2H 7DT

Book Whitcomb's  Book 8 at The Londoner

Find out more: Visit their website.

Hot Dinners dined as guests of The Londoner. Prices are correct at the time of publication. 

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