Meet The Stars Behind London Bars (And Restaurants And Cafés)!

London is home to a whole constellation of stars, including Jude Law and Madonna — but a few have also set up restaurants and bars in the capital. From Gandalf to Kelly Brook, who says your skills must end at acting?

1. Nobu – Robert De Niro

You may know him as Pam Byrne’s overprotective father in Meet The Parents (and the Fockers), but Robert De Niro is also the co-founder of esteemed restaurant chain, Nobu. There are over 30 branches across the world, two of which take pride of place in Central London. Nobu, named after owner and executive chef Nobu Matsuhisa, mixes Japanese and South American influences to create a menu of innovative “new style” Japanese cuisine. It’s often frequented by celebrities, making it a top spot for a bit of star-spotting.
19 Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB / 15 Berkeley Street, W1J 8DY


2. Steam & Rye – Kelly Brook

Kelly Brook is famous for errr…. we’re not really sure what, but she owns a top-class cocktail bar on Leadenhall Street. The interior was designed by Hollywood Set Designer Jonathan Lee, and was modelled on Grand Central Station in New York. They’ve got live music, a rodeo bull and Ladies Night on a Wednesday (which we’re pretty sure the men will have something to say about, but hey, half price cocktails girls)! The cocktail menu goes all out and they have everything from a Juan Direction, a popular cocktail with tequila and agave, and a Mile High, which comes with a paper aeroplane. They also have a bunch of sharing cocktails that come served in the mouths of dinosaurs and sharks and stuff.
147 Leadenhall St, EC3V 4QT


3. Pharmacy 2– Damien Hirst


Following on from the unsuccessful venture of Pharmacy (1?) in Notting Hill, Hirst has decided to have another go by relaunching the restaurant at his Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. The interior very much reflects the name, with pills on the walls and pills on the stools. Coinciding with the gallery’s extended Saturday hours, Pharmacy 2 will be hosting ‘Lates’ on the last Saturday of each month during the Autumn. These evenings will include happy hour cocktails from 10pm, late-night dining and live DJ sets until 2am. PS. The gallery is currently showing a Jeff Koons exhibition which ends October 16.
Newport Street, SE11 6AJ


4. The Grapes – Sir Ian McKellen


Gandalf has returned! But rather than leading the Fellowship of the Ring in Middle-earth, he has bought a pub in East London. The Grapes is a traditional English pub, with proper ales and a Victorian long bar (and now with the added addition of the original ‘Gandalf staff’ on display behind the bar). There’s a heated terrace at the back that dangles over the Thames and flaunts some great views of the City and it’s also said that Charles Dickens used to dance on the tables in his time.

76 Narrow Street, Limehouse, E14 8BP


5. Dandy Café – Alt J’s Gus Unger Hamilton


Alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger Hamilton claims he didn’t always want to be a musician, but rather dreamt of becoming a chef. In a space that was once just shipping containers and rubbish, Gus has followed his dream and opened up a new café in South Hackney. With a focus on natural wine and simple scrumptious food, the Alt-J member’s café is definitely worth a visit.


London Visitor Oyster card


A Visitor Oyster card is a quick and easy way to pay for travel on public transport in London. Buy your card before you leave home and save money with special offers.

A Visitor Oyster card is a smartcard pre-loaded with pay as you go credit that you can use to travel in London. It’s a quick and easy way to pay for journeys on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus and most National Rail services in London.
Put money on your Visitor Oyster card and use it to pay as you go.

Why buy a Visitor Oyster card?

Save time

Buy a Visitor Oyster card before you leave home and have it delivered to you.
Your card is ready to go as soon as you arrive in London, so no queuing at stations.


Great value

Pay as you go fares are cheaper than buying a paper single ticket.
Your Visitor Oyster card offers daily capping. This means you can travel as much as you like in a single day and the amount you pay for your travel is limited (or capped). For example, you can travel as many times as you like in a day in Zones 1 and 2 (from 04:30 to 04:29 the next day) and you won’t be charged more than £6.50.
By comparison, a Day Travelcard is more expensive and will cost you £12.10.
Use your card and save money with special offer and discounts at restaurants, shops, galleries and entertainment venues.


How much does a Visitor Oyster card cost?

A Visitor Oyster card costs £3 (plus postage) and is pre-loaded with pay as you go credit for you to spend on travel. You can choose how much credit to add to your card: £10, £15, £20, £25, £30, £35, £40 or £50.
The credit on your card never expires – it stays there until you use it. If you run out of credit on your card, it’s easy to top it up and use it again.


How much pay as you go credit to add?

If you’re visiting London for two days, start with £15 credit.
If you’re visiting London for four days, start with £30 credit.


Contact us for more details!

Don’t Be A Tourist! 9 Places Only Hardcore Londoners Know About

‘That’s very touristy’ is possibly one of the most heinous comments a person could make about your chosen bar, place or activity. In London, no one wants to look like a tourist. When it comes to finding out the best places to try (for both Londoners and tourists alike), it’s hard to decipher what’s good when researching online. (Unless, of course, you read SL *wink*). There is, however, a brand spanking new app launching their beta version in London – Cool Cousin – which will help you find amazing places to try, as recommended by locals – the people who know best. The app allows you to find and chat to ‘Cousins’, people who live in the city you’re planning to visit and who will give you real, tried-and-tested recommendations of cool places to try. Here are some places in our city, shared by some of the London Cousins.

1 brixton

1. Pop Brixton

Recommended by: Adrianna, Yoga Teacher
Adrianna says: The latest edition to the community, Pop Brixton is an open-air style market, which personifies the spirit of Brixton. Here you’ll find a combination of restaurants of all cuisines, local fashion designers, bars, and a health food café called homegrown (a personal fave) There is a greenhouse style seating area for when the days are well, like London, but the most wonderful thing is to sit in the sun, cocktail in hand as the sun is setting while listening to love music, because there is an event space called Pop Box, which hosts various events from live music, to movie, to yoga and capoeira.
49 Brixton Station Rd, London SW9 8PQ


2. Champs Barber

Recommended by: Barrie, Owner of Scotch & Limon
Barrie says: Run by an ex Colombian boxing champion, champs is pound for pound the best barbers in London. No need to book, just rock up and enjoy the trim.
31 Riding House St, London W1W 7DY
3. Reign Vintage

Recommended by: Jacob, Musician and Filmmaker
Jacob says: I’m almost reluctant to make public my secret of Reign Vintage. This place is the best vintage shop in London. Fact. The clothes are fantastic, affordable, and diverse. Whether you’re looking for a 60s dress, a 70s suit, or just a shirt, bag or hat, this is the place. The staff are delightful and you’re in the heart of Soho.
12 Berwick St, London W1F


4. The Rum Kitchen

Recommended by: Adora Mba, African Art Blogger
Adora says: My best friend owns this place so I may be a tad biased, but honestly if you like good food, good music and a great ambience it is the place to get your grub on. Book in advance! The queues are always long for walk-ins. I prefer the Soho branch for whatever reason but then I prefer to have brunch at the All Saints one. Different strokes for different folks – most importantly the food is still great at both! You simply must try the jerk chicken thighs, the spare ribs, the jerk chicken burger and the goat curry with rice. HEAVEN.
Multiple Locations: Kingly Court, Carnaby St, London W1B 5PW & 6-8 All Saints Rd, London W11 1HH
5. The Dove Beer and Kitchen

Recommended by: James, Music Producer and DJ

James says: Way before the craft beer movement became a thing, there was The Dove, serving up a really wide range of specialist bottles as well as guest ales & beers. Really cosy pub too, lots of board games for wintery afternoons or a good few tables on the pavement on Broadway Market. The beers are great but i wouldn’t personally recommend eating there though, way better other options for food in the area in my opinion…
24-28 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ


6. The Escapologist


Recommended by: Alex, PR professional & London Community Manager for Cool Cousin
Alex says: My favourite thing about this bar is that you can enter one of the spaces through a secret door that looks like a large painting! Make sure you experience that. I prefer going there in the late afternoon rather than the evening for an intimate drink with a friend in one of the booths. The Nero Must Die cocktail is a great alternative to an Espresso Martini.
35 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LD
7. The Peace Pagoda

Recommended by: Adam Bodini, Photography and Brand strategy consultant
Adam says: The Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park is an amazing place to escape and reflect on the world. Overlooking the Thames, surrounding by lush greenery it is easy to feel completely at peace and relaxed here. I often escape to the Pagoda, lie down and forget about the stresses and strains of the world.


8. Howling Hops Tank Bar

Recommended by: Ilana, Cinematographer
Ilana says: A fairly new addition to the ever growing Hackney Wick. This micro brewery is awesome to go to if you like an ale! They have loads of tanks filled with an eclectic mix of ales in a great space that feels really communal. They don’t serve in pints of half pints. If you are a meat eater you can get a massive platter of it here.
Unit 9A Queen’s Yard, White Post Ln, London E9 5EN


9. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Recommended by: Max, Filmmaker and Props Scouter

Max says: Hidden off the forever busy Dalston Lane is this incredible and relaxing community garden. The garden was built on an old railway line and is surrounded by warehouses and some converted industrial buildings. They serve both hot and alcoholic drinks and the garden gets lots of sunlight. They also often do biscuits and cakes. The vibe is incredibly friendly and they often hold workshops.
13 Dalston Ln, London E8 3DF



How to Get the Full Harry Potter Experience In London

First came the books, then the films; now the world premiere of the play is here.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I and II,” co-written by JK Rowling, is on stage at Palace Theatre from June 7.

The play is set 19 years after the last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Harry is now a husband, father of three and an overworked employee of Ministry of Magic—an organisation that preserves magical law. As his youngest son Albus wrestles with his inherited powers, Harry has issues of his own. His archenemy, the evil Voldemort, may have been conquered but Harry is still haunted by his past.

The show is directed by the Olivier and Tony Award–winner John Tiffany, best known for the West End’s musical show “Once”. Details are under wraps, but with special effects by Jeremy Chernick—who’s worked on Cirque du Soleil’s “Wintuk” and “America’s Got Talent”—expect to be blown away.

Unusually, the play is too long for a single show, so to see it all you need to buy tickets to both parts; watch them on the same day or two consecutive evenings. Alas, it’s fully booked until 2017, but call for potential return tickets.

Unlucky? You can still keep the story of Harry Potter alive, says JK Rowling. “No story lives unless someone wants to listen. So whether you come back by page or by big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

So let the stories you know and love pop off the page by visiting these film locations around London. Let’s take you on a tour of the city!

London Zoo

The zoo’s reptile house is featured in the first film, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” After Harry speaks to a Burmese python, he makes its tank glass disappear, causing his annoying cousin Dudley to fall in as the snake escapes. ‘Thanksss!’ While there, check out the Asiatic lions in the new Land of the Lions.


Leadenhall Market

The opticians in Bulls Head Passage, by Leadenhall Market, is the entrance for the Leaky Cauldron wizard’s pub in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” The magicians passed through it to access stalls in Diagon Alley. A 14th-century meat market, it’s now home to shops, cafes and wine bars. Note its ornate roof.


Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station

Hogwarts Express departed for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from this platform. To find it, Harry would run into a wall between platforms 9 and 10. Visit the entrance to the real platform 9 and you’ll find a trolley disappearing into a wall and the sign for Platform 9¾.


St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

The neo-gothic façade of this hotel, next to King’s Cross station, is the entrance to the station in the films. Eagle-eyed fans might remember when Harry and Ron parked Ron’s dad Mr Weasley’s Ford Anglia here, before flying it to Hogwarts in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Sip cocktails in Booking Office Bar or enjoy the spa pool.


Borough Market

Leaky Cauldron moved from Leadenhall to Borough Market for the third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Following a hair-raising journey over Lambeth Bridge—‘Little old lady, 12 o’clock!’—the triple-decker Knight bus bumps into a car outside Chez Michéle florist at 7 Stoney Street. Go early and try the market’s regional produce.


Millennium Bridge

This suspension bridge featured in the sixth film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” when Voldemort ordered Death Eaters to attack it. The bridge collapsed into the Thames, killing muggles (non wizards). Cross from Tate Modern on the South Bank over to St Paul’s Cathedral.


Piccadilly Circus

This major intersection features in the seventh film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” While escaping Death Eaters, Harry, Ron and Hermione just miss being hit by a double decker outside what is now Gap. The statue of Eros is a handy meeting point outside Criterion Theatre.


Warner Bros Studio

On a studio tour, Harry, Ron and Hermione discuss the films on screen before you’re led into the Great Hall. You then see costumes, props and the steam train Harry took to Hogwarts’ before ‘flying’ on broomsticks.


Westminster tube station

Harry and Mr Weasley ride this station’s escalators in the fifth film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” en route to Harry’s hearing at Ministry of Magic. Mr Weasley uses his hand instead of an Oyster card and is puzzled when the barriers don’t open. ‘Trains underground! Ingenious, these muggles!’ The station closed for a day during filming. It’s close to Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.


Did you know? You can book the Harry Potter Walking Tour here:

Why Are London Buses Red?


As a symbol of London city, the red double-decker is up there with Big Ben and Tower Bridge. But did you ever wonder why the colour was chosen?
One theory holds that early prototypes were painted red as a warning to other drivers — as though to say ‘keep your distance; this thing’s experimental’. These German test vehicles were known as ‘Rotmeisters’ (translates as red master [vehicles]), a name corrupted to Routemasters by the British public when the buses were put into active service without a colour change.

It’s an intriguing theory. Unfortunately, we just made it up, and the truth is more prosaic.

You have to go back to 1907, when most buses were still horse-drawn, to witness the crimson dawn. Before that time, buses came in all manner of shades, with rival companies operating different routes. In 1907, the London General Omnibus Company rouged-up its entire fleet in an effort to stand out from the competition. The LGOC soon became the largest bus company, and its livery came to dominate the streets. When London Transport formed in 1933, it extended the convention to most (though not all) London buses, a decision whose effects remain with us today.

What’s the shade?

A quick glance through Transport for London’s colour standards guide reveals that buses under its purview should be coloured in Pantone 485 C (which corresponds to RGB 218, 41, 28; see here). This popular hue is also used on the tube roundel and Central line, as well as by Royal Mail, Kit Kat, McDonald’s and the Russian flag.

Actually, London buses aren’t all that red

Victoria BusesBut there’s a snag. The surfaces of London buses are mostly not red. This becomes clear when seen from above. Here’s a view we somehow managed to get from Victoria station.

As you can see, bus roofs are largely white, to reflect sunlight and thereby reduce heating in summer. We’ve never checked, but we’d be willing to bet that their underbellies aren’t red, either. Now subtract the area taken up by the windows and adverts — the latter can encanker the whole backside of a bus. We’d guess that the typical vehicle is only 30-40% red.



At any given time a small percentage of London’s buses don’t feature any red at all. This symbol of London city is in danger of disappearing. The London red bus might actually be a red herring



Visit Our ETS website to jump one one of the Red Buses

Tower of London goes green to mark Irish State visit

Tourism Ireland arranged for the landmark to go green

Green Tower of London

No, it is not St. Patrick’s Day but there is a distinctive green hue coming from London. President Michael D. Higgins is half way through his official State visit to the UK.

He has so far met the Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson – as well as members of the Irish community based in London.
But one of the biggest London landmarks is also getting the Irish treatment in honour of the visit.

Tourism Ireland arranged for the Tower of London to go green last night to mark the occasion.

Commenting on the ‘greening’ of the Tower of London, Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said “We’re delighted that Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative, which normally celebrates St Patrick’s Day around the world, has been extended specially to mark this historic State Visit by the President of Ireland”.

Great Britain is our largest single tourism market and is enormously important for tourism businesses across the island of Ireland” he added.

The Tower of London attracts around 2.9 million visitors a year.