Last year I wrote an article ‘My 16 Favourite Things of 2016′, so this year I decided to add one more category and create my 17 favourites of 2017. From my favourite restaurants and bars to personal achievements and new film releases, this was my London 2017…
1. Favourite Personal Achievement: Getting featured in TimeOut London
This year I had the pleasure of writing an article for TimeOut London. Seeing my own writing published in my favourite online magazine was definitely my top achievement of the year, and fingers crossed more opportunities such as this one might present themselves to me in 2018.
2. Favourite High-End Restaurant: Céleste at The Lanesborough Hotel
Céleste is the Michelin star restaurant belonging to 5* Knightsbridge hotel The Lanesborough. Its beautiful Venetian-style dining room is an elegant setting to enjoy a luxurious 3-course meal with wine and cocktails. Not only were both the setting and food top-notch on my visit, but the service was so spectacular it made me feel like royalty. Perfect for a special occasion or romantic date night – I can’t wait to go back!
3. Favourite Everyday Restaurant: Absurd Bird, Soho/Spitalfields
Fried chicken on waffles covered in maple syrup – a dish I would never have thought of putting together until I went to Absurd Bird for the first time this year, and now it’s one of my absolute favourites.
Absurd Bird has a selection of absurdly delicious Southern US style dishes, from fried chicken, wings, burgers and sliders, to ‘Dirty Mac & Cheese’ and ‘Dirty Fries’. For an insanely filling, tasty and (let’s face it) downright unhealthy feast of a meal, Absurd Bird is my new go-to place.
4. Favourite Brunch Spot: The Piano Works, Farringdon
The Piano Works in Farringdon has turned the whole London brunch experience upside down. Not only do they serve an untraditional version of the classic eggs benedict, which features marmite in the hollandaise sauce, but they have also swapped the bright and airy brunch atmosphere for a converted warehouse with a live band. Their two-hour unlimited boozy brunches are a great way to keep the party going all weekend!
5. Favourite Dessert Bar: Maitre Choux, South Kensington
I’d waited patiently to try these gorgeous little eclairs since seeing them on Instagram a few years ago, and finally, this year, I made it into the South Kensington store. Their selection of beautifully decorated eclairs and choux pastries are baked fresh every morning by award-winning, three Michelin Star pastry chef Joakim Prat, meaning they taste just as good as they look! This October, Maitre Choux also branched out of their South Kensington home and opened its first new site on Soho’s Dean Street, so no excuses not to pay them a visit!
My favourite was the ‘Red Love Eclair’, filled with a combination of Tahitian vanilla cream and raspberry puree and textured with raspberry seeds, covered with a raspberry-flavoured éclair-shaped macaron.
6. Favourite Pop-Up: The ROASTaurant, Shoreditch
For one weekend this December, McCain opened a pop-up roast dinner restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch. For a roast dinner lover like me, this was the absolute dream! Not only did I get to pick and choose which meats and trimmings I wanted, but there was also an unlimited roast potato station and 5 different types of gravy on tap. What a way to kick off the Christmas celebrations!
7. Favourite Entertainment Activity: Bunga Bunga, Covent Garden
A restaurant, bar and great entertainment all rolled into one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, any night which begins with the waiters performing a rendition of ‘Be Our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast goes straight to the top of my list. Bunga Bunga is a secret underground venue in Covent Garden serving up Italian feasts, exotic cocktails and a variety of immersive entertainment. Weekly shows include ‘Bunga – The Musical’, ‘Burlesquoni’ and ‘Ceasar’s Party’. My night at Bunga Bunga was one of my favourite experiences all year and I am just dying to head back – and to take everyone I know along with me!
8. Favourite West End Show: La Soirée
Okay, this one was a toss-up between ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2’ which I had the pleasure of seeing in August this year, and ‘La Soirée’, a last minute entry. However, with Harry Potter being the obvious choice, I thought I’d rock the boat a little and tell you guys about a lesser known show. La Soirée is a circus-cabaret-burlesque extravaganza at the Aldwych Theatre. A crude, in-your-face, laugh-out-loud show full of surprises and extraordinary talent. I didn’t know what I was in for when I was invited last minute to see the show, but it turned out to be a fantastic night out! I would definitely recommend seeing it before it’s run ends on February 3rd.
9. Favourite Market: Leather Lane Market, Farringdon
After moving to an office in Farringdon this year, I have had the pleasure of discovering Leather Lane Market and it’s many foodie delights. The Vietnamese BBQ Pork bowl from ‘Yum Bowl’ and ‘Greek Expectations’ lamb kofta and halloumi wrap have become two of my weekly staples, but there’s also so much more to discover on this unassuming lane in EC1.
10. Favourite Pub: The White Horse (a.k.a. The Sloaney Poney)
Dubbed the ‘Sloaney Pony’ in the Eighties in reference to the Sloane Rangers who frequent it, The White Horse is a staple of the Parsons Green community. It was voted the best pub in Britain in 2005 and 2006, and since then has gone on to be mentioned in many other ‘best of’ lists due to its wide selection of beers and ales, lively atmosphere and summer BBQs. I am now lucky enough to call this awesome pub my local, and this is why I have voted it my favourite pub of the year.
11. Favourite Bar: BallieBallerson
I know this one isn’t particularly original as BallieBallerson has been all over social media this year, but what can beat a bar with an adult ball pit inside! This year, BallieBallerson has grown from a small, casual pop-up bar with a basement ball pit in Dalston to a flashy permanent addition to Shoreditch’s nightlife scene. If you haven’t been yet – GO!
12. Favourite Shop: London Designer Outlet, Wembley
Okay, so it’s not just one shop – it’s a whole bunch of them, but London Designer Outlet is a great place for getting top brands at heavily discount prices, which is why it was my favourite place for shopping in 2017. As well as the shops, there are also several great restaurants such as TGI Fridays, Frankie & Bennys, Las Iguanas and Pizza Express for you to take a break from all of that shopping. I recently bought a brand new pair of Nike trainers worth £105 for just £35 – just in time to start on those New Years resolutions.
13. Favourite Christmas Decorations: Harrods
There was just something about these big-headed characters that I couldn’t get enough of this year. Harrods’ Christmas 2017 window display could keep you occupied for hours (no, just me!?). The lovable figurines even appeared throughout the store itself.
14. Favourite Holiday Destination: Riga & Sigulda, Latvia
My favourite trip fo 2017 also happened to be my shortest. In just 4 days back in February I managed to comply fall in love with snowy Latvia. From wandering around the beautiful Art Nouveau district in Riga to bobsledding down an Olympic training track in Sigulda, Latvia was full of history, beauty, fun and romance. It really is a country which has it all!
15. Favourite New Film: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The sequel to 2014 film ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, this is one of those rare occasions where the second film is actually better than the first. With bigs names such as Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore and Elton John joining the already stellar cast, the New Kingsman film was undoubtedly my favourite new release of the year.
16. Favourite Netflix Series: Travellers
A Netflix original series which I became obsessed with this year. Season 2 just came out this week so you can imagine what I’m spending my Christmas break doing…
‘Hundreds of years from now, surviving humans discover how to send consciousness back through time, into people of the 21st century, while attempting to save humanity from a terrible future.’
17. Favourite Book to Read on the Tube: Before I Go To Sleep
‘If 50 First Dates was a thriller…’
I read many books this year (I spend a lot of time on the tube), but none of them gripped me quite the way this one did. I wouldn’t say psychological thrillers are my usual genre, however, this chilling story of a woman who loses her memory every night when she sleeps had me so engrossed that I forgot to get off at my stop on more than one occasion.
Having been published in 2011, I’m not sure how I didn’t find this book until now, especially as in 2014 it was turned into a film starring Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth. I’m going to throw it out there and say, even if you’ve watched the film already, ready the book – there are quite a few differences and in my opinion, the book is much, much better!