Food and Drink

The best immersive dining experiences in London to book in 2020

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Megan Murray
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The immersive dining experience scene in London is ripe and ready for the picking. Read on to find out which shows you need to see right now. 

Esteemed designer, feminist and badass Londoner Vivienne Westwood once said, “There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” And we have to say, especially when it comes to the city’s dining scene, we have to agree with her.

This colourful, bustling, ever-changing metropolis is bursting with unique people and places that could entertain you for years. But arguably, at the centre of the bright lights is the capital’s expansive food offering.

They say the kitchen is at the heart of the home and, for many Londoners’, exploring and socialising in the city they call home is best done by going for dinner. It’s easy to see why; every week there’s a new pop-up food market, immersive dining experience, supper club or concept restaurant opening. 

With so many unusual experiences in London to try, we’ve selected our favourites for every one of you keen to take this crazy city for all it’s got. We dare you to try just as much as your diary (and bank balance) will let you.

From burlesque to whisky tasting and theatrical experiences, this round-up is unusual and immersive experiences at its best. Enjoy!

  • London Never Dies at The London Cabaret Club

    If you’re looking for somewhere that you can dress up to the nines, don some sparkle and enjoy raucous entertainment then The London Cabaret Club is just the kind of glitter-filled escapism you need.

    The venue is centrally located, sitting in the heart of Bloomsbury just a short walk from Holborn station, and hosts evening performances centred around British themes with dancers and singers from the West End. 

    Kicking off this October, The London Cabaret Club’s latest show is London Never Dies, which combines both high-class dining and jaw-dropping entertainment. It celebrates the iconic James Bond tales, using soundtracks from the films to inspire dance, acrobatic and burlesque performances. 

    There are three ticket types which allow you to choose between just entertainment, a three-course meal or a five-course meal with a themed cocktail. Whichever ticket you go for, though, expect nearly five hours of high energy fun, as performers include the audience in the spirit of the show and show off their incredible talents.

    The London Cabaret Club has made safety a priority while re-opening after the pandemic by creating a one way system around the venue, increased space between tables, added sanitising stations and ensured staff have the latest training. 

  • The Whiskey Thing

    The Distillery is just the kind of smart, stylish pub you’d expect to find on Portobello Road. However, this creative boozer is also home to a selection of drink and food-focused immersive experiences, the newest of which will be right up the street of any whiskey lover.

    The Whiskey Thing takes you on a journey of everything from history and production to flavour profiles of a variety of whiskeys, including – of course – an all important tasting session. Once guests have explored the production process and discovered what goes in to the spirit, as well as what tastes and flavours they enjoy, they will blend their own ‘one of one’ 70cl bottle to take home. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Park Chinois

    This glittering gem in the crown of Mayfair is known, yes, for its delicious food, expert cocktail menu and decadent atmosphere, but also for its outrageous cabaret shows. Walk down the spiral staircase and you’ll find Club Chinois, where all of the magic happens.

    Here romanticism, comedy, sensuality and music reign supreme, thanks to the start of a new show, which transports guests back to 1930s Shanghai in all its splendour. From acrobatic performances to risqué routines, the talented dancers will entertain your socks off.

    The menu sounds pretty delicious too, with highlights that include soft shell crab, tea smoked beef ribs, grilled black cod and an intriguing truffle Old Fashioned.

  • Dine in a library at The Ned

    Library Bar is the, wait for it, 17th bar to newly open at The Ned. This cosy nook is tucked away, just for hotel guests and members, behind a sweeping jacquard curtain, with all the old-world charm you could dream of.

    Unlike the rest of this bustling establishment, which resembles a party from The Great Gatsby, Library Bar feels like a best-kept secret. The limited seating creates an exclusive feel and the dark wood features, combined with carefully selected props, conjure speak-easy vibes without the faff or gimmicks.

    But what makes this bar stand out from the rest? Well, it’s housed in a library of course. Book lovers will rejoice at the wall of old books in jewel colours that line the left-hand side. The deliciousness of which is further echoed in the menu that’s entirely vintage themed and inspired by the early 1800s. 

    Think the freshest of oysters, specialist champagne and a martini trolley. Talk about living the high life!

  • Sketch

    If you’ve got a pal visiting from out of town and you’re looking to impress, Sketch is the place to take them. This café, restaurant, bar and afternoon tea venue is the height of uniqueness. Nestled on a side street in central London, this unassuming townhouse’s façade gives nothing away on at first.

    But stepping inside is like falling down the rabbit hole. Push aside a thick, velvet curtain and you’ll see the outline of a hopscotch on the floor (feel free to practise your playground skills), neon signs interspersed with avant-garde artworks on the walls and utterly over-the-top furniture. There are three main rooms (and an extra, secret one only available on special request), each serving up different menus in a themed setting.

    You can gorge on pastries and tea in the Glade room, which is carpeted with a dense, moss-like fabric to replicate the feeling of adventuring into a woodland. Or, in the completely millennial pink Gallery, treat yourself to afternoon tea featuring caviar and quails eggs and served in ‘drink me’ cups. That’s all we’re giving away for now, you’ll just have to explore it for yourself to know more…

  • Mare Street Market

    If you like your brunch, lunch and dinner served up in an achingly cool industrial space curated by some of Hackney’s creatives, Mare Street Market will undoubtedly be a hit.

    The old, “drab” job centre (as founder, producer and pub owner Marc Francis-Baum describes it), has been completely reinvented as a meeting of creativity, food and commerce all under one roof.

    The market is open every day from 8am ‘til late’. This means locals can pop in for an artisan coffee on their way to work, browse the Pinterest-worthy florist and shop for vinyl records as well as enjoying pizzas, rotisserie chicken, straw fries and cocktails when the sun goes down (or before, depending on how you roll).

  • Dine on the canal with London Shell Company

    Worlds away from the over-subscribed tourist trap cruises that rattle along the Thames, the London Shell Company offers a quaint, specialist dining experience with beautiful views of Regent’s Canal.

    Brother and sister team Harry and Leah Lobek run the two-hour canal cruises which specialise in five-course menus of the finest seafood Britain has to offer. From Wednesday to Saturday, you can climb aboard the Prince Regent at 6.00pm for a 7.00pm departure and sail your way through the depths of the Maida Hill Tunnel, past iconic landmarks such as London Zoo and Regent’s Park.

    Set menus are priced at £50 but if you just fancy a bite to eat in an extraordinary, water-bound setting, you can try the static Grand Duchess for lunch or dinner from Tuesday to Sunday in Paddington Central.

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Images: Main image: Paul Monckton / courtesy of venues

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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