While there are some occasions in life that call for a no-frills dining experience (a raging hangover, for example, is always best remedied in a greasy spoon café), sometimes we just want to put on some lipstick and head out for dinner at a truly swoon-worthy restaurant.
If you’re the same, it’s time to celebrate. The winners of the international Restaurant & Bar Design Awards were recently announced – and the prize for the most beautiful restaurant in the world went to an eatery in central London.
German Gymnasium, a European-inspired restaurant in King’s Cross, was voted the Best Overall Restaurant in the Awards, which were set up to recognise stunning design in food and drink spaces around the world.
A raft of other UK restaurants and bars also bagged awards for their beautiful interiors – including, somewhat unexpectedly, two branches of Nando’s.
See what makes them beautiful in the photos below. And start making your reservations now…
German Gymnasium, London
Winner: Best Overall Restaurant
Designed by architect Edward Gruning in 1864, this beautiful building in King’s Cross was the first purpose-built gymnasium in England. In 1866, it played host to the first-ever indoor Olympic Games – but the space now houses an outdoor terrace, patisserie counter, all-day Grand Café and bar.
The food is described as “Mittel-European” (the German phrase for “central Europe”): think grilled sausages, potato dumplings and apple strudel.
Archive Homestore & Kitchen, Ramsgate
Winner: Restaurant or Bar in a Retail Space
This bright and airy Kent café serves up fresh, locally-sourced lunches, cakes and coffee. The “homestore” side of things, meanwhile, sells chic homewares and stationery from British and Scandinavian brands.
Craft London, London
Winner: London Bar
Head down to Greenwich for simple, non-gimmicky cocktails at this gorgeous bar, with stunning 360 degree views across London and an al fresco terrace.
No 1 Duke Street, London
Tucked away in posh and leafy Richmond, this ever-so-chic pub isn’t your typical London boozer. The high ceilings and marble bar make it instantly Insta-worthy, and they serve up delicious meals as well as drinks.
Nando’s Old Street, London
Winner: Multiple Restaurant
Yes, really. "Classy" might not be the word that immediately comes to mind when you think of the UK's premier chicken restaurant, but London's Old Street branch is just that. Just look at those amazing wooden herringbone walls and ceilings.
Winner: London Restaurant
The Victoria branch of this elegant Spanish chain scooped an award for its glowy pearlescent lighting, gorgeous green furnishings and vintage-inspired artwork.
Handmade Burger Co, Birmingham
Winner: Restaurant or Bar in a Transport Space
Tuck into juicy burgers and fries in this buzzy industrial-inspired restaurant in Brindleyplace, Birmingham.
Winner: Standalone Restaurant
You might be eating in near-darkness in this ultra-swanky Chinese restaurant in Manchester’s Spinningfields, but it all adds to the atmosphere. Expect to spy Premier League footballers and their girlfriends dining under the neon cherry tree.
The Printing Press, Edinburgh
Winner: Restaurant or Bar in a Hotel
Occupying the former home of Scottish novelist Susan Edmonstone Ferrier (the equal of Jane Austen, according to Sir Walter Scott) the design of this relaxed, buzzy bar and kitchen pays homage to its grand heritage.
Another Nando’s! The Harrogate branch looks entirely unlike a chain restaurant, with amazing jellyfish-esque lampshades and zig-zag tiled walls.
The Refinery, London
Winner: Standalone Bar or Club
A stone’s throw from Regent’s Park, Warren Street and Euston, this bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace on Regent's Place is the perfect place to escape the bustle of the city. Sign up for cocktail classes or enjoy one of the classic British dishes from the menu.
Vagabond Wines, London
Winner: Best UK Bar and Multiple Bar or Club
Tucked away in east London's historic Spitalfields Market, the dark, sleek design of this wine bar makes it the perfect place to take a date.
Wildwood Kitchen, Liverpool
Winner: Restaurant or Bar in Another Space
The Liverpool branch of this small Northern restaurant chain is found in Clayton Square Shopping Centre, but don't let that put you off. It's a beautiful space, and the Mediterranean-inspired menu is to die for.