Fun, fashionable and bustling with activity, Farringdon is one of few places where the lawyers and barristers of Holborn can be found rubbing shoulders with the creatives of Clerkenwell. Sadly, as vibrant as this district is, in the run-up to the holiday season it is often left overlooked by foreign and domestic tourists in favour of its well-trodden neighbours like Covent Garden and Soho.
However, this status-quo has changed in recent years. Today, Farringdon has shaken off the stuffy image that once stifled visits during the capital’s festive travel season. Nestled between the rows of lovingly preserved historic sites that have made the neighbourhood a hit with sightseers, you’ll be greeted by a wealth of boutique shops, foodie hotspots, ultra-chic nightlife, and authentic British heritage.
If you’re among those who are already familiar with the British capital, you may already know that our modern-day Farringdon is actually an amalgamation of two different City of London wards. These are namely, Farringdon Within and Farringdon Without. This split comes courtesy of a decision made in 1394 when London was still Londinium – a trading town that the Roman empire kept firmly under their collective thumb. The Roman’s defensive London wall cleaved Farringdon clean in two, and a small piece of that same wall still stands to this day in Tower Hill.
Where to stay
The local neighbourhood has more than its fair share of lavish short-haul hideaways. Understandably so, given its popularity among business travellers, international students and expatriates to name just a few.
The Hoxton, Holborn
Images from The Hoxton, Holborn
The Hoxton is an open house hotel in the heart of Holborn, that boasts luxurious rooms in four different sizes, Shoebox, Snug, Cosy and Roomy. You’ll notice that each room features bespoke artwork sourced direct from local illustrators.
Rosewood London ranks among the finest luxury hotels in the country. Signposted by the grand archway in its façade, the hotel is somewhat of local landmark for residents of High Holborn. Inside, the rooms have the same sophisticated comforts you would expect of a contemporary private residence.
Where to eat
Since first opening 15 years ago, gourmet vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black has sought to break away from the homogeny that can often be seen in meat-free menus. Pasta bakes and vegetable curries are nowhere to be found in their art deco dining room. Instead, the menu here is inventive and forward-thinking.
Cigalon on Chancery Lane is based inside the beautifully restored building of a former auction house. Inside, you’ll find a seasonal menu of freshly prepared authentic Provencal cuisine that brings the flavours and smells of Southern France right into the heart of London.
Where to drink
Ye Olde Mitre Tavern
One of the oldest pubs in London, Ye Olde Mitre is exceptionally well hidden from prying eyes, quietly tucked away down a secluded alleyway on Ely Court. As a property of the Crown, the building has undergone several rounds of restoration over the years. Today it is home to an impressive range of ales, pies and stews.
The Zetter Townhouse
The Zetter Townhouse’s cocktail lounge is designed to make you feel like a guest in the home of a wealthy eccentric rather than the patron of a public bar, and it does just that. Guests are invited to sink into one of the red velvet armchairs as they savour a drinks list of sumptuous cocktails.
A melting pot of potions and paintings, renowned British artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe has lent his name to the eponymous Scarfes Bar. Adorned with his own collection of artwork, Gerald describes Scarfes as “my personal art gallery, where you can see my life on the walls”. Curated by mixologist artisans and connoisseurs of the drinks trade, the menu features cocktails inspired by some of Gerald’s most memorable sketches. The venue perfectly evokes the signature sophistication of gentleman’s clubs of old; cosy velvet chairs, a roaring fire and shelves filled with over 1,000 hand-picked antique books create a true sense of style.
Where to shop
Whether you’re looking to indulge in high-end retail therapy, bring home an unforgettable gift or pop that all-important question to your S.O, discerning jewellery shoppers need look no further than Hatton Garden! This area is world-famous as London’s jewellery quarter and the heart of the UK’s diamond trade, with over 55 superbly stocked shops and 300 jewellery businesses, representing the largest concentration of jewellery retailers in the country. They offer modern and vintage designs for wedding rings, engagement rings and watches, many of which can be had for a fraction of the cost of their designer alternatives.
Among the many talented artisans in Hatton Garden is world-famous diamond corporation De Beers, historically a superpower in the world diamond trade. One of the more traditional businesses is Heming Jewellers, which has enjoyed regular royal patronage since 1745. All the jewellery shops in Hatton Garden are independently owned, so you rest assured that any purchase made here will be truly one of a kind.
Aside from jewellery, London’s Historic Diamond District is also hiding a treasure trove below the surface, one that may come as more as a surprise to the uninitiated. One such hidden gem is the River Fleet. The largest subterranean river in London, it is widely held to have once been home to a wharf owned by a group of warrior monks.
Where to buy
Those looking to extend their stay indefinitely need look no further than luxury property development, Pinks Mews. Located on the site of London’s 16th century Dyers Buildings, Pinks Mews is a boutique scheme steeped in British heritage. The development owes its name to the artisan dyers that once occupied the building. Here, they would dye the coats of foxhunters their signature shade of scarlet. The developers of Pinks Mews have gone to great lengths to preserve the Victorian architecture of the original building and its surrounding courtyard. In total, the scheme comprises 35 luxury apartments, penthouses and loft-style properties within a gated development set just off of High Holborn.
Digital editor, Boutique London