Anyone who reads the news, like you now, will have noticed lately that the UK is spoiled for choice, with dismayed horrors. Harvest time is approaching and we have an excess. Make your choice: government chaos; endless strikes; £ 8 pints; sewage in the sea (and in rivers and lakes); skyrocketing energy bills; violence on holidays.
But in the midst of all this darkness, things go on, life happens and there is a lot of joy to be found (although, of course, it costs a lot). There are amazing restaurants opening, extraordinary artist shows, the chance to step into the most beautiful houses in London. So here are 15 reasons to be happy. Chin up, London, let’s go.
Eat yourself happy
Alex Dilling at the Hotel Café Royal
Alex Dilling is what you might call a chef’s chef, but with this one – the first restaurant to open under his own name – he could still become a household name in London. Previously Dilling ran the Greenhouse (two Michelin stars), worked with Hélène Darroze at the Connaught (two Michelin stars) and broke through the New York success of Alain Ducasse Adour (two Michelin stars). Do you see where it is going?
From 1 September, 68 Regent Street W1, hotelcaferoyal.com
Come on Win
After some controversy with their landlord during the plague, it looked like Peckham’s favorite Italian might be lost forever, so this comeback really looks like a winner. Bad news for SE15 but good news for SE5, as chef Sam Oxley and his gang have moved to Camberwell; they’ve refurbished the Church Street Hotel and will soon be preparing their five courses of seasonal fare, which is comforting, wonderful, and warming.
From 4 September 31 Camberwell Church Street SE5, forzawin.com
Inspired by the river races of Thailand, the name of this new opening is quite encouraging, as are the bright turquoise facade, flashy gold touches and everything in between. Even better is the pedigree: this is of Luke Farrell, who has already had the hit of the year with Plaza Khao Gaeng. A tribute to Bangkok’s Chinatown bars, expect plenty of wok cuisine, roast meats, seafood salads, and tons of whiskey sodas and snake-blooded Negroni. Many of the bar’s Thai-Chinese herbs and spices come from Farrell’s greenhouses, which are located near its speedboat lake, of course.
September 24 30 Rupert Street W1, @ speedboat bar
St. John Marylebone
When Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson opened St John in 1994, their nose-tail restaurant changed British cuisine forever. As they do with their long lunches, Gulliver and Henderson have taken a pleasant approach to new places and this will be their first real restaurant to open in 19 years. Inspired by the bars in Paris and Florence, it will be open all day, from champagne and donuts for breakfast to the last glass of Armagnac served after hours of dinner.
From 5 October 98 Marylebone Lane W1, @ st.john.restaurant
When autumn starts to get cold and winter bites, few things are needed as much as the illuminating effects of a good breakfast. Beam will be well known to anyone in Crouch End, Highbury and Notting Hill, and Muswell Hill is now worth a visit. Come for a breakfast made in every way, from shakshuka to burritos to a Mediterranean riff on eggs Benedict. One of Beam’s joys, though, is that they run all day – a full English dinner is a glorious thing.
From November 291-293 Muswell Hill N10, cafebeam.co.uk
It’s been several years for this Nigerian artist, who has made a name for himself by becoming a kind of rapper, a kind of singer, a kind of word star. Whatever it is, it’s working: there was the collaboration with Little Simz Point and Kill, the release of the debut album Some Nights I Dream Of Doors and, last weekend, a successful sodden set at We Out Here. . The set of him to Koko promises to be lively.
September 30, Koko, 1A Camden High Street NW1, koko.co.uk
There’s a reason ES Magazine dubbed Beabadoobee “the sound of summer”; the self-taught Filipino-British indie has managed to achieve her signature sound – she thinks of dreamy, chanting voices floating gracefully above the fuzzy guitar – everywhere. In part, it’s thanks to his astonishing production (five EPs and two albums from 2018), so there will be no shortage of alt-rock songs with nostalgic undertones to leave the crowd here in a shoegaze stun.
October 9, Brixton Academy, 211 Stockwell Road SW9, academymusicgroup.com
While the rest of the world went on hiatus in 2020, this 22-year-old Mancunian rapper was successful. He hasn’t slowed down since then – Ed Sheeran’s recent sincere collaboration My G had over three million views in just about 10 days – and this concert is set to become his biggest London set of him. He chooses fun-loving British hip-hop that combines dirt, old school influences and Aitch’s easygoing flow.
October 22, Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way N22, alexandrapalace.com
Considering how cool her self-titled 2020 debut was, expectations are skyrocketing for Sawayama’s follow-up, Hold The Girl, due out on September 16. This show follows shortly thereafter – expect Brixton Academy to be a pulsating wave of heavy bass, cheeky genre-bending pop, and Sawayama conducts something like a mass therapy night from the front of the stage.
October 26, Brixton Academy 211 Stockwell Road SW9, academymusicgroup.com
The Compton native left the crowd at Glastonbury’s Worthy Farm almost stunned when he closed the festival this year with a set that, due to its biblical theatricality, provoked as much as it started a party. His lyrical malleability was accompanied by a magnetic and hypnotic stage presence. If this O2 show is even half as good, it will amaze.
November 7-9, The O2, Peninsula Square SE10, theo2.co.uk
Open House London
Offering maximum enjoyment to anyone whose hobbies include hours wasted in TikTok’s #inspo accounts for interior design or scrolling through Rightmove’s listings, Open House is a chance to step inside some of London’s stunning buildings, most some of which are usually closed to the public, including private homes. Turning 30 this year, the festival has gone from just one weekend of walking, speaking and touring to two weeks of snooping around.
8-21 September, on the other side of the city, open-city.org.uk
London Design Festival
This year, turning 20, the LDF is ready for a particularly spectacular inning. Stretched throughout the V&A, each installation, workshop and talk is centered around world-leading and inspiring design. It’s not all architecture either, with music, poetry and more.
September 17-25, The V&A, Cromwell Road SW7, vam.ac.uk
Black History Month
In the 35 years since its inception in 1987, Black History Month has both reflected and celebrated black culture and the experiences of black communities. Official celebrations have yet to be announced, but blackhistorymonth.org.uk offers comprehensive lists of ways to get involved: this year, highlights include Africa Fashion Week (starting October 8), French rapper Josman at Camden’s Jazz Cafe on October 14th and I Wonder Se …, a new comedy directed by Daniel Bailey at the Young Vic, scheduled for October 24-29.
1-31 October, on the other side of the city, blackhistorymonth.org.uk
London cocktail week
Since theirs is a world built on alcohol, perhaps unsurprisingly this “week” is a 10 day thing. Billed as “the largest cocktail festival in the world”, it is an opportunity to try drinks from more than 300 bars across the city. What makes it particularly attractive in 2022 is that the cocktails cost £ 7 each with a bracelet. Drinkers can wander around the premises at their own pace or take a tour.
October 13-23, across the city, londoncocktailweek.com
London Jazz Festival
Another great anniversary, another reason to leave. What once seemed a bit anachronistic in recent years has become a must, in part due to the rise of British progressive jazz. Expect everything from Kurt Elling’s perfect scat singing at the Royal Festival Hall to a celebration of women’s empowerment with an Afro-Latin score by Colectiva at Kings Place in York Way.
November 11-20, across the city, efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk