Located north of Oxford Circus and Soho, Fitzrovia is a small London neighborhood that often gets missed. With many cool boutique and luxury hotels nearby, and a lot of amazing dining options for all types of eaters, the central area is an ideal home base for travelers coming to London. Whether you're looking for a quick coffee in a former Victorian restroom or you want to explore one of London's less visited museums, Fitzrovia is worth adding to your itinerary.
Located at the recently opened Treehouse Hotel, discerning visitors will find The Nest, a rooftop bar that serves food and hosts regular DJs. With both indoor and outdoor spaces, the bar is a great place to meet up with friends or plan a date night with your significant other. Expect a wait during the summer months when guests want to take advantage of the 360-degree views of London, and be sure to arrive before 8 p.m. (the bar is only for hotel guests after that). Opt for one of the cocktails, which use local ingredients from the surrounding areas, or try a non-alcoholic option, an important inclusion on any drinks menu these days.
Ottolenghi is an important name in London dining, and the chef's Fitzrovia outpost is not to be missed. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant serves mostly small shared plates featuring both familiar and eclectic ingredients. There is a focus on vegetables, so vegetarians will be at home here (although there's plenty for meat eaters). With seasonal and unique cocktails, you can also just pop in for a quick drink. Be sure to make a reservation when visiting in the evening or on a weekend.
London is full of undiscovered museums, one of which is the Cartoon Museum in Fitzrovia. The museum celebrates British cartoons, caricatures, comic strips, and animation, with many historic artifacts and books on display. Re-opened in 2019 with a new design, the museum has a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Check the online calendar for upcoming special events, which occur regularly for both adults and families. Those under 18 are free, so be sure to bring the kids.
Built in 1929, West End's Dominion Theatre is a beautiful place to see a play or musical. Sitting on the edge of Fitzrovia near Tottenham Court Road, the Grade II-listed Art Deco theatre features touring productions, live music, and special events. It has a vast history, having a Charlie Chaplin association and playing host to the "The Judy Garland Show." Check the venue's website for upcoming productions and events.
Pollock's Toy Museum first started in 1956 in a single attic room above Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop in Hoxton. Now located in Fitzrovia, the collection features Victorian toys (think dolls, teddy bears, and toy soldiers), and displays are tailored towards older children and adults. It's closed Sundays and bank holidays; last admission begins at 4:30 p.m. Don't miss the museum's small shop, where you can score a memorable souvenir.
There are several incarnations of Bao throughout London, but the Fitzrovia location takes reservations for the downstairs dining room. There are often lines down the block, but once inside, you'll see why the restaurant is so popular. The menu features several types of bao buns, in addition to other memorable Taiwanese dishes, and it's truly delicious. Be sure to order the Taiwanese fried chicken chop along with your selection of baos. The restaurant's selection of drinks, which ranges from tea to Asian-inspired cocktails, is also strong.
Those interested in animals should head to the Grant Museum of Zoology, a natural history museum that's part of University College London. Featuring 68,000 zoological specimens, it's got all sorts of interesting and strange items on display, including a collection of brains, dodo bones, and a so-called "jar of moles." The museum was first established in 1827 by Robert Edmond Grant and opened to the public in 1996. Free tours are available weekly and can be booked on the museum's website. Entry to the exhibitions is free for all visitors.
There is no lack of fitness studios around London, but Frame (which has several locations) does things with the sort of enthusiasm you can't deny. The colorful studio offers a vast array of classes—from yoga to dance rave to pilates—and it's reasonably priced compared to the rest of London's gyms. It has a community feel, which is great for solo travelers, and the yoga classes are especially recommended for those who feel the stress or fatigue of travel. Upstairs, the coffee shop is great for a pick-me-up.
Come hungry to Circolo Popolare, an opulent Italian restaurant from the Big Mamma restaurant group (which first originated in Paris). The dishes here are massive and indulgent, perfect to share with a family or group of friends. It's open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you should arrive early to score a table (reservations are available, but very limited). Whenever you go, don't forget to order dessert. You may not be able to finish it, but you'll appreciate its size and scope.
Did you ever imagine you'd go for a latte in an old public toilet? If so, you can live that dream at Attendant Fitzrovia, a coffee shop located in a former men's toilet that was built in 1890. The café serves Attendant Roastery coffee drinks, breakfast, brunch, and lunch items. There are no reservations, so you'll have to turn up and hope for the best, especially on weekends. Don't skip out on the avocado toast, which comes with a variety of toppings and feels slightly less generic than other versions.