The Wolseley is a cafe-restaurant on London's Piccadilly worth visiting for its grand interior as well as its excellent Eggs Benedict. It has a wonderful interior, and it is located right next to the Ritz. Families with young children are made to feel welcome, and overall, the service is courteous.
It's fine to dine alone. In fact, you'll see lots of solo diners at breakfast time — speaking of breakfast, you're not made to feel rushed. On our visit, we stayed for 1.5 hours, which gave us plenty of time to eat and to fill out the free postcards.
Outside the restrooms downstairs you can pick up postcards of the interior of The Wolseley. Write them out at your table then hand them in at the reception and they pay the postage! Before you go, however, you should know that it's not cheap, and you'll need to book in advance.
History of The Wolseley
The building dates to 1921 and first served as a car showroom for Wolseley Motors. The cars didn't sell well and the company went bankrupt. It was then a bank for many years and the smaller dining room at the front of the restaurant was the Bank Manager’s Office.
When the bank needed to upgrade they were unable to make changes to the building as it is ‘listed’ (must be preserved) so they sold it on and it became a Chinese restaurant in 1999. In 2003, the building was sold again and restoration work was undertaken to preserve the marble floors and black Japanese lacquer work. The Wolseley restaurant opened in November 2003.
- Address: The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB
- Website: www.thewolseley.com
- No Photography: You are not permitted to take photos inside The Wolseley which is a good thing as you must then enjoy the moment and rely on your eyes to capture the splendor of the interior.
- The Interior: The high ceiling is stunning and the décor is striking with plenty of black lacquered wood and natural marble. The chandeliers are huge but are simply designed and not blingy.
- Dress Code: A relaxed smart-casual dress code applies for most settings, although you may like to dress up for dinner to complement the opulent surroundings
The Wolseley is a great place for a relaxed weekend breakfast. (On weekdays it is popular for business meetings.) We had to reserve a table but was able to book just a few days before and was informed on the phone that we could have the table for 1.5 hours, which is more than enough time for breakfast.
The Breakfast Menu features lots of pastries and plenty of English options including bacon and fried egg roll, kippers (fish), and the traditional full English fried breakfast. Eggs Benedict is one of their signature dishes and I must say it was very tasty.
The All Day Menu is served from 11.30 a.m. to midnight. Highlights include oysters, shellfish and caviar, and the Plats du Jour like Coq au Vin and Rabbit Casserole. There isn't a huge selection on offer for vegetarians.
This is a fun place to go for an afternoon treat as their dessert and cake menus look scrummy. They also have a set Cream Tea or Afternoon Tea, but you definitely need to reserve a table in advance. If you would like to just pop in for coffee, you can often get a table in the late afternoon without booking.
There is a good coffee selection but when in England do try a traditional tea. We liked the silver teapot, milk jug, and tea strainer and can understand why they now sell copies of their silverware. Loose leaf tea needs a tea strainer so make sure you use it. It looks confusing but it tilts.
Two pots of tea, eggs Benedict and a 12.5% service charge added to the bill came to less than £15 ($30 approx.) It’s not a cheap place for breakfast but that’s not why you would go there. At the same time, it's also not outrageously expensive either. It’s more about the opportunity to see the interior, soak up the grand surroundings and be treated really well for a couple of hours by polite, courteous waiting staff.