L’oscar is on the border of Bloomsbury and Holborn, Central London districts known for their literary and law-making pedigree.
Touch down at London Heathrow for the quickest routes into the city. The Heathrow Express will whisk you to Paddington in 15 minutes; a car or taxi will take you about an hour if the traffic plays nicely.
All of London’s major stations are within easy reach. The most convenient is Kings Cross, where you’ll be able to hop straight onto the Piccadilly line, riding two stops to Holborn, a short stroll from L’oscar.
You won’t need a car if you’re staying at L’oscar, which could hardly be more central. The Tube has you covered within the city, and trains will take you further afield should you need them. If you do plan to drive, be aware that London traffic’s generally quite wretched, and the hotel’s within London’s Congestion Charge Zone – expect to pay £11.50 a day if driving between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. Still want to hire? The Smith24 team can arrange it.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel’s historic character didn’t allow for a spa or pool, but it’s just 50 meters from Holborn Tube station and within walking distance of the West End, Soho and Covent Garden, putting a world of diversions on the doorstep. If L'oscar’s interiors have awakened an appetite for more splendour, pay a visit to Sir John Soane's Museum, the former home of its eponymous owner, one of the most famous architects of his day. Left exactly as it was when he died in 1837, the house is still bursting with Soane’s extraordinary collection of artifacts. It’s a real down-the-rabbit-hole experience, with rooms cycling through almost every artistic style that existed in his day. Among the curiosities you’ll find paintings by Turner and Hogarth; Grecian urns; secret rooms and a sarcophagus from the age of the Pharaohs. Once you’ve come out, go for a stroll around the courtyard of Lincoln's Inn, one of London’s prestigious Inns of Court. Were it not for the red brick and Porsches parked outside, this impressive set of buildings could easily pass for an Oxbridge college. Also within walking distance is the Royal Opera House, the West End – where drama of every description awaits – and the louche distractions of Soho, home to London’s most famous jazz bar, Ronnie Scott’s. Occupying a prime riverfront spot on the Strand, neoclassical palace Somerset House often tops lists of Londoners’ favourite buildings. Its gallery regularly plays host to some of the capital’s biggest art exhibitions, and its cobbled courtyard spurts into life when the fountains are turned on in spring.
For a masterclass in modern British dining, head east to Shoreditch Town Hall, home to Clove Club. You’d be hard pushed to find another London restaurant that champions the flavours of the British Isles with such elegant simplicity – a characteristic echoed in the dining room, outfitted with restrained mid-century furniture and an open kitchen decked in ocean-blue tiles. The full tasting menu is available Friday to Sunday, with a five-course menu running the rest of the week. A short walk to the west, Soho has a French connection going back hundreds of years, and L’Escargot is one the finest products of the relationship. An old favourite of Mick Jagger and Diana, this Gallic institution is approaching it’s 100th year of business, and it’s still the best place in town for snails served in their shells, rich lobster bisque and the most succulent chateaubriand this side of the channel. After fine-dining with a fiery difference? Try Ikoyi in St James’s, one of the few restaurants in London serving gourmet-quality West African cuisine. It's no purist – the chef’s a Canadian and the bulk of the produce is British – but the African elements are worked in with creativity and flair. If the north of the content is more your scene, book a table at the Barbary, a Berber eatery in Covent Garden. Or, for something really intimate (in the sense that the chefs are literally within arms reach), descend to the marble counter in Evelyn's Room, a pint-sized mod-European restaurant from the team behind Israeli eatery the Palomar. There are only 11 seats in this former meat cellar, making booking essential.
Two floors above Evelyn’s Room you’ll find the Mulwray, a petite cocktail lounge named after Faye Dunaway’s character in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. Names aside, it bears little resemblance to the gritty world of the film, outfitted with pink velvet stools, shell-shaped lights and pastel-blue walls. Try the Forget It Jake #2, a bend of rosebud-infused gin and vanilla vermouth. With its Wildean motto and biblical decor, subterranean cocktail bar Eve is one for the sinners. Fittingly, its the creation of Adam – Adam Handling to be precise, who also owns restaurant the Frog upstairs. Order the Good and Evil, in which a white Russian is poured over a frozen black Russian, creating a contest between light and dark as the ice begins to melt.