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19 Jun 2013

A Visitor’s Guide to Wimbledon



Whether you’re coming to Wimbledon for The Wimbledon Tennis Championships or have simply chosen it as your base during your short stay in London, you’ll soon come to know when you arrive that the essence of its community lies in its plethora of delectable restaurants to dine at and chic bars to cheers in.

Being a resident of Wimbledon myself and a sucker for quickly diminishing my role of cooking upon the slightest suggestion of dining elsewhere, I’d like to think I’ve sussed out this neighbourhood's best restaurants and pubs. Like most places today, you’re sure to find the generic Starbucks, Cafe Rouge and Wetherspoon that appears to pop up on every high street in the UK like it’s a requirement. They’re nice, sure. But if it’s one-off, unique experiences and ’local favourites’ you’re eager to discover during your stay, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are my recommendations for Wimbledon’s must-see finest bars and restaurants:

Top 5 Restaurants:


1. AUBAINE

Meander through the Wimbledon village High Street and you’ll be sure to spot Aubaine, especially if it’s a nice day and the windowed facade is open and spilling out slightly onto the street. The French bistro certainly has that outdoors feel, which is rare on high street eateries, and the interior holds a welcoming ambience with white rustic decor. The London chain restaurant has very friendly staff and prides itself on its all-day dining, offering an impressive menu for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. You can even pop in for a tea and selection of delicate patisseries or one of its traditional cocktails, and at the back lies a small quaint court garden where you can choose to eat or take your drinks outside.

COME HERE FOR: A light lunch and a glass of wine to break up your shopping should do the trick- and maybe another glass afterwards to sit outside with.


2. THE LIGHTHOUSE RESTAURANT

Ten minutes off the beaten village track, this modern cuisine draws customers away from the traditional pastoral eateries and offers something contemporary, stylistic, and sophisticated. This swanky, relatively new, international restaurant is a hit for special occasions and its well presented meals, relaxed cosy atmosphere, attentive staff and quality service is why.

Advanced booking is almost always required. If you’re coming during the Championships, I’d advise you to book NOW, especially if you’re in a party.

COME HERE FOR: A three-course evening meal from a la carter menu with a glass/bottle of one of their well-priced worldly wines.


3. THE FIRE STABLES

Arguably Wimbledon’s best gastropub, The Fire Stables is a popular local resident hub for its affordable prices and traditional atmosphere. Just off the High Street in a narrow side road, it’s a place of choice to come to for a casual, but great and well presented, traditional slap up pub meal or a relaxed evening jamboree!

COME HERE FOR: An evening meal, washed down with one of their notorious Bloody Mary cocktails.


4. CANNIZARO HOUSE

More something for an occasion (if you don’t have one, make one up) than a light bite, this impressive former country house sits at the forefront of Cannizaro Park, what’s remnant of its earlier gardens, and offers a sublime place to eat and drink throughout the day. Renowned for serving a delicious Afternoon Tea in The Orangery, an assortment of cocktails in The Lounge, or a more formal evening dinner in The Restaurant, this award-winning four star hotel is a must visit. It’s a bit pricey, though nothing more than to be expected for its infallible setting.

Advanced booking is almost always required. If you’re coming during the Championships, I’d advise you to book NOW, especially if you’re in a party.

COME HERE FOR: Afternoon tea with Champagne (£25pp) followed by a nice stroll through Wimbledon Common.


5. THE LAMBOURNE

But the fuss isn’t all in the village, and if you walk down the hill, befittingly named Wimbledon Hill Road, you’ll reach the town area (otherwise known as The Broadway, where Wimbledon tube station is). While you’ll find your bustle of high street shops and chain restaurants here, the AA rosette awarded restaurant, The Lambourne, stands out. If it’s a dinner out with friends or a hearty meal in a relaxed setting you’re after, at a very reasonable price, this place is a worthy option.


COME HERE FOR: A whole evening. Happy Hour on cocktails at the bar, followed by dinner in the Dining Room, and then back to the bar for a final ‘Wimbledon Bellini’ concoction!


Top 5 Bars:

1. THE DOG & FOX

Here, it’s Pimms O' clock all year round and one does not need an excuse to enjoy an afternoon drink or two. In fact, this corner pub is one of Wimbledon’s busiest, and catches the eyes of many onlookers as its customers spill out into the front yard. It’s hard to say no to, and is so welcoming you may find yourself stumbling into it regardless of whether you just popped out for an innocent short stroll. Before you know it, this could become your temporary regular for evening tipples!

COME HERE FOR: A good ‘ol English pint, but they offer most typical drinks too.


2. THE CROOKED BILLET

This family-run quintessential British pub is a favourite among local residents for its hearty Sunday lunch, but really, this is better enjoyed as a classic 'drinking pub'. Its fine selection of ales are a timeless treat, which can be enjoyed alongside the regular oldies in a quiet characterful setting away from the busy village.


COME HERE FOR: A lunchtime pint of Sharps Doom Bar Ale to warm your cockles (if you like ale). Otherwise, sausages and mash followed by Duncan's Tipple.


3. HEMINGWAYS LOUNGE BAR


Just towards the end of the village, this exclusive cocktail bar is the perfect place to socialize with a sublime refreshment and make the most of the sun (if there is anyway) in its outdoor seating. This is a hugely popular late-night spot so getting a table isn't guaranteed, especially on mic and live music nights, but it would be a shame for this to put you off. The barman is a friendly sort and can make whatever you like, though the extensive eclectic cocktail list should provide enough curiosity for an evening! Note, it's usually a youngsters 'hang out' on Friday nights. Better to visit on school nights.

COME HERE FOR: A cocktail, obviously. Having tried a fair few, I'd recommend the Top Hat sharer cocktail Hemmingways Hurricaine (it says for 4-6, but it's more like 4)


4. THE ROSE & CROWN

The grandfather of traditional pubs in South London, this inn/hotel is the oldest pub in Wimbledon and definitely one for the enthusiastic pub goer. It may only be a Young's pub and be a bit rugged round the edges, but that only adds to its quality of brew and historic charm.

COME HERE FOR: A mid-afternoon brew of Youngs Bitter, known as the 'ordinary' by regulars.


5. THE TERRACE

The first stop for many when they get off the train or tube at Wimbledon, or when they come out of the Centre Court Shopping centre, bags in hand and in need of a quick fix, this is a roof terrace bar that offers everything from a quick chilled coffee break, to casual after-work drinks, to a great Friday night vibe. Decked in trendy luscious green interiors, this bar is attractive and offers a cracking martini but, probably taking advantage of its crowd-magnet location, it’s a bit overpriced.

COME HERE FOR: Grab a seat on the terrace for post-dinner evening drinks. It may not be such an attractive balcony view, but it’s a good place to people watch. C'mon, we all do it!



Top 5 Things to Do:

1. Stroll through Wimbledon Common from the Fox & Grape end directly through to the Windmill Team Rooms for a hot chocolate or ice cream.

2. Horse riding at Wimbledon Village Stables. This is one of the oldest riding stables in the country and offers fantastic hacks through the common (booking in advance is necessary, and only some days and times are open to public bookings as privilege is given to members)

3. A trip to neighbouring town Richmond is just a short bus or tube ride away, and is definitely worthwhile if you have a day spare. Here you can cycle through Richmond Park or walk through its hilly streets for fashionable shops and see stunning views of the Thames down below.

4. If you’re here for the tennis, you’ll probably visit the All England Lawn Tennis Museum as it’s inside the grounds. If you’re not and have any interest in tennis at all, go here. The grounds are open all year and it’s as good a chance as any to see what it’s like inside. Tours are also bookable when the tennis isn’t on.

5. The New Wimbledon Theatre is a charming attractive theatre in the centre of town and has some good shows on at much cheaper than West End prices.

For more information about Wimbledon and the surrounding area and neighbourhoods, click here. Or, if you're planning to come to Wimbledon and need great value accommodation, we have a selection of serviced apartments in London for short stays, business, vacation or relocation.