Opened in February, the Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone has become the hottest celebrity hangout in decades, everyone from David Gandy to David Cameron has graced its gothic doorways & sampled its glorious cocktails.
1. The Owner
Opened by André Balazs, the man behind LA's number one celebrity hangout the Chateau Marmont, this was always going to be a big one. But it seems the Firehouse has actually exceeded the frenzied hype that preceded it. Since opening in February it's had (pretty much) every celebrity you can think of through its doors. Kate Moss? Check. The Beckhams? Of course. Cara Delevingne? She practically lives there.
2. The Staff
Now, we haven't mentioned the staff because they're brilliantly efficient and faultlessly polite (though, mostly, they are both of those things). We've mentioned them because they are all, without exception, drop dead gorgeous. From the handsome top-hatted doorman to the Emilia Wickstead jumpsuit-wearing hostesses (the chicest uniforms EVER) you'll have to force yourself to stop ogling them long enough to eat your food.
3. The Crab Doughnuts
Yes, you read that right – doughnuts stuffed with crab. These little beauties, created by head chef Nuno Mendes, have become the restaurant's most famous dish. But if savoury sweets don't float your boat, what about a sweet savoury dish? That'd be the maple bourbon sweet potato, a pot of whipped mash that you can have alongside your steak or fish. Both are mad, and both are excellent.
4. The Secret Smoking Terrace
At the Chiltern Street Firehouse, a loo is not just a loo. Here, it's also a portal to a clandestine terrace, where the young and beautiful go out to flirt and gossip. Once you're in the loo, look for the mirror with the red lipstick scrawl across it, spelling out 'Cigarettes and Men.' Push the mirror and hey presto! You're on the terrace. Cigarette smoke never smelt so good.
5. The Laddershed Bar
If you thought getting into the restaurant was tough, try getting into the Laddershed Bar – it's like infiltrating Fort Knox. Reserved only for hotel guests and friends of Mr Balazs, entry is granted to a very select few. But it's worth cosying up to the right people or trying to sneak in, even if it's just so you can tell other people you managed to get inside. It's bigger than you'd expect: two large rooms with cosy sofas around the outside and a bar in the middle. The décor is exposed brick and curtains made out of hoses – which is why the regulars refer to it as the 'Firehose.'
"The place is hotter than the surface of the Sun. I reckon even God would have to wait for a table." Tom Parker Bowles.