Fortnum & Mason Employee Ryan Almeida’s Guide to London
Ryan Almeida is lucky to have worked in some of London’s most rarefied enclaves. The 31-year-old is a lifelong Londoner and a trained chef who has previously manned the stoves at top destinations like the OXO Tower Restaurant, located on the eighth floor of the iconic OXO Tower; The Ivy, frequented by socialites and celebrities; and Threadneedles, a 5-star boutique hotel with serious style.
Lately, however, Almeida has swapped his chef’s whites for a suit. In his role as an associate at Fortnum & Mason—an elegant 18th-century London department store patronized by the British royal family—he helps oversee its vast collection of gourmet goodies, from rare teas and fruit preserves to delicate marzipans and other confections. He’s the person to ask, in other words, if you’re a food lover seeking out London’s most delicious corners.
The sights you can’t miss
Knowing how to make the most of limited time in London, with its roll call of famous sights, can be a challenge. “I don’t think travellers take into account just how much there is to see in London,” Almeida says. In addition to the city’s many museums (from the British Museum to the Tate Modern) and royal palaces (from Buckingham to Kensington), he highlights the Tower of London as a destination worth prioritizing.
Best places to take the family
“When family visit, my dad—who loves the history of London—will always go to all of the royal palaces, along with the museums, the Greenwich Royal Observatory, and art galleries,” Almeida says. For visitors with a taste for history, he cites London’s Roman Amphitheatre as an unexpected but fascinating destination, while the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is an ideal spot for visiting culture vultures.
Local neighborhoods to explore
Central London is the city’s bustling heart, but to see a slice of local life, follow Almeida’s advice and hop on the northbound Victoria line tube to Walthamstow. “The area is very trendy at the moment; it’s definitely up-and-coming,” Almeida says. “Walthamstow Village (the east London neighborhood’s oldest part) is great with its little shops and nice pubs and restaurants.” Destination-worthy highlights include God’s Own Junkyard, a self-proclaimed neon wonderland with an on-site craft brewery, as well as the Village pub and William Morris Gallery.
Underrated London spots
To discover a corner of the city that most visitors miss, do as Almeida does and head to central London’s only marina. “My favorite place to go is St. Katharine Docks,” he says. “It’s nice to look at all the boats and grab a coffee and chill.” The revamped dock area offers a combination of waterfront views and worthy eateries (White Mulberries has been ranked one of the city’s best coffee shops, while Kerb street food market pops up on Friday afternoons). Best of all, as it’s just a quick stroll from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, you can drop by following a sightseeing session.
Traditional British dishes to try
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: “Obviously when in London, you need to try fish and chips!” Almeida says. But not all fish-and-chips restaurants are created equal. Seek out North Sea Fish Restaurant, which has been a King’s Cross staple for decades, or head to Kerbisher & Malt in Brook Green for a contemporary twist on the traditional format. For a more upscale British feast, Almeida recommends ordering “a good beef Wellington”—an ornate dish of fillet steak coated in pâté and encased in pastry. Buzzing Soho haunt Bob Bob Ricard is said to do one of the city’s best renditions, as is the Savoy Grill, housed in the legendary, eponymous London hotel.
Where to capture the best photos
Head to futuristic, skyscraper-packed Canary Wharf for a new angle on the city—and don’t be afraid to visit after dark. “I think Canary Wharf is incredibly underrated,” Almeida says. “It’s so beautiful in the night, especially when the big office towers are lit up and all the lights are reflecting off the water.”