The latest stories, straight to your inbox

The latest stories, straight to your inbox

Be inspired every day with Living North

Subscribe today and get every issue delivered direct to your door
Subscribe Now
Be inspired every day with Living North

We Spend a Weekend Exploring a Corner of London Packed with Independent Shopping and Dining

London hotel
April 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

Portman Marylebone in London is not an area we've explored before, and includes iconic addresses such as Chiltern Street, New Quebec Street, Seymour Place and Portman Square

We're just a stone's throw from Oxford Street, but feel pleasantly removed, and there's an air of calm and sophistication as we make our way through the leafy streets to check into Durrants Hotel.

On first view the white frontage of the hotel gives an impression of grandeur, a large union jack flag waving above the smart entrance. In reception a welcoming fire crackles in the hearth, and a grand dark wood staircase leads to the upper floors. We’re promptly checked in and shown up to our room on the third floor. It’s spacious (especially by London standards), classically furnished, and makes the perfect base for the night.

Having arrived in time for lunch, we make our way back onto George Street and wind our way to The Italian Greyhound. This is a laid back, all-day dining sort of place, and it’s not long before we’re ensconced on a corner table with a glass of cool sauvignon blanc (for him) and a Venetian spritz (complete with a fat green olive) for me. The menu here is split into small plates, pasta, pizza and mains, and we begin with crisp pumpkin arancini with a melting Gorgonzola centre, and a plate of delicate Cornish squid skewers with nduja. A side of focaccia is the perfect thing for soaking up the spicy, nduja-infused oil left on the plate. Next up, my partner’s risotto is packed with brown shrimp, prawns and asparagus, and topped with flaky and delicate cod. My pizza meanwhile is loaded with a strongly flavoured veal and fennel sausage (divine), along with generous amounts of wild garlic, tallegio and chilli.

The afternoon, while dry, doesn’t promise much in terms of sunshine, so we’re happy to spend some time exploring the independent shops around Portman Marylebone. 

Portman Marylebone Portman Marylebone

On New Quebec Street we’re intrigued enough to pop into Nicolaï, which creates contemporary and unique perfumes and scents (as well as home fragrances and candles). The expertise and knowledge that goes into each scent is obvious as we’re talked through the collection, from their earliest and most popular scents to newer releases. It turns out I have an unusual taste in this sort of thing, keen on many of the less traditional options, and I leave with a new scent which I’m sure will become a favourite.


Just across the road, my partner is seriously tempted by the knitwear on offer at William Crabtree & Sons, while I covet the handmade shoes at Sabah on Chiltern Street. As we’re heading back towards the hotel to change before dinner, we can’t resist popping into Labour and Wait on Dorset Street. This unique store is something like a very chic version of Arkwrights, the shelves packed with useful, hard wearing items – from Austrian enamel pans to thermos flasks, French soap, overcoats, hammers – very nearly everything you might need. The ethos here is an interesting one, the founders having grown tired of redesigning the same items each season and so decided to start a shop which sells an almost unchanging range of quality items, designed to last and last. We leave with a new cheese slice and an engineering scale rule (an eclectic combination, but I defy you to visit and leave without something just as unexpected).

After a quick stop at the hotel to change, we walk down to Marble Arch to visit Frameless before dinner. This unique subterranean art gallery offers an immersive experience, with four themed rooms to experience. Each one makes use of beautiful projections (on walls, floor and ceiling) and sound to bring you inside the world of iconic works of art. In one room we are overwhelmed by unsettling and surreal artworks which ebb and flow across every surface, reflect in mirrors and generally amaze. In another, we’re immersed in iconic landscapes and seascapes, stepping on board Rembrandt’s boat as it’s tossed in The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, and marvelling at Van Gogh’s Starry Night as it unfurls across the sky. In our favourite gallery, tiny dots of colour gather on the floor like drifting leaves, and flutter and move in response as we walk through them, before moving up the walls to swirl and settle into paintings including Monet’s The Waterlily Pond. 

There’s a busy bar and café, and plenty of people seem to be here for the night, but we don’t have much time to linger: we’ve got reservations for dinner at Chourangi, a short walk away on Old Quebec Street.

This is a buzzy spot where every table seems to be packed with smiling customers, eating, drinking and generally being merry. The menu is large and varied, and we soon decide to take the advice of our helpful waiter and order the signature tasting menu. Chilli poppadoms are served first, with a seriously fresh green mint chutney, and our first courses are a promise of what’s to come: a deep-fried prawn cutlet, and a dish of sweet potato chaat with crispy lotus stem, a slightly spicy chutney and cooling yoghurt. After that we enjoy two delicate tikka dishes (one chicken, one soft paneer), before the mains arrive.

Chourangi- indian restaurant Chourangi

They weren’t kidding when they said this was a good way to try a lot of the menu – it feels as though one of each dish is loaded onto our table. We each have a mustardy kasundi kachumber salad and a dish of black daal, plus steamed rice and fabulously light and buttery naan, plus daak bungalow chicken curry (creamy, tomatoey and delicious) and a slightly spicier kosha lamb. Having spent some time chatting to our waiter about the history of the food they cook here, he’s also brought us a dish of chicken biryani to sample. In traditional Calcutta style, it also contains potatoes, and it’s fair to say it’s a massive hit with my partner (a lifelong biryani fan). Everything on the table is exquisite, and unlike what we Brits might traditionally think of as Indian food, but my personal favourite is the daal. Simmered overnight, it’s the creamiest and most flavour packed I’ve ever tried. A dish of that and a naan bread and I’d honestly have left happy – everything else was just a marvellous bonus.

Back at Durrants, we find plenty of people enjoying post-dinner drinks. There are various cosy rooms off the bar, each feeling like a private sitting room and furnished beautifully with squishy chairs and sofas, and eclectic accessories and artworks (including a scale Lego model of the Titanic, a platoon of toy soldiers and a poster of the playboy bunny). With a cold glass of Baileys in hand, it’s the perfect place to round off a busy day.

As morning arrives, yesterday’s clouds have made good on their promise of rain. Not to be deterred, we gather an umbrella each from the stand by the hotel’s front door and set off for a walk (even if we hadn’t fancied it, there’s little else to do this early on a Sunday morning, with nearby galleries and shops yet to open). Wending our way through the quiet streets, through Manchester Gardens (home of the Wallace Collection) and Portman Square, we eventually reach Marble Arch and take a long loop through Hyde Park, with only police horses on exercise and a few hardy runners for company.


By the time we reach Daisy Green on Seymour Street for breakfast, we’ve built up an appetite. This Instagrammable café, with marble-topped tables and ceilings adorned with hanging flowers, luckily turns out to have substance as well as style. The staff are friendly and efficient, and our coffees arrive promptly, followed by our breakfasts. Across the table my partner delves into a full breakfast with bacon, eggs, chilli and fennel sausage, mushrooms, avocado and charcoal sourdough, while I’ve chosen poached eggs and smoked salmon on delicious dark rye bread, with hollandaise, avocado and a spicy chilli pesto. A couple of bloody Marys round things off nicely (we are on holiday, after all). 

Less than a 10-minute walk from Marble Arch, Townhouse is a contemporary nail salon with white marble counters and an airy feel. The whole place is spotlessly clean, from the sanitised stations to the utensils in sealed bags, but the welcome is warm rather than clinical. The friendly team get me a drink and within five minutes of my arrival I’m sitting at the long nail bar, having my nails filed, cuticles trimmed and nails buffed. While all this precise work is going on, I skim through a colour selection which is displayed on an iPad mounted next to me, and choose a sludgy grey-green polish from Nailberry. Once base, colour and top coat have been applied I have time to finish my drink before a final cuticle oil goes on, and in less than an hour I’m back on Edgeware Road and heading for a heaving Kings Cross. Following 24 hours in Portman Marylebone, it feels a bit like being thrown headfirst back into the real world. 

Go to to discover more.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Please read our Cookie policy.