London

How to skip the queue at London’s best bars and restaurants

Alex Macdonald, founder of concierge app Velocity Black, lets us in on his secrets

Whether it’s a dress code, a secret password or a no-reservations policy that results in a velvet-roped queue around the building, London’s hottest night spots have employed all sorts of neat tricks to keep them feeling exclusive. However, the trick to how you skip the queue is far simpler than you might think – often it’s purely a matter of going along in the daytime instead.

This is especially true of places with super-strict door policies and glitzy crowds. Take the Chiltern Firehouse. As the spiritual home of the capital’s fashion scene, it will of course be beneficial to slip into your most on-trend wardrobe items and take along your most fabulous friends, but instead of taking them out for vodka-sodas after work, consider a lunch instead. Not only will the reservation list be less populated during the midday period, but during the summer the outside space will also be open, adding a new raft of covers to the restaurant.

‘Arrive en masse, breeze past the queuing couples and get stuck in’

Speaking of reservations, it’s always worth checking the policy of the place you’re going to go, and seeing if you can work that to your advantage. For example, neither near-cult-like Taiwanese restaurant BAO nor the Indian-influenced Kricket take reservations for small parties, but they do for larger ones. If you and your friends want to try out a particular place at any time of the day, give the outpost a call to check what their minimum party would be for a reservation and club together as one booking. Then all you need to do is arrive en masse, breeze past the queuing couples and get stuck in.

Another thing to consider is that there might be an alternative way to experience one of these spots, and not just sitting down for a meal. La Goccia (above) at Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden might have a waiting list as long as your arm for a casual lunch, but there are also floristry, wine-tasting and pasta-making workshops available all year. Booking one of these will give you an experience of the space that’s arguably even more personal than you’d get at the fanciest table in the place.

However, there are other, rather more curveball, things to consider, too. Take George Club in Mayfair. This members’ club was named after the owner’s four-legged friend, something that has left an impression on its door policy to this day – pet dogs are not only tolerated here, but actively welcomed. The place will welcome you with open paws if you come accompanied by a pedigree canine. Well, it is Mayfair after all.

Above all else, wherever you want to go, it’s worth noting hospitality’s two cardinal rules: be polite and make friends. At Velocity Black, we’ve spent four years practising what we preach on behalf of our members and we’ve learned that, like most things in life, relationships are what matter – and these two little principles are likely to get you a long way.

Alex MacDonald is co-founder of concierge app Velocity Black and is definitely on the list