eads up, Richmond-dwellers: you’ve got some fancy new neighbours. A-list lovebirds Tom Holland and Zendaya are moving into the area (living in a multi-million pound six-bedroom gaff, no less), adding a new sprinkling of Hollywood intrigue to this lovely part of south-west London.
But as anyone who’s spent time in Richmond before will tell you, a chance sighting of Tomdaya doing the big shop at the local Waitrose isn’t the only reason to visit. With bucolic vistas, historic pubs, top-tier restaurants and more, here’s our must-visit guide to Richmond.
Richmond Park, the humongous green space just to the south of the town, is the main attraction in the area. Cycling, walking, golfing, catching a glimpse of the famous deer that roam the grounds — you can do it all there. Much, much smaller, but still very pleasant is Richmond Green, a popular spot for picnics and enjoying the sunshine when the weather permits.
The River Thames runs through Richmond, and therefore makes it a popular place to either start or finish a riverside stroll. Richmond Bridge, a famous structure built in the 1700s, crosses the river and connects Richmond to Twickenham.
Petersham Nurseries Cafe is by far the best known restaurant in the area and a big hit with celebs, thanks in no small part to the Michelin star its former head chef, Skye Gyngell, won back in 2011. The food is expensive but worth the outlay, rigidly sticking to a mantra of being always seasonal and beautifully fresh. The exceptionally pretty, floral-flanked surroundings of the glasshouse only elevate things. It’s the ideal spot for a lunchtime date.
Al Boccon Di’vino is something of a cult restaurant. It has a no-menu policy — in practice, this means you turn up, pay your money, and in return you’ll be bought any number of courses, featuring whichever Venetian speciality the chef has decided to cook that day. Rest assured, it’s all delicious, and they will of course take note of any dietary requirements. The wine is pretty good value, too.
The Ivy in Covent Garden is iconic and worth a visit, but there a plenty of spin-offs that offer a taste of what the expect. The south-west sibling,The Ivy Cafe Richmond, is a casual, relatively affordable, crowd-pleasing affair, with a focus on classic British meals served in hearty portions. Any first-timers should go straight for the famous Shepherd’s Pie.
The Bingham, sat on the bank of the River Thames, is an all-year-round favourite. During summer, the terrace is a delight, and during winter, the fireside spots in the bar are alluringly cosy. The indoor menu, served within his eponymous restaurant, is looked after by MasterChef: The Professionals winner Steven Edwards.
Just on the north-western edge of Richmond Park, with views of all the resplendent greenery, the Dysart has a real countryside feel to it. It doesn’t come cheap, with a tasting menu priced just shy of £100 per head, but the food is brilliant: rooted in seasonal produce, expertly balanced and hugely comforting.
The reassuringly named Quality Fish Restaurant lives up to its billing, with the best fish and chips in Richmond, and if the sun is out and a day relaxing on Richmond Green is in order, make sure to aid proceedings with a visit to Gelateria Danieli, for a couple of delicious scoops.
Pubs and bars
Richmond’s countryside-but-not vibes are no more apparent than in its pubs — many of them feel as if they’ve been plucked straight from some rural village. The Cricketers, a fixture of the area since the 1700s, has a small outside area, affording you the pleasure of gazing out over the green as you drink, and inside the interiors are refined, with a old-fashioned charm. The Orange Tree is another hugely pleasant boozer, with a space on the ground floor for the gastropub and hotel rooms above it. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to nab one of the plush armchairs and settle in for the evening. The White Cross is one of the nicest spots for riverside drinking along the whole course of the Thames — even when it’s flooded. The outside courtyard often goes a foot or so underwater when the tide is high, but it stays open for punters to drink in (just remember your wellies). Rugby fans should make a beeline for The Sun Inn, a pub that gets absolutely heaving whenever there’s a big match at the nearby Twickenham stadium. Various rugby memorabilia adorns the walls, and an ex-pro sighting is hardly unheard of. To while away a cosy afternoon, head down into Richmond Vault, a welcoming cellar that boasts probably the best beer list in the area, showcasing a vast array of breweries.
For cocktails, No 1a Duke St is a popular haunt. The pared back, spacious interiors help to create a laid-back vibe, but it comes alive with chatter once it starts to fill up at the weekend. The drinks themselves are focused squarely on the classics, although they are not without the odd unorthodox flourish. So Bar is another local favourite for cocktails, thanks in no small part to the 2-4-1 happy hour that runs from 5pm-7pm on Monday-Friday.
Coffee shops and cafes
Richmond Hill Bakery is one of the area’s finest independent cafes, baking various goodies fresh each day. It has a rotating cast of artwork on the walls and various knick-knacks for sale, too. For brunch, head to The Alberts Deli, which serves all the classics — full English, avo on toast — but does them beautifully. If you still have space after that, be sure to squeeze in one of the homemade cakes, too. More great food can be found at Caffe Paola, with the Lebanese breakfast coming very highly recommended. The coffee is superb, too. Coffeeology prides itself on the quality of its customer service — it will strive to remember your name and preferences each time you pay a visit, which, judging by the quality of its coffee, might be fairly often. Tucked away within Terrace Gardens is Hollyhock Cafe. It looks like it could have come straight out of a fairytale, with curved wooden trunks holding up the outdoor canopy. All the food on its menu is fairly traded and caters extremely well to vegetarians and vegans.
Music and nightlife
Richmond is distinctly lacking when it comes to live music venues and nightclubs. For a night out with drinks and pounding chart music, head to Viva. Otherwise, stay in one of the pubs and bars until late, or head south to Kingston, which is a fair bit livelier after dark.
There are two main theatres in the area. First, there’s Richmond Theatre. It’s a grand old building, beautiful inside and out, which mainly takes touring productions. Orange Tree Theatre, meanwhile, is a smaller place but punches well above its weight.
The Museum of Richmond is a small but nonetheless fascinating place, charting the borough’s history from back in medieval times, all the way up to the present day. It’s good fun for children and adults alike.
How to get there
Tube: Richmond (District line)
Bus: 33, 65, 190, 337, 371, 391, 419, 490, 493, H22, H37, R68, R70