New Year Resolutions: Detox vs Retox?
To detox or not to detox? That’s a question facing many of us as we jot down our New Year resolutions at the start of 2017.
We won’t judge one way or the other, but you should know that London is a city of both virtue and vice: go the detox route, and you’ll have more than enough to keep you occupied, but take your eyes off the prize and it’ll be far too easy to stray.
Below, we’ve put together two guides to London’s best bars, restaurants and events: one for the detox crowd and the other for shameless retoxers, from yoga to bar hopping and juice to cocktails.
TOP 10 PLACES FOR A JANUARY DETOX
You know what they say: what happens at Christmas stays at Christmas. Well, maybe they don’t quite say that. Yet, somehow, our bellies aren’t in the mood for memories of mince pie mania. As 2017 arrives loud and proud, all that brandy-infused, maple-syrup-coated, cranberry-stuffed grub we’ve skillfully devoured now remains firmly in the past. Until we do it all again next year. But that’s another story.
So back to January, and here comes the scariest statement you’ll ever hear us utter: time to detox! Oh, all right – we’ll never be complete Puritans. Luckily for us, London’s packed a very balanced punch with January’s health and happiness offerings. Whether you’re planning to go completely clean, lean and very green, or just have a quick dip in the yogic waters, we’ve picked out the very best of our mindful city.
1. Re:Solutions at JuJu’s Shoreditch
Does the word “festival” make you think of summer fields, flower headbands and elongated days? Think again. JuJu’s in Shoreditch has rethought January with a festival designed to push away the post-Christmas slump. Taking place for the entire month, Re:Solutions is a one-stop spot hosting imaginative exercise classes and innovative ways to reclaim much-needed headspace for the New Year.
We all know that sweating it out on the treadmill can feel like too much gym time when all we really want is to tread out the best of London. So JuJu’s approach to fitness through laughter is just our style. The festival offers an eclectic array of sessions to try out. Prosecco is on hand at JuJu’s juice bar at the end of a hard day to truly escape the January blues. We thought we’d be extra mindful and give you the spill on our top festival picks. (See what we did there?)
2. Yoga for All
From yin yoga, chilled yoga, dance flow yoga, power yoga, yin and yang yoga, dynamic yoga, budokon yoga to rocket yoga, Re:Solutions offers a tongue-twister and a half of yogic varieties. Whether you’re well practised in Vinyasa and Ashtanga or, like us, don’t know your left foot from your right, each class welcomes all levels. Sessions include morning wake-ups, lunchtime fixes and evening candlelit classes, so we can all find space to breath a little better in 2017.
3. Get Your Dance On
The thing about exercise – it can all seem so very rigorous, can’t it? Well, how about if disco balls, circus theatrics, Bollywood beats and swinging steps got in on the action? Re:Solutions has you covered with everything from Studio 54 inspired Ballet Barre, spectacular Hoop X Dance workshops, Ghungroo BollyFusion and Saturday night Swing Dance classes. Suddenly, we’re feeling ready to get our moves on.
4. DEFINE Booty Burn
After getting in touch with our senses, even we admit that it’s interesting to test our limits. Usually, the idea of any exercise class with the word ‘burn’ in the title would only motivate us to run the distance of the nearest deep-fried chicken joint. Yet leader Ashley Yeater makes any pain from this cardio class feel like a definite gain. Founder of DEFINE in NYC and holding 16 years as a top Broadway performer to her name, Ashley’s motivational commentary and sharp, witty tongue lets us actually enjoy a proper work out. Time to celebrate – now, where was that prosecco?
Address: Juju’s Bar & Stage, 15 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR
Contact: 0207 770 6041
5.. The Marylebone Hotel Healthy Stay
With our fitness levels boosted, surely it’s time to get our mind and soul into top form, too? The Marylebone Hotel’s special January ‘Wellness Package’ includes a one-night stay in their plush rooms, a juice shot by the Juicery, a personal training session, access to Third Space gym facilities, an optional Elemis head or neck treatment and a healthy breakfast at their 108 Brasserie.
Address: 47 Welbeck Street, London W1G 8DN
Contact: 020 7486 6600
6. The Gate Seymour Place Healthy Cocktails
We know it’s dry-Jan, but sometimes a little indulgence goes a long way. That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway. Thankfully, the Gate’s latest opening in Seymour Place doesn’t make us choose between health and happiness. Just seconds away from Selfridges, this veggie restaurant and bar channels the wisdom of their expert mixologists to craft cocktail creations that are as revitalising as they are tempting.
Bagging a bargain in the January sales definitely takes shopping stamina. The Gate is on hand with refreshing sips, including their Quince-Vanilla Margarita, using agave syrup, and Gypsy Martini, with raisin-infused gin. Yet, there’s no better reward than the gin-based Coriander Cooler. With fresh herbs, cucumber, ginger and lime, we’re left radiating both positive vibes and a very healthy glow.
Address: 22-24 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London W1H 7NL
Contact: 020 7724 6656
7. Bluebird Body
Bluebird’s been a favourite spot of ours for some time, and after its recent return, it’s once more a powerhouse of beautiful food in beautiful surroundings. Proving that healthy is beautiful, they’re running a schedule of fitness events followed by a body-boosting menu throughout January and February. With classes including Barre followed by brunch, you can live clean, and then eat the plate clean. Now, that’s our kind of workout.
Address: 350 King’s Road, SW3 5UU
Contact: 020 7559 1000
8. Sky Garden X Honestly Healthy
Virtuous dining plus incredible sky-high views. Could there be a better detox? The Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden is partnering with veggie chef Natasha Corrett of Honestly Healthy fame to craft a breakfast designed to nourish and energise us through the rest of Winter. Tucking into her warming recipe with aerial views, mornings suddenly don’t seem so dark.
Address: 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
Contact: 0333 772 0020
9. Fresh and Fit Festival
As January draws to a close, our inspiration needs a boost to stop us from falling by the wayside. The Hoxton Hotel’s two locations in Shoreditch and Holborn are both hosting a one-day event to keep the motivation going. The Fresh and Fit festival has fitness classes from the likes of Barry’s Bootcamp, Gymbox and BoomCycle, and talks from speakers including the Food Medic, Girl Gains and Plenish Cleanse. There’s massages, goody bags, activewear sample sales and our favourite foodie samples to taste and try. With treats including Peanut Butter Cacao, we’re suddenly feeling very inspired.
Address: Hoxton Shoreditch – 81 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3HU; Hoxton Holborn – 199-206 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD
Contact: Shoreditch – 020 7550 1000; Holborn – 020 7661 3000
10. Fare Healthy
All right, so this one’s technically in February, but if you’ve kept up the detox throughout January, a little longer won’t hurt, will it? Keep up your momentum at Fare Healthy. Taking place from February 4-5, this two-day festival has big name bloggers, chefs and health gurus including Deliciously Ella, Madeleine Shaw and Naturally Sassy. With fitness classes, cooking demos, meditation and mindful sessions, detoxing for an extra few days won’t seem so hard.
TOP 10 PLACES FOR A JANUARY RETOX
Everybody knows January is the grimmest of all the months; it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s still ages to summer and even longer until next Christmas. And this is the time to stop eating and drinking? We think not. You can’t feel guilty about giving up on a diet if you don’t actually start one, and it would be such a shame to lose all that momentum you’ve built up over the holidays, so ditch the detox and embrace the retox.
1. The Distillery
We see your Dry January and raise you Gin-uary. Throw all hopes of a booze-free month out the window, because the guys behind Portobello Road Gin have just opened a four-floor gin palace, the Distillery. You can learn to blend your own in the basement ‘Ginstitute,’ knock back cocktails underneath suspended gin barrels in the ground-floor Resting Room bar, and experience a G&T Spanish-style in the first-floor GinTonica bar and restaurant. And with three boutique bedrooms on the top floor, you can get sloshed safe in the knowledge that you’ll only have to travel a few flights of stairs to bed… but there is more gin in the rooms, just in case you find yourself a bit parched.
Address: 186 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LA
Contact: 020 3034 2233
2. FOX BAR
Nestled underneath Brixton’s Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger is FOX BAR, a New Orleans-meets-Chicago-style drinking den. With a signature cocktail in the Banana Penicillin – banana Bacardi Oro, ginger, honey, lemon and peat – and ‘Nitro’ espresso martinis ON TAP, they are not messing around. If you need something to soak up all that alcohol, and you will, you can get wings and fries from the Chicken Shop kitchen right there in the bar, so you don’t even need to leave the premises.
Address: Piano House, 9 Brighton Terrace, London SW9 8DJ
Contact: 0203 859 1130
3. Tandoor Chop House
Dexter dripping keema naan… four words that are enough to break the resolve of even the most determined dieter. Just reading about Tandoor Chop House’s combination of British ingredients and Indian cookery is enough to get your mouth watering. With bhaji onion rings, masala rubbed ribeye, three other kinds of naan, including one that comes with bone marrow sitting right on top, and four kinds of G&T gracing the menu, they’re almost daring you to stuff yourself. Don’t disappoint them.
Address: 8 Adelaide Street, London, WC2N 4HZ
Contact: 0203 096 0359
4. Noble Rot
A wine bar and restaurant run by the same people behind a very successful wine magazine, with chefs from the Michelin-starred Sportsman overseeing the food – it doesn’t get much better than that. Noble Rot is definitely more sophisticated than fried foods and brightly coloured cocktails, but it’s no less indulgent. They have an entire baked Vacherin Mont D’or on the menu. Unsurprisingly, the wine list is extensive, and with a 75ml sampler glass coming in at just three quid, it’s almost criminal not to try as many as physically possible.
Address: 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB
Contact: 020 7242 8963
5. Chick ‘n’ Sours
For all the curveball’s thrown our way in 2016, we did get blessed with a second Chick ‘n’ Sours site, meaning we could get our fried chicken fix in Central London. We have a lot of love for shop number two, but the Haggerston joint has it beat when it comes to the weekend. Not only is it the birthplace of the whole fried chicken, but the Brunch Bun – fried thigh, avocado, bacon, fried egg, hot sauce and gochujang mayo – is a certified hangover cure. Sometimes the originals are the best.
Address: 390 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AA
Contact: 020 3620 8728
6. Bloomsbury Club Bar
The Bloomsbury Club Bar is so luxurious and so cosy it’s the equivalent of being wrapped in a giant blanket eating leftover Christmas cheese. It’s got wall-to-wall bookshelves, it’s got leather, it’s got candlelight and it’s got absolutely knockout cocktails; anywhere that serves a drink called Corpse Reviver #16 is worthy of your time.
Address: 16 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN
Contact: 020 7347 1000
7. Max’s Sandwich Shop
“Hot sandwiches & booze” is what it says outside the door of this unassuming Crouch Hill sandwich shop, and boy, does it deliver. Max is a mad sandwich scientist who has managed to create entire meals encased between two pieces of bread… one of them has Bombay Mix as a filling. Despite the fact that the sandwiches are enormous, if you see harissa-smothered roasties on the menu, you’ll definitely want to add those into the mix, too. There’s no cutlery and no plates, so you just have to hold on tight and start stuffing.
Address: 19 Crouch Hill, London N4 4AP
Contact: 020 7263 8759
8. Dominique Ansel Bakery
This city is home to plenty of doughnuts and plenty of croissants, but there’s only one Cronut and it lives at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Belgravia. If you’ve had your eye on one of these flaky little beauties for a while, well done for biding your time, because as everyone starts counting the calories, you can indulge in peace. And as you’ve already made the trip there, you may as well try as much as you can… hello, Banoffee Paella.
Address: 17-20 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9RP
Contact: 020 7324 7705
9. BYOC East
January might actually be the perfect time to drop by BYOC East; you can take those half-drunk bottles that always seem to appear after Christmas and New Year and put them to good use. Having a personal bartender and not having to pay per drink means those cocktails will just keep on coming. There are other BYOC joints across town but this one gets the shoutout for housing James Cochran’s fantastic restaurant upstairs. This is how to do dinner and drinks the retox way.
Address: 19 Bevis Marks, London EC3A 7JA
Contact: 0203 441 2424
10. Brick & Liquor
Can cocktails ever be nourishing? We like to think so, and Brick & Liquor is proving our theory correct. Just in case you didn’t know, Brick & Liquor, Tooting Broadway’s latest bar, is all about keeping it local. This means all produce is brought fresh each day from the nearby market, syrups are hand made in-house and products such as tonic water are bought from local suppliers in Bermondsey.
To translate: sipping a Brick & Liquor cocktail is like slurping up a super fresh fruit and veg rainbow. Herbaceous tipples include Green Ti Punch and Thyme at the Bar, and healthy small plates such as cauliflower couscous and courgette noodle salad are a virtuous way to soak up the hard stuff.
Address: 82 Mitcham Road, Tooting Broadway, London SW17 9NG
Contact: 07984 426 842
Words by Charlotte Brohier and Christina Dean