Top 10

Top 10 Luxury Family-Friendly Hotels in the Maldives


All the photos in this post taken by NHYM 2015. Pool at Anantara – it is this beautiful. 

I was recently asked – again – by two different mums about where to go in the Maldives with a family so thought I would go ahead and write up a post specifically focused on child-friendly hotels. I do have an obsession with the Maldives and going there has become part of my ‘annual feel-good programme’ (when I said this to a friend of mine, she rolled her eyes and told me never to repeat these words to anyone else because I sounded like a Monkey’s Ass, but hey, I have a big mouth, here I go again. I just can’t help it).


White sands? Tick. Clear, translucent waters? Tick. Bright blue skies and sunshine? Tick. NHYM 2015.

We all associate the Maldives with exorbitant prices, but I have found some reasonable prices if you are willing to go during medium/low season. For those who haven’t booked your May half-term holidays, there are great deals to the Maldives with some flights to Male cheaper than flights within Europe. And don’t worry too much about the ‘rainy season.’ I once went to the Maldives in May and apart from a few hours of Monsoon rain, there was plenty of sunshine (unless you are really, really unlucky and that, I can’t help you with).


Beach on a neighbouring island from Anantara Dhigu. NHYM 2015. 

The Maldives is no longer a faraway paradise for honeymooners, but has become a top destination for families for the shallow, warm lagoons, the superior service and hotels and the Ab-Fab Kids Clubs. It’s a 10 hour direct flight with British Airways, it is a safe haven (where I once lost my toddler who was brought back to me safely by Mr. Friday on his island buggy), with an abundance of sunshine and smiling faces. The Kids Clubs include every possible activity from marine biology lessons to Astronomy courses, via DJ booths, shark feeding and turtle petting…

Top 10 Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in the Maldives:


The ‘Adults-Only’ pool at Reethi Rah. The kids’ pool is set back in the shade, so children can spend hours in it without sun damage! NHYM 2015. 

1. The One & Only Reethi Rah

Best for: Teenagers

The One & Only, which provides some of the best people-watching (hello Naomi! On a treadmill next to me…) and is one of the top luxury hotels in the Maldives, also excels in the child department. It has food menus for kids, at least 3 different kids clubs and activities for all ages. It especially has a programme designed for teenagers with movie nights, football tournaments, rock climbing, golf simulation, PADI Diving Bubblemaker and a smoothie bar (oh and mani -pedis, but not sure that’s one to brag about). Teenagers will somehow migrate together here, make new friends (and boy/girlfriends). When I was there, one teen ended up in his mother’s best friend’s daughters bed which caused a World War rift between the two mums…Need I say more? A teenager’s paradise… There is a beautiful spa and great, great diving. For New Year’s, you better be a VIP or you don’t stand a chance. The villas are huge and the ‘packing up’ service at the end of the trip was Mr.X’s favourite thing ever (they pack up all your clothes while you spend an extra hour at the beach).

By Seaboat – or private plane should you want to.


2. The Four Seasons Kudaa Huraa 

Best for: The Four Seasons service and the amazing lobster

In the Maldives, you just need to show up with your babies. No need to lug baby puree, sterilisers, nappies or anything that takes up too much space in your suitcase, they have everything you could ever need. The Four Seasons, as usual, provides its usual exemplary service, including a lovely Kids Club with arts & crafts, a marine life turtle touch tank, fish feeding and island scavenger hunts. The beach huts are lovely and can easily fit a family  of four. We found the food to be particularly good, with all-you-can-eat fresh lobsters on a half board meal plan. If you can’t afford One & Only every year, this one’s a good alternative. One couple I know comes back year after year, requesting the exact same room each time, they love it that much.

By seaboat


Glass bottom boat kayaking organised by the Kids Club. NHYM 2015. 

3. Anantara Dhigu

Best for: Value for Money

Anantara is part of a luxury Thai chain, which has beautiful hotels around the world. As with most Thai hotels, the service is exquisite and the design is sleek and sophisticated, while not charging out of the world prices. There are three interconnecting islands to suit all needs, but Anantara Dhigu is the child-friendly one. The Kids club is housed in a beautiful Dhoni, a traditional Maldivian boat, which is air conditioned ideal on really hot days. Some of the top kids’ activities we found were the open air movie night with kids sprawled on beanbags munching popcorn while watching ‘Surf’s Up’ under the stars, and the glass bottom kayak trip in the lagoon to discover the marine life. The only downside is the food at some of the restaurants didn’t live up to our expectations, but we loved the Thai restaurant (we could have gone there every night) and the Teppanyaki on a neighbouring island. On the last day there, my daughter asked ‘Can we live in the Maldives?’


Sand, light blue water, deeper water, more light blue water, more sand. NHYM 2015.

5. Conrad Rangali 

Best for: The Underwater restaurant experience

The Conrad was one of the first hotels to bring in the underwater restaurant concept, which I thought was rather cool (of course, others have called it a bit tacky, but to each their own opinions). It is 30 minutes away by seaplane, so it worth noting that you may need to wait at the airport for your seaplane and that it will hotel-hop: it will drop other customers at other hotels as well. The Majaa kids club focusses on Maldivian culture which is rather lovely, by teaching Maldivian Bodubero dancing, Maldivian language, island hopping and pirate dhoni sailing.

By Seaplane 30 minutes


This is the jetty you arrive on and are welcomed to the land of bliss. NHYM 2015.

5. LUX*

Best for: All inclusive

For those who don’t want to have to worry about bills and wallets during the holiday, LUX* offers a great all inclusive holiday with multiple restaurant options. There is a great kids club where you can drop your child from 9am to 7 pm, and also Studio17 for teens. But be realistic, it is not in the same league as the One & Only so don’t expect the same level when going there: a friend who had previously been to the One & Only then went to LUX* said when I asked how his trip was: ‘It’s the same sand, sun and sea…’ But all my other ‘down-to-earth-friends who have been there have had a great experience: there are marine biologists on hand to teach the little ones about sea life and marine conservation, which is pretty much as 5 stars Kids Club as it can get.

By seaplane


Thatched beach hut, Anantara. Comes in all sizes… NHYM 2015.

6. Constance Halaveli

Best for: 10 Family Beach Villas

With Family Villas measuring 358 sqm with a gated garden, a private plunge pool and fully equipped with pushchairs, sterilisers and cots, there’s nothing more you could need for your bubs. Nearby, the Constance Kids Club for 4-11 years old has a children’s pool, an outdoor space and playhouse, with an emphasis on cooking activities to make pizzas, ice cream and smoothies.


Hammock in the ocean. NHYM 2015.


Best for: the Under 3s kids club

With a brand new kids club in a Manta Ray shaped club and an under 3s kids club, children of any age will be looked after professionals. Children are split into 4 age groups and have activities tailored to their specific age group. There are themed days such as Jungle Safari, Pirates and Princesses and Circus days. There is even an amphitheatre for the older thespians. For the adults, there is the first underwater music club, Subsix to keep you grooving, art events and plenty more to stay entertained.

40 minutes by seaplane


This really does exist. NHYM 2015.

8. Kanuhura

Best for: Faraway location

Due to its remote location, Kanuhura has some of the best diving spots around with unexploited waters that some of the other resorts closer to Male don’t have and you won’t have to worry about planes flying over the island or of the pollution other islands may have. It is quite a large island with 100 villas, but feels very private. The kids club runs from 9am to 10pm in 3 slots: 9am -12pm, 2-5pm, 7-10pm, meaning that you can leave your older children at the Kids Club while you have a romantic dinner. Tempting isn’t it?

40 minutes by seaplane


Naladhu Private Pool, a neighbouring island of Anantara. NHYM 2015. 

9. Cheval Blanc Randheli

Best for: Over the top luxury & design hotel 

I wasn’t sure whether to add this hotel since it is a little too modern and pristine for my liking, but I thought I would include it for those who love designs and brands. Coming from LVMH properties, it of course comes with its own fancy LVMH shop and with people like ‘alchemists’ to create your perfect stay. But, I have to give it to them that their kids club looks great, with a lovely kids’ swimming pool and slide and Le Paddock, the teenagers multimedia room. The astronomy session for the teens sold me, as the star gazing in the Maldives is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s very expensive, but if you can afford it, you might as well give it a go.

40 minutes by private seaplane


Anantara pool, my daily spot. NHYM 2015.

Just to prove I really was there. And for those who are still trying to figure out whose toes these belong to. 

10. Soneva Fushi

Best for: Barefoot luxury 

More my style, Soneva Fushi is known for it’s motto ‘No News, No shoes,’ so you can put your mobile phones away, throw away your shoes and stay away from modern life for an entire week. The decor blends in with its natural surrounding and it is pure bliss. What’s exciting for 2015, and why it is included in this list, is that they are creating a new Kids Club this year promising 2 swimming pools, a mocktail bar, a lego room, a dressing area, a cinema, a tunnel, an organic garden and for the teens a zip line and DJ corner. I don’t think there’s anything else you could ask for as a child or a teen, and it’s creeping up my list as my no 1 next family friendly holiday destination, all fresh with a kids club.

30 minutes by seaplane

This is a sponsored post by Tots Too,, the luxury family holiday specialists. All the reviews and thoughts are my own. If you book by the end of April, Tots Too will offer a £100 Spa voucher at any of the Tots Too hotels for all NHYM readers. Please mention NHYM when booking:

LUX* Maldives is offering a 10 days for 7 offer through Tots Too.




Spotlight On...

Spotlight On: Leslie Saglio, Yoga guru, Reiki practitioner & Wellness coach


All photos in this post courtesy of Leslie Saglio. NHYM 2015. 

Lately, I have been hearing all about the stress and anxiety of parents getting their kids into the ‘right school,’ passing the 7+ or the 11+. Normally calm and relaxed parents have become screaming messes and super-powered CEO mums and Magazine Editor mums have been put on anti-depressants, diazepam and other anxiolytics due to the stress of their children’s exams.

Isn’t it time for us to realise that this is really not the way to go? Shouldn’t we be kinder to ourselves? Here, I have interviewed Leslie Saglio, a local Yoga teacher who has started teaching at the brand new, beautiful West London Buddhist Centre on how to become more zen. She is also a Wellness Coach, a Reiki practitioner and a mother of 2 living in Notting Hill. She helped launch Serene Social in the UK last year, is a contributor to the US site MindBodyGreen and is a Brand Ambassador for the eco-friendly lifestyle apparel company Wellicious, based in Notting Hill.


1. What’s your story? 

I am originally from Calabasas, just next to Malibu beach, in LA. I grew up a child of the sun and sea, enjoyingthe outdoor lifestyle.I have always been fascinated by other cultures and spent a lot of my youth travelling throughout the U.S. and Asia. I graduated from Business School at the University of Southern California and worked in the Entertainment industry, and then took a leap of faith and co-founded a real estate mortgage company. I moved to London with my French fiancé in 2006, we got married in 2007 and have two beautiful kids. I have lived in the Notting Hill area since then. So London is well and truly my home!

2. What made you decide to get involved in Wellness/yoga/serene?

While living In LA, I was feeling the strains of city life and this showed in my unhealthy lifestyle. I managed to break from this cycle when I moved to Europe, but my life changed more dramatically in 2010 when my loved ones became seriously ill. I regrouped to become stronger and it was then that I began my holistic and spiritual journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

I became a yoga teacher in 2013 and while students were coming to me for advice on the healing effects of yoga, it felt like a calling as I knew I wanted to help others. While exploring other disciplines such as Reiki and Feng Shui, I decided to become a certified Wellness Coach. During this time in 2013 while on a trip in New York City, I met Millana Snow, co-founder of SERENE Social, a women’s wellness and conscious networking community, originally based in New York. As I loved everything SERENE stood for, I helped them by becoming their London Lead and launched them last year. I feel blessed to be able to light the path for others to start their own journey towards a more purpose filled life.


3. What is a Wellness Coach? And what exactly is Serene Social?

A wellness coach is someone who empowers others to lead a lifestyle beyond enhanced health. I’m a certified and dedicated Energy 4 Life© Wellness Coach, which means I take a progressive holistic approach founded by my teacher Caroline Shola Arewa. By taking a three-dimensional approach (body, mind and spirit) and focusing on disciplines such as yoga, complementary medicine and spirituality, I help clients reclaim wholeness and personal energy. It requires tremendous strength. But with time, it can repair the damage caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, negative thoughts and overall stress.

SERENE Social is a community that was set up to inspire a life of passion, power and purpose for women around the globe. SERENE provides a source of conscious content, connections and empowerment via yoga, networking sessions, meditation, online courses and more. For more info on how I helped launch SERENE London read here

4. You are now running Yoga lessons at the West London Buddhist Centre. Can you tell us a bit more about the centre and what you do there? 

The West London Buddhist Centre is a charity linked to a wider movement called Triratna Buddhist Community. It’s just one of the many businesses, retreat centres and other initiatives you’ll find worldwide. WLBC is based in a beautiful new Notting Hill building on Porchester Road and hosts a programme of classes and courses in mindfulness disciplines such as meditation, yoga and other bodywork.

I teach weekly Yin and Vinyasa classes, monthly yoga and coaching workshops as well as private coaching sessions. My ethos is to empower my students and clients to have their own unique experience. I do this by providing them with a space to begin healing themselves and find their full potential.

Although I’m not Buddhist, I fully embrace its philosophy to transform our responses to life experiences and it’s an ethos that crosses over many different cultures and religious beliefs. Mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga not only help train the body to a more healthy physical state, but also enable students to shift their emotional and mental states towards a more conscious and balanced life.

5. How do you stay positive when you are faced with difficulties and obstacles? 

To stay positive as an expat mum in the city, I do daily mindful practices such as yoga, meditation and gratitude and try following a healthy diet. I definitely feel the difference if I’m not keeping up and doing the work. I’ve learned that if you consistently do the work, it does get easier. As with my clients, I also practice techniques such as repeating daily positive affirmations to manifest my dreams, and have regular Reiki sessions to replenish my energy. But most of all, I remember to breathe!


6. What advice would you give to all the stressed out mums (and dads) out there?

As parents, to really fully support the ones we love, we must remember to first take care of ourselves. We need to learn how to set boundaries with our own time and our energy. Sometimes it’s ok to say ‘no’ to going out and just be comfortable staying quiet at home. Equally, it helps to remember to take some time for yourself – whether that be a girls’/guys’ night out, a mani/pedi, going to the gym, or getting a babysitter so you can enjoy a date night.

7. Many mums I know would love to find something they can do that helps others while staying flexible around their family time. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a yoga instructor or wellness coach like you? 

  1. Do your research – There are so many part-time and online training/teaching options available out there that will compliment a parent’s lifestyle. Just make sure you choose a teacher/coach whose personality and style resonates with you.
  2. Seek support – Make sure you have a reliable and flexible nanny and friends. Schedule play dates and activities so your kids stay busy and connected while you’re out/away
  3. Get organised – Make regular lists and acknowledge what you have accomplished. It’s all about baby steps.
  4. Stay committed – Anything worthwhile will not come easy. Remember, a profession in wellness has the power to make you a better mum and better wife so don’t ever feel guilty for putting in the hours.

 8. You are a Yoga teacher, a Wellness Coach, a Reiki Healer and you led the London launch of Serene Social. How do you manage it all with being a mother (and a wife!)? 

It’s all about how you manage your personal energy and everything I do with my students and clients is simply that – shifting energy so they can become healthier in their entire wellbeing. The mind and body are truly inter-connected and when we start to live with that consciousness, we live from a more authentic and harmonious state. We begin to experience life more beautifully.


 9. What are your favourite places in Notting Hill?

The Life Centre for their inspirational yoga teachers, Planet Organic for wholesome goods, Neal’s Yard Remedies for a relaxing massage, Granger & Co. for brunch with my girlfriends, and Taqueria for some yummy Mexican food and a taste of my hometown L.A.

10. What advice would you give to your younger self, now that you’ve had all these life experiences? 

Enjoy every moment, count your blessings, know that every experience you have is meant to make you a better person on the other side and lastly, just be yourself.




Social Commentary

‘How to Spot an Alpha Man…’


‘Are you a Turtle or a Tiger?’

I was recently talking to someone in the US who had been to ‘group pre-wedding counselling’ (who even knew those existed?), where they were each asked if they were a ‘Turtle’ or a ‘Tiger’ to determine their compatibility score. I told her that this question would never be asked in London, since everyone here is a Tiger. The Alphas are everywhere. To survive in the urban jungle that is London, men don’t really have a choice than to be Alpha; driven, ambitious, focused, dominant and powerful. A recent survey showed that 79% of single women want a dominant man, especially in the shape and form of Christian Grey, which is apparently why ’50 Shades of Grey’ has been such a success.

So what exactly is an Alpha Man? Kate Ludeman described him as ‘powerful, authoritative personality types’ who ‘tend to be aggressive, results driven achievers who insist on top performance from themselves and others’ in her book ‘The Alpha Male Syndrome’.

‘Are you Alpha-Alpha or Alpha-Beta?’

But I think that there are subtypes of Alpha Men: There are the Alpha Alpha (AA), the prototypical Aggressive & Arrogant types, who want to win as the end goal, and tend to put their needs in front of everyone else’s. Then there are the Alpha Beta (AB): Alphas but with a softer side. Those can also be called the ‘Blenders’ and tend to be driven when needed but can put your needs in front of theirs (Alpha Betas are a rare breed, so if you have one don’t let him out of your sight). Alpha traits all make for very successful men in the work place, and 79% women are attracted to these kinds of men, but what is it really like being with an Alpha Man? And how can you spot an Alpha Man?

Ten Ways to Spot an Alpha Man…


1. ‘Transition Time’:

When they come home from work, they need a half an hour to an hour of ‘transitioning time’ from their ‘work selves’  to their ‘normal selves’ and only then can they have a normal conversation. For those 30 minutes/hour, keep clear from a) nagging b) asking them anything too important c) whining about how hard your day was. If you don’t listen to this rule, he may mistake you for his assistant or a colleague. Which is not a good thing.

2. Crackberry Addiction

At dinner, you will need to fight with the Blackberry, his other mistress, for attention. Despite house rules of ‘not using technology at dinner’ he will always find a way to get on his BB and get distracted by yet another ‘very important email that needs to be answered right away.’ At fancy restaurants, you can always spot an Alpha Blackberrying emails while you wait for your starters, or you can see him pacing back and forth in front of the restaurant on a ‘work call.’

3. Last Minute Cancellations

You will always need a Plan B. When planning a holiday, you need to prepare a backup plan like a girlfriend or your mother to go on holiday if his work makes him cancel the holiday at the last minute. Or at least always book changeable, refundable tickets.

I once went to a work dinner as an Alpha’s date, and as soon as we sat down, he had to leave to go back to the office to ‘finish up a deal’, while I was left entertaining his two 65 year old clients at George. My revenge? Choosing the most expensive thing on the menu: white truffles. Sold by the gram. Let’s just say that I made sure no one else in the restaurant, apart from me, was going to have any of the divine Italian ‘Trifola d’Alba Madonna.’

5. 45 Minute childcare attention span

Alpha men really do love their children (they are after all as close as a replica of themselves as they can have), but ideally at 45 minute time periods. All week they tell you that they can’t wait to see them and play with them and how jealous they are that you spend so much time with them. But after 45 minutes of play time come Saturday, they are more than happy to pass them right back to you.

5. Time consuming and expensive hobbies

Alpha men love expensive hobbies: Polo (including four polo ponies and a requisite 3 week trip to Argentina with the gauchos), car racing (at least one or two Porsche racing cars and a trip to Le Mans each year), heli-skiing (one or two yearly trips to Canada and Sweden), shooting (trips to Scotland or Spain to shoot thousands of poor partridges), and football watching (the poor man’s version, with a season ticket and trips to ‘big games’ in Spain/Italy/Germany/France).

Alpha men need their ‘me’ time (since women have so much free time managing a household +/- a job). Their perfect weekend looks like this: Saturday morning work out, 45 minutes playing with their children, Saturday afternoon hobby football/tennis/golf/polo, Saturday night social event organised by wife, Sunday morning sleep in time followed by ‘me time’, 45 minutes with children, Sunday afternoon activity with the children, like the cinema or watching TV at home.

6. Domestic Duty Allergy 

Despite handling £100 million deals, managing mergers, and using fancy terms like EBITDA, P&L, Hedging, Leveraging, Alpha men seem to be at loss with some of the most basic domestic duties; for example, cooking anything will require 15 questions for one basic task. ‘How do I cook the green beans? What pot should I use? Do I add olive oil to the water? Or just salt? Where is the salt? For how long?’ which in the end forces you to make the meal yourself.

One Alpha Man apparently had a rule when he got married: he told his wife that he would handle the ‘job,’ but she would be in charge of the baby wiping, changing, cooking, cleaning, and hiring and firing of the staff. He therefore boasts to his colleagues that he has not changed a nappy once in his life.

7. Selective Memory 

No matter how many weekends you have spent as a family in your house, Alpha men don’t seem to have enough memory to remember their children’s schedule or where anything is in the house. Most weekends have a basic, similar structure: the children wake up, they have breakfast, lunch, a snack and then dinner. It’s not that complicated. Yet, Alpha men will ask what their children eat, when they eat, where the spoons are, where the plates are… Every. Single. Weekend. It’s like groundhog day. No matter how many times you tell them, they just seem to have forgotten it by the next weekend.

8. Ego Stroking Necessary

Alpha Men feel extreme pride when they have managed a) 2 whole hours on their own with their children b) dressed and fed their children breakfast all on their own 3) put their children to bed all by themselves, as if they had just discovered the theory of relativity. This is then your cue to ego stroke, praise and tell them what an amazing father they are. Of course, never expect the same praise for yourself despite having spent the entire week non-stop with the kids.

One Alpha man I heard of married someone who everyone considered wasn’t quite in his league: he was charming, handsome, intelligent, successful, and she was just not quite his match in any of these categories. Everyone wondered why he chose her. I asked his best friend who replied. ‘Oh, they have a lot in common. They are both completely, madly in love with him.’

9. Micro-managing

The Alpha-Alphas are the only kind of men, apart from gay men, that need to have input in every house-hold decision taken. From the type of bathroom tiles, the shade of eggshell cream for the walls, to choosing the fridge. These are detail oriented men who like control after all, and they have an opinion on absolutely everything.

10. Competitiveness

Alpha Men are competitive about everything, not only about winning that deal, getting that promotion, or having the biggest house/plane/yacht in the neighbourhood, but also when it comes to their children. You will overhear them at the Christmas Play saying ‘Why didn’t Poppy get the main solo singing part?’ in utter disbelief. But to see Alpha Men in their most primal, competitive glory, go to a Sports Day to see them competing with all the other Alpha Dads, when their inner Tigers are completely unleashed, and men run over each other like lions in a hunt. That’s all they are after all, just animals wanting to win that prize.






Review: West 36 Restaurant, Golborne Road

West 36 Restaurant

36 Golborne Road, London W10 5NR

Tel 02037520530


** All Photos in this Post Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015.**

Food: 4 stars

Service: 3 stars

Atmosphere: 4.0 stars

Design: 4.5 stars

Price/value: 4 stars

Overall: 4.15 stars


West Thirty Six, the latest venture by Robert Newmark, the man behind the Beach Blanket Babylon franchise, is West London’s newest hipster hangout, with bearded staff dressed up in overalls, suspenders and bowties. The Telegraph Newspaper has called it ‘West London’s answer to Central London’s Chiltern Firehouse and East London’s Shoreditch House.’  When I went last Saturday, Ellie Goulding was there on a ‘date night.’ You want to know where the hipsters go for date night? Here’s your answer.


Third floor bottle service. 2015.

The Service

Although it has only been open for a month, I have already been there twice and I already have a reservation booked in the next few weeks, even though when I was there opening week, the service was laughably atrocious. Despite waiting for our food for 40minutes, the staff not speaking English and our food being sent to the neighbouring table, I still really wanted to go again. So, how could a restaurant still convince me to return when the waiter, as cute as he was, looked completely overwhelmed and admitted to being completely stressed out and unable to manage his tables? This review will mostly be of my second time there, since the first time would have been dragged down by the confused, disorientated, and clearly first-day-on-the-job staff (It was like being served by a better looking Charlie Chaplin waiter with a bow tie and suspenders and a One Direction haircut, but he had enough Latin charm to pull it off and be forgiven by the end of the night.)

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First floor dining area. 2015. 

The Design

So, why, you ask me, would I ever return to a place where the staff is picked based on attractive looks but not their knowledge of English, the food arrives 40 minutes late and ends up on someone else’s table, I was charged for my dessert twice on the bill, and the waiters look at you cluelessly when you order a Pisco Sour is? Turns out, the design at West Thirty Six, made to look like a ‘member’s club’ without actually being one, is just very cool, the atmosphere is fun, and the food is surprisingly good relative to the service you receive.


Ground floor, open plan kitchen and bar. 2015.

The ground floor is a brasserie-style restaurant where a lot of the action is, with cramped, small, metal tables are scattered around the main shiny bar and crowds of people trying to a) enter the restaurant b) have a drink at the bar being squeezed by people trying to get through c) squish past the waiters to get to the stairs to go to the first floor. The tables are so close together on this floor that you are practically sitting on your neighbour’s lap. There is door by the stairs where the staff keep appearing from, but always when you are trying to get up the stairs and therefore causing constant human traffic jams. Whoever designed this place had the aesthetics right, but was not a spatial engineer; the space was not designed for this many people.

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First floor dining room. 2015. 

The first floor has a bar and small lounge area with leather chairs and low, wooden coffee tables on the left, and on the right is another dining area, Soho House style, cozy, lounge-y, and full of candles, which I have wanted to try to but am still not hipster enough to get a reservation there (there are mostly tables for large groups in this dining room). The top floor is reserved for ‘bottle service’ that you can book through the Manager, and where I believe Ellie Goulding was partying until 1am (way past my bedtime, ladies and gents). This floor is meant to be seen as a ‘member’s area,’ where you can keep your bottle until the next you come, or as a place to work during the day.


The chunky chips, ribeye steak and mac ‘n’ cheese. 2015. 

The Food 

The menu here is a ‘man’s man’ menu; lots of meats, chips, and more meats. Vegetarians need not apply. Steaks, chicken wings, ribs, lobster were all on the menu to get the men salivating, following the Steak & Lobster trend. For the sides, there were skinny chips, big chunky chips, mac ‘n’ cheese, and bone marrow mash. Everything looked delicious when we looked at our neighbour’s table. For starters, we ordered the beetroot salad and the blue cheese salad, both which were tasty and of hearty proportions, and the maple syrup chipotle chicken wings, which Mr.T said were the best wings he had ever had.


Half a rack of ribs. 2015.

For the mains, Mr. X and I had juicy, tender ribeyes, which were nicely done medium rare. Mr. T had an entire rack of ribs, which was enormous and fed all four of us, while Ms. D had the lobster which was delicious but the dressing was perhaps a bit too flavourful, which she said took away from the lobster taste. All the portions are huge, so no one was about to leave with an empty stomach. This is hearty ‘brasserie’ food with hearty portions, whose portions will probably start to decrease as time goes by (which restaurants always do after the first few opening weeks), but for now, keep on bringing those ribs.


Lobster. 2015. 

As a dessert, we had the famous Apple Pie which is brought in its baking tray to your table and dolloped on your plate, as well as a ‘Make Your Own Sundae,’ of vanilla and chocolate ice cream sprinkled with salted caramel popcorn and bitter caramel sauce (Note: half the toppings were unavailable).

The Verdict

The service was much better the second time around, and even though you feel cramped and squished from the moment you enter the restaurant, I still plan on coming back. The building is a huge space of multiple nooks and crannies, rooms and drinking dens that charm you, reminiscent of Paradise by Kensal Rise. The outdoor areas, from the first floor outdoor terrace to the Toolshed smoking area, look all like they will be a great alternative to the Westbourne in the summer.


It is already packed full, which shows its popularity. And I am fuelling this, since despite the dazed and confused service at times, I still really like it. It’s buzzy and busy, maybe even a bit too much, which creates a good atmosphere. Both times I was there, I befriended our table-neighbours, mostly because of the size of the our rack of ribs, but also because we were playing footsie with them due to our close proximity. But rubbing shoulders with your neighbours in this restaurant is a rather pleasant experience, which makes it OK. This is exactly what this place is about: meeting friends, making new friends and leaving feeling very full.

An after-dinner drink was impossible, the place was so packed, and we were not quite feeling young and trendy enough for the bottle service upstairs, so opt for a pre-dinner drink when it is less busy, or head back towards Portobello and have a drink at Santo for a night-cap.

See you there next week.




West Thirty Six on Urbanspoon