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London’s Restaurants Bounce Back – with 253 New Launches in 2023, a Post-Pandemic Record

46% of Launches are in W1 as Fine Dining Sees a Resurgence

London’s restaurant scene is thriving in spite of the cost-of-living crisis, with 253 new openings in the Capital in 2023, up from 243 in 2022 and a 13% increase compared to 216 in 2021, shows data compiled by Hot Dinners, London’s largest independent food and drink website, and analysis by Robert Irving Burns (RIB), the UK’s leading independent real estate consultancy.

While the total annual volume of openings hasn’t quite returned to pre-pandemic levels yet (281 launches in 2019), the concentration of new restaurants in Prime Central locations, such as Mayfair, Soho and Covent Garden, shows confidence in the luxury end of the market. In these locations, restaurant premises can premium rents and the right space, in the best location, is increasingly rare. Amongst the high-profile openings this year was Japanese restaurant, Aragawa, where diners can feast on wagyu steaks costing up to £900.

The Capital’s fine dining restaurant scene has also been boosted this year with the opening of two £1bn hotels – The Peninsula near Hyde Park Corner, where rooms start at £1,300 per night and Raffles at The OWO, where a classic room costs £1,165 per night. Raffles has nine restaurants, including three by three-Michelin star Argentine chef, Mauro Colagreco, whose French Riviera restaurant Mirazur was voted Best Restaurant in the World in 2019. The Peninsula’s line up is led by Claude Bosi, holder of two Michelin stars, who also opened Socca in Mayfair in January 2023.

Antony Antoniou, CEO of Robert Irving Burns says: “Demand for high-quality hospitality spaces in some of the city’s most exclusive postcodes remains strong, despite the current economic headwinds. Mayfair, home to some of the world’s largest hedge funds, is experiencing a boom in terms of hospitality and leisure spaces, with the right spaces demanding a 20% premium on the per square footage.

“This consumer demand is being driven by the rinsing number of businesses who are returning to the office and the resurgence of the working lunch. We are also seeing a rise in fine dining as diners look to enjoy higher quality meals, but on fewer occasions. This spells good news for the wider economy as the restaurant sector is generally seen as a bell weather for consumer spending and confidence.”

Gavin Hanly, Co-Founder of Hot Dinners says: “While there have certainly been plenty of restaurant closures, our figures show that London’s hospitality scene remains buoyant with restaurant openings slightly up year on year. Those figures have been bolstered by multiple restaurants being launched inside luxury London hotels like The Peninsula and Raffles London at The OWO. Mayfair has also been one of the busiest parts of London for new restaurant openings, so the luxe end of the market seems to be faring the best.”