The City of London is undoubtedly the financial epicentre of not just London or Europe, but perhaps the world. As it’s being home to several of the world’s biggest banks, the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange this reputation is certainly merited, despite being challenged by the emergence of Canary Wharf as another key financial district in the 1980s.
Today, the City of London’s strength as a financial powerhouse has resulted in it becoming a prime incubator for start-up culture, especially for brands specialising in fintech and the like. In fact, the City isn’t just the Capital’s key financial hub, but also to the legal industry in the Temple district, too. And despite few publishers remaining within the confines of the City, many still regard Fleet Street as journalism’s spiritual home.
This has made the ‘Square Mile’ one busy place to work – of the 10,000-odd people who live there, London’s core swells by 40 times as much, with 513,000 people – roughly 10% of the capital’s workforce – commuting in to work there every day.
As you’d expect, the City of London is home to some of the world’s largest financial institutions, with RBS, Deutsche Bank, NatWest, Lloyds and Halifax all having at least their UK headquarters there. Further to the west of the City
513,000 people are employed in the City of London. This represents 10% of Greater London's employment, and 1.6% of Great Britain’s total employment, meaning that one-in-58 of Great Britain’s workforce are employed in The City.
In the area…
As you’d expect from the beating heart of the UK’s commercial centre, there’s a wealth of bars, restaurants, hotels and cafes to suit all tastes (and, indeed, budgets). From the posh fry-ups served at Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen on Bread Street, to the light and lean offerings of Darwin Brasserie off Philpot Lane, all breakfast options in The City are guaranteed to be high-powered. Bad Egg on Ropemaker Street is a good shout for city slickers who might’ve over-indulged the night before.
If good eating in the Square Mile is defined by one thing, however, it has to be the business lunch. And while The City’s reputation for having days of unbridled excess may be a thing of the past, many hands are still shook over dinner. 1 Lombard Street Brasserie, and its sister restaurant 1776, are perhaps the area’s most established dining spots for the local business community, while Lutyens Grill at The Ned is a relative newcomer, but already has the air of one of The City’s elder statesmen.
To be fair, dinner and drinks can be taken seriously, but it’s better treating them like an affair shared among friends. Thai eatery Som Saa in Spitalfields evokes the kind of sensory overload you’d expect from a restaurant slap bang in the centre of Bangkok, as does Sushisamba, where the vistas of London from the 38th floor of Heron Tower almost eclipse the top-quality sushi. It’s also virtually impossible to go wrong with steakhouse chain Hawksmoor, which has restaurants in Guildhall and Spitalfields.
And would City boys and girls have earned a reputation for working hard and partying harder if the boozing options were limited? Absolutely not – the Square Mile probably has more top-quality drinking holes in a, err, square mile than any other district of London. Jamaica Wine House in Cornhill has been a watering hole since 1652 and boasts the title of London’s first-ever coffee house, while the City of London Distillery was one of the original champions the ‘ginaissance’ that swept London a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, The Counting House and Merchant House represent the kind of hidden gems that usually would be locked away in the old banks they’re situated in.
Lutyens Grill – The Ned
The Ned, impress prospects with wood-panelled wining and dining
Lombard Street Brasserie
City of London Distillery
The Barbican – a blueprint for culture and futuristic living
The quintessential mix of architecture
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City of London
Want to see what the wider neighborhood has to offer? Why not read our guides for the nearby areas.