Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts belongs to the elite of worldwide museums. From its grandiose setting in Piccadilly, to its blockbuster exhibitions with big name artists like Anish Kapoor and David Hockney, it commands the capital’s cultural attention.
Unlike many of London’s art institutions, the Academy is a completely private and independently funded organisation led by a committee of established artists whose aim it is to promote the creation, enjoyment, and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education, and debate.
The Academy’s initial intent was to raise the artist’s status to professional standing while providing a venue for the public to see emerging creative work.
Modern Academicians now span all types of creative practice, from painters, sculptors, and engravers to printmakers, draughtsmen, and architects. It’s a pleasure to witness these contemporary and avant-garde exhibitions against the contrasting backdrop of the 300 year-old building that houses them.
This is what all English museum restaurants should aspire to be, perhaps mostly because it is fluidly entwined with the museum through its murals and sculptures from the permanent collection. The food is slightly expensive but well worth the extra few pounds, not only for the quality of ingredients but the high-class ambience and experience presented through its décor. Its excellent English afternoon teas are an attraction in themselves, and should be sampled by all visitors.
Monday – Sunday 10.00 – 16.00
Friday and Saturday 18.00 – 23.00
This café is perfect for a quick bite as it sells all the general museum food, but in a very unique setting. The inside/outside architecture makes it feel as if you’re dining in a little café in the winding back-alleys of Florence.
The Courtyard Café is surprisingly calm and quiet considering you’re just a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus. The sheltered seating looks out over the beautiful courtyard and the installation that fills it. It has a selection of really nice cakes, sandwiches, and coffee at affordable prices and it’s the perfect way to start your visit.
The newest addition to the Royal Academy of Arts, this renovated townhouse is now a charming and elegant destination in its own right, complete with several dining options. Inside, the Sir Hugh Casson and Belle Shenkman lounge rooms offer light lunches and excellent cakes and deserts, the The Shenkman Bar houses resident mixologists who change the fabulous cocktail menu regularly, and The Restaurant has a beautiful seasonal menu compiled by Ivan Simeoli.
The Royal Academy of Arts has a lovely little shop, with some excellent gifts such as paint sets and jewellery. There’s also an extensive collection of arts books and some really nice home furnishings, including fruit bowls and placemats.
Royal Academy of Arts
+44 (0) 20 7300 8000
Monday – Thursday 10.00 – 18.00
Friday 10.00 – 22.00
Saturday 10.00 – 18.00
Tube: Picadilly Circus (Picadilly Line, Bakerloo Line), Green Park (Jubilee Line, Picadilly Line, Victoria Line)