Food & Drink

Are the ‘best’ restaurants in London really the best or just the most expensive? 

Half of the London restaurants that have obtained three Michelin stars are in the City of Westminster. 

Finding a place to eat that incorporates tasty food, affordability and an unforgettable experience is always a challenge. 

The level of difficulty is magnified in London as there are more restaurants and more variety. 

There are also higher prices in London than, for example, in Manchester, as the cost of living in London is 50% higher than in Manchester.  

The map below shows that 50% of the restaurants with three Michelin stars, and 67% of the restaurants with two Michelin stars, are located in the City of Westminster.  

According to the Office for National Statistics, of the 50 local areas with the highest incomes before housing costs, 47 are in London, including areas within the local authorities of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Wandsworth and Camden. 

Connie, 31, who works in finance and is an avid London restaurant goer said: “I think the location that you go to, particularly in London, impacts how much you’re also willing to pay.  

“So, if you’re going somewhere in Mayfair, you also automatically know that it’s going to be more expensive.  

“So therefore, you’re expecting a more expensive meal, but I think that might also impact your view on the service as well. 

“I guess level of service that yeah, that you’re expecting.”  

The Michelin star can hold a lot of weight, but it isn’t the only, or necessarily the best, tool to determine the top restaurants.    

When asked about whether she believes that a Michelin star means that a restaurant is objectively good, Connie explained how Michelin-starred restaurants have that title because they’ve met the criteria, but that doesn’t mean they’re suited to everyone’s tastes. 

For example, she’s been to Michelin-starred restaurants that she didn’t like because of the cuisine or the style so, for her, whether a restaurant is good or not is based on personal preference.  

The above map also includes the top 10 best restaurants according to Tripadvisor, as it’s a platform that everyone has access to review and rate on. 

This means that Tripadvisor produces a vastly different selection of restaurants compared to the Michelin guide, as the majority of people decide on their ratings through a different criteria to the Michelin judges.

However, although Tripadvisor is an accessible platform to post reviews, that doesn’t guarantee that it’s the most useful tool, in fact that could contribute to its difficulty to use.

Connie said: “I find Tripadvisor increasingly difficult to navigate especially because people are so incentivised to post on it. 

“So, if you click on Tripadvisor’s best restaurants for example, you might get a lot of chains at the top, whereas I find looking at the Google reviews a bit easier.” 

Connie also spoke about other ways she finds places to eat, such as broadsheet newspapers’ guides for restaurants, which she explained can include varying price points.  

Data correct as of June 19 , 2024. Sources here and here.

Featured image by Nenad Maric from Pixabay

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