“What a strange thing! to be alive beneath cherry blossoms” ― Kobayashi Issa
Sakura season is an annual celebration of cherry blossom in Japan, when pink buds unfurl across the country, symbolic of renewal and joy. This resplendent period of celebration is known as hanami and often involves a picnic party beneath the blooms. Sakura festivities are also taking place across London this month, from floral installations to picture-perfect new menus. Ready, steady, saké...
Mei Ume at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, Tower Hill
While it’s hard to beat the natural beauty of cherry blossom trees in bloom, Mei Ume at Ten Trinity Square has made an admirable effort. The high-end bar and restaurant is festooned throughout with pink petals and twisting boughs. The only thing to rival the decor is the menu: start with razor-sharp rolls of unagi with fresh Alaskan crab and avocado, followed by grilled Chilean seabass, marinated in sake and miso and finish with a fragrant matcha cake, crowned by salted caramel ice cream.
Date: Until 22 April 2019 Address: 10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ Closest station: Tower Hill
For a sophisticated spin on sakura season, drop by Zuma in Knightsbridge. Zuma’s bar and lounge will be bedecked with Japanese cherry blossoms throughout April, crawling the walls and ceiling of the bar. The floral canopy, created by Ivvo Zerou, is accompanied by a special collection of fragrant cocktails created in partnership with Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire. Guests can also sample 40 different varieties of saké, served by a dedicated saké sommelier. This glossy sushi-charged playground has been drawing a high profile crowd since its opening in 2012 (last time we visited Virigl Abloh was among diners).
Date: 31 March ― 23 June 2019 Address: 5 Raphael Street, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1DL Closest station: Knightsbridge
Zuma's sister restaurant Roka is also embracing sakura season with a Sakura Sunday Brunch within the Fitzrovia outpost's Shochu Lounge. A vast spread of sushi and signature ROKA dishes will be served with unlimited brunch cocktails and free-flowing wine, all beneath hot pink clouds of cherry blossom.
Price: from £60 and £80 per person Date: from 7 April 2019 (and every Sunday thereafter) Time: 12:30-4pm Address: 27 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1RR Closest station: Goodge Street
Tucked away on a hidden courtyard in Mayfair, Hush lays claim to one of the neighbourhood's finest alfresco terraces. The secluded spot has been revamped for sakura season, bedecked with popping pink foliage and wafting fans. A new cocktail menu of refreshing tipples has been devised in collaboration with Sakurao Gin and Franklin & Sons, served alongside razor-sharp small plates and a buzzy, ambient atmosphere. It's ideal for whiling away the afternoon when the sun comes out.
Date: 6 April 2019 — 12 May 2019 Address: 8 Lancashire Court, Mayfair, London W1S 1EY Closest station: Bond Street
As the weather warms up, bask in Instagram-perfect blooms at Nobu Shoreditch. The five-star hotel has decorated its alfresco terrace with sweeping pink foliage, creating a secluded urban oasis in the heart of east London. The sensory cheery blossom installation is accompanied by a zesty cocktail menu, created with The House of Suntory, and a special Sakura-inspired afternoon tea, serving sushi rolls and sweet confections with a Japanese twist.
Date: 5 April ― 2 June Address: 10-50 Willow Street, London EC2A 4BH Closest station: Old Street
Chotto Matte, Soho
Chotto Matte's menu has had a rose-tinted makeover in celebration of cherry blossom season. Tuck into crispy pink tempura shrimp; fuschia-hued maki rolls and sakura sashimi, complemented by a jasmine-infused gin cocktail. This chic and cheerful restaurant is known for its Nikkei cuisine (a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian) and vibrant interiors.
Date: from 1 April 2019 Address: Chotto Matte, 11-13 Frith Street, W1D 4RB Closest station: Piccadilly
Sexy Fish, Mayfair
Also jumping on the blossom bandwagon this April is Sexy Fish in Mayfair, with a typically tongue-in-cheek Sexy Sakura neon pink installation, which envelopes the entrance of the restaurant. Once inside, sip on vibrant Sakura-themed cocktails or pick up a playfully flamboyant, fish-shaped cake, painted with pretty cherry blossoms.
Price: cakes are priced at £35 and are available to eat in or take away Address: Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6BR Closest Station: Green Park