My London: Rafe Spall

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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We moved to the Cotswolds three years ago, but I split my time between there and our flat in Notting Hill. It epitomises what London is all about — cheek-by-jowl living. I was brought up in south-east London, which at the time was distinctly unfashionable.

If you could buy any building and live there, which would it be?

Apsley House on Hyde Park Corner. Bit busy, bit loud but easy to get around from there. I’ve always been fascinated by those houses and the fact that you could have an address which is simply ‘No1 London’.

Apsley HouseAlamy Stock Photo
Apsley HouseAlamy Stock Photo

Which shops do you rely on?

I really like clothes. There’s a fabulous tailor called Speciale on Portobello — ask for George. There’s no St James’s in Stroud, and I especially miss New & Lingwood — I only wear mustard socks and they do a lovely pair. I also smoke cigars, so there’s a place called The Kensington Cigar Shop on Kensington Church Street.

The Kensington Cigar ShopKensington Cigar Shop
The Kensington Cigar ShopKensington Cigar Shop

What’s the best meal you’ve had?

To me the acme of civilisation is pulling up to The Ivy in a black cab. It has to be a black cab. I’m aware I sound grand, but I always get dressed up when I go there — it always feels like an event.

Where do you stay in London?

White City House is really good: affordable, rooms are small but comfortable and it’s on the way out west, which is great for me. I’m loathe to say it, because it’s such a f***ing cliché, ‘actor stays in a Soho House’, but I’m going to lean into it and live my truth.

Most iconic Londoner?

Timothy Spall [his actor father]. Because he looks like London. He embodies it. And he’s lived here all his life.

Timothy SpallWireImage
Timothy SpallWireImage

Where would you recommend for a first date?

A secret preserve of London is the stretch of river between Hammersmith Bridge and Putney Bridge. If you were to save up for 15 years, you could go for dinner at The River Café and then in the summer, have an evening promenade down the river past all those rowing clubs.

What’s your London secret?

The Monument. It’s the best view in London. You get a certificate when you get to the top because there are so many steps. If it fell on its side it would land at the exact spot where the Great Fire of London started.

Where would you most like to be buried?

I’d like to be buried right in the centre of town. I’ll be entombed in that funny little house in Soho Square.

The Gardeners Hut in Soho SquareAlamy Stock Photo
The Gardeners Hut in Soho SquareAlamy Stock Photo

What makes someone a Londoner?

London doesn’t welcome you with open arms, it’s a tough city. If you can hack it then it’s yours.

Who is your professional hero?

Tony Hopkins. He’s at the peak of his powers and his powers are substantial. As an acting nerd, the fact that he’s in his 80s and still doing that in The Father and The Two Popes is amazing.

The most important thing you’ve learnt during the lockdowns?

The only things that really matter are people and connection.

‘Trying’ season 2 premieres 21 May on Apple TV+