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With its muttering retreats, thriving market squares and culture round every corner, London is one of the most charming and captivating cities on the planet
To be tired of London is to be tired of life: so said the great English playwright and poet, Samuel Jonson. While Jonson’s travels were certainly limited in comparison to today’s rising middle class’s wanderlust and social mobility that allows them to travel to the ends of the earth and back, Jonson’s words, like so much he wrote and said, hold a staggering prescience that echoes through the ages and resonates today.
How can one ever tire of London? London: Bustling market squares with the smell of roasting chestnuts heavy in the air. London: The thriving theatre scene along Shaftesbury Avenue. London: From Les Miserables to seasonal productions at Shakespeare’s Globe to The Royal Court Theatre, the capital is bursting with artistic forays into beautiful and shocking worlds new and old. London: From Le Gavroche to Sketch, the culinary space London occupies is one of the finest in the world.
And, London: an historic countenance. In the worn and wrinkled lines of which you can read of a history as troubled as it is glorious. So, yes, Dr. Jonson, you were right: to tire of such a diverse range of culture, history and modernity, is indeed to tire of life itself.
45 Park Lane has been designed in a contemporary style with art deco influences by Thierry Despont. With just 46 rooms and suites each guest bedroom has a view overlooking Hyde Park;,it’s an invigorating blend of high-end art and landmark architecture in the middle of classical London.
WHERE TO STAY
45 Park Lan, 45 Park Lane, Mayfair. London, United Kingdom
The Dorchester Collection’s more modern and chic offspring comapred to its 1931-born older sibling stood just down the road at number 53. Where The Dorchester offers antiquated British opulence, 45 Park Lane brings the traditional into the modern with sleek Art Deco styling, varnished wood finishes and contemporary minimalism. 45 Park Lane has lived various lives, including one particularly glamorous adventure as The Playboy Club. Nicknamed ‘the hutch on the park’ it was a fashionable 1960s hangout for London’s rich and famous.
Each room has a glorious view of Hyde Park. In keeping with its contemporary edge, each room in the hotel displays artwork from leading modern British artists on its walls. One of the best things about staying here is the round-the-clock personal assistant you get; a player of many parts. Butler, concierge, tourist information office — you name it, your personal assistant has it covered. The Penthouse Suite is a thing of modern urban beauty: covering the entire top floor of the building it offers wrap around balcony views of the city and has private access with its own lift.
Phone: +44207 317 6540
WHERE TO EAT
Covering two expansive floors of a converted 18th century building in Conduit Street in Mayfair, Sketch is the brainchild of Mourad Mazouz and Pierre Gagnaire (twice awarded the coveted 3rd Michelin star). It strikes an almost surreal balance of postmodern arthouse and gastronomic flights of fancy, underscored by a seriously considered and haute cuisine menu.
Roux at the Landau
Little more can be said about the culinary prowess of Michel Roux that hasn’t already been uttered. And the reputation of the two-star Michelin chef is on display at the Langham Hotel. The owner of Le Gavroche, Roux’s gastronomic footprint is all over London, and dining at the Landua is a great way of tasting the master’s range of flavours.
Often touted as one of the top restaurants in the world, let alone in London, The Ledbury is fine dining at its very finest. Chef Brett Graham’s take on modern British cuisine is funky, experimental and always delectable. Taking in fresh British produce and wild game each day, the menu is an academic study in British food in itself. The tastes are divine.
WHERE TO STAY
The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, St. James’s. London, United Kingdom
Possibly one of the most famous hotels in the world, The Ritz has procured for itself a reputation for the highest levels of opulence and British hospitality the world over. Opened in 1906, it has become the quintessential British symbol of high society. Its interiors drip in golden detail. Its restaurants boast Michelin stars to spare. And its rooms are named after royalty and fashion labels, from the Prince of Wales Suite to Coco Chanel. It’s a red-carpet experience that makes you feel like you’ve just come from Buckingham Palace for an afternoon tea with the subjects of the Commonwealth.
A Grade II listed building, situated right next door to Green Park, you can’t get much more central than this. The 111 rooms and 23 suites all offer ornate cornicing, 24 carat gold leaf and King Louis antique furnishings, with high-ceilings that give each an air of spacious luxury. Our recommendation: the duplex-style Royal Suite has a spacious drawing room, separate mahogany veneered dining room that can seat 10, views over Green Park and a secret staircase that leads the oval master bedroom.
Phone: +44207 300 2222
WHERE TO DRINK
Shangri-La’s 52nd floor bar benefits from the lofty accolade and status of being the highest bar in Western Europe, for better views across London from a bar you will not find — that much is guaranteed. As is the rarefied quality of cocktail you’ll be served. The creative Director’s Cut cocktail menu offers a selection of drinks inspired by some of the greatest directors of all time, from a levitating cocktail inspired by George Lucas, to “Fear the Jungle”, inspired by Steven Spielberg.
The Viaduct Tavern
The last standing example of a London gin palace, the Viaduct Tavern stands on what used to be a cell for inmates of Newgate Prison, which was famously torn down during the Gordon Riots and features centrally in Charles Dickens’ novel Barnaby Rudge.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Dickens’ ghost is ever-present in the British capital. Nowhere more so than Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese — a traditional, roll-your sleeves up, gritty English public house which is rumoured to have been one of Dickens’ favourite to frequent on his many long walks around London. Its interior is cosy to say the least. But the basement, with its exposed brick walls and array of ales coming from Victorian-style pumps is a very British drinking experience.
WHERE TO STAY
The Beaumont, 8 Balderton St, Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair. London, United Kingdom
The Beaumont occupies a distinct space between 1920s and modern Britain. Designed by Wimperis and Simpson (the architects behind Fortnum & Mason) in 1925-6 and replaced Macy’s. Classical in style, its grand collonaded entrance and exterior columns have a somewhat Egyptian appearance set in a white stone façade, which, with its quirky, exaggerated neo-classical mannerisms, make for an interesting modification, for a very modern building, of the neo-Georgian aesthetic insisted upon by the Macy’s Estate in the inter-war years
Opened in 2014, this architecturally protected building sits at the heart of Mayfair, within a few minutes walk of London’s finest art galleries and luxury shopping. From your room, you could throw a blanket (albeit a sizeable one) over Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Grosvenor Square and Piccadilly Circus. The 50 rooms and 23 suites offer open views across Mayfair and evoke the interwar style of Britain in the 1920s.
Phone: +44 207 499 1001
WHERE TO EXPLORE
London is a city of stunning landscaping. And there’s no better way to see its sprawling cityscape — from Westminster’s iconic parliamentary façade to the St. Paul’s Cathedral — than taking a turn on the world’s fourth largest Ferris wheel, now known as the Coca-Cola London Eye. The 135m tall structure, which takes 30 minutes to rotate (per ride), reportedly gets more visitors each year than the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Tower of London
London and History are as natural bedfellows as Henry VIII and most women of the sixteenth century. The rotund and punishment-happy Tudor monarch’s dynasty and legacy live on at the Tower of London. Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the Tower holds over 23,000 of Britain’s most precious jewels.
Summer in the UK means thespians will be strutting their stuff, rolling off lines of the finest dramatic poetry and filling the Globe with spectators for tragedies and comedies. Whether you’re able to understand the dialect word for word or not is not the point. Shakespeare’s legacy is such that his plays, plots and characters still inspire love, admiration, fury and despair to this very day. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth will be here soliloquising and agonising — be sure to lend them your ear.
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