The Capital of Sophistication
02 February, 2016
The city’s versatility enables you to embark on the most varied scavenger hunts. If you’ve already been there and have tried out the rooms with twenty guests in one of the hundreds of Bed and Breakfasts, or you’ve burnt out your Oyster Card visiting London’s various cultural and culinary offerings at affordable prices, now is the time to discover a trendier, more upscale London.
Why not start with breakfast? While it is said to be the most important meal of the day, we could add that it is also the best. Sharing your breakfast cereal with your B&B companions might be great, but one day you’re going to get tired of always being left with the last dregs of milk in the brick. Here’s a tip for navigators: London is not only in the top flight of afternoon teas – it fares very well with all meals up to that hour of the day. It stands to reason – who would turn up their nose at the best sashimi or the choicest Scottish salmon? In addition to some desserts as formidable as Big Ben. At the Cookbook Café - InterContinental London Park Lane buffet, you should invest more time than money, as they offer endless combinations, each more delicious than the next! It’s very central, just behind Green Park, should you need to nod off after so much indulging in flavours.
Later you’ll want to work it off, so a bit of exercise would be in order. In London you need to apply some elbow grease – as your bags are going to get heavy – and become involved in the noble art of trying on clothes. The perfect block bounded by New Bond Street, Old Bond Street and Piccadilly Street will enable you to feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.There is no spot in the world with a higher concentration of irresistible shop windows! Apart from the top designer brands such as Gucci, Prada, DKNY and Vitorio & Luccino, you can find stores like Abercombrie, which is in Burlington Gardens – a veritable fortress with a spectacular facade on Regent Street – or, if your eyes have become bloodshot from so many labels, the commercial TopShop in Oxford Circus, a ready-to-wear brand far removed from haute couture and much more affordable, famous for being the stellar spot for such models as Kate Moss. It was the first consumer brand with its own parade at the London Fashion Week.
And, after your spree, a pause to refuel would come in handy. A quick tea and a snack at The Wolseley? Spacious, stately and with a palatial ambience, this establishment in Piccadilly is a safe bet for enjoying the classical side of London.
Time to change district. Impeccable streets, formidable facades and luxury finishes – London has some of the most prohibitive districts in Europe. Among these, Kensington which, apart from featuring houses capable of curing hiccups, boasts some stunning (visitable) Roof Gardens on the top of the Derry and Toms building. Then there is the district of Chelsea, a favourite among the royal family. Aside from the opulence exuded by both districts, they also have some small locales where you can steep yourself in stage performances. Jazz comes to the fore mainly at night and music lovers are advised to head for Piano Kensington on the Kensington High Street, as well as to the 606 Club, a long-standing jazz bar in Chelsea.
A review of London’s most exquisite districts would not be complete without mention of the Portobello Road area and its air of a romantic comedy stage. Once considered a “dump” in late-19th-century London, the local potters’ workshops gradually gave way to cafés and shops selling antiques, until the area acquired its present-day character. It is famous for hosting the Notting Hill Carnival, and the locals regard the area as a lively, colourful mini Rio de Janeiro.
After strolling along Portobello Road, the next thing is to wet your whistle at one of the cocktail bars in the area. A good choice would be the Portobello Star, which offers as many types of gin as there are red phone boxes in London. Before midnight, with a nice cool cocktail in your hand, you could then check out the Royal Albert Hall programme.
Next up, if you want to continue carousing – and later end up breakfasting again at Cookbook Café’s buffet – you would need to drop in on one of London’s eternal fashion spots, Annabel’s (Mayfair). Be sure to wear your best apparel – you never know, Lady Gaga might have had the same idea that night. However, you need to first pay their annual membership fee. Behind the walls of this locale lie the most intimate conversations of bohemian London from the 60s, and of the royals, too. And, that carries a price of its own. If that doesn’t work out, you could always try your luck with the demanding bouncers at The Beauchamp, a club vying for the competitive top spot of night time sophistication.
For accommodation, nothing more sophisticated than the Hilton London Bankside. Recently opened, this hotel is a franchise of the legendary hotel chain. Housed in a building with a futuristic, post-industrial air, this marvel will make you feel as if you’re taking part in the action from the film, Her. Located in the heart of Bankside and a stone’s throw from the Tate Modern, one of the most prestigious art galleries in the world, the hotel features a beautiful penthouse with a private terrace, a 100m² leisure area and spectacular views of London. It also boasts a new restaurant, the OXBO Bankside, under the direction of the executive chef, Paul Bates, in addition to The Distillery. This is a destination bar, where you will want to be seen, and it offers over 50 brands of gin, as well as its own beer label. Their buffet breakfasts are memorable – long live buffets! You will be stunned by the interior design, the work of Dexter Moren Associates and Twenty2Degrees, particularly the extraordinary lighting, which adapts to the different times of day!
Seduced already? I’m sure you are. Be bold and prepare your getaway now. Check out our flights here.
02 February, 2016