Guide: A Luxury day in London
London is the greatest city in the world. Especially if you can afford it. The constant newness, creativity and fun the city offers is in our faces, and when the virus goes, the lockdown ends and the streets are busy again – we’ll be beating the street of the creative capital.
For a luxury mini-break in London, you’ve got to be strategic. The city is vast and there is plenty to explore. From the city’s sprawling parks, redbrick-lined street and cultural powerhouses – pubs, tube and art, London will keep you busy.
A luxury hotel that is a personality-packed boutique. Location-wise, the Belmond Cadogan on Sloane Street puts you within walking distance of major galleries, Hyde Park and Harrods. An ode to the original creatives who used to frequent this Chelsea address (Oscar Wilde being one), each guest room has a library curated by nearby bookseller John Sandoe. Some corridor walls are papered to mimic heaving bookshelves, and across the street is one of London’s coveted private gardens, entered only with a key and filled with tennis courts, mazes, and smooth lawns ready for picnics organized by the thoughtful concierge.
Across the Thames, on high-brow Southbank (Tate Modern, Barbican, the Globe Theatre) is the cool Bankside Hotel. Rooms have Brutalist touches, like poured-concrete pillars, and the walls act as a gallery space for local artists and sculptors. In place of minibars, each floor has luxe vending machines dispensing fine wines and champagne as well as necessities, like Wolford tights, and filtered water is a welcome replacement for wasteful plastic bottles. The Bankside manages to marry a subtle edginess with five-star comfort, and the result is a hotel you want to hang out in.
The Hoxton Southwark, also south of the river, is newer and buzzy enough to satisfy the trendiest of travellers. It goes heavy on smart design. Millennial-leaning amenities—like custom cool-spot maps, kombucha on tap, and complimentary breakfast in a bag on your doorknob—are the norm. Best of all, it means there’s an affordable-ish hotel within easy reach of the Tate and Borough Market with a bar that booms every night and a lobby that welcomes laptops all day.
EAT AND DRINK
Lunch is a different story. That’s where Londoners excel, especially on Sundays. A proper weekend roast is a British institution no one would dare tamper with. The Engineer, in pastel-pretty Primrose Hill, is the kind of pub that gives all pubs a good name. It’s full of cozy nooks and discreet corners to tumble into with a crowd of friends or family and a stack of newspapers for roast chicken and Yorkshire puddings. Suddenly, lunch becomes dinner, one glass turns into two, and no one’s complaining.
Lardo and Little Duck The Picklery
East London is the centre of the capital’s food scene these days. Hackney’s Lardo fires up its wood oven and serves the lightest, most beautifully charred potato pizza in town. Nearby, at Little Duck The Picklery, elbows rub elbows around a large sheet of marble, one corner of which is used by the chefs to plate up. This style of communal dining feels intimate yet informal, and the food—lamb on beds of creamy labneh, turmeric carrots flecked with pistachio, artichokes and white beans—is the inventive, vegetable-forward food we want to eat right now.
Gordon’s, rumoured to be the oldest wine bar in town, sits on the banks of the Thames. You’ll have to fight through the crowds and be prepared to sit tightly packed outside on the terrace or inside the subterranean wine cave. But like everyone else in town, you’ll love it. While the wine list is justifiably famous, the best part is the cheese bar: You choose whatever wedges of Parmesan or creamy, melty mounds of Délice de Bourgogne take your fancy, with warm baguettes to scrape the plate with.
SEE AND SHOP
5 Carlos Place
London is a shopper’s paradise, but the city makes you work for it. Skip the department stores and hit the boutiques instead. 5 Carlos Place throws the traditional concept of what a shop should look like out the window. The nineteenth-century townhouse treats its interior like a lifestyle website, continually updating the layout and product offering, so each visit feels like your first.
Alex Eagle Studio and Métier
Alex Eagle Studio, tucked in the side of a nondescript Soho street, curates a dream mix of jewellery, clothing, furniture, makeup, and whatever else is making waves at the moment, all laid out like a beautifully merchandised studio you could move into. The most gorgeous, painstakingly crafted leather goods are found at Métier on South Audley Street. It helps that an espresso or sparkling water is immediately proffered by the lovely staff to fuel your browse.
Vince, John Sandoe, and Colbert
Back in Chelsea, Vince stocks the cashmere sweaters, leather jackets, and ankle boots that make up the perfect London uniform. Handily, the store is just up the street from our favorite bookstore, John Sandoe, and brasserie Colbert, for French fries and a glass of something cold.
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