Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection

Six of the best English country gardens

An English country garden is a sight to behold and there are plenty within an hour’s journey of central London that can easily be visited on a day trip. Here are just a few suggestions of some of the best late summer season gardens to visit before autumn sets in.

 

RHS Wisley, Surrey

The Royal Horticultural Society has a wonderful gem in the heart of Surrey with its gardens at Wisley – there’s a rich variety of areas to visit and it’s a garden that continues to evolve. Last year saw the opening of its new Exotic Garden, a beautiful showcase of plants with a tropical look but which can grow well outdoors in a typical British summer climate. You’ll find a dazzling array of flowers, palms and dahlias, which look their very best up until late summer. Discover pretty mixed summer borders, as well as visit the exciting, vibrant displays at the Trials Field, designed to inspire visitors and demonstrate good environmental practice. The many roses at Wisley are in stunning bloom and August is also a great month to view the vivid blues of Agapanthus. Garden lovers should put the 4-9 September in their diaries for the RHS Wisley Flower Show; expect to see a Flower Bus, Anita Nowinska’s exhibition of floral artwork and more than 100 dahlia exhibitors.

Getting there: Take the train from London Waterloo to Effingham Junction (45 minutes) then a taxi to Wisley (ten minutes).

 

National Trust Cliveden, Berkshire

The numerous, magnificent gardens of Cliveden – ranging from the Water Garden, Walled Garden, Round Garden, the Long Garden, the Parterre and all the spectacular garden sculptures – are maintained by the National Trust and are as glorious to visit in the late summer months as they are early in the season. All summer long there’s a riot of colour and scents from its Rose Garden, where more than 900 roses bloom until September. The Rose Garden was recreated just four years ago, based on an original 1950s design by famed garden designer Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, and include various elements of the gardens’ original 18th-century wilderness landscape. A lovely way to top off a trip to Cliveden’s gardens is by booking tickets to an event in its formal gardens. Bring a picnic hamper and enjoy performances ranging from a new adaptation of a David Walliams novel to a reworking of a classic Sherlock Holmes case. And while the historic Cliveden House, on the wider estate, is now a luxury hotel, you can buy a ticket for a short-guided tour available three afternoons a week until the end of October.

Getting there: Take the train from London Paddington to Bourne End, (50 minutes) then walk a pleasant two miles through countryside to Cliveden.

 

Hatfield House & Gardens, Hertfordshire

History emanates from every corner of Hatfield House, the home of the seventh Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family; the estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. As well as the chance to see some of the finest examples of 17th-century architecture in the country, visitors will find Hatfield’s gardens just as impressive. Explore the roses and herbaceous plants in the West Garden, designed more than 100 years ago, and the Sundial Garden that was commissioned to mark Hatfield’s 400th anniversary in 2011. It’s also a wonderful place to discover contemporary sculpture set within the gardens – the new ‘Renaissance’ water sculpture by renowned sculptor Angela Connor, sits on the North Front of the House – as well as attend performances during its summer Theatre in the Park programme. Look out for the unique event on 1 September when the Urban Soul Orchestra performs classic Ibiza anthems in this gorgeous setting.

Getting there: Take the fast train from London Kings Cross to Hatfield, (20 minutes) and walk 15 minutes from the station to Hatfield House.

 

Leeds Castle, Kent

Leeds Castle is perhaps one of the most attractive castles in England – and its gardens are just as spectacular; there’s more than 500 acres of stunning parkland and formal gardens. Its Culpeper Garden – named after the 17th-century owners of the castle – is a fine example of an English country garden, an informal layout with roses, poppies and lupins creating a wonderful colourful display. Its Woodland Garden runs alongside the River Len and is currently being redeveloped to create six magnificent individual gardens to explore. Visit in September (15-20) for its Festival of Flowers; discover floral displays inside the castle and around the rest of the grounds, all themed around ‘Ladies Day’ in 2018. Admire the creativity of award-winning floral designers, participate in floral workshops and watch specialist talks and demonstrations. Fortunately, if you like what you see, your admission ticket allows you to visit as many times as you like over 12 months, so it’s worth returning to admire the gardens in different seasons.

Getting there: Take the train from London Victoria to Bearsted (one hour) and take the coach shuttle service from the station to the castle, which runs between April and September.

 

Eltham Palace & Gardens, south-east London

Eltham Palace has an illustrious history; starting life as a medieval palace, it became a Tudor royal residence and was turned into an Art Deco mansion created by millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1930s. The palace is a must-visit, yet so are its 19 acres of historic gardens, which, like the home, boast a mix of medieval features in its landscape. Late summer is all about its long herbaceous border that encircles the medieval palace, which becomes a riot of purples, yellows, blues and coppers. It’s also home to 18 different varieties of oriental poppy plus a huge assortment of peonies and clematis. Wonderful scents arise from the plentiful roses in the Rose Garden and the Rose Quadrant, which include several historic rose varieties; late summer is also the perfect time to see the wildflower meadows and colourful dahlias.

Getting there: Take the train from London Charing Cross to Mottingham (25 minutes) and then walk to the palace (ten minutes).

 

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex

Set in 360 acres of land, RHS Garden Hyde Hall was donated to the RHS in 1993 by renowned gardeners Helen and Dick Robinson and is in one of the driest parts of the UK, with an average rainfall of just 600mm. Hyde Hall's Clover Hill is a patchwork of colour, with vast swathes of grasses and herbaceous perennials flowing through its landscape. There are plenty of horticultural highlights; Hyde Hall holds the national plant collection of Viburnum, numbering around 250 accessions; the Dry Garden is one of breathtaking beauty even where there is very little rainfall. Don’t forget to visit the Global Growth Vegetable Garden, which opened last summer and features unusual fruit and vegetables from around the world. Plans for next year include the Big Sky Meadows, an ambitious planting project to create up to 50 acres of perennial meadowland.

Getting there: Take the train from London Liverpool Street to Chelmsford (30 minutes) and take a taxi or bus to Hyde Hall (20 minutes).

Accommodation Update - July 2018

Recently opened

London

Kettner’s Townhouse, London

Located in the very heart of Soho, Kettner’s Townhouse reopened earlier this year and now has 33 bedrooms upstairs, a revamped champagne bar and a piano bar. The hotel started more than 150 years ago, and it still retains many features of a traditional building. Famous figures such as Oscar Wilde and Edward VII are said to have stayed in this hotel.

White City House, London

A hotel and private members’ club, White City House – located in the famous landmark of the BBC’s former headquarters and part of the Soho House & Co group – offers 45 bedrooms, ranging in size from ‘tiny to medium’. Guests will also find a restaurant, games room, gym, cinema, a club area and rooftop pool. There are two bars available, both of which have space for live bands and DJs.

 

England

Ginger Peanut restaurant-with-rooms, Devon

A new restaurant-with-rooms opened in the Devon town of Bampton. Christopher Badham and Damian Llambias (the duo behind the nearby exclusive hire baronial mansion, Huntsham Court) have restored a Grade II-listed building in the heart of Bampton’s conservation area to create a stylish restaurant-with-rooms. There are five individually decorated and very comfortable en-suite bedrooms, but the emphasis is firmly on the bar and restaurant, with menus designed by award-winning chef Peter Mundy; they make no secret about wanting to become the best place to eat in Devon.

 

Scotland

Edinburgh Grand, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Grand opened its doors to guests on 1 June in the heart of the city’s vibrant St Andrew Square, bringing 50 individually designed, fully equipped apartments housed in an historic city landmark that also includes a selection of restaurants and bars as well as a champagne & cocktail Lounge.

 

Wales

Rivercatcher Log Cabins, near Snowdonia

New Scandi-style log cabins opened in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountains in north Wales on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Each self-catering cabin has its own theme and feature wood burners, fully equipped kitchens, king-size beds and glass-fronted apex windows to make the most of the green landscape. Guests can also cook alfresco on the wood-fired outdoor kitchen or soak under the stars in the hot tub within the sanctuary of the private deck.

 

Refurbishments

England

Linthwaite House, Lake District

Following a one-year closure and £10million renovation project, the luxurious, four-star Linthwaite House overlooking Lake Windermere has reopened. Guests can choose from five categories of room – classic, luxury, view, deluxe and suite – and two restaurants are available, the fine-dining Stella and The Bar and Conservatory serving all-day dining and cocktails. Pathways wind their way through well-maintained private gardens and woodlands and drinks or light meals can be enjoyed on its newly created raised wooden Windermere Deck, located next to the hotel’s own private small lake, with views to Lake Windermere and the surrounding mountains.

Lodore Falls, Lake District

A new spa is set to open this summer at Lodore Falls, nestled in Borrowdale Valley on the shores of Derwentwater. The Lake District Spa will boast 18 new luxury spa bedrooms, the new pan-Asian restaurant Mizu and a champagne & deli bar. The spa’s thermal suite will comprise a laconium, aroma steam room, herbal sauna and salt steam room, while outside will be a 16-metre hydro pool with volcano fountain, neck jets, underwater loungers and overflow hot tub with spectacular views to Derwentwater and the Catbells Mountain Range.

The Bradley B&B, Cheltenham

The Bradley, an elegant B&B in a listed Regency townhouse in Cheltenham’s exclusive Montpellier district, has completed a sympathetic refurbishment and launched two new Garden rooms. Set in the hotel’s serene courtyard garden, the new bedrooms have large private terraces and are a contemporary but complementary alternative to the traditional rooms in the main building, which have been redecorated and recarpeted. The Bradley has welcomed guests since 1912, and remains one of Cheltenham’s most important complete historical house. With its working fireplace, honesty bar, antiques and artwork, the B&B is a characterful and convenient place to stay in Cheltenham. It’s dog friendly too.

 

Scotland

Nira Caledonia, Edinburgh

After an unfortunate fire, the unique boutique hotel announced its grand re-opening following a period of extensive refurbishment to one of the beautiful townhouses. The hotel also re-opened its refurbished Blackwood’s Bar & Grill.

St Davids Hotel, Cardiff

This five-star hotel in Wales’ capital has refurbished its lobby and spa, following the refurbishment of its new Australasian restaurant. The Admiral St David is an entirely new restaurant concept for Wales and the south west of England, serving up an exotic melting pot of fresh Australasian flavours.

 

Opening soon

London

Belmont Cadogan Gardens, London

The Belmont Cadogan Gardens hotel – a hotel at the heart of fashionable Chelsea that has been running since 1887 – will reopen towards the end of 2018. Once open, guests will have access to 54 chic rooms. The first two floors will have modern rooms while the other three storeys feature traditional British designs with an Edwardian splendour. Its piece de resistance is access to Cadogan Place Gardens, gorgeous private gardens, with picnic lawn and tennis courts, that are usually only open to local residents. Opening Winter 2018.

Yotel Clerkenwell, London

Yotel will open its third property in the UK with a 212-cabin hotel in central London’s creative quarter of Clerkenwell. The cabins will be equipped with Yotel’s revolutionary technology-driven hospitality offering, its signature space-saving adjustable SmartBed™, monsoon rain shower, techno-wall features, which includes mood lighting and entertainment options, with smart TVs. Additional facilities include a gym, bar, an independently operated dining outlet and Yotel’s Club Lounge concept. Opening late 2018.

Z Hotel Covent Garden, London

The eighth Z Hotel in London will open this month, bringing 112 rooms to a central Covent Garden location. Similar to its sister hotels, the hotel will offer ‘affordable compact luxury’ with ensuite shower rooms in its guestrooms and free WiFi. Opening July 2018.

 

England

Shankly Hotel, Liverpool’s first urban glamping site,

One of Britain’s first urban glamping sites will open on the rooftop of Liverpool’s iconic Shankly Hotel. Instead of the countryside scenes typically associated with glamping, Signature Living’s latest venture offers a panorama of the Liverpool skyline that’s best lapped up from one of the Jacuzzis or infinity pools kitted out with 32-inch TVs and pop-up speakers. The luxury tipis sleep up to six people each and have hotel-style trimmings, designer bedding and plush beds. There’s a bar and personal waiter service too. With those views and the summer festival x cosmopolitan city vibe, it’s the perfect venue for an unforgettable party well away from the hustle and bustle of Liverpool below. From £120 per person for two nights. Opening July 2018.

Weston Park, Staffordshire/Shropshire

Weston Park will be giving guests the ultimate summer staycation with a brand new Glamping Village on the estate, including this August Bank Holiday weekend. Fully luxury bell tents will be available for two-night stays for guests to enjoy a stay under the stars on a country estate. Set in a beautiful glade surrounded by ancient oak trees, nestled in the depths of the estate at Weston Park, the luxury glamping village will be the perfect summer getaway for friends and family alike. Tents will be decked out with comfy blankets, air beds, bedding and festoon lighting. Luxury toilet blocks with power showers will ensure guests feel right at home. Each tent sleeps 5 people and are available for two night stays. Prices start from £249 per tent for a two-night stay. Opening August 2018.

Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool

Football mad? Check out what is fast becoming known as a Football Quarter in Liverpool’s Victoria Street, as a new hotel – named after local football legend Dixie Dean – is set to open. The hotel will commemorate the life of Dixie both on and off the pitch with a luxury hotel, and is located directly opposite The Shankly Hotel, a tribute to Liverpool coach Bill Shankly. Opening summer 2018.

The London Warehouse, Manchester

Based in the bohemian Northern Quarter of Manchester, The London Warehouse will house an aparthotel with 166 rooms, as well as a cocktail bar, co-working venue, cocktail bar and restaurant as well as a florist and a barber shop. Opening summer 2018.

Queen Square – Supercity Aparthotels, Brighton

In its first development outside of London, Supercity Aparthotels are coming to the coastal city of Brighton later this year on the former site of Brighton’s ice-skating rink. The new aparthotel will house 59 stylish apartments, a gym, full-service restaurant, car and bicycle parking facilities and complimentary WiFi. Opening Autumn 2018.

 

Scotland

Fingal, Edinburgh

This major investment by the Royal Yacht Britannia will provide the ultimate luxury experience: a floating hotel berthed at The Shore, Edinburgh. The 23 beautifully styled cabins, all named after Stevenson lighthouses, are inspired by Fingal’s rich maritime heritage. Guests will be able to choose from cabins with their own private balcony, a duplex cabin or the presidential suite. Opening Autumn 2018.

Hotel Indigo, Dundee

A former jute mill situated between the city’s waterfront and it shopping district will be transformed into a 102-bedroom Hotel Indigo with 12 junior suites. As a nod to Dundee’s position as a world leader in the computer gaming industry, the hotel also has created a special games area. There will also be a fully equipped gym, bar and restaurant. Opening scheduled for August 2018.

Sleeperz, Dundee

Dundee’s new train station is due to open this summer following a £14m renovation, with a 120-bed Sleeperz hotel above. The hotel will overlook the new V&A Museum, due to open in September, and the new Waterfront Plaza and will offer free WiFi and comfortable, bespoke, handmade Sleepeezee mattresses in all its rooms. Opening scheduled summer 2018.

 

Wales

Milford Waterfront Floatel Cabins, Pembrokeshire

The rather unusual addition of four-star floating suites (Milford Waterfront Floatel Cabins) will form part of Milford Waterfront development, comprising shops, cafés, restaurants and accommodation. It is intended to offer a unique experience for anyone wanting to soak up the tranquil marina atmosphere without necessarily owning a boat. Scheduled to open later in 2018.

 

Long lead

London

Hard Rock Hotel, London

the Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, will open its doors next year. Designed by award-winning architectural and interior design practice, Scott Brownrigg, Hard Rock Hotel London will boast around 1,000 stylish rooms and suites, together with two vibrant bars and a lively Hard Rock Cafe®. In the lobby, the world-famous Rock Shop® will feature Hard Rock’s iconic merchandise. Guests seeking the ultimate experience will have the opportunity to elevate their status and become Rock Royalty®. Taking the London experience to another level, luxurious Rock Royalty rooms and suites offer extra perks including a personal concierge and access to a lavish lounge. Hard Rock Hotel London will pay tribute in its memorabilia collection to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Madonna. Scheduled to open Spring 2019.

art'otel Hoxton, London

PPHE Hotel Group will develop its first art’otel in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, with plans to develop an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary new hotel. In addition, a modern top-floor restaurant and bar as well as a relaxing spa open to guests and the public will form part of the hotel’s offering. There will also be a publicly accessible arts centre, which will include an art gallery, space for video artists and photographic studios. The brand focuses on original art displayed from one artist throughout the hotel’s guest rooms and public areas. Scheduled to open 2019.

*art’otel is also planning to develop a property in the Battersea Power Development in south London.

 

Central London

The Grand, Birmingham

One of Birmingham’s most iconic Grade II-listed buildings, The Grand, set on the 19th-century streetscape of Colmore Row, is currently undergoing redevelopment and is scheduled to open in early 2019 with a 180-bedroom hotel, complete with restaurant and bar, a spa and the city’s first rooftop infinity pool. Scheduled to open early 2019.

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire

Buxton, renowned as a historic spa town and peppered with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, will see its Grade I-listed Crescent transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel. The hotel is set to take over the majority of the Crescent and will incorporate the Assembly Rooms and a thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths. Scheduled to open 2019.  

 

Scotland

Yotel, Edinburgh

Yotel is to open its first hotel in Scotland featuring 280 cabins and situated in the famous Queen Street, in Erskine house. This central location means the hotel will boast easy access to top city attractions and have nearby transport links with both Waverley and Haymarket railway stations within walking distance. Integrating the elements of luxury hotels into cleverly designed spaces, the hotel will offer approximately 280 rooms known as ‘cabins’ ranging in style from a Premium Cabin to a VIP Suite. Scheduled to open first quarter of 2019.

Britain – the movie star

Britain is playing a starring role in several new movie releases coming up in the second half of 2018.  Bring your own lights, camera and action and head to the destinations that have either inspired the story or feature as a film location.

 

Robin Hood: Origins – release date: 1 September 2018

According to legend, heroic Robin Hood was a highly-skilled archer and swordsman who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood: Origins aims to give a new spin on the legend, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as Little John, Eve Hewson as Maid Marian and Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlett. Filming mainly took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, but Robin Hood’s original stomping ground was Sherwood Forest and the city of Nottingham in Nottinghamshire, England, which are both places to have on your must-visit list if you’re a fan of the forest-dwelling outlaw!

Sherwood Forest is the setting for the annual Robin Hood Festival in early August – a medieval gala of entertainment, food and drink, activities, and live-action re-enactments. 2018 will be the festival’s 34th year and, this summer, the forest welcomes the opening of a visitor centre aimed at providing a contemporary perspective into this legendary landscape. It’s a brilliant place to explore either on foot or by bike and don’t forget to visit Robin's famous hideaway, the Major Oak. Elsewhere, between 7 July – 30 September, you can really up your Robin-inspired Insta-game with snaps of a cool sculpture trail coming to the city; Hoodwinked: a twist on the tale, will be a contemporary take on the traditional stories of the legendary outlaw.

Not yet had your fill of Robin Hood experiences? Then head to the city’s Robin Hood Experience for the full interactive journey to the time of the legendary outlaw. The attraction aims to bring to life the sounds, sights and smells of medieval Nottingham – you can even stand trial before the Sheriff of Nottingham! A perfect accompaniment to the experience is a visit to Nottingham Castle, currently undergoing an ambitious transformation due for completion in 2020. In less than two years, the site will welcome a new, interactive Robin Hood Gallery, visitor centre and a Rebellion Gallery – showcasing the city’s rebellious history – will open in the Ducal Palace, plus a year-round events programme will be introduced. Don’t leave without having a selfie with the Robin Hood statue outside the castle. Or, explore the city and its history with Robin Hood himself, on the Robin Hood Town Tour. Join expert of Nottinghamshire history Ezekial Bone to discover how simple ballads over 700 years old grew into one of the greatest stories ever told. There are also several Robin Hood-themed events throughout the year, including the Robin Hood Festival (27 August – 2 September), the Robin Hood Pageant (usually held in March), the Robin Hood Beer Festival (17-20 October) and even the Robin Hood Half Marathon (29 September)!

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – release date: November 2018

The second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, with London used as one of the key filming locations. Highgate Cemetery was reportedly used to depict the Catacombs of Paris and it’s easy to see why; this north London cemetery is a wonderful example of Victorian gothic design. Take a tour of the extravagant memorials that sit among a calm enclave of trees and local wildlife, its East Cemetery well-known as Karl Marx’s final resting place, as well as other prominent figures, while its West Cemetery boasts incredible architectural features and can only be visited by guided tour. Another must for Fantastic Beasts fans is to book onto the Fantastic Beasts - Where to Find Them in London tour, run by London Guided Walks, which takes you to “explore how these fantastic beasts are entwined in our Muggle world”.

Outside of London, Lacock Abbey, found in the pretty Cotswolds village of Lacock, was used to portray Hogwarts. Like Hogwarts, Lacock Abbey was built with a blend of quirky architectural styles. This former nunnery is a fascinating site, with its medieval rooms and cloister court, plus close by is the Fox Talbot Museum, that records the achievements of former Lacock resident William Henry Fox Talbot, a big name in the invention of photography.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was also filmed in the same studio as the Harry Potter series, where you can visit Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. This unique behind-the-scenes experience immerses you into the world of filmmaking and features authentic sets, props and costumes from the most successful film series of all time. The first film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise was also filmed in the north-west England city of Liverpool using locations such as St George's Hall, with its spectacular tunnel-vaulted ceiling and gorgeous mosaic floor, and the magnificent Cunard Building (now home to the British Music Experience).

 

Mary Poppins Returns – release date: 21 December

It's been 53 years since the original Mary Poppins popped onto our screens with her magical bag and flying umbrella. And, this year, she's back – played by Emily Blunt – to visit the grown-up Banks children in this Disney musical sequel, which takes the action forward to London in 1935. Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke (who starred in the original film) also feature in the cast. All the original movie was filmed at California’s Burbank Studios, but this time around, iconic London sites were used as filming locations.

Perhaps the most recognisable is St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most impressive examples of cathedral architecture in the country and not to be missed. Another filming location was by Buckingham Palace – its magnificent state rooms are open to visitors for ten weeks each summer –  and outside the Bank of England. While this isn’t open to tours, check out its fascinating Bank of England Museum, which is. And, once you’ve seen the film at the end of this year, you can visit all of these filming locations and get some behind-the-scenes stories on a new Brit Movies Mary Poppins tour, launching in 2019.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody – release date: 28 October 2018

Fans of rock band Queen will love this film coming out in autumn this year, which tells the tale of their meteoric rise and revolutionary sound, up until their appearance at Live Aid in 1985, as well as touching on the life of their extraordinary frontman Freddie Mercury.

Although the We Will Rock You musical based on Queen’s epic songs isn’t currently touring the UK, there are a few rock tours that Queen fans can embark on to get their fix of Freddie and the band. London Rock Tours runs a half-day tour in the capital that’s fully focused on Queen, taking you to the places where they were formed, recorded and lived. You’ll visit the sites and locations that played a significant part in the band’s history, as well as where some of their videos were shot and the site of the last-ever Queen performance.

Alternative walking tours that include Queen sites along with other historic sites of some of Britain’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll bands, include Rock Walk and Classic Rock Legends tour. You can also walk to Freddie Mercury’s final home, Garden Lodge Mansion in the upmarket neighbourhood of Kensington. Although it remains a private home you can read some of the letters that people have written in memory of Freddie and posted on the wall.

London’s hot shopping spots

London is one of the best shopping destinations in the world; its iconic department stores, retailers ranging from luxury to high-street to vintage to the downright quirky, plus its abundance of independent stores, food traders and drinks emporiums have always been crowd-pleasers. Never a city to stay still, the capital’s shopping scene continues to evolve, with boosts to its major shopping hubs happening right now and over the next couple of years. And the beauty of London is that there are still smaller shopping havens to discover along with the big guys.

 

The Big

West London

Already officially open, the huge shopping destination that is Westfield London has boosted its shopping and entertainment capabilities by another colossal 740,000 square feet/68,748 square metres! Many new shops and restaurants are already welcoming customers, but the openings will continue into the autumn. New stores include the ever-popular Primark, Heal’s, Boden, Space NK, Adidas and H&M, which also boasts the first-ever in-store H&M nail bar, in partnership with Go Gorgeous London. Also new to Westfield is sister company to Zara, Stradivarius, with its huge range of fashion choices for young women.

 

North London

Like it predecessors in Shoreditch, east London and Croydon, south London, Boxpark will be popping up in Wembley at the end of this year. Featuring its signature black and white look – although housed in a permanent building rather than shipping containers – this will be a food lovers’ shopping heaven; you’ll find some of the best independent and established food traders from across London, and around the world here, and look out for pop-up specials along the way. Boxpark Wembley will also be hosting more than 200 events throughout the year (large-scale events will find a home at its 2,000-capacity arena), turning it into both a cultural and foodie destination.

Just before then, autumn 2018 will see the unveiling of a monumental new shopping experience in the capital. A collection of warehouses of a former Victorian coal store has been reworked into an incredible architectural feat to create the retail destination Coal Drops Yard. Top names that have announced they will open there include Paul Smith, Lost Property of London, Cheaney, Sweaty Betty, Cubitts, Space NK, Manifesto as well as Tom Dixon; the design brand will not only open a flagship store, but a restaurant and café too.

 

South London

Battersea Power Station will reopen as a retail and leisure destination in 2020, creating the third largest retail destination in central London. Think high-end and contemporary shopping experiences in a jaw-droppingly awesome location. International brands will be stocked in stores throughout the Power Station’s two historic turbine halls; Turbine Hall A – a gorgeous Art Deco creation built in the 1930s – will house the Premium Collection, while contemporary, cutting-edge brands will find their home in Turbine Hall B, a building completed in the 1950s.

 

Discover these secret shopping neighbourhoods

Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank

Just behind the South Bank is hidden treasure Gabriel’s Wharf, a cornucopia of independent shops, bars and restaurants. International contemporary style and handmade designs dominate the lines; think colourful and creative knitwear, such as that available at Joanne Plumb, where each garment is individually handmade. You’ll also find a superb collection of accessories shops in the wharf; Studio Hop creates fun and chic contemporary designs, while the team at Vendula London produces distinctive accessories with a funky twist. Shopping at Gabriel’s Wharf means discovering something unique to take home – this is not about high-street finds.

 

Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden

Turn down one of the ‘dials’ of Covent Garden’s Seven Dials neighbourhood, and find yourself in the secret, multi-coloured courtyard that is Neal’s Yard. Logically it’s home to the well-known organic skincare products from Neal’s Yard Remedies and just around the corner you can buy delicious British cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy. But it’s also the place to stock up on sumptuous Sicilian delicacies at deli and wine bar Casanova & Daughters, as well as have your hair and nails done at the brilliantly named Hair by Fairy. An ‘English coffee house’, Jacob the Angel, has recently opened in the yard, created by the people behind its neighbouring restaurant The Barbary. Jacob the Angel is a blessing for those with a sweet tooth – fill up on its treats such as mini coconut cream pies and peanut butter blondies. 

 

Connaught Village, Hyde Park

A short stroll from Hyde Park is the luxury retail quarter of the Hyde Park Estate, Connaught Village, a shopping retreat of independent retailers that line the Georgian streets with their pretty pastel-coloured shop fronts. It’s here you can buy gorgeous luxury products, whether you’re looking for fine wine, eye-catching fashion or art. Fashionistas will love the selection of high-end, unique women’s clothes stores; blending culture with fashion, Kokoro London designs its ready-to-wear collection in London – in collaboration with internationally renowned artists – and produces them in Japan using luxury fabrics and traditional printing techniques. Looking to pick up a piece designed by a rising star of the fashion world? Check out The Place London for Women, where you’ll find exquisite printed fabrics from British print designer Alice Archer, flawless accessories from Diana Broussard and elegant products from fragrance designer Azzi Glasser.

 

Camden Passage, Islington: Boasting a treasure trove of shops and stalls dedicated to vintage clothes, antique stores, retro chic and cute cafés, Camden Passage is a 17th-century, cobblestoned passageway close to Angel Underground station (and not part of Camden Market!). It’s a fantastic place to find something out of the ordinary; vintage vinyl and classic comics at Atomic, antique and vintage porcelain at Caroline Carrier, art nouveau and art deco jewellery at Esme but also contemporary boutiques such as ladies clothing store Victoria Beau and independent concept store S120.

 

Marylebone High Street

Just to the back of the shopping frenzy that is Oxford Street is the retail paradise of Marylebone High Street. As it’s a little off the beaten track it means it’s quieter yet has bags of character and fabulous shopping. High-end boutiques, such as Matches Fashion, LK Bennet and Comptoir des Cotonniers are neighbours of trendy homeware store Skandium, as well as the only retail store for buttons in the capital, The Button Queen, classic furniture designs at The Conran Shop, artisanal Belgian chocolate at Pierre Marcolini and the wonderful independent bookstore, Daunt Books. Turn the corner onto Chiltern Street and buy from the myriad of beauty products found at the 200-year old, fantastically stocked pharmacy John Bell & Croyden. Nearby Moxon Street is where to go for foodie treats – cheesemonger La Fromagerie, butcher’s The Ginger Pig and Rococo Chocolate all have a home here.

 

Redchurch Street, Shoreditch

Chic boutiques sit side by side with vintage shops and all manner of independent stores at Redchurch Street in central Shoreditch, located just around the corner from Shoreditch High Street. Check out Labour & Wait and Hostem for cutting-edge menswear, and Nudie Jeans for all things denim. Stock up on cosmetics from Aesop and A.P.C or shops for contemporary interior luxuries at stores Monologue and Klaus Haapaniemi & Co.

Spotlight On – East London

Pulsating with a dynamic vibe, east London is a hotbed of creativity across its neighbourhoods, many of which have been revitalised over the last few years. While cosmopolitan in its outlook, you can still find pockets of the unique Cockney charm, giving this region of the capital a diverse and spirited energy. We show you where to eat, sleep and play in trendy boroughs such as Hackney, up and coming south-east London neighbourhoods such as Peckham and well-established areas such as Shoreditch.

 

Where to… Eat?

Hackney

Yes, it’s about pizzas and beer, but Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick is top of its game with both. The pizzas are hand-rolled, stone-baked and come in an assortment of unique topping combinations (think more along the lines of Middle Eastern lamb or sweet potato with Stilton and walnuts rather than a Hawaiian) and the craft beer is brewed on site. You can book on a tasting tour of the microbrewery while here, or simply enjoy this innovative venue that’s completely upcycled – its bar, for example, is made from old railway sleepers. Plus, its location on the banks of the Hackney canal and DJ sets every Friday and Saturday nights always attracts a young, hip crowd.

From one independent kitchen and bar to another, Grow sits in an old sausage factory by the River Lea and is a sustainable and ethical business working closely with local artists, DJs and musicians. This summer its menu is by Slow Fire London, using British seasonal ingredients inspired by Middle Eastern flavours, sourced locally and sustainably. Don’t just come for the food though; Grow also runs free events, from open mic to art festivals, music from live jazz and blues to reggae.

On the more upmarket side, Hackney is also home to Forman’s Restaurant, a riverside eaterie that specialises in salmon and seafood – it’s run by Forman’s, one of the oldest and most famous producers of London cure-smoked salmon. You can also visit the onsite smokehouse to see how these delicacies are prepared, before tucking into a menu that features treats such as warm smoked eel fillets, poached turbot with scallops and smoked Scottish salmon and Cornish crab salad.

 

Peckham

Part of the creative and cultural destination that is Peckham Levels – a transformed seven empty levels of a multi-storey car park – is newcomer West Kitchen, bringing a slice of California to south-east London. It describes itself as a conscious kitchen – practicing minimal food waste and using seasonal ingredients from sustainable farmers – elements that sing through its menu that includes seabass ceviche and Ayurvedic kitchari. An added bonus is its all-day natural wine bar.  

At the heart of Peckham is the Peckham Refreshment Rooms, a pared-down style restaurant situated in a 1930s Art Deco block that always has a bustling atmosphere. Here you’ll find a menu of European treats, from aubergine parmigiana to bavette steak, brought together from small-batch and artisan producers.

Peckham Bazaar offers customers a menu of pan-Balkan mezze and grill, taking inspiration from across the Balkan region, using traditional recipes blended with indigenous ingredients, all cooked over a charcoal grill. Try dishes such as grilled rabbit with Cyprus potatoes, pork and lamb adana and braised and grilled cuttlefish with Greek orzo.

 

Shoreditch

Proving the Shoreditch scene is still attracting the cool chefs, Brat was opened earlier this year by ex-Kitty Fisher’s chef Tomos Parry, who has brought a bold blend of Welsh and Basque cuisine to east London. So how does that translate onto a menu? Gorgeous dishes such as Herdwick lamb, pork and laverbread salami, wild rabbit with blood sausage and beans, and whole turbots.

Another new kid that’s popped up in 2018 is the Vurger Company –  bringing a slice of vegan heaven to Shoreditch. Once a pop-up restaurant, this is the company’s first permanent site and one that was crowdfunded in less than 72 hours, such is its popularity. All its burgers are made from vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes – try its Tabasco Auberger, packed with aubergines, chickpeas and red onion – and there’s must-try vegan versions of mac ‘n’ cheese and milkshakes.

You can’t go wrong with a well-established eaterie in Shoreditch; Lyle’s is an innovative British restaurant with a passion for using British produce on its menus but, being at the forefront of the restaurant scene, it also brings the talents of international chefs to its kitchens during its Guest Series. Seasonal produce is also a key focus for the restaurant – come September, for example, there’ll be a focus on game dishes.

 

Where to… Sleep?

Hackney

Located in an old post office – and interestingly still run by the same family who used to run the aforementioned post office – the Avo Boutique Hotel is cosy and chic with varied décor in each room, and it’s just a five-minute walk from Dalston Overground station. While there’s plenty to see and do in the area, if you fancy just staying in for the evening you can take advantage of its comprehensive DVD and games library. 

Looking for a cool place to stay that won’t put too much strain on your budget? Kip, which has a new Hackney Central location, is all about affordable, stylish accommodation. Yes, it’s unpretentious and practical in its style, but you’ll find every type of room spec here, from single, twin, douples and studio rooms to group rooms, family rooms and even a penthouse suite.

 

Peckham

Located in a building dating back to 1878, the Victoria Inn is a boutique hotel and modern gastropub in the heart of Peckham. All 15 rooms are individually designed and range in size from single occupancy to space for a family of four. Then pop downstairs to the gastropub to sample one of its ten locally sourced beers and ciders and its British seasonal menu. 

Describing itself as offering ‘simple, elegant, affordable rooms with a lick of Africa cool inspired by the vibrant multiculturalism of our very special neighbourhood', the Peckham Rooms Hotel is just five minutes’ walk from the neighbourhood’s high street. This independent boutique hotel is run by a family local to the area – great to ask for recommendations of all the places to visit locally and further afield.

And it might be a little further out in Camberwell, although only 20 minutes’ walk from Peckham, but the Church Street Hotel is a quirky treat in south-east London, rocking a Spanish Americana vibe. Hand-painted Mexican tiles adorn its rooms and you can enjoy a drink in either its Havana lounge and Communion Bar.

 

Shoreditch

The Curtain – a six-storey hotel and members’ club by hospitality guru Michael Achenbaum – opened in the area just last summer and remains hot property. Guests can check out the rooftop pool, screening room and spa, plus it’s the first London outpost of soul-food specialist Red Rooster from Michelin-starred Marcus Samuelsoon. Expect classic décor from this trendy Shoreditch property – think exposed brick walls, specially commissioned artwork and hardwood flooring. And its seriously chic bar Green Room opened in May 2018, making The Curtain a destination to see and be seen.

Nobu Shoreditch is another relative newcomer to the Shoreditch scene, opening last year and being the first Nobu hotel in London. Contemporary and elegant, its style is inspired by Japanese architecture and décor as well as east London industrial style. Head to its fantastically cavernous restaurant for Japanese delicacies such as oven-roasted lobster with Hakaido scallops or the exclusive cilantro aioli and Ikura.

Another property to look out for over the coming months is a Shoreditch outpost of Mama Shelter. The French brand is said to be taking over the current RE Hotel; word on the street is that, like other properties in the group, it will be tech-led and offer plenty of social activities for guests, designer bedrooms and open social spaces.

 

Where to… Play?

Hackney

One legacy from the borough’s industrial past is the building space now used by street artists; just wandering around the area you’ll see works from legendary names such as Banksy and Stik Man. Plus, as the area attracts a youthful, party crowd, the nightlife is eclectic, so you’ll find everything from traditional-style pubs, pop-up cocktail bars, late-night drinking establishments and diverse clubs to enjoy. One cool east London bar is The Elephant’s Head – originally serving customers back in the 1890s, it’s been restored and reopened as a must-visit Hackney bar but one that maintains its old-school charm.

Hackney is a haven for markets; as well as browsing the stalls, independent shops and cafés of Broadway Market, which has been running since the 1890s, head a little off the beaten track to the newly opened Mare Street Market. A much more chilled-out vibe here, you can wander this cobbled street and enjoy the craft breweries, cafés, pop-up clothing stores, vinyl record shop and the sounds from the market’s own radio show; TV chef Gizzi Erskine is also opening her first restaurant here soon, The Dining Room.

Time for a spot of culture? Along from Mare Street market is the Hackney Empire, the East End theatre associated with pioneering and avant-garde theatre and comedy. And for something that’s going to get everyone talking, head to the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities situated in a small Hackney basement. It displays everything that its founder has found fascinating, whether it’s rare or commonplace, from unusual finds from the world of nature to pop art prints and sketches from prison inmates.

 

Peckham

Peckham is creating a name for itself as a hotbed of street artist talent; make sure you keep a look out as you explore the area for its emerging graffiti art scene. And discover diverse creative art events, music, film, comedy and theatre at the brilliant CLF Art Café, housed in a multi-warehouse space, the Bussey Building, which is fast-becoming one of the go-to places for London’s cool crowd and cultural aficionados.

You’ll find brilliant prices for blockbuster films at Peckhamplex, an independent multiplex cinema that shows a range of new releases, with tickets costing a value £4.99 all day every day, and it’s also the place to catch works by independent film-makers as well as art exhibitions.

Right next door is Peckham Levels, a multi-purpose, artistic space created in a multi-storey car park that has also evolved into a foodie and nightlife destination. Head to the top-floor bar Frank’s Café for gorgeous panoramic views of the capital’s skyline while you enjoy a drink or two on summer evenings. Or spend an evening over craft beers at the Brick Brewery, located under Peckham Rye train station’s railway arches, where you can sample brews straight from the source in its Tap Room.

Fancy stepping back in time? Peckham’s Four Quarters is London’s first arcade bar – test your retro game skills on 15 original arcade games dating back to the 1980s, then dance the night away at its basement cocktail bar and club, The Confession Box.

 

Shoreditch

Long a hotbed of emerging talent and hub for creative minds, Shoreditch continues to be at the forefront of critically acclaimed contemporary culture. There are a number of galleries worth visiting, such as Kate McGarry gallery, where you’ll find video artists and performance fine art among its works and the Jealous gallery, where you can buy prints from well-known artists and photographers such as David Shrigley and Russell Marshall.

Theatre-goes looking to expand their repertoire should try out the New Shoreditch Theatre, which features artists from all creative backgrounds, whether that’s plays, live music or art, film screenings and installation work. And a fantastic line-up of gigs take place at independent music shop Rough Trade East, which also offers a sublime collection of music (plus plenty of choice for vinyl addicts).

New bars and clubs continue to open in the area, such as Parisian-style wine bar and bistro Leroy, with its 100-bin wine list and their own Vermouth behind the counter. Quirky takes on classic cocktails are found at The Office on Kingsland Road, which opened at the end of May, and try out the fascinating array of unusual spirits, such as Portuguese fig fire water and Umoshi plum wine, on offer at the Smoking Goat, which opened at the end of 2017.

To blow the cobwebs away after a night out in Shoreditch, there’s probably nowhere more pleasurable than a stroll through the iconic Columbia Road Flower Market, just over a ten-minute walk away. The blooms are heart-lifting and the independent shops surrounding it are a joy to explore; vintage-clothes shops sit alongside small art galleries and antique stores and you can always find a caffeine hit at one of the cute cafés along the way. More great shopping can be found at Shoreditch’s Boxpark – the former shipping container that’s become a pop-up mall, a haven of independent shops, global names and restaurants.

TASTE June 2018

TREND: Pop up food

For its fifth and biggest year this summer, Carnaby Street Eat is returning this year with over 30 food stalls and trucks in the heart of London’s West End on 11 July. The free-entry street food festival will showcase some of London’s most diverse restaurants with a focus on the variety of global cuisines available and exclusive dishes. Another temporary delight, HipChips has launched a pop-up in One New Change and will be serving hand crafted heritage potato crisps alongside a menu of premium sweet and savoury dips. They will be open every Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 3pm throughout the summer months.

 

London

The all-embracing vegan trend continues to rise as three vegan newcomers are in London’s spotlight this summer. Following the hugely successful launch of the Covent Garden site in February, the plant-based phenomenon by Chloe will open its second London restaurant this summer in Tower Bridge. The chef-driven vegan menu features locally sourced ingredients in their most natural form to create hearty, nourishing meals made from whole ingredients that can have a positive impact on the overall mind, body and health. As part of W London Hotel's Dining Series, a new fully vegan menu that masterfully showcases just how flavourful and versatile vegan food can be, has been unveiled at W London in Leicester Square by Ravinder Bhogal. This residency is available to book until the end of June 2018, so grab a spot while you still can. Purezza (purity) was the first vegan pizzeria in the UK when it launched in Brighton in 2015, and plant-lovers will be pleased to know that last month they launched a new restaurant in Camden. Their aim is simple: to make their plant based menu superior to the traditional alternatives.

Top chef Mark Sargeant has bought modern British dining to his new venture at the iconic Tower of London with the launch last month of Sargeant's Mess, in collaboration with independent hospitality group, CH&Co and Historic Royal Palaces. Using ingredients from local producers, the restaurant has an extensive outdoor terrace with impressive views across the river and a dedicated bar serving prosecco on tap, frozen cocktails and beer slushies makes it the perfect alfresco spot for this summer. 

 

South West England

Roth Bar & Grill, Somerset, will be joining over 1,000 farms across the UK in Open Farm Sunday on 10 June: an annual initiative celebrating the diversity of British farming and the many ways in which the countryside can be farmed, foraged and maintained. Expect tractor and trailer rides across the farm, butchery demonstrations and farm produce samples such as Durslade Farm cider. With its own working farm and kitchen garden supplying the restaurant, the farmhouse offers a slice of culture in the countryside with its on-site art gallery and landscape gardens.

Gin lovers rejoice as the UK's biggest Gin Festival Tour arrives in Salisbury on 23 June. Based in Malthouse Lane, The Great British Gin Festival features over 100 different gins from around the world alongside cocktail demonstrations, talks and presentations, trade stands and even a virtual reality gin distillery.

 

South East England

The new official pub tour of Oxford offers a great way to discover a fine range of medieval and more recent inns and hostelries, providing a glimpse of history, and finishing with a lovely, cold pint. Led by a qualified guide with an intimate knowledge of the city (and the interior of many of its pubs), the tours are 1.5 hours long and start at 7pm.

 

East Midlands

Fischer’s Baslow Hall has launched a brand new foraging dining experience in Derbyshire, led by one of the UK’s top foraging and wild food experts, James Wood. Guests will have the chance to experience the abundance of wild ingredients on offer in the area: from flowers tasting of pineapple, to leaves tasting of aniseed. There will be a whole morning of foraging will be followed by a three-course lunch inspired by the morning’s bountiful harvest, showcasing truly local, seasonal and fresh wild ingredients at their best. The next available date will be 10 October.

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

The latest addition to the Chop House family has opened in Edinburgh’s Bruntsfield. Serving the best British beef, dry-aged and butchered in-house, Chop House offers a unique casual dining experience focused on steak and cocktails. Renowned for a sociable style of dining, Chop House presents large cuts of beef, sharing starters and enticing side dishes designed to be enjoyed by the whole table. The custom-made marble bar on the ground floor is the perfect spot to soak up the bustling atmosphere and views of Bruntsfield Links. A fantastic selection of drinks includes a carefully-curated wine list, inventive cocktails and locally-sourced beers including Chop House’s own beer brewed in partnership with Drygate Brewery.

 

The Fishmarket is a new seafood venture from Ondine’s Chef Patron, Roy Brett and Gary Welch, owner of Welch Fishmongers. Situated on Newhaven Harbour where boats have landed fish since the 16th century, the refurbishment of the original fish market building has taken over a year and extensive investment. There is both a traditional fish and chip counter and a 50-cover restaurant with a champagne bar where dishes on offer include Crispy Crab Claws from Scrabster and Grilled Tobermory Langoustines, Oysters and the Grand ‘Fruits of the Sea’.

 

Hawksmoor, one of UK’s best-known and most respected restaurants is coming to Scotland this summer with a new restaurant opening in Edinburgh in mid-July. Situated in the banking hall of the former Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters, the 170-cover restaurant and bar will celebrate the original features of the A listed ‘building of national importance’ and a rare example of late Art Deco Scottish architecture. The restaurant will also draw on the amazing produce the country has to offer and feature seafood from around the Scottish coast alongside its famous beef from grass-fed native breed cattle from both sides of the border.

 

AWARDS

Welsh and proud, Aber Falls Distillery, the first whisky distillery in North Wales in more than 100 years, has achieved five prestigious medals at the this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition – one of the spirits industry’s most respected competitions. The brand’s multiple successes include a Gold for its new Welsh Dry Gin, a Silver for its Orange Marmalade Gin, Violet and Salted Toffee Liqueurs, and a Bronze for its Dark Chocolate & Coffee Liqueur.

In 2018, Olive Magazine honoured Radnor Preserves, who are based in Caersws, Powys, as one of the top 10 finest artisan food producers in Britain. They have been judged as one of the best artisan marmalade producers in the world, and 2015 they won the Champion of Champion's Double Gold Prize at the World Marmalade Awards. Ingredients are locally sourced as far as possible, and all products are gluten free and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 

The Bull, Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey has won the Wales Pub of the Year at the National Pub and Bar Awards.

Spotlight on: Earl’s Court and Shepherd’s Bush

Seriously good bars and cool street markets, cutting-edge theatre and smart hotels; Earl’s Court and Shepherd’s Bush may be well-known enclaves of west London – international backpackers and short- and long-term visitors have been coming to these neighbourhoods for decades – yet these areas of west London have undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is gone, streets have smartened up and there are hidden gems to discover.

 

Where to…Eat

Shepherd’s Bush

Mustard is a treasure on Shepherd’s Bush Road; a cool neighbourhood diner with sassy décor, offering up a brasserie-style menu. Its ‘Green Menu’ is packed with delicious vegetarian options and its daytime and evening menus have a considerable collection of innovative dishes all utilising British produce.

Attracting a young, hip crowd but still maintaining a traditional British pub feel is no mean feat – yet The Defector’s Weld does it with aplomb. It’s a great pub to visit anytime, but especially at the weekend; Sundays are all about its ‘Roasts and Records’, winding down after its busy Friday and Saturday nights hosting eclectic DJ performances.

Bring your appetite and head to Bush Hall Dining Rooms for a cool diner-style restaurant serving hearty comfort food and all-day weekend breakfasts. There’s also a generous cocktail list and, if you’re going to a gig at the neighbouring Bush Hall, you receive a 10% discount on your meal.

Looking for fine dining? Find it at Shikumen, located at the Dorsett Hotel, for first-class Chinese cuisine that uses British produce prepared with traditional Asian flavours and cooking styles.

Coming soon: A new restaurant Maple is set to open at Westfield London in summer 2018.

 

Earl’s Court

The Prince is something special – one street transformed until the end of the summer into an avenue of four restaurants, three bars and an English country garden (retractable roof comes as standard), all of which is less than ten minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court Underground. Food ranges from top-quality burgers and Thai canteen-style cuisine to top-notch fried chicken and bao and yakitori grill, while a deck connects it all together with the revitalised Prince of Wales pub at its heart – and possibly makes it London’s largest beer garden!

Serving up satisfyingly British, giant-scale Sunday lunches as well as everyone’s favourite, the bottomless Saturday brunch, mean The Lillie Langtry and its divine Victorian cocktail lounge means it’s always an attractive venue to visit to quench thirst and satiate hunger. The owners have also launched an innovative project called Brush and Bubbles where people can come together, whatever their artistic ability, to chat and paint while enjoying a glass of bubbly.

The Pembroke is as quintessential a British gastropub as it gets. Feast on delicious meals in the intimate dining room of this historic building, enjoy drinks in its lively downstairs bar or relax on comfy sofas and snug armchairs in its upstairs lounge bar. Head to its roof garden when the sun’s shining and come back on a Sunday when it hosts its ‘Hangover Club’ for Bloody Marys, feel-good brunches and Sunday roasts.

The Evan & Peel Detective Agency is one of the places to spend an evening in Earl’s Court; this speakeasy style bar promises a distinctly memorable evening. Book an ‘appointment’ online to get in. You’ll then be taken into a small basement office to discuss your eating and drinking needs. Huge amounts of fun and an evening to message home about.

 

Where to…Stay

Shepherd’s Bush

K West Hotel & Spa may be a four-star haven but it also prides itself on its cutting-edge style and ambience. And that’s down to its location within former recording studios where legends such as The Kinks and Bob Marley laid down tracks. Its Studio Bar is all chic furnishings and chandeliers, playing host to a cool urban crowd at the weekends. And its spa features London’s first ‘snow paradise’; chilled to -15C, a cabin has captured the feel of a snow drift designed to complement the spa’s hot-cold therapy, alternating between steam and ice environments.

Another four-star option in Shepherd’s Bush is the Dorsett Hotel, which is conveniently located for a trip to the nearby shopping paradise that is Westfield London shopping mall. Behind the historic building façade lies a distinctly modern design, destination bar and restaurants, and a chance to rejuvenate at its Spa Mika, which overlooks Shepherd’s Bush Green for some added tranquillity. And, if you’re looking for a boutique-style property that’s literally right next door to Westfield, check in to W12 Rooms, where bedroom décor is vintage-inspired.

 

Earl's Court

Look beyond backpacker hostels and you’ll find an assortment of hotels to suit all budgets. Mere minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court Underground is the colourful, contemporary style of the Hotel Indigo Kensington secreted within a luxury Victorian townhouse. It’s a bright and comfortable accommodation option with its own Italian restaurant on site – Theo’s Simple Italian – if you like what you eat you can book on to one of its regular Italian cuisine masterclasses. Steps away from here is the Henley House Hotel, another townhouse property that overlooks a picturesque residential square and combines its classical features with modern décor. Art is a key element the property and you’ll find specially commissioned photographic prints in the guestrooms as well as artwork in its garden conservatory. Boutique hotel Twenty Nevern Square is a real find three minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court station; this four-star accommodation has individually designed rooms influenced by a range of international styles; think Egyptian sleigh beds and hand-carved four-poster beds.

 

Where to…Play

Shepherd’s Bush

Quite simply, you’ve arrived in shopping heaven; Shepherd’s Bush is home to Westfield London shopping centre, a heady combination of high-street and luxury stores, beauty bars and entertainment. It’s a great place to spend even an entire day, particularly if you’re travelling with kids; you can book them into KidZania – an indoor city for kids between 4-14, with 60 real-life activities for them to participate in while you treat yourself to some retail therapy. Alternatively, head down to the newest All Star Lanes venue at Westfield London – aside from the ten bowling lanes, keep yourself amused for hours in its karaoke booths and three Art Deco-style bars.

For altogether different type of shopping experience, but one that’s equally memorable, head to Shepherd’s Bush Market. It specialises in fresh food and fabrics and is a proper west London treat; established more than 100 years ago, it’s a much-loved fixture in the neighbourhood. An extension to the market opened earlier this year, the Old Laundry Yard, an unmissable mix of food stalls, ranging from Venezuelan street food to Nigerian barbecue, and a creative community space.

There’s more to Shepherd’s Bush than shopping; catch up with culture here too. Book tickets to a gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which has hosted some of the world’s most inspirational artists, from David Bowie to Adele, Amy Winehouse to Muse, as well as being a hotspot for talented newcomers. And, just ten minutes’ walk from Shepherd’s Bush Underground station, is the Bush Theatre; thought-provoking performances take place across its two theatre spaces and it’s become renowned as a home to showcase original work – be the first to see plays penned by the world of theatre’s newest and most exciting writers. 

 

Earl’s Court

When you’re in Earl’s Court you’re only a 20-minute walk from some of the capital’s greatest museums, such as the Natural History Museum, the V&A and the Science Museum. Yet take an even shorter stroll to another two museums to have on your must-visit list. First is the Design Museum, which moved to the area less than 18 months ago from its east London location, and is 2018 European Museum of the Year. Come for inspirational exhibitions or to join a specialist workshop in design practice. Right next door is the picturesque Holland Park and its 55 acres of gardens and woodland and Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens to explore. Second on the list should be an institution that describes itself as ‘a private palace of art’…and that’s a pretty accurate description of the Leighton House Museum, the former home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. He curated a glorious collection of art that encompasses a mesmerising Arab Hall with a golden dome, beautifully detailed mosaics and paintings by Lord Leighton himself, all in various stages of completion.

Within half an hour’s stroll from Earl’s Court you can explore some of the capital’s greatest and most fascinating sights. Kensington Palace, home to both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, is where royal history comes to life – visit its unmissable exhibitions, which currently comprise Diana: Her Fashion Story and Victoria Revealed. And for a fascinating afternoon out, take a stroll around Brompton Cemetery. One of London’s seven historic cemeteries, it’s here you’ll discover the stories of the thousands of people buried here among historical monuments, woodland, stoned arcades and catacombs.

8 reasons to visit Nine Elms, London’s newest district

Welcome to the capital’s newest neighbourhood. Stretching between the south London districts of Battersea and Vauxhall, a vast area of the South Bank of the River Thames is undergoing a revolutionary transformation as one of Europe’s largest regeneration programmes. Called Nine Elms – simply after a row of trees that once bordered the road – a booming cultural, leisure, residential and business quarter is rapidly developing alongside the River Thames. At its heart stand some of London’s most iconic sights – the Grade II-listed landmark Battersea Power Station, New Covent Garden Market (the largest fresh produce market in the country) and the ultra-modern new US Embassy. There’s so much planned for this unique London quarter that it’s set to become a must-see destination on any trip to the city; here’s why.

 

1. A lively food quarter

A new food district is gradually emerging during the first phase of regeneration. Named Circus West Village, both British and international restaurants with riverside views and outdoor terraces have already claimed their spots here. Enjoy a spot of breakfast or lunch created from fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced produce at The CoffeeWorks Project. Dine at the latest outpost of oyster and shellfish specialists the Wright Brothers, where the menu uses ingredients brought in to their business in London’s famous Billingsgate Fish Market. If you’re more in the mood for huge bowls of ramen, stacks of gyoza and a wide selection of Japanese whiskies and sake, try out Tonkotsu. Craving Italian cuisine? Head to Fiume for classic Italian food from Calabria, created by one of the world’s top Italian chefs, Francesco Mazzei.

In fact, top chefs from around the world are fast-taking notice of the area as a destination to do business in; legendary Indian chef Vishnu Natarajan has chosen Nine Elms to launch his first overseas restaurant, Chokhi Dhani London.

 

2.  A cool bar scene

Cocktails while enjoying views over the impressive colossus that is Battersea Power Station? Yes please! The bar scene at Nine Elms is already picking up pace; Vagabond, an independent wine shop and bar, has opened in the area, offering more than 100 wines by the glass, as well as a seasonal food menu and wide range of craft beers… and it’s pièce de résistance is a fully operational winery on site, should you want to explore the intricacies of the wine-making process. Elsewhere on the banks of the Thames is the Nine Elms Tavern, a stylish bar where interior décor combines full-length glass panels – so great views all round – with upcycled materials for furnishings. And head to the river terrace of No.29 Power Station West, a relaxed neighbourhood eaterie and bar for even more of those glorious views.

 

3. A contemporary shopping experience

With the area very much being developed as a leisure and cultural destination, as well as a residential and business district, get ready for some special attractions to launch. Battersea Power Station will reopen as a retail and leisure destination in 2020, creating the third largest retail destination in central London. Think high-end and contemporary shopping experiences in a jaw-droppingly awesome location. International brands will be stocked in stores throughout the Power Station’s two historic turbine halls; Turbine Hall A – a gorgeous Art Deco creation built in the 1930s – will house the Premium Collection, while contemporary, cutting-edge brands will find their home in Turbine Hall B, a building completed in the 1950s. And, when you’ve finished this state-of-the-art shopping experience, you’ll also be able to tour intriguing elements of the Power Station itself; ride the chimney lift for incredible London views and visit the fascinating A and B Control Rooms of the former power station.

 

4. Green space galore

London is world famous for its array of parks and green spaces – the Mayor of London wants to make it the first National Park City, with a target of making half the city green by 2050 – and Nine Elms is shaping up to be one of the greenest districts in London. Plans for Nine Elms Park include the creation of a green corridor extending through the district from Battersea Power Station to Vauxhall Cross, with open spaces, public squares and gardens, which, in the future, will also be used for outdoor events and attractions. It will offer a new pedestrian and cycle route through the centre of Nine Elms and will connect to the Thames River Path, which will eventually run the whole length of Nine Elms and be a focal point for arts and culture.

 

5. Cultural attractions

You can visit Nine Elms now for unique cultural experiences. Here lies a special National Trust site, one of only three National Trust properties in central London; 575 Wandsworth Road. The Georgian terraced house belonged to Kenyan poet, philosopher and novelist Khadambi Asalache, who turned his home into a work of art – the entire house is adorned in hand-carved, hand-painted woodwork. This is a hot ticket too; visitor numbers are limited to just 2,000 a year and tours need to be pre-arranged.

Looking for a contemporary art fix? The Hayward Gallery – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – will bring London’s largest free contemporary arts festival, Art Night, to Nine Elms, Battersea and Vauxhall this July, with an art trail running along the Thames in iconic and off-the-beaten-track venues. Or check out exhibitions of work from Damien Hirst’s art collection at the Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall.  A good dose of culture can also be found along at the Battersea Arts Centre – its programme is packed with avant-garde theatre, creative sessions, cutting-edge comedy and spoken word.

 

6. The great outdoors

The area already has outdoor space to enjoy. Visit the New Covent Garden Market for a spectacle of floral blooms that will take your breath away. Or enjoy outdoor escapades at Battersea Park, from Go Ape treetop adventures to boating on the lake, walks in the pretty gardens to an entertaining afternoon at its Children’s Zoo.

 

7. Interesting places to stay

While Nine Elms is very much within easy reach of central London, the Battersea and Vauxhall area boast a full range of accommodation options.

Already located on the banks of the Thames in Battersea is eco-friendly, five-star boutique Hotel Rafayel, that takes its eco-friendly policies seriously. Here you’ll find a hotel-wide no plastics policy, recycled leather furnishings, energy efficiency initiatives and rainwater harvesting technology, while its spa and restaurants use organic produce. Panoramic views come as standard at the four-star Crowne Plaza London Battersea, which offers a serene, adults-only spa. Alternatively, there are some great nearby budget-friendly options, such as the Holiday Inn Express London Vauxhall Nine Elms.

 

8. Accessibility

With so many new residents, workers and visitors expected to the area, the London Underground’s Northern Line is undergoing an extension, which will provide two new tube stops, at Nine Elms on Wandsworth Road and another at Battersea Power station. The new stations are due to be up and running by 2020.

Until then, the area is a short ten to 15-minute walk from the well-connected Queenstown Road, Battersea Park, Vauxhall and Victoria train stations. The area is also served frequently by buses and the MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus service stops at a new state-of-the-art pier that has opened at the foot of the Power Station, a 15-minute journey to Embankment Pier for the West End or 20 minutes into the City.

Victoria 200

Prince Harry is days away from his wedding and a new little prince was born just last month to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – 2018 has, so far, shone a spotlight on all things royal. And, as we look ahead into the next 12 months it looks set to continue, with 2019 the year we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of William and Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother – Queen Victoria. The second-longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Victoria’s legacy continues to thrive and there are some extraordinary sites to visit to mark this special anniversary.

 

If you’re in London…

A trip to Kensington Palace is a must. Princess Victoria was born here on 24 May 1819 and the palace was her childhood home (it’s also now the London residence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). Explore the dazzling exhibition Victoria Revealed that opened earlier this year and will run until January 2020. Packed with intimate accounts of her intriguing reign, visitors will gain insights into her and Prince Albert’s characters, and can admire personal objects such as letters and journals. Stars of the show include tiaras from the collection of the Dukes of Fife, descendants of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Louise, such as her Emerald and Diamond Parure (tiara, necklace, earrings and brooch), a gift commissioned by Prince Albert.

Just a short stroll from the palace is the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens – located directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall, an exquisitely ornate monument that commemorates the death of Prince Albert. Follow a visit with an afternoon at the nearby V&A Museum – named after Victoria & Albert – the world’s largest museum of decorative art and where you’ll discover photographs of Victoria in its collections.

If you’re visiting Buckingham Palace – Victoria was the first monarch to rule from here – you’ll spot the resplendent Queen Victoria Memorial right in front. Comprising the magnificent white marble monument of Victoria that was built to commemorate her death in 1901, it’s also home to the Memorial Gardens and the Dominion Gates (Canada Gate, Australia Gate and South and West Africa Gates).

Famous London landmarks such as Westminster Abbey and St James Palace also have strong links to Queen Victoria; the former, as she was crowned there in 1830 and the latter, because it was where she married Prince Albert (although the public cannot visit inside the palace).

 

If you’re in Windsor, Berkshire…
Just an hour from London is Windsor Castle, where Queen Victoria resided for part of each year. Marvel at the splendid State Apartments within the walls of this largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, where you’ll discover thousands of objects and art collected during Queen Victoria’s reign. And both Victoria and Albert’s tombs are at rest in the private grounds of Windsor, at Frogmore House, in the Royal Mausoleum. There are rumours afoot that Queen Victoria’s tomb will be reopened to the public, although this has yet to be confirmed.

 

If you’re on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England…

A favourite holiday destination for Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their large family of nine children, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight – a 20-minute ferry ride from Portsmouth, which itself is two hours by train from London – is a must-visit for any fan of Victoriana. It’s quite the palatial holiday home and visitors can walk among the opulent state rooms to admire the remarkable collections from the British Empire, which, by Victoria’s death in 1901, stretched across nearly a quarter of the globe. You may also recognise Osborne House from the recent film Victoria and Abdul, starring Dame Judi Dench – it was used as a film location.

But it’s not just the lives of Victoria and Albert you’ll gain an insight into at Osborne House, but also the childhoods of the royal couple’s children, particularly in the impressive Swiss Cottage in the grounds of the house. And, next year, to mark the 200-year anniversary of Victoria’s birth, Osborne House will be hosting a special exhibition about both Victoria and Albert.

 

If you’re in Scotland…

Balmoral Castle remains the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family today – and was very much a favourite of Victoria and Albert’s. It was Albert who first brought his vision to the beautiful gardens here and visitors are welcome to tour Balmoral, usually between the end of March and end of July. Be sure to visit the spectacular Castle Ballroom and its fine works of art and artefacts. And imagining you are a royal yourself is well within your grasp as you can book to stay at the estate’s cottages, available when the Royal Family are not in residence.

The Highlands of Scotland also played an integral role in Victoria’s life; scenes in Victoria & Abdul were therefore filmed here, including the breathtaking landscapes of Glen Affric and Glenfeshie in the Cairngorms National Park. Queen Victoria was also known to have visited Ardverikie Estate as well as the magical Blair Castle. The area even has a Victorian Heritage Trail you can follow, taking in steam railways, country estates and distilleries.

London’s V&A is also opening a new outpost of the museum on 15 September in the city of Dundee, 1.5 hours from Edinburgh. Ultra-modern and sleek in design, the museum launches with the spectacular Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition, and will also showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.