Destination: England: London
California-born, London-based contributor Elena Bowes has lived in the British capital for decades but she can still get excited about the city’s vivacity. “I sometimes feel like I’ve barely scraped the surface of this place, which is why I love it,” she writes.
Families planning a trip should consider ordering Indagare Mapped Out: London an essential three-day itinerary that highlights what to do and see in the British capital with kids in easy-to-follow guides that include hotel, restaurant and shopping suggestions.
London Update: Spring 2013
Spring is a season of renewal in London, when days start getting longer and buds begin to brighten the city’s squares and gardens. New hotels, restaurants and cafés come online and some of the year’s most exciting theatrical and artistic shows debut. Our London-based contributor, Elena Bowes rounds up what not to miss during this spring in London, from Roy Lichtenstein at the Tate Modern to Dame Helen Mirren reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth II.
Check In - Value: La Suite West
The talented Anouska Hempel pioneered the designer boutique hotel (she’s the mastermind behind Amsterdam’s Dylan and London’s Blake’s). Her latest addition to the London hotel scene is another successful study of minimalist chic. The relatively low price point (rooms start at £156) reflects the somewhat random location: in Bayswater, just east of Notting Hill.
Eat: Big Night Out
Michelin starred chefs hailing from Catalonia to Hong Kong are coming to London this season. Most anticipated is the arrival of the Basque Country’s Elena Arzak, who, alongside her father Juan Mari Arzak, is opening the first international outpost of Arzak, called Ametsa in Belgravia’s Halkin Hotel. Eric Chavot who garnered two Michelin stars at The Capital is slated to open Brasserie Chavot for all meals in the Westbury Hotel off of Bond Street in late March (it’s already open for breakfast). And fans of molecular innovation should book at Bo London, the Mayfair sister to Hong Kong wunderkind restaurant Bo Innovation overseen by heavily tattooed chef Alvin Leung (self-taught and much-lauded).
Eat: Café Scene
New York’s Balthazar has landed across the pond in Covent Garden (the waiting list for a table can exceed a month, but the white-tiled boulangerie next door offers lovely sandwiches and homemade pastries to go). Another eye-grabbing patisserie to swing open its doors is the Café at the Café Royal Hotel, the brainchild of Evelyn Stern, the Argentine-born wife of the hotel’s architect Sir David Chipperfield. The elegant café has pretty marble counters and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto bustling Regent Street.
Eat: Neighborhood Spots
For a simple, mouthwatering bowl of soup and a hunk of homemade bread, try Notting Hill’s newcomer The Orchard, headed by Natasha Abraham, the ex-chef at the critically acclaimed River Café. Fans of this venerable London restaurant should also get Kitchen Memories, the new cookbook by Lucy Boyd, the daughter of the co-founder of River Café.
See a Performance
Just as Broadway is riddled with Hollywood stars these days, so are the London stages filled with famous names (blessedly many of whom had their start in the theater). Catch Dame Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth II; Kristin Scott Thomas and Rufus Sewell taking on Harold Pinter; and Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw in Peter and Alice, depicting the occasion when real-life Alice in Wonderland (Alice Liddell Hargreaves) met Peter Pan (Peter Llewellyn Davies). Read more about what not to miss on stage this season.
See Some Art
The avant-garde is in London’s spotlight this spring with many of the city’s most reputable galleries and museums emphasizing this game-changing genre of art. The Barbican studies four American modern masters influenced by the dada movement and the Tate Modern hosts a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein. The National Portrait Gallery takes on Man Ray while the Tate Britain looks into the lesser-known but highly impactful Kurt Schwitter. After a fair amount of Pop Art viewing, fans can study one of the era’s most famous pop stars, David Bowie, who will enjoy a retrospective at the Victoria & Albert. Read more about what not to miss on stage this season.
Take a Dance Class
Venerable hotel Claridge’s is offering monthly roaring ‘20s Jazz classes in its elegant Ballroom. London-based, flapper dance troupe The Bee’s Knees instruct guests (who have the option of adding sequined headbands, strings of pearls and elbow-length satin gloves to their attire) on everything from the bunny hop to the Josephine Baker. The debut class in February was such a hit that Claridge’s is considering extending the lessons beyond the scheduled May 13 end date. The next Master Class is scheduled for March 18.
Take the Train
Guests staying in the historic part of the St. Pancras Renaissance, the gothic hotel that sits above the Eurostar station, can wait in their room or the hotel’s bar until thirty minutes before departure. The hotel’s concierge or butler, who has been given security clearance, then escorts the guests with a trolley through Eurostar’s Fast Track and up a private elevator straight onto the platform. The service also works in reverse so if a guest is coming in from Brussels, Paris or Lyon, the St Pancras concierge can wait for him on the platform, ready to whisk him to his room.
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