For up to date information on what’s new, check out two great websites for the latest information: Just Opened London and the Culture Whisper. Time Out is always a great source for gallery, restaurant and theater listings.
The "hot ticket" in town is Exhibitionism the biggest exhibit on the Rolling Stones at the Saatchi. Nine theme filled galleries containing costumes, photography, instruments and more! Don't miss it!
They’ve become quite a sensation since the first Ottolenghi opened. The latest, Sesame, a cafe bar located in Covent Garden.
Newly opened with good reviews is restaurant Hoppers from the team behind Trishna and Gymkhana. What is a "Hopper" you may ask. It's a thin, bowl shaped pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. They will be served with seafood, veggies or meat.
Stay: Where to stay? With a slew of hot new hotels opening in the last few years it’s hard to decide. For buzzy and sceney I’d stay at Ian Schrager’s Edition Hotel, Andre Balzac’s Chiltern Firehouse or the new Ace Hotel further afield in East London’s Shoreditch. Then there’s the Beaumont in posh Mayfair, the Thompson groups Belgraves, in you guessed it Belgravia, and the new Hoxton in Holborn. Mondrian’s first hotel in London is smack on the Thames in Southbank-you can roll out of bed and be at the Tate Modern. But, as I am partial to the Firmdale Group, I’m staying at the newly opened Ham Yard. (There are two other properties nearby-the Haymarket and the Soho hotel.) All designed by Kit Kemp in her signature comfy, quirky, unique style, it’s modern English meets bold design!
Let’s talk about Ham Yard: This hotel really amps up the game for the Firmdale group, with a vintage 1050’s bowling alley, 100 plus screening room, rooftop terrace with great views over the west end, a Soholistic Spa and a lovely afternoon tea. Ham Yard Walkway links the hotel with 13 independent shops including My Cup of Tea, Fresobo Carioca for bathing suits, and Brummells of London. Plus there’s a Press Juice for your early morning health fix! Right in Soho, bordering Mayfair you couldn’t ask for a more central location.
Morning Meal: There’s no better way to start your day in London than at the Wolseley, a grand European cafe that’s bustling and glamorous all at the same time.
Morning: Head to the new Sackler Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid. The sister gallery to the original Serpentine (a 5 minute walk away) it’s the home of The Magazine Restaurant, with German chef Oliver Lange at its helm. (Open only for breakfast and lunch) It’s worth a visit just to see the striking architectural design. If you still need more art infusion, check out Newport Street Gallery owned by Damien Hirst showcasing the works of Jeff Koons (exhibit opens May 18.)
Stroll: If it’s a nice day why not take a walk in Kensington Gardens or neighboring Hyde Park, your there after all. Fun fact: most people, I for one, assume Kensington Gardens is part of Hyde Park. And while it does feel like a continuation of one park, technically it hasn’t been since 1728 when Queen Caroline divided the two spaces.
Play Tourist: Take the tube to London Bridge Station. (Or jump in a taxi) You can’t miss The Shard when exiting; the 87-story skyscraper is now Western Europe’s tallest building. Opened in February 2013, The View from The Shard, with two observations platforms: a triple level indoor gallery on level 69 and a partial outdoor gallery on level 72. The 360-degree views of London are pretty amazing; on a clear day you can see up to 40 miles.
Graze: I love Borough Market; this may be one of my favorite food markets anywhere! Showcasing the best of British and International produce the market has grown to over a 100 stalls. Every time I visit there is something new, and it just keeps growing. If you love eating and drinking there is no better place. There are so many choices—Veggie options, Thai street food, Paella, Ethiopian to name a few. Do not miss, unless your vegetarian, getting the chorizo sandwich at Brindisa. Sounds so simple –grilled chorizo on ciabatta with arugula and roasted peppers. But, just wait, once you have the olive oil dripping down your sleeve in the midst of the bustling market you will dream about this sandwich, it’s that good! Go to Arabica, one of the original stalls, now a restaurant, and get their Wild Sumac and Zatar to bring home. I’ve never found any as good! Pop into Neal’s Yard for a stunning selection of cheeses and finish your visit with a cappuccino at Monmouth Coffee to refuel.
Landmark: Follow the embankment a few blocks and you wind up at the Tate Modern. The Tate has been so popular from day one with more than 5 million visitors a year that a huge expansion is under way, with an expected completion around 2016. There is almost always something fun happening here, an hour or two on a trip to London is almost mandatory. Plus how fun to see a work in progress! If you need a bit of a pick-me-up, stop by the Tate Cafe overlooking the riverside.
Feel like being Social: Chef Jason Atherton is everywhere. A protégé of Gordon Ramsay, his first solo venture, Pollen Street Social was wildly successful earning him a Michelin star and a growing restaurant empire. (With restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and soon to open Sydney and recently opened, The Clocktower, in New York!) His other London restaurants- Little Social (across the street from Pollen, its more casual sibling), City Social and Bar (glamorous with a view), and Social Eating House (bistro-style) are all worthy destinations. Berners Tavern in the London Edition is a great restaurant for all day dining and a perfect spot for afternoon tea. Soak up the atmosphere in a room that won best new British interior awards 2014 from both Elle Decoration and European Hotel Design Awards.
Rest Stop: Head back to the Ham Yard to recharge with a workout, a spa treatment or a nap!
Dinner: This is a hard choice! Kitty Fisher’s is one of the city’s hottest spots right now serving inventive food in the heart of Mayfair in a tiny, cozy space. Chef Skye Gyngell just opened Spring at Somerset House featuring a seasonally driven Mediterranean menu. In the mood for Indian- Michelin starred Gymkhana, or its sister restaurant Trishna both have fantastic food, this is posh Indian, not your corner curry shop. Packed, celebrity hangout Chiltern Firehouse, in an actual renovated firehouse in Marylebone, may be more about the celebrity factor than the brasserie style food, but it all makes for a fun night out. If you are in the mood for seafood, reserve at Sexy Fish, an Asian fish and seafood restaurant. Some say Bocca Di Lupo is the best Italian food in London. After dinner, go across the street for desert and indulge in Gelupo Gelato. Press has been great on the new Barrafina Drury Lane and Duck and Rice, a Chinese gastropub from Alan Yau of Hakkasan and Yauatcha fame. And then there’s The Ivy, recently reopened after a five month face-lift, just in time for it’s 100th birthday.
Extend: Want to extend your trip? Consider booking a countryside Cotswold weekend at the Soho Farmhouse, part of the members' club Soho House group. Fear not, you do not need to be a member to stay. The Farmhouse has 40 cabins ranging in size, in and outdoor pool, plenty of activities for all ages and incredible restaurants. This is a MUST DO if you have the time.