London Travel Guide
”Raw food” and “superfood” aren’t words that generally go well with “alcohol”, so props to MyHotel Chelsea for showing that you don’t have to be goody goody to eat well.
The hotel just opened Tanya’s Café in the conservatory, run by raw food enthusiast Tanya Alekseeva. It’s open from 7am for breakfast on weekdays (8am on weekends), and serves lunch 11.30am-3.30pm, and cocktails – woohoo – from 4pm-11pm Tuesday through Saturday. The kicker? They have vegan wine, too.
According to Tanya’s website, the menu “is designed to reflect your busy schedule and provide loving nourishment at all times of the day.”
The menu looks pretty intriguing, with a slew of juices, smoothies and shooters, along with an extensive lunch menu of everything from pad thai to tacos and a “plant-based burger” on onion bread. There are also plenty of desserts and chocolate. Because raw doesn't mean neglecting the sweet stuff.
When we think of the JW Marriott Grosvenor House, we mainly think of two things: its gigantic 60,000+ sq ft meeting facilities (a sit-down dinner for 1,200 people? No problem!), and its very Mayfair décor (think dark woods, deep reds, heavy drapes).
The latter made us take notice of the pictures of its new Executive Lounge, which goes in a very different direction design-wise, with a much lighter, more contemporary look. There’s even a ‘media wall’ near reception, which we assume is visible above on the far left with digital images of the greenery of Hyde Park. Located on the ground floor of the hotel, the revamped space was opened recently; check out a few more snaps below.
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It used to be just the Jude Laws and the Benedict Cumberbatches that sold out London theaters, but these days, sell-out shows are all over the West End. But never fear if you wanted to see Gillian Anderson in the much-acclaimed Young Vic production of A Streetcar Named Desire, or can’t make it up to Stratford-upon-Avon to catch the latest RSC production, because you can see them in the distinctly civilized setting of One Aldwych’s screening room. Yeah for hotel culture!
The Live At One series, which starts 3 September, will feature live feeds from the most sought-after productions around the UK: The Two Gentlemen Of Verona from the RSC (3 September), Streetcar Named Desire from the Young Vic (16 September), Manon from the Royal Opera House (16 October) and so on. The program includes opera and ballet, as well as plays, and you’ll have a two-course meal before the show at Axis, a glass of champagne while you watch, and dessert and coffee served in the interval. Food is billed as the best of British, with Cornish mackerel, Kentish cob nuts and loganberries amongst the ingredients (not together).
Tickets cost £49.50 (they seem to be the same price, whatever the production), which is pricey (considering National Theatre tickets start at £10) but not horrendous, if you remember that three courses and booze are included - and it's a boon for those of us who can't organize our diaries six months ahead to buy tickets, or can't make it to Stratford. Dinner starts at 5.45pm, with the screenings from 7pm.
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Here is some news that will shake you out of your summer lull faster than even London’s unseasonably frigid temperatures could have: Singapore-based UOL Group Limited has acquired the site for the future Heron Plaza development on Bishopsgate and plans to open a hotel under its Pan Pacific brand inside.
Not only will that be the first Pan Pacific for Europe, and only the fifth outside Asia-Pacific (there is Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler times two currently), it is also the end for what everyone had long accepted would be the third Four Seasons hotel in the city.
UOL paid £97 million for the land, which currently has planning permission for a 43-story tower with 109 residences, 190-room hotel, and retail. The group will “review” that configuration, so we assume that will mean room count will change.
There’s something about the Intercontinental Park Lane that makes a tiny part of us die inside with every visit. Yes, they’ve been renovating the rooms to de-drab them, and yes, the views can be awesome, but it always feels so… sterile.
Having said that, we’ve always given props to the spa for having good therapists and decently priced treatments, considering its surroundings.
And this summer, the treatments have got even more appealing, with the introduction of Ayurvedic-inspired Sundãri treatments.
There are lots available – see the menu here – but they’ve kicked the program off with special offers on two treatments: a “Facial, Massage and Floatation Bed Offer” (a 30 minute massage, 30 minute facial and 20 minutes lying on a floatation bed) for £65 instead of £112.50; and the signature Sama treatment for £90 instead of £135. This takes 90 minutes and packs in loads of stuff: a feet-in-hot-towels thing; a “cleansing back ritual”; an Ayurvedic massage; a hand and food massage to relieve “stress and negativity”; facial cleanse and exfoliation; a Marma massage; and a scalp massage.
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Having opened reservations earlier this summer, the Hoxton Holborn is now just a month away from opening, with the official date being September 25. Not only did we hear that directly from the hotel, we also had a chance to step inside and see for ourselves how the east London favorite travels to a midtown environment.
Above a snap from inside a Cosy Room, the third category out of four. While the 174 rooms differ in size (Shoebox, Snug, Cosy, Roomy), all share the same design and features, like the wood-and-leather headboard you see here.
If it aint broke, of course, there’s no need to fix it – unless the unbroken thing we’re talking about is afternoon tea, and the ‘fix’ is a gin injection.
Dukes St James in London is bringing together these two great British institutions with its G&Tea: basically afternoon tea, except with a tea-infused G&T instead of the hot stuff.
The gin in question is Beefeater infused with black tea leaves – either Earl Grey or Black Vanilla. It’s served Prohibition-style in a china teacup, either cold with ice and tonic, or as a hot punch on cold days like this week. Could it get more magnificent? Yes – you also get your normal food spread of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. It costs £35, which is pretty great value for London, considering the alcohol.
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Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)
There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.
Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.
I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.
Flowers, fruits, and other sweets we see served a lot with hotel cocktails, but whither the options for those that prefer their treats to be savory?
The Milestone Hotel London seems to have wondered the same, with their “Shock Me” beer cocktail bringing some balance this month. The cocktail mixes 75ml of Brown Ale (Bishop Fingers), 50ml bourbon, 25ml of Southern Comfort, and one teaspoon of maple syrup. Stirring for 10 seconds with ice, it’s served in an Old Fashion glass over ice and finished with a slice of crispy maple-cured bacon. The “Shock Me” costs £15 ($25 and is served in Stables Bar or elsewhere in the public spaces.
The updates on The Beaumont, Corbin and King’s first hotel in London’s Mayfair, keep rolling in: earlier this summer we saw sculpture “ROOM” by Antony Gormley for the first time and found a series of interior renderings on the refreshed website.
Today, we have live online reservations from October 9 with an opening date that could be even earlier, details of room categories and prices, and actual images. Above is a Premier Room, though we were told this might not be the complete finished product as decoration (art, furniture, fine-tuning) is still in progress.
It gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect nonetheless, which in the Premier Room is 35 sq m (377 sq ft) of space with views over Mayfair through windows that actually open, something we love. Bathrooms are described as “mosaic marble” with underfloor heating and in some cases, bathtubs. Toiletries are by D R Harris. All rooms have complimentary WiFi and access to a car service for local travel.
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But the Montcalm London Marble Arch is the first hotel we’ve heard of to have its staff using Google Glass as part of the concierge service.
The minimum spend warning at the Langham
When we recounted the horrifying story of the guest who was charged $127 for three small bottles of water at the Wellesley Hotel last week, we said that was the first we’d heard of any hotel doing this, and that it was a first in London.
Sorry guys, on so many levels. Because it turns out we were wrong.
An article in the Times this weekend about minimum spends in London namechecked the Dorchester, the Ritz, the Savoy, and – gasp – perennial HC fave the Langham as all having minimum spend policies in place, at least some of the time. Here’s the rundown on each: