london Travel Guide
Little George Alexander Louis of Cambridge may be making his Antipodean debut on the current royal tour (and looking as a cute as a button in the process, we might add), but closer to his home of Clarence House, the baby Prince can now also boast his first caricature at Rosewood London’s Scarfes Bar.
Drawn by cartoonist and illustrator Gerald Scarfe, Prince George is in good company for many reasons: his creator’s credentials range from illustrations for the New Yorker to Pink Floyd, and aside from his immediately family (including QEII and one of her corgis), he is surrounded by everyone from James Bond and Simon Cowell to the Rolling Stones and David Beckham across eight large canvases.
We told you late last year Simon Rogan would be taking over from Gordon Ramsay as the hotel’s restaurant chef, and now there is not only a name and an opening date, but also the ability to book a table. From today, as of 9am this morning UK time, both online and telephone reservations are open.
The restaurant will be called ‘Fera’ (Latin for wild), reflecting “both the primal influence of nature and the highly seasonal ingredients used in Rogan’s cooking”, and officially opens on Tuesday, May 6 (a big day of openings for London). The website shows lots of images of Rogan’s farm in Cumbria, as well as the above shot of his team at work planning the layout of the tables that will seat 90 guests in total. A private dining room will accommodate a maximum of 12 guests.
If you want to book, head to http://www.claridges.co.uk/fera/ or call +44 (0) 207 107 8888.
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What happens when two famous hotel bartenders spend a week mixing cocktails in the same bar? In the case of Agostino Perrone, director of mixology at the Connaught London, and Colin Field, head bartender of the Ritz Paris, it’s a bringing together of styles, a list of delicious drinks as a result, and lucky for us, double the Confessions of a Hotel Bartender.
We stopped by the buzzing Connaught Bar to hear about Colin’s week-long residence in London and learned more about cocktails in an evening than we had in our entire lives, from molecular mixology being dead (in case you didn’t know already), to the story of an old Italian liqueur called ‘the Witch’, and of course, the perennial hangover-cure conundrum.
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London is trying to keep up with New York when it comes to the number of Indigo Hotels it has: the Big Apple might have already made it to a list of five (future) hotels, but the UK capital is right behind with now number four, in the form of Hotel Indigo – Barbican.
A new-built and due to open in 2016, the Indigo will sit nicely between the current hotel at Tower Hill to the east and at Paddington and Earl’s Court to the west (for a little more on the post-war brutalist architectural experiment that is the Barbican, go here).
The hotel will have 101 guestrooms, a gym, and a restaurant in the arched cellars of a former brewery. There will be 35 apartments and office space in the complex as well. We just hope there will be lots of covetable furniture, and that rates will stay below the £200 ($335) mark.
[Rendering: Indigo Hotels]
When we walked past Ham Yard Hotel last week, we could spot furniture behind the large factory-style windows, signalling Firmdale’s future flagship is making good progress. From the fabric on the chairs to the bold patterned curtains, there was no mistaking Kit Kemp’s style even from a distance, and now we have a whole set of images to back that up.
They come alongside a planned opening on June 1, which means we’re in the homestretch until the time we can check out the 91 bedrooms and suites, eat in the restaurant, drink at the bar, and knock over some pins in that bowling alley. Images show a number of different designs: from bold blue / yellow / white and a rich chocolate brown with gold and cream (above), to vibrant pink and purple and a more subdued grey (below). Reservations have also opened.
Each month from here on, Qbic London will be offering 100 of their funky, Cubi-style guest rooms at £1 each. That gets you free WiFi, a light brekkie, and evening snack, too.
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Having waited for so long, we were pretty psyched to check out Shangri-La at the Shard last week. One thing we can say for sure now that we’ve been inside? It will be unlike any other hotel in the city – the Asian-influenced design and skyscraper setting is more Tokyo or Hong Kong than London, even as you look out over the British rooftops.
Arrival happens through the ground floor lobby on St. Thomas Street, which has a reception desk, small seating area, and around the corner, coffee shop and patisserie LÁNG. We liked the mural made out of coffee cups and saucers (see below for a picture), and as the final furniture arrives, LÁNG will also get outdoor seating, between the Shard and the escalator that runs up to the concourse level of London Bridge station.
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About a month from now, Shangri-La Hotels will finally cut the ribbon on its long in the works skyscraper hotel at the Shard in London. Ahead of the May 6 opening, we packed ourselves into a construction lift - high-visibility gear, hard hat and all - for a first look at what you can expect between floors 34 and 52 of the Renzo Piano-designed landmark.
As we heard when reservations opened a few weeks back (opening rates start at £450 / $750), the ground floor lobby facing St. Thomas Street looks nearly finished, but some changes to furniture and set up are still to be made. We saw the sky lobby at level 35, which hits you with head-on views of the City and St. Paul’s, all the way west towards Westminster, the second you step out of the express lifts.
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If you haven’t caught Colin Field, head bartender of Hemingway at Hotel Ritz Paris, at 30,000 feet on Air France, next week you will have the chance to drink his cocktails at lower altitude. Much lower in fact, as he will be setting up at the Bar in the Connaught London, during a week-long residence from April 7 to April 13.
Colin will be joining Agostino Perrone, director of mixology for the Connaught Bar, to create a special drinks menu that brings together their individual styles.
And so the list of new London hotels continues to grow, with this time two new properties from a local brand that might not be familiar to many: Montcalm Hotels. The group currently has a total of four hotels in the West End and the City, but seems to be set on expanding with one hotel in Shoreditch and one on Finsbury Square, just west of Liverpool Street.
The latter, The Royal London House by Montcalm London City (there’s a mouthful), appears and disappears depending on where you look on the website. The former, M By Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City, is headlined as “one of London’s most notable hotels, […] essentially the spot to be in London”, which is a big statement for a hotel that isn’t open yet. According to Montcalm, it should also open near the “Silicone Roundabout”. Is that the plastic surgery equivalent of the Old Street tech area we don’t know about? Perhaps a little better copy writing is all that is needed.
With so many new hotels now open in London (and more to come), it's no surprise that two of the original boutique hotels in town--The Sanderson and St Martins Lane--have gotten an updated look, focusing on "comfort and simplicity." But don't worry, these stylish hotels still retain the minimalist look that made them "hotel famous."
Interior designer Tim Andreas of Banjo Ad Inc, who has worked on other Morgans Hotels, took charge of the renovations for both hotels. At the Sanderson, Andreas gave the 150 guest rooms new custom pieces like a cozy built-in banquette, a "Tchin Tchin" chair, custom rugs and hand-painted designs on the blackout shades. Here's a more official, and detailed, description:
The rooms will introduce a new sense of modern, paying tribute to the baroque era. Tim’s designs are inspired by decorative motifs from the 17th century including decorative, plaster trophy designs, elaborate wood oak carvings and hand-blocked scenic wallpaper to reflect the serenity and comfort of an English Manor House. With minor updates to the bathroom design, it remains encased in a glowing floor-to-ceiling glass box wrapped in golden layers of sheer curtains.
More importantly, these rooms got a tech upgrade, adding new flat-screen smart TVs, media hubs with USB charging, and additional charging stations near the bed.
The other week we told you how the London Edition was all man, which was more than fine, just a little unexpected. So when we stepped into balcony king room at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, we fell instantly in like with the room's feminine touches like the soft colors and patterns, the chaise lounge at the foot of the bed, and a bathroom wonderland with both a shower and a bathtub, a vanity area and a heated toilet seat. #omg
But that's not to say men won't be happy in this Robert Angell-designed space either. There were plenty of tech-centric touches like free WiFi, USB ports and outlets galore, a giant flat-screen TV, and a bedside phone/room control panel. Oh, did we mention there's a heated toilet seat? #omgx2
And true to its name, the Balcony King room features an expansive balcony overlooking Knightsbridge with a Sparrow and Finch birdhouse, something everyone can enjoy.