From its world-class museums and wonderful parks to thriving culinary scene and swathe of luxe new hotel openings, there’s plenty to keep you busy in London, England
“Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love London so,” sang Flanagan and Allen. Yet with its rich history, eclectic culture, fine food and architectural grandeur that rises up all around you, you don’t have to be a local to bask in the city’s creative milieu, and if you’re planning a trip across the pond or have a London layover, there’s a complex mix of both old and new just waiting to be discovered.
London’s hotel scene is ever-expanding too, and while there has been a number of notable luxury hotels opening in the Big Smoke this year, the most hotly-anticipated launch comes in the form of The Londoner. Following six years of construction and a £500 million investment, the sprawling hotel opened its doors this September in the capital’s bustling West End, the beating heart of central London known for its world-class culinary scene and buzzy atmosphere. Yet it isn’t all grandeur and excess – aiming to capture a delicate balance between five-star luxury penthouse-with-a-view vibes and snug, intimate familiarity, it’s the perfect bolt-hole for every type of traveller.
Dubbed the world’s first super-boutique hotel, the luxury urban resort is spread across 16 floors, and whether you want to relax poolside, indulge in some raucous yet sophisticated partying, or enjoy world class rooftop dining, The Londoner has it all. Not only does it boast a whopping 350 guestrooms and 35 suites, six eateries and a member’s club-style private area, there’s also an entire floor dedicated to wellness, with meeting rooms, event spaces, and even a cinema.
While the hotel may name-check the capital, architects Woods Bagot, who were responsible for the Big Apple’s sky-high Manhatta restaurant, have put a distinctively New York feel on the hotel thanks to its strong colour palettes and bold artwork scattered around (and hidden behind) the walls, with equally-slick rooms with high-tech finishes. And yes, that includes a Japanese toilet with heated seat and built-in bidet. Thoughtful touches such as opera binoculars that allow you to zoom in on the panoramic views of London’s bustling hub and hand-written notes from the management team abound too.
Choose from the cosier Queen and King Rooms or, if you fancy treating yourself, the duplex Tower Penthouse is a 2,153 sq ft retreat with globally-sourced art, sculptures and furnishings, an extravagant wooden staircase, skylight, Calacatta Tucci marble bar, and bathroom with wall-to-wall windows and an Apaiser bath tub. All rooms allow access to the Residence, a 24-hour clubhouse exclusive to in-house guests, where you’ll find a fully-stocked library complete with vintage board games, a dedicated concierge, work spaces, a bar and lounge, plus free snacks and drinks throughout the day (think freshly-baked goods at breakfast and antipasti in the evening).
When it comes to the food, prepare to be impressed. The brainchild of Amir Jati, creative director at Edwardian Hotels London, and the hotel’s executive chefs, Matt Downes, Shailesh Deshmukh and Neil Armstrong, there are six different spots to eat and drink, with the hotel’s signature restaurant, Whitcomb’s, already gaining a reputation as the hottest new eatery in the city. Offering a seasonal, á la carte menu designed to evoke the very best of contemporary French cooking, dishes include classic escargot swimming in garlic and butter, seared filet mignon with chanterelle and aged Parmesan crème, and lobster with rigatoni and Scotch bonnet labneh crème.
Decadent rooftop izakaya lounge, 8 at The Londoner, is another stellar dinner hangout, boasting breathtaking views of the city, a palette of world-class modern Japanese cuisine, innovative mixology and dramatic design. In winter, take a seat in the chic lounge area complete with firepit, or in more clement weather there’s the Japanese-inspired minimalist terrace, as well as the impressive Shima Garden. Menus feature intricate Japanese-inspired small dishes and signature plates, an extensive robata offering with meat, fish and vegetarian options, and a moriawase section with tartare, sashimi and sushi rolls, all headed by 8 at The Londoner’s head chef, Kuenhi Won, previously of Nobu fame. Elsewhere, Joshua’s Tavern serves as a neighbourhood spot perfect for an afternoon tipple washed down with a selection of light bites, such as roquefort-filled biscuits and Taleggio pastry bakes, served alongside a curated line-up of live musicians to ring in the evening each night. If it’s a little luxe you’re after, The Stage is the place to be. Featuring an all-day programme of menus centred around luxury, glamour, elegance and sophistication, it pays homage to the neighbouring theatreland with its avant-garde design, bubbly breakfasts and innovative afternoon tea, all rounded off with a grand finale, which will see tables dressed with the most luxurious of rarities, including seasonal rock oysters, Oscietra and Beluga caviar, charcuterie and artisan cheeses – simply slink into one of its gold, low-level comfortable armchairs and enjoy.
No luxe hotel stay would be complete without a side of pampering, and this is where The Londoner really shines. Marrying extravagance with relaxation (what more could you want?), if you’re after a little R&R during your stay, be sure to head down to The Retreat. A world away from the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square’s lights, be sure to make time for one of its indulgent signature massages – we highly recommend the tension-easing ‘Harmony’ for 60 minutes of Tibetan cupping, acupressure and long, slow massage movements, designed to release both physical and mental tension, bringing you back to a full state of calm. Post-pummelling, laze by the indoor pool in a fluffy robe, sweat it all out in the sauna and steam room, get lost in a good book, or sip on a rejuvenating collagen smoothie from Refuel before heading back to your room in preparation for the night ahead. Complementing The Retreat, you’ll also find a stylish 24-hour gym if you fancy getting a few sets in.
A hotel that’s top of its game when it comes to eco-effort – from the lighting and temperature control systems which go into standby mode if no movement is detected, to the refillable Nordaq water bottles, which are filtered and bottled onsite, no base goes uncovered. World-class food, ample entertainment, plus an opulent place to rest your head, it’s safe to say The Londoner has just made Europe’s coolest capital that much more ahead of the game. Book now
Three New East End Eats
East London is one of the most exciting and diverse restaurant capitals in the world, and these three new openings should be top of your must-visit list
Housed in a grand Grade II listed building and former home of British Linen Bank, this new Italian eatery is nestled among the city’s slickest architecture, including the Gherkin and Shard, and though large in size promises the intimacy and romance of a traditional Mediterranean haunt ,with delectable food to boot. Courtesy of Sicilian-born maestro Remo Mazzucato, kick off your meal with creamy burrata served with oxheart tomatoes and veal carpaccio topped with fragrant truffle oil. As for mains, they’re split into pasta, risottos, fish and seafood, meat and poultry, and pizzas, with plenty of vegetarian options, meaning diners are spoilt for choice. Looking to indulge? Try the tagliolini with truffle sauce, spun in a pecorino wheel direct at your table. Alternatively, the grilled sea bass fillet with baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes and basil is a deliciously light dish that will leave you with plenty of room for dessert. Book now
If authentic Asian food is more your bag, look no further than Straits Kitchen. Housed in the luxurious new Pan Pacific hotel, it serves up authentic Singaporean food alongside incredible city views, with executive chefs Lorraine Sinclair and Tony Khoo passionate about using locally sourced and grown ingredients that minimise their carbon footprint. Try the teapot double-boiled soup with galangal, red dates and wolfberries, or opt for Singapore’s National Dish, wok fry chilli mud crab made with various spices. The Butter Aged Buccleuch Beef served with Himalayan salted chips, lemongrass and curry leaf is also a highlight. If you’ve still got room, round it all off with the signature Pan Pacific London Guanacoa chocolate mousse, with brownies, hazelnut praline crunchy and soursop sorbet before rolling back to your hotel room. Book now
The huge postmodern brick building in London’s trendy Shoreditch area that was once The Curtain Hotel has now changed hands and become The Mondrian Shoreditch, opening with the world’s fifth BiBo restaurant. The brainchild of renowned chef Dani García, who scored three Michelin stars with his self-named restaurant in the southern Spanish region, this is his first London outpost and serves up eclectic tapas with courtyard seats, clay walls, light oak floors and a burnt-red tile bar flooded with plenty of natural light. If you’re just stopping by for a light bite and a bit of people-watching, its dedicated tapas bar serves up padron peppers, mussels in escabeche, chorizo brioche and mushroom croquettes. For a heartier meal, go à la carte, with roasts, grills, seafood and, of course, García’s signature paellas that come filled with everything from whole lobster and octopus to chicken and rib eye. Book now
- Words by Naomi Chadderton