There is an undeniable familiarity to London that, even for the uninitiated, makes it feel less daunting to visitors than Paris or even New York City. The refined townhouses, eclectic markets, and imposing public architecture render it a place of elegant contrasts and fascinating history. The city has managed to retain its legacy of grand meets grit, of opulence and opportunity. In a city where the avant-garde and the traditional inform the city’s heartbeat in equal measure, it’s no surprise that it is the backdrop to some of the most luxurious and dynamic experiences a traveller can hope for. A weekend in London provides the chance to revel in the city’s opulent venues, hotels, and galleries. Don’t hold back.
If there is one thing that London does well, without debate, it’s luxury. But unlike the formality of some of London’s more iconic hotel institutions, The Laslett combines warmth with restraint through its 51 rooms to create an atmosphere more akin to our dream-home than that of a stiff and stuffy hotel. The familiarity of homely elements including locally-sourced artwork and ornaments is met with luxury in all the right places - from plush beds and gleaming bathrooms. Located across five Grade II listed Victorian townhouses and just a stone’s throw from Notting Hill’s iconic Portobello Road, a visit to The Laslett will deliver a quintessentially London experience that will stay with you long after the luxury amenities have run out.
St. John Bread and Wine
When travelling, we look for restaurants that are a well thought-out and true reflection of their location. St. John Bread and Wine has been through several stages of development, first opening as an answer to bakery operations across from Spitalfield market before evolving into a fully fledged restaurant that serves simple fare that places a strong focus on ingredient. The pared back facade of white-washed walls and bold, black graphic signage is a befitting contrast to the warmth of the bread-breaking that carries on within the dining room given the area’s many contrasts of urban grit and creative charm. When you’ve had enough caviar and champagne, this is the way to ease into the quotidian pleasures of London.
It’s easy to imagine the debauchery of enjoying a long night spent at Sketch. The interiors - a bombastic explosion of millennial pink by interior designer India Mahdavi - are a study in bourgeois hedonism. Plush pink seating sits atop an Italianate marble floor, pink walls are adorned by provocative artwork by British artist David Shrigley, and a gleaming pink bar beckons with its rose-gold countertop and art deco inspired lamps. The food is as lush and considered as the atmosphere. A weekend in London just isn’t complete without a Saturday night spent here. At the very least, your Instagram followers will thank you.
The Wallace Collection
London is awash with museums, galleries, and private collections of art. It would take a year of dedication to see it all. But amidst the grandeur of the Tate Modern and the V&A, there are several smaller galleries that offer just the right scale of works that make them the perfect weekend-away activity. The Wallace Collection is housed in an historic London townhouse. 25 separate galleries display French 18th-century paintings, furniture, porcelain and Old Master paintings alongside a world class armoury. Balancing a lavish collection of works in an approachable manner stands The Wallace Collection apart from other galleries, allowing you to get an intimate look at some of the most sumptuous classical artwork in the world.
Dover Street Market
There are two stages of our lives as shoppers: before Dover Street Market, and after Dover Street Market. A visit to the London iteration of the now global empire will pale all previous physical retail experiences. Its sheer creative vision and impeccable selection of products render it a truly iconic retailer. From big hitters such as Balenciaga and The Row to emerging stars such as Gosha Rubchinskiy and Xiao Li, the real drawcard here is the absence of tradition. Gallery-like displays encourage a deep appreciation for the art of fashion and design. And like all excellent retailers, DSM is not price exclusive. Through clever collaborations with the likes of Comme Des Garcons and Converse, the five story flagship ensures that all visitors have the chance to take something home. You’ll be hooked.
Arguably the world’s greatest department store, Selfridges manages to appeal to a varied mix of customers. Discerning fashion lovers, humble tourists, high net-worth shoppers seeking out a $10,000 watch: all can find that they are treated with the same warmth and hospitality. The Oxford Street store offers shopping on a scale rarely seen. Set on one of the world’s busiest shopping strips, stepping inside Selfridges feels as though you’ve reached retail mecca. Browse the heavenly designer collections, where you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better brand offering: from Fendi to Gareth Pugh, Stella McCartney to Rosie Assoulin, the Selfridges buyers are renowned for their considered yet generous curation. And if the enormity of the experience becomes too much, stop at the newly opened bar The Fount. One of many internal bars, The Fount is conveniently located within the recently reopened Accessories Hall, so you can enjoy a martini while you contemplate: Altuzzara or Aquazzura?
Liberty of London
Just off the hurried madness of Oxford St, Liberty of London stands as an icon of independent thought, dedication to unique design, and am emblem of London’s curious blend of energy and quiet elegance. The mock-Tudor building is instantly identifiable, but the interiors are equally dramatic for their rickety wooden staircases, ornate wooden balconies, and homely small rooms that create an intimate backdrop for the selection of products. Alongside in-house products, Liberty houses one of the best selection of vintage designer clothes as well as collections from Alexander McQueen, Faliero Sarti, Mansur Gavriel, and Vivienne Westwood. To put it simply and in the words of Oscar Wilde, “Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper”.