“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Literary giant Samuel Johnson first uttered these words in September 1777, and they have surely been recited every day since by visitors of all genders. London is a city of contrasts: thoroughly modern and yet with a firm grasp of the past, it’s as magical in appearance as it is frustrating to navigate. But with a fresh new crop of sites to see every year, there’s absolutely no chance of it ever becoming tiresome.
If you favour intimate, boutique hotels, you might prefer to skip The Ned. But if you’re up for a bold, flashy experience, with 15 different bars and nine restaurants to choose from, then make a booking immediately. The brainchild of Soho House founder Nick Jones, The Ned opened last year in a former bank building in the middle of the city. Inspired by the glamorous 1920s, its opulent decor (think malachite columns, floral wallpaper, fringed lampshades) is the complete opposite of every minimally styled Airbnb on Instagram.
Alternatively, if you love to be the first to experience somewhere new, Bankside in South Bank opens this October, just a stone’s throw from the Tate Modern and the National Theatre. These arty neighbours have rubbed off: art and design is infused into Bankside’s very being – it even has a dedicated crafting space with a series of makers-in-residence.
There’s shopping and then there are full-blown retail experiences – and London is a master of both. With its innovative buy and creative approach to merchandising, Selfridges is always a must-visit (our Tonic of Gin candle makes a superb memento). Harvey Nichols has just opened its newly revamped shoe floor, complete with a lounge area and a rotating exhibition space… oh, and plenty of delicious shoes, as well. And the local outpost of Dover Street Market will always deliver multiple floors of creative fabulousness.
London has long been a hotbed of artistic talent and no matter where your tastes lay, there are always plenty of exhibitions to please. Build your itinerary from the best on show at the Tate and the Barbican, White Cube and the Saatchi Gallery, all via the hundreds of indie galleries in the city.
It hasn’t always been easy to find light, healthy food here, but this is definitely changing thanks to the likes of The Good Life Eatery. Find smoothies and cold-pressed juices, along with a full food menu, at the various locations dotted around the city.
Or for a quick stop, make a beeline for Kioskafé in Paddington. The latest project from the creators of Monocle magazine, it combines cafe treats (from pastries to prosecco and a very fine flat white) with newsstand essentials, including 300 of the world’s best newspapers and magazines. They also have a very cool print-on-demand service, which spits out your choice of some 2500 newspapers from around the globe.
Dubbed “Hackney’s hipster well-being destination” by Vogue.com, The Refinery combines yoga, barre and cardio classes with treatments for the mind, body and spirit. Whether you’re feeling less-than-fresh after a long-haul flight or just need an instant recharge, the facials and holistic massages offered by therapist Katie White – all using natural British brands – will do the trick.
Written by Michelle Bateman