What a capital idea
Whether you’re a first-timer or frequent visitor, London always excites and entertains, writes Sarah Nicholson.
ORE than a million Australians visited the United Kingdom last year, with most starting, staying or stopping in London to prove the English capital has something for everyone.
This lively city sits comfortably on any list of the world’s most dynamic destinations with a long – and always evolving – inventory of things for travellers to see and do, eat and drink, shop and stay. Here’s just a snippet of what’s new in the city by the Thames. London’s Imperial War Museum (Lambeth Rd; iwm.org.uk) reopened last year after a $70 million renovation, with the city scheduling a calendar of events to commemorate the Great War’s 100th anniversary (1914.org).
The National Gallery (Trafalgar Square; nationalgallery.org.uk) will host Inventing Impressionism until May 31; Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty will stay at V&A (Cromwell Rd; vam.ac.uk) until August 2; and The Alice Look will be at V&A Museum of Childhood (Cambridge Heath Rd; vam.ac.uk/moc) until November 1, marking the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
When it comes to trendy neighbourhoods, Shoreditch in London’s East End – home to Brick Lane Market (Brick Lane; bricklanemarket.com) and Old Spitalfields Market (16 Horner Square; oldspitalfields market.com) – is the hot spot.
Sample gourmet goodies at Saturday’s Urban Food Fest (162-167 Shoreditch High St; urbanfoodfest.com), try the famed salt beef bagel at Brick Lane Beigel Bake (159 Brick Lane), and browse the shops at BoxPark (2 Bethnal Green Rd; boxpark.co.uk). The Shangri-La London (31 St Thomas St; www.shangrila.com) was 2014’s highest profile unveiling, occupying 18 floors at the Shard (theshard.com), which is now the city’s tallest tower, while Ham Yard Hotel (1 Ham Yard; grandluxuryhotels.com) is a new building on a block vacant since The Blitz.
Several new properties cater to budget-conscious travellers, with Z Piccadilly (2 Orange St; thezhotels.com), Hub by Premier Inn Covent Garden (110 St Martin’s Lane; premierinn.com) and Hampton by Hilton Waterloo London (157 Waterloo Rd; hilton.com) three 2014 options.
There was also a run on boutique hotels opening in old buildings, with The Beaumont (Brown Hart Gardens; thebeaumont.com) in a garage, Chiltern Firehouse (1 Chiltern St; chilternfirehouse.com) in a former fire station, and Dorsett Shepherds Bush (58 Shepherd’s Bush Green; dorsetthotels.com) in a vintage cinema.
January saw the introduction of Z Shoreditch (136-144 City Rd; thezhotels.com) and Urban Villa London (Great West Rd; urban villa.com) for self-catering stays while Z City (24-28 Fleet St; thezhotels.com), Old Courthouse Hotel (19-21 Great Marlborough St; courthousehotel.com) and The Lanesborough (Hyde Park Corner; lanesborough.com) will welcome guests during 2015. There are restaurants opening in London all the time. Here are just a few highlights.
Arabica Bar & Kitchen (3 Rochester Walk; arabicabar andkitchen.com) is a Middle Eastern-inspired cafe.