+ TRAVEL FOCUS CURIOUS THINGS TO DO IN LONDON IN UNDER 72 HOURS BY SWAPAN SETH
Plus, indulge in these unique experiences and pamper yourself silly
wen you have 72 hours in London, time is of the essence. As is timing.
Which means meticulous planning and charming co-ordination. That is where the Concierge Desk at the Four Seasons Hotel, London, comes in. They are an exceedingly efficient squad led by the furiously fantastic, Cordelia Griggs.
I like to get my shopping out of the way. Which is why I tell the Four Seasons to fetch me all that I want and leave it in the room for me on arrival. I am fairly clear about what I need. And even clearer about where to get it from. So when I arrived in London, my Daylesford Organic ketchup, my Daffy’s Gin and Our Vodka were all in place.
After a long flight, a full-body massage is in order. And the best lady to get it from is Joanne at The Four Seasons Spa up on the 10th floor. The pressure is moderate and the effect, extraordinary. It was my mother’s 75th, so I took her to lunch to the cathedral of steaks: Hawksmoor in Knightsbridge. I would have preferred Zelman Meats, but they are strangely shut on Mondays. The steaks at Hawksmoor are as juicy as The Sun. They come with no sides, which is quite lovely because focus in focus is paramount to me. I would also recommend that you wash the food down with their grand Grapefruit Iced Tea. As refreshing as Fakhar Zaman’s innings at The Oval.
Post lunch, it was time to pay attention to my back which has been buggered due to years of a faulty posture. In these matters and indeed, most matters of wellness, I rely on The Hale Clinic, specifically, on Stephen Hein. Cranial sacral therapy (also known as craniosacral therapy) is a gentle, non-invasive form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum. It releases compression in those areas, which alleviates stress and pain. After having been kneaded into shape, I then headed for a spot
Cryotherapy is the use of extremely low temperatures to treat tissue damage, decrease inflammation and reduce signs of aging
of medicine shopping. The best place for medicines in my mind is the Pharmacy at Harrods. I was looking for Biofreeze, a pain relieving gel and Solgar B12 (the sub-lingual variety).
DASH OF DRAMA
People who know me, know the fact that I am a devotee of Damian Lewis: Bobby Axelrod in Billions. The prospect of watching him live in a play excited me no end. He was acting in The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia, Edward Albee’s delightful play about a married architect who falls in love with a goat. Damian is staggering in the play, as is Sophie Okonedo, who plays his wife. I have a plan to perform this play in Delhi rather soon. I have no nightlife, so post the play, I head to the hotel and order in some Dal Makhani and Gobi Phool from Jamavar, unarguably, the finest Indian restaurant in London.
The next day, I hit the gym at The Four Seasons and try out this fabulous machine from Technogym called The Skillmill. It is a nonmotorised treadmill that helps you improve your stamina, agility, power and speed. It trains all the body’s energy systems and is invigoratingly intense. Twenty minutes on it, and you’re roasted and toasted.
My new found interest in exercising lead me to look for wireless speakers and pedigreed earphones. The basement at Selfridges is the best place for them. I always look for the youngest salesman or saleslady when it comes to music. They know
what’s cool and they know what’s value for money. She told me that if I was looking at pure sound quality, the Bose wireless speakers were perfect. As for headphones, she pointed me in the direction of The Jaybird XE. Both charming choices.
For lunch, I decided on Chinese. Specifically the supposed citadel of Sichuan in London: Bar Shu. On Frith Street in Soho. Their Fragrant Chicken In a A Pile Of Chilies is deviously delightful. I wasn’t so
When you have 72 hours in London, time is of the essence. As is timing.
impressed with the Cold Chicken Salad. The Dan Dan Noodles were nice. The Cold Noodles with Chicken Slivers were good as well. I must confess that I left Bar Shu a tad underwhelmed.
A THERAPEUTIC EDGE
I have been trying to get an appointment with Nichola Joss for some years now. Somehow our diaries did not synch. But this time, The Concierge Desk pulled it off for me. I landed up at Nichola’s studio in Covent Garden for her Bespoke Sculpting Inner Facial. She customises it, looking at the tone texture and condition of your skin and addressing sagging muscles through deep lymphatic massage and contouring techniques that she has designed to lift the facial contours and give a fresh radiant look to the skin. This treatment involves massage from inside the mouth to de-stress the muscle tissue and improves the tone and firmness of the facial muscles. This encourages the muscles to sit higher and with more volume and youth. A bit of it is painful but tolerable. It was indeed a great experience. I normally go to Vaishaly Patel in London. But Nichola was on my bucket list. The third day was where I was invited out for both lunch and dinner and therefore was in dire need of flowers. My go-to florist in London is Philippa Craddock. Her store in Selfridges is manned by the rather resourceful Sophie. It has a brilliant and simple range of flowers. They are put together with perfect panache and they deliver as well.
Post that, I headed to Harvey Nichols, where I was booked for a Cryotherapy appointment at 111Cryo on the fourth floor. The prospect of spending three minutes in a temperature of minus 89 degrees was terrifying, tempting and thrilling.
Cryotherapy is the use of extremely low temperatures to treat symptoms such as tissue damage (it’s excellent for athletes), decrease inflammation, increase cell rejuvenation, improve skin tone and reduce signs of aging.
Basically, you get into a pair of shorts, wear gloves and foot mitts and hang out in the chamber chilled at minus 89. You can pick a song of your choice while you freeze. I picked It
Ain’t Me: The Kygo mix. You are encouraged to move your hands and legs while in the chamber. Three minutes seems like an eternity but once you are done, you emerge as a new man. It is insanely cool.
Post that I popped into The Hospital Club in Covent Garden where The creative director of this private member’s club, Michael Berg, took me around the place. It was eclectic and energised. It has fabulous rooms to stay in and great spaces to work in. And splendid spaces to eat and drink in. It has a great vibe.
The only place that I go to in the evenings is the lovely home of Nandita Parshad and Sanjay Jayant. The food is fabulous, the booze is beautiful, the conversation sparkles like a solitaire and they thread together the most eclectic bunch of people. It is a home that gurgles with grace and graciousness.
I must confess that over the past few years, I had fallen out of love with London. But this one time, I left very grudgingly. There was a certain fabulousness and freshness to it.
Benjamin Disraeli was so right when he said, “London is a roost for every bird.”
PAMPER PERFECT 1. Jamavar is among the finest Indian restaurants in London. 2. The best place for medicines is the Pharmacy at Harrods. 3. & 4. After a long flight, a full body massage at the spa in Four Seasons Hotel London is ideal, while the Skillmill at the gym helps improve your stamina, agility, power and speed. 5. For Cryotherapy, you get into a pair of shorts, wear gloves and foot mitts and hang out in the chamber chilled at minus 89 degrees.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT 6. The Concierge Desk at the Four Seasons Hotel London are an exceedingly efficient squad. 7. & 8. The Dal Makhani and Gobi Phool at the Jamavar restaurant are from the royal kitchens of the north of India.
9. The Solgar B12 (the sub-lingual variety) can be picked off the Pharmacy at Harrods. 6