One of the world’s greatest cities to visit, the British capital just keeps getting hipper
London is always going to be an ever-burgeoning fury of a city. Traffic, minding the gap, chic fashion and brisk weather are all part of the wonderment of this fabulous famous metropolis. Travelling to new places is hard, even with the latest navigation app, and travelling to cheap new joints that are not surrounded by thousands of tourists is even harder. With the revitalisation of the economy comes a wave of new attractions, restaurants and hotel builds. New precincts takeover as being hip (hello, Shoreditch) and the ever cool staples like Soho maintain their stride. We discover the latest the city has to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
Town Hall Hotel and Apartments
Turning a corner and not knowing whether you’ll find a yellow paper mache fish or an original 1930s phone curio is all part of the Town Hall Hotel’s guest experience. The officious old Town Hall has been breathtakingly converted to a boutique hotel that sets a new benchmark in design. Expertly weaving bespoke contemporary art pieces, heritage Edwardian architecture, modern must-haves like superfast wi-fi, and old fashioned staff that smile, this boutique hotel is raking in the accolades and five star reviews from critics and travellers alike.
A trek through Bethnal Green might make you feel like an urban intrepid explorer with its scented with spice shops, roasted on-site coffee shops, and the exquisitely spell-binding Columbia Road Flower Market. The hamlet’s revitalisation sees self-styled boho bankers alongside Bangladeshi grannies. With a growing artistic community that treasures design, colour and fine food, the grunge has worn away and the money has followed. Enter The Town Hall Hotel Apartments.
Owner, developer and renowned hotelier Loh Lik Peng was naturally drawn to the heritage site. Known locally for his ground-breaking development of The Old Clare Hotel, which recently won Gourmet Traveller’s Best Boutique Hotel Award for 2017, Peng works well with old birds in need of a makeover. His brand, Unlisted Hotels, has transformed 27 properties in London, Shanghai, Sydney and Singapore. To the delight of guests, the brand is growing at a steady pace. Sites are chosen where buildings retain their individual spirit and identity, and can also be inspired by the use of Dadaism, where objects, images and collateral are brought together in abject irrationality, creating a magical and meaningful guest experience. Sensitively restored and re-adapted into an edgy lifestyle hotel that is reactive and quirky, the Town Hall Hotel is leading the wave of design-driven boutique hotels.
Rooms range from doubles through to the signature tri-level penthouse with soaring ceilings and a table for twenty. Complete with an in-house rubber duckie, bathrooms feature stunning Connemara marble, perfect shower pressure, and L’Occitane complimentary toiletries. Most suites have a full kitchen, launderette, and interiors individually decorated with bespoke art and furnishings. Timber floors are cosied up with bedside fluffy sheepskin rugs, and the free travel buddy tablet is ready to show you around.
The Town Hall Hotel & Apartments pushes the traveller to a new level of boutique luxury without pretension or fanfare — just good design and good people.
Prices start from $190 AUD per night.
The Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch
Walk into a boutique five star hotel steeped in grand detail and history. From the balustrade to the bedroom, The Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch perfectly marries traditional English government architecture with effortless on-trend chic — all without using the word hipster.
Perched high on what would have been one of the most sought-after land sites, the hotel has transformed the ambience of the landmark building from austere justice to warm cordiality and hospitality. Be welcomed by attentive, caring staff, where nothing is a problem — even carrying two 32kg bags up the entry level stairs. Experience art that transcends eras, and provenance clearly chosen and placed to enhance your hotel design experience.
Centrally located in the emerging cosmopolitan precinct of Shoreditch and flanked by numerous transport options (bus, underground and overground), the hotel is making its way to being London’s best place to stay. Showcasing next-level contemporary design after undergoing a recent £40 million renovation, the suites and rooms are exceptional, as is the 196-seat cinema, indoor swimming pool, top of the line spa, and two-lane bowling alley fully equipped with retro designed shoes and balls. The East (police) and West (magistrate) Wing of the building has been lovingly converted into 86 guest rooms and 42 suites that combine the classic, elegant Victorian architectural materials and plush, on-trend décor, all complete with fast free Wifi, suave “Guilty” or “Peter Thomas Roth” complimentary toiletries, and a huge TV in bedroom (and in some cases bathroom).
There are several different room options, ranging from deluxe king rooms to world class suites. The Dalston King Room is beautifully appointed with a large comfy king bed, huge flat-screen satellite TV, minibar, desk, and en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. Some of the rooms feature a seating area and city views, complete with cowhide patchwork chair stools and transcendental mood lighting. Free WiFi is available in all rooms.
The Rooftop Bar is noted by Timeout as being one of the best in London, offering sensational panoramic views of the city. Watch the sun go down while sipping on a “Solitary” — a signature cocktail which is a heavenly mixture of rum, lime juice, dark chocolate, liqueur, red chilli, and charged up with ginger beer. Walk over a glazed link bridge to the roof space of the hotel, relax in the décor’s natural, organic materials and colours, and watch the city hubbub fade away beneath you.
Prices from $240 AUD per night
WHERE TO GO
The Museum of Childhood
Just a few doors up from the Town Hall Hotel is V & A’s Museum of Childhood. Inside an old hangar, the Museum is home to everything from vintage Paddington Bears to Minions. The attraction tracks the development of the toy industry but, moreover, it showcases how children play and learn. A great stop in wet weather, perfect for kids and adults alike, and best of all, it’s free!
The Science Museum
Another of London’s fabulous free Museums, the Science Museum has a number of interactive exhibits to amuse little fingers. While some of the floors and areas have additional entry fees, the mini volcano, car history, and space areas are all worth checking out in the free public spaces.
Columbia Road Flower Market and Columbia Road shops
Every Sunday morning, Columbia Road becomes a honeypot for all flower lovers. Thousands of people descend on this tiny street, where flower merchants sell everything from gigantic sunflowers to tiny baby breaths. There are succulents, carnivorous plants, cacti and other rare (to England, anyway) plants.
The British Postal Museum
Recently renovated, though still totally shrouded in history, the British Postal Museum is easily spotted because of the many red postal vans still using the area as a depot. The museum covers everything from the Queen’s early letters to today’s delivery systems. There is a kids play area and also a special mail rail experience which takes you through London’s secret underground rail tunnels — not for the faint hearted!
Other great things to do include going for a walk and taking in street art from Brick Lane to Redchurch Street, and checking out the world’s first pop up mall in Box Park. For great eats try The Book Club, Franco Manca Pizza or 100 Hoxton.
As there is always so much to do in London, the trick is to research before you go and definitely make sure you buy a sim card so your google maps is active, as they don’t seem to give out good old fashion maps anymore.
For more go to www.VisitLondon.com