Louis Vuitton City Guides
Go on a whirlwind one day tour of London with the help of Louis Vuitton City Guides.
7amWake up early in the lap of luxury
Strand, WC2, Tube Charing Cross
Emerging in 2010 from a three-year, £220-million refurbishment, The Savoy had an illustrious past to live up to. The monarch of London hotels, as Marlene Dietrich called it, has undergone an extreme makeover by Pierre-Yves Rochon that has retained period features from its Edwardian and Art Deco past while seizing 21st-century fundamentals, such as the fabulous roof terrace, state-of-the-art spa and supersized suites. Founded in 1889 by Richard D’Oyly Carte and managed by César Ritz, the hotel, whose chef was the great Auguste Escoffier, is still big box office – and the views from signature suites painted by Monet and Whistler are as spectacular as ever. Savoy Court, with its Lalique glass fountain, still gives old friends and new customers goosebumps as they drive up to the liveried doormen. The American Bar where Garland and Sinatra sang remains one of London’s most iconic, the Art Deco interiors of the Beaufort Bar now form a backdrop for stars of London’s burgeoning cabaret scene, and every night the Lancaster Ballroom hosts dinners for movie premieres, private dances and fashion parties.
8amTake an early morning stroll around Chelsea Physic Garden
Chelsea Physic Garden
66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3, Tube Sloane Square
Founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673 and dedicated to the healing arts of botany, Chelsea’s romantic walled Physic Garden is a living museum of natural history. A statue to patron Sir Hans Sloane, who gifted the land to the society in perpetuity for an annual sum of £5, stands at the centre of this breathtakingly beautiful formal garden. Wide gravel walkways and immaculately tended lawns lead the visitor around this fascinating world of therapeutic planting, which includes the Garden of World Medicine, the Perfumery Amphitheatre, the Garden of Edible and Useful Plants and the Historic Walk. Highlights include the oldest fruiting olive tree in the land and Britain’s first rockery planted with alpines, created in 1773 using masonry from the Tower of London. The grouping of species is fascinating, with beds dedicated to plants that treat psychiatric conditions and drifts of plants arranged geographically introduced tothe garden from Europe, the Far East and the Americas.
9amEnjoy a hearty breakfast
Granger & Co
Clerkenwell Green, 50 Sekforde Street, EC1, Tube Farringdon
Effervescent Aussie Bill Granger brings his feel-good sharing menus to Clerkenwell having already opened an outpost in Notting Hill. The restaurant looks out over historic Clerkenwell Green, the muster point for the Crusaders in the 13th century. Open from breakfast, Granger & Co comes into its own as a cool place for a lunch meeting for all the local creative agencies. As you’d expect from a Sydney chef, the menu is healthy and dominated by lean dishes such as warm turmeric spiced chicken, (cole)slaw, lime and coconut dressing or the shrimp burger with jalapeno mayo and shaved radish salad. The Pizzetti are the perfect accompaniment to a couple of rounds of white peach Bellinis.
10am -Indulge in a spot of retail therapy
Selfridges & Co
400 Oxford Street, W1, Tube Bond Street
When Edwardian retail magnate Henry Gordon Selfridge opened this Oxford Street pleasure palace over 100 years ago, he brought the spirit of the funfair to shopping. This feeling persists in immersive departments such as the men’s and women’s shoe departments (which are among the biggest in the world) and the designer galleries, which feature several imaginative concessions each tailored to its host label: Marni is all surrealism; Balenciaga is decorated with swooping architectural flourishes; and Chanel’s area is near impossible to fit into for all the tourists. Creative director Alannah Weston has revived this party mood, surfing the zeitgeist to constantly energize Selfridges with a seemingly endless supply of new toys. She brings together the coolest architects, artists, DJs, niche fashion mags and bloggers to “curate” a seemingly endless calendar of pop-up shops, happenings, art installation windows and personal appearances.
11am -Check out some classic British design
Colefax and Fowler
39 Brook Street, W1, Tube Bond Street
John Fowler’s particular blend of Georgian furniture, paintings, gilt sconces and satin-covered seats, as well as his expert eye for drapery, formed the quintessential English country house style that dominated “decoration” even beyond his death in 1977. The company that bears his name, together with that of his early collaborator Sibyl Colefax, continues in this vein, producing classic wallpapers and fabrics that are coming full circle in the cool stakes. The Brook Street shop is an almost ridiculously charming 18th-century town house just off Bond Street, the upper floors of which used to be the home of Fowler’s collaborator Nancy Lancaster. Visitors to the shop next to Claridge’s can browse the antiques in their natural setting – Nancy’s famous “butter yellow” drawing room.
12.30pm -Reward yourself with a delicious lunch with a view
Floors 38 and 39, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2, Tube Liverpool Street
Sir Terence needs no intro, nor does his iconic Michelin Building shop. With his son Jasper Conran at the helm as creative director and chairman, this Fulham flagship has been given a burst of new life. This includes more of a lifestyle shopping experience, you know the kind of thing – kitchenware displayed as though it’s an art installation, and gadgets, accessories, stationery and toiletries seductively art-directed to be utterly irresistible. Exclusive collaborations include Magnus Long furniture and Michael Ruh lighting, alongside iconic headline acts such as Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair and Anglepoise lamps. The other London branch is in a former stable building at the top of Marylebone (55 Marylebone High Street, W1), relaunched a couple of years ago with a chic café, a flower stand and a penthouse apartment.
2pm -Historic interiors
136 Kingsland Road, E2
One of London’s best-kept secrets, the Geffrye Museum, which occupies a row of modest 18th-century almshouses, offers a fascinating, through-the-keyhole peep at British middle-class domestic interiors down the ages. Eleven period rooms from 1600 to the present day are presented chronologically, with visitors walking through, among other interiors, a spartan 1630 hall, a Neoclassical 1790 parlour, a blowsy 1890 drawing room, a modernist 1960s living room and a 1998 loft conversion complete with copies of Wallpaper* in the magazine rack. Two almshouse interiors have been restored to their appearance in 1780 and 1880, when they were occupied by the parish poor. Prearranged tours are available (cost £2.50). The herb garden is charming, as are the period gardens reflecting changes in garden design between the 17th and 20th centuries.
3pm -Take part in an age-old tradition
Berry Bros & Rudd
3 St James’s Street, SW1, Tube Green Park
Every gentleman who fills his wardrobe at Savile Row probably fills his cellars with fine wine from Berry Bros. The firm is Britain’s oldest wine merchant and has traded from the same old storefront in the shadow of St James’s Palace for over 300 years. Giant weighing scales that stand on bowed timber floorboards have recorded the fluctuating poundage of every gentleman of consequence, from Beau Brummell, the Prince Regent and Lord Byron to today’s City dandies. Below stairs are the cellars, a private dining room and a wine school. Regular visitors to London might want to take out a Berry Bros’ Cellar Plan, whereby a monthly deposit will build a sensational cellar that could bear more dividends than their bank account.
5pm -Relax and recharge after a busy day
Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, SW1
This multi-floored sanctuary deep in the Corinthia includes a dark subterranean hideaway where a small soothing swimming pool, a hydrotherapy pool, a glass-walled steam room and moulded warmed marble loungers feel a world away from Whitehall – even though it’s just above. This is a sleek, upscale environment for a holistic approach to wellbeing. Many of the signature two-hour rituals are suited to men and women. The bright-white Spa Lounge rivals Daphne’s as a place for ladies to snack and gossip, and you can leave your hairshirts in the changing room, as treats include a delicious milky protein shake with honey, cacao powder, Greek yoghurt, banana and a pinch of cinnamon.
6pm -Grab an early dinner in a spectacular location
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6
The Ritz has a rival for the title “most beautiful dining room in London”. The “New Wing” of Neoclassical Somerset House, closed to the public for over a century and formerly occupied by the hated Inland Revenue, opened like a peony in 2014, with Skye Gyngell’s Spring its most ravishing new addition. The proportions of the rooms Spring occupies are stately and elegant. Modern touches by designer Briony Fitzgerald harmonize with the historic interiors. All the above would amount to little if the menu were style over substance but fortunately Gyngell’s food is the very best of the simple, seasonal, organic and ingenious school of British cooking: cod’s roe with crème fraîche and bruschetta, chorizo with clams, white beans and tomato aioli, grilled rabbit with kale, cannellini beans and parsley sauce, and meringue with citrus curd and Jersey cream. The Somerset House location will make Spring invaluable come London Fashion Week.
7.30pm -See an inspiring theatre production
South Bank, SE1, Tube Waterloo
Formed by Laurence Olivier in 1963, the National Theatre is arguably the most prestigious British theatre company and has been captained by giants of the stage Peter Hall, Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn, Nicholas Hytner and the present incumbent Rufus Norris. Denys Lasdun’s complex concrete building, “modernized” in 1998, houses three stages – the Dorfman, Lyttleton and Olivier – which are sacred to actors and audiences alike. The National presents twenty productions each year and is state-subsidized, which helps to keep many of the seats very affordable. In recent years the National has presented Ralph Fiennes in Man and Superman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller in Frankenstein, Helen Mirren in Racine’s Phèdre, Fiona Shaw’s Mother Courage and Anna Maxwell Martin and Dominic Cooper in a bravura adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. War Horse, One Man, Two Guvnors, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Alan Bennett’s The History Boys have since toured the world.
10pm -Finish off with some post-show refreshments
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1, Tube King’s Cross St Pancras
The rather lofty surroundings of the Victorian St Pancras railway station have been sympathetically reworked into one of London’s most elegant late-night bars. A hammer-beam roof dripping with Neo-Gothic ziggurats runs the length of the twenty-nine-metre bar, while the furnishings, finishes and flock of regulars are determinedly up to date. Railway hotel it may be, but there are none of the usual station transients here. Instead, a cool set of media and fashion types, drawn in from the neighbouring creative quarters, enjoy classic cocktails to ambient and energizing live sets or resident DJs playing until 3am. Excellent finger food available until the small hours, and house punch served in silver bowls would amuse even Queen Victoria after a couple of tankards.
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