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Globestrutter: My Heart Belongs to London

November 13, 2017

London’s Southbank has established itself as one of the most vibrant, and eccentric parts of the capital and is a must for any visitor. The area, which stretches along the Thames from Westminster Bridge through to London Bridge, has become a cultural hub, peppered with contemporary art galleries, fantastic theatre, bustling restaurants, all set amongst the city’s leading architectural heritage sites.  


One of the most iconic buildings on the waterfront, the old Sea Containers office block has been converted into the nautical-themed Sea Containers London by design extraordinaire, Tom Dixon. The copper-encrusted reception desk (resembling a ship’s hull) and sinuous copper walls set the tone, while modish grey rooms feature splashes of bright colour – book a balcony chamber to make the most of the spectacular panoramic views over St Paul’s and the City of London.

Voted World’s Best Cocktail Bar in 2017 and 2018, The Dandelyan Bar is worth a visit, not only for the decadent, cruise-liner decor, but for the experience of ordering one of the deliciously toxic cocktails; the Silver Fria comes highly recommended. Upstairs is a glorious rooftop 12th Knot for soaking up the scenery. And of course, you have the cultural and culinary delights of Southbank right on your doorstep.


Reflecting London’s diverse and sophisticated food scene, Southbank is home to a plethora of restaurants, from the cheap and cheerful to the gastronomically impressive. The Breakfast Club in London Bridge is well suited to those feeling a tad jaded from the night before, while its downstairs sibling Call Me Mr Lucky is a lively and kitsch cocktail den, repping pink flamingo burgers and tequila, for when you want to start again.

Artisan coffee shop The Grind is the place to go for a decent coffee, salad or brunch, and Tapas Brindisa is a long-standing local institution serving authentic Spanish tapas. For the meat enthusiast, head to Hawksmoor for succulent steaks, or nearby Gaucho for spectacular views. Should you be seeking a more formal setting, book a river-view pew at Aqua, set on the 31/F of The Shard. Helmed by Dale Osborne, who trained under Heston Blumenthal and Mark Hix, it’s a prime example of British culinary innovation.


Tate Modern contains some of the most impressive contemporary artworks in the world, but chances are you’ll be vying to glimpse pieces alongside hordes of school kids and tourists.  Instead, nip to the understated Hayward Gallery, which showcases some of the most innovative and exciting contemporary talents. Built in the late 1960s in traditional Brutalist architecture, Haywood reopens in Jan of 2018 after a two-year renovation with a major retrospective of German photographer Andreas Gursky, considered one of the most significant photographers of the C.20th. Close by in Bermondsey is White Cube Gallery, home to the YBAs in the 90s, is famous for supporting emerging artists.


London’s oldest food emporium, Borough Market, is the functioning heart and soul of the area. Dating back to 1014, its importance arose from its proximity to London Bridge which, for a long time, was the only route into the capital. Today the market is a dynamic hub, attracting stallholders from all over the country who sell fresh produce and speciality foods. At the other end of Southbank, tucked under Waterloo Bridge, is London’s only outdoor secondhand and antique book market. Here you can find hundreds of classics and modern-day titles as well as maps, prints and comic books.


Southbank is home to the British Film Institute, famed for its retrospectives and showings of classic movies, the publicly funded heirloom, National Theatre, and the not-for-profit Old Vic and Young Vic theatres. With a mandate for creating high quality, accessible theatre at low cost and in an informal setting, the Young Vic stages exciting, influential and bold productions, often with a stellar cast.

For more insider tips and neighbourhood guides, nab a copy of the LUXE London guide...

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