London: The LUXE Lowdown

Hey there, Georgie Girl… What’s with the Russian accent? London may be gripped by new-monied affluenza and a serious outbreak of chainstore-itis, but at 2,000 years of age, she’s positively bursting at the seams with history and culture. What’s more, ballsy Brit-dish cooking and the resurgence of villagey nabes and artisanal pride are breathing new life into the Old Smoke.


Taking bubbly Soho as your centre, leafy hi-­so enclaves Kensington and Notting Hill extend west, spiffy red­brick Marylebone is perched northwest, quinoa-­fuelled Islington is north and grit-cool Shoreditch is in the East End. South of the Thames lie the lesser­ sung joys of Southwark. 

Need to Know

  • Cash Up: In London on a budget? Start crying. This city is one huge cash removal zone – either put up or shut up

  • When to Visit: London is a year ­round event. The tourist swarms never dissipate and the weather can be dreadful whatever the season, so there’s really no bad/good time to visit

  • The Tube: London’s vast underground is a necessary evil. Buy an Oyster Card, grab a free map, and skirt rush hour

  • Out and About: Clued­in Londoners hit bars, restaurants and clubs on weekdays; weekends in town can get rather skanky

  • Reservations: Book ahead for the big­ticket restaurants, unless you’re happy to dine at 5pm with an ‘L’ sign

  • Steer Clear: Avoid Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Regent & Oxford Streets like the plague

Talking Points, 2017 Edition

  • Events: The Boat Race (Apr) strapping young lads in lycra; RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May) bloomin’ marvellous; Glyndebourne (May­-Aug) opera­ahhh; Royal Ascot (Jun) mad hatters hit the gee­gees; Wimbledon (Jun-­Jul) Pimm’s and pros; The Proms (Jul-Sep) Albie’s orchestral blowout; Notting Hill Carnival (Aug) colourful street carnage

  • Archi Goss: Brit reliable Norman Foster and bonkers brain Frank Gehry are still beavering away at the long­ awaited regeneration of London skyline icon, Battersea Power Station

  • Plan Ahead: Excluding special exhibs, most major museums and galleries are free (stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Paris); just be sure to avoid swamped weekends. Squeeze in a gratis lunchtime classical concert at either St Martin in the Fields (recitals 1pm Mon, Tue & Fri) or St James’s Church Piccadilly (recitals 1.10pm Mon, Wed & Fri). And evening entertainment doesn’t have to be an eye­watering affair either – a little forward­ planning will bag you a perch at the Royal Opera House or a West End show for as little as a tenner. Seriously, book ahead

  • Summer Screen: Tickets for the gorgeous and wildly popular Somerset House Summer Screen (Aug) go on sale in May – get clickin’ quick, and book sups at Skye Gyngell's rave­reviewed Spring at the same time. Come Dec, swap your cushions for mufflers, and carve some shapes on the ice rink


Chloe Jessica Payne

After spells spent in Mexico, Madrid, Lyon, São Paulo and Hong Kong, Chloe now lives in London with her husband and two muddy mongrels and is currently planning trips to Bruges, Paris, Alaska, SoCal, Romania and Reykjavik. 

  • Chloe LOVES... Baking, old movies, Graham Greene novels
  • Chloe LOATHES... 4x4’s in London, visor-toting tourists, airport queuing 

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