We’ve teamed up with Illesteva, the sharp NYC-designed, handmade-in-Europe sunglasses brand to spotlight the best places in our fave European destinations. Up first: the Old Smoke, aka London. Tally-ho!
Steeped in history and tradition, stacked with culture, charmingly eccentric and always fashion forward; storied, multicultural London never fails to entice. Chances are you’ve ticked off all the main sights, so seek out these LUXE-curated sweet spots on your next trip to the Old Smoke.
Stay: The Curtain
A 70s office block-style chic sleeper with rock-star attitude, The Curtain was one of a slew of designer hotel openings in East End last year. Loft-style rooms are dark and clubby with occasional pops of colour, custom furniture and covetable retro prints, while the below-stairs members club, screening room, Marcus Samuelsson’s soulful Red Rooster and handsome, soon-to-open Green Room imbiber are on hand for saucy all-hours antics. Just add a rooftop pool with retractable rooftop and stagger city vistas… what are you waiting for?
Eat & Drink
Breakfast: Battling the ol’ jet lag? Forget counting sheep and zip instead to Bishopsgate where vertiginous open kitchen Duck & Waffle serves comfort plates with a side of views. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, you can order a frothy capp and fresh juice to go with waffles savoury or sweet as you watch the sunrise across London.
To Market:Depending on the day of the week, take in one of London’s triff foodie markets. Leave Borough to the brolly-wielding hordes and skip to nearby Bermondsey instead for gourmet treats aplenty at Maltby Street Market (Sat-Sun). Or, venture further south to Brixton Village, where underneath the railway arches you’ll find a tantalising smorgasboard of around-the-world flavours and streetmos. Open daily at lunchtime, this is multicultural London at its best.
A London Tradition: Tuck in elbow to nip with hip slickers and wealthy wannabes for afternoon tea in the pretty pink India Mahdavi-designed salon adorned with witty cartoons by David Shrigley. Caviar, quail eggs and green-tea macarons are avant-garde additions to the traditional cha (and Champagne) menu. A popular mid-retail It-girl spot, be sure to book in advance. sketch.london.com
Dinner: Graze at the bar, or slink into sit-down supper mode at the exuberant and youthful yet elegant The Clove Club, tucked beside the imposing Shoreditch Town Hall. The terrific, boundary-pushing 5- or 9-course set menus spotlight oft-overlooked Brit ingredients.
Explore: Leading lights
London’s stellar offering of museums and galleries never tires, but should you want to discover the city’s lesser-known nooks, or see the main sights from a different angle, book a private or small-group tour. We rate Context for their expert-led, walking conversations around the big-gun museums and galleries, while Art History UK’s tailored jaunts have a fashion and artistic bent. For grittier urban adventures, pound the pavement with shutterbug David Stewart on one of his excellent Shoreditch Street Art Tours. PR maven turned city strutter Emma Parker offers witty thematic explorations of the Old Smoke through CouTours. Whether you decide to uncover Secret London with the family, or stagger around the Great London Gin Walk, her creative, super-personal ambles are available as a group or bespoke.
Many of London’s main shopping areas are alas gripped by bland chainstoritis, which makes the central pocket of Marylebone, with its Victorian red-brick townhouses and boho village vibe all the more enchanting. Indie shopportunity abounds: browse pre-loved troves William Vintage and Alfies Antiques, snag a custom scent from Perfumer H and indulge in some tired trotter relief at pedi-queen Margaret Dabbs. Do make time to drop in on The Wallace Collection while you’re there. Toodle-pip!