*Hands over keys to the kingdom.*
This guide is for the harried Londoners, those who proudly reside in one of the world’s greatest cities, yet rarely see its rosy, ‘off-duty’ face. For the parents who have secured grandparents for the weekend. For the most impressive date-weekend ever. For those in need from an easy escape from the daily dross without wondering too far (because we’ve all got somewhere to be on Monday at 8am). Read on for 6 of London’a best staycations.
The 6 Best London Staycations
Stay: The Laslett. Far from the soulless city hotel, the Laslett is a local linchpin for the bohemian Notting Hill set that prides itself on its community connections (their links to the area’s antique stores are well worth tapping up). Locals and visitors alike share opinions, good coffee and tasty tapas plates in the airy Victorian town house’s restrained spaces. In the evenings, writers, artists, chefs and photographers pile into the cocktail bar and spill onto the quaint terrace with cool glasses of wine and aperols. The rooms recall a stylish bachpad for a cultured urbanite, more into his music and design than his work in the city. Marble bathrooms bearing Manor House style showers sit comfortably alongside the pared back chic and retro finish of the rooms. Then there’s the suave mini bar, packing every whisky and wine one could hope for. Hot milk to the room isn’t a bother, nor is that phone charger you forgot which can be found in a sweet sack of other niche essentials: eyemasks, adapters and the likes of. Bag a room with views across to stucco-fronted Notting Hill town houses – some smart, some dilapidated. Such is the spirit of Notting Hill.
Eat: Portobello Market. Whilst we’re on this thought about the chill London life to which you may or may not desperately aspire, may we offer the tried and true Portobello Market for your consideration? There are few things more easy-breezy than strolling down Portobello Road and picking up a curry, paella, fish and chips, bratwurst or another of the abundant gastro-delights. Nearby, on Goldborne Road, you’ll find North African and Caribbean street food throughout the week. (Portobello has hot food on only Fridays and Saturdays.)
Do: Les Couilles du Chien. There couldn’t be a corner of Notting Hill that satisfies its Richard Curtis stereotype more than Jerome Dodd’s perfectly formed shop, Les Couilles du Chien – a veritable treasure trove of antiques and natural history curiosities that would make your sitting room, bathroom or bedroom ‘pop’. From Anthony Redmile’s racy 70s furniture to deconstructed ceramics, giant shells and framed exotic butterflies, there simply isn’t enough time. If you’re lucky, acclaimed interiors consultant, Jerome himself will be submerged in the treasure, ready to impart his encyclopaedic knowledge and whet any design appetites.
Stay: The Orange Public House & Hotel. Airy interiors with bright rooms and high ceilings are sure to air out your cobwebs and put an end to any routine-induced stagnation. This boutique hotel has only four rooms, making it a slam dunk of a intimate-weekend getaway. Read more about The Orange Public House & Hotel in our Great British Hotel Guide.
Eat: This time, The Orange Public House wins specifically for the Pimlico category! Really, if its no-fuss, relaxed together-time that you’re after, then why not share the Sunday roast or one of the ‘local loved’ wood-fired pizzas at the hotel’s ground floor restaurant before nipping upstairs?
Do: The Pimlico Road is the ideal weekend route for a pair of interiors-hunters who want to get out and about, but also wouldn’t mind a little antiquing along the way. Hilary Batstone, Howe London, Nicholas Haslam, Rose Uniacke, oh my!
Stay: The Kensington. Pashley bikes with baskets for picnicking are just an example of the sorts of small gestures that The Kensington makes in order to put its guest first. Effortlessly stylish and sophisticated rooms give guests the perfect taste of what Kensington is all about, too. Read more about The Kensington in our Great British Hotel Guide.
Eat: Enoteca Rosso. C&TH’s resident Italian, Clementina Jackson tips her hat to this eatery, which is no small compliment when she’s talking regional Italian food on this side of the Med. Go for the ravioli filled with broccoli and ricotta, topped with sausage crumble and fresh chillies, or the deliciously warming saffron and lamb ragu tagliatelle.
Do: The Leighton House Museum. The house was the former home and studio of the leading Victorian artist, Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). Designed by George Aitchison, the museum has been extended and embellished over a period of 30 years to create a private palace of art. If you don’t go to one of the Leighton Lates, like ‘Art Bites’, Life Drawing or a live musical performance, head to Ciné Lumière in the evening. We consider it one of the 15 best independent cinemas in London.
Stay: The Principal London. The Principal London is the flagship of the hotel group by David Taylor of Hoxton and Edition. The Charles Fitzroy-Doll-designed building on Russell Square (around the corner from the British Museum) touts interiors come courtesy of two hot hotel design names: Tara Bernerd and Russell Sage. Big, bold and beautiful (334 rooms and suites). Read more about The Principal London in our Great British Hotel Guide.
Eat: Dalloway Terrace. Go the whole hog on the literary scene in Bloomsbury and take tea at Dalloway Terrace, named after the eponymous character created by Virginia Woolf, forever a Bloomsbury association. Dalloway Terrace is similarly elegant, poetic and quintessentially English. The beautiful indoor-outdoor space has been reimagined for spring by master florist Nikki Tibbles, allowing guests to enjoy a springtime meadow even if the weather outside disagrees. A new ‘Honey Bee’ afternoon tea is available for £35 per person and features honey roast ham and Lemon shortbread served with lavender honey.
Do: Go book mad. Book-lovers in the market for a literary adventure will be spoilt for choice; from the UK’s first gay bookshop (Gay’s the Word) and specialists in 18th and 19th century literature (Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers) to the cult-like reprinters of neglected mid-twentieth century fiction and non-fiction by (mostly) women writers (Persephone Books).
Stay: The Grazing Goat. The perfect break from London in London awaits at this rustic-chic gastro-pub and hotel on land that once was used for grazing goats. Now, the land is the upmarket Portman Village, a stone’s throw away from Oxford Street shopping and further rustic pursuits otherwise known as Hyde Park. Read more about The Grazing Goat in our Great British Hotel Guide.
Eat: The Providores and Tapa Room. Give yourself a tried and true revival in the form of brunch, which is off the charts here, by the way. The French toast alone comes with roasted pineapple, mango, Oxford honey mascarpone, smoked streaky bacon and blueberries. Do you lean to the savoury side? Go for tortilla of ruby gem potatoes, oyster mushrooms, manouri and spinach, rocket pomegranate salad, truffle oil sumac labne, and artichoke crisps. Also: Crosstown doughnuts on tap.
Do: The Wallace Collection. To balance out your rustic renewal at The Grazing Goat, why not dip into some of Marylebone’s famously high end haunts? No, we don’t mean run-of-the-mill boutiquey shops and bespoke cocktails, but one of Europe’s finest art collections – a slew of paintings, furniture, arms & armour and porcelain open to the public at Hertford House.
Stay: The Beaumont. It was always going to be great. The first hotel from restaurant supremos Corbin & King (that’s Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, founders of The Wolseley and many of London’s most fashionable restaurants) was a glossy, stylish hit from the moment it opened in 2014. What’s more, its advent has put North Mayfair firmly on the map; and, courtesy of Antony Gormley’s inhabitable sculpture Room, it has given London both a magnificent public artwork and an extraordinary one-bedroom suite inside it. The Beaumont harks back to the pre-war elegance of Mayfair hotels. Read more about The Beaumont in our Great British Hotel Guide.
Eat: Cecconi’s has become a London institution, attracting a glitzy crowd from far and wide, all searching for a slice of old-school Italian glamour. The establishment was opened just off Savile Row in 1978 by Enzo Cecconi, the youngest-ever general manager of the renowned Cipriani in Venice, finally bringing Londoners fresh and authentic Italian food. It’s remained a magnet for celebrities and international royalty through the years, drawn by the theatrics and grandeur of the restaurant reminiscent of Cecconi’s original vision.
Do: Dover Street Market. Like most conceptual, multi-storey fashion spaces and retail stores, this one must be seen to be believed. Fashion designer Rei Kawakubo’s labyrinth is paradise for fashion lovers and interior-ophiles. The space nods to Kawakubo’s home country with its harajuku shopping complex vibe that at the same time champions London’s brightest stars, such as Grace Wales Bonner menswear and Molly Goddard’s dresses woven out of tulle.