Just Back from London...
Part 2 of a 3 part series
London has a variety of things to do for people of all ages and interests. I lived in South Kensington for 10 years until 3 years ago and still discover new little nooks. From having a staring contest with the royal guards at the Buckingham Palace to ticking down the minutes at Big Ben, London is full of tourist attractions that are hard to miss. However, if you're not too concerned with the royal jewels, or simply done with the usual attractions, there are lesser-known places to eat, drink, and be merry than the typical double-decker tour bus. Here are my latest finds...
Hope & Greenwood / The Goodhood Life Store
If you have a sweet tooth (or even if you don't) Hope and Greenwood is to be checked out. These "purveyors of splendid confectionary" have delicious treats from the must-try lemon bonbons to simple fudge. This sweetshop even sells recipe books if you're daring enough to attempt to conjure these sweets across the pond. The Goodhood Life Store is home to super trendy clothing, accessories and home décor that give any space a zest and zen feel. The newest branch of this uber chic store, The Goodhood Life Store was recognized as the 7th best store in London in 2011. These fresh designs are sure to outfit your home perfectly.
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
Looking for either a touch of New York or a touch of Paris? You can find both in Keith McNally's installment of the long anticipated Balthazaar London. This Convent Garden brasserie is reminiscent of the original New York location, including the delicious food. The French inspired restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a delightful weekend brunch. Ametsa with Arzak Instruction is the newest sister restaurant of three Michelin starred Arzak in San Sebastian. The interior is cool and somewhat minimal as to not distract from the main point of the restaurant: the amazing food. With 2012's Worlds Best Female Chef, Elena Arzak at the helm, the rich, earthy flavors didn't disappoint.
You can get both the old fashioned with the hip and trendy in the London nightlife. The Scotch, considered one of London's coolest night scenes not only has an impressive, extensive cocktail list, but the staff is well dressed in Paula Hogg designed uniforms. Sit back and relax on the plushy interior furniture, or you can jam out to the steady, fun rock and roll playlist constantly booming. A London Calling or A Hard Day's Night are tasty drinks to sip on, once you get into the establishment, be aware the door wait is long but worth the wait. At the risk of being called old fashioned, Evans & Peel Detective Agency goes through great lengths to conceal their not-so-modern-day speakeasy. After going through a random black door, through a secret bookcase, and past a more than serious receptionist (it's all part of the experience) you finally enter! The prohibition cocktails are not to be taken lightly- the Old Fashion in particular is definitely worth a try.
Hotel Café Royal
Our friends stayed this trip at the center of the tourist/shopping areas, the newly re-opened Hotel Café Royal is one of London's newest luxe hotel additions. Although incredibly busy on the outside, the inside offers a silent getaway from the hustle and bustle. The rooms are spacious and contemporary with a lovely view of the city, while at the same time equipped with a completely marble bathroom (even the stopper in the bath tub is marble). There is always a risk that with new establishments the help is also new and therefore inexperienced; however, this is not the case with Café Royal. The butlers are all veterans of London's other top hotels and definitely show it with quick and efficient service. If you're interested in a silent, beautiful, spacious, guestroom with a view, the newly reopened Café Royal has the accommodations you've been looking for.