Category Archives: London

Barts Speakeasy South Kensington – small but perfectly formed

In spite of living and working just a mile away from South Kensington and passing through it most days, I never felt as if I really knew the area.

To me it was a vague ensemble of various things – the museums, French people, a really good sheet music shop, the tube to Heathrow – but I’d never spent much time there.  From the top deck of the number 49 to Battersea I’d catch a glimpse of what looked like some nice restaurants or a lively bar, but it always remained a fairly unknown neighbourhood.

Now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not actually my fault I didn’t know much about South Kensington even though I was so often passing through – it’s because a lot of the best bits of South Kensington are hidden away.

barts speakeasy south kensington
Barts speakeasy on Sloane Avenue is a tiny, tucked-away homage to the Prohibition era

From anonymous doorways hiding speakeasies to hidden gardens and underground restaurants, there is a whole new world going on in SW7 in addition to the many delis and restaurants which are full of tourists and students every day.

My most recent discovery was certainly not the kind of thing you’d come across by accident. Walk down Sloane Avenue and into the smart but dull entrance to serviced apartment building Chelsea Cloisters and behind an unmarked door with a small plaque saying ‘Barts‘ next to it on the wall you’ll find a modern-day speakeasy which is very much set in Prohibition times. Continue reading Barts Speakeasy South Kensington – small but perfectly formed

Holborn Dining Room review: adds class to commuterville

The traffic-and-commuter-saturated High Holborn usually has little to recommend it, being full of gridlocked buses and office workers doing the twice-daily rat run to and from the tube.

But an grand oasis of opulent charm and fine dining has just arrived and is well worth putting off the journey home for.

Holborn Dining Room, which opened just a few weeks ago, is located the old Pearl Assurance building, so it has all the high-ceiling’d formal grandeur of a former financial institution complete with marbled pillars.

Holborn Dining Room
An improvement on an insurer’s offices, the building on High Holborn is 100 years old this year

In the far corner is the Holborn Delicatessen, open during the day for coffee, pastries and high-end deliciousnesses, while in the restaurant itself is a deli-style counter complete with hanging salamis and people busily slicing away at hunks of cured meat. Continue reading Holborn Dining Room review: adds class to commuterville

Equinox gym London: super-pricey but will get you super-fit

equinox gym london
The rather impressive Art Deco-style workout space at Equinox Kensington.

Equinox London could possibly be one of the most expensive gyms in Kensington, London or even the country. And it doesn’t even have a swimming pool.

But the US fitness chain Equinox, which is huge across America but which has only one outlet in the UK, in London’s posh Kensington postcode (a personal training club is scheduled to open this winter, in the even posher St James’s district by Piccadilly – check out E for Equinox ) is not going to apologise for its eye-watering prices.

‘It’s not fitness – it’s life,’ proclaims its website. And who is going to cut corners on ‘life’?

So you pay your £205 a month membership fee plus a £400 initiation fee and the cost for the current month, and embark on your journey of transformation. Continue reading Equinox gym London: super-pricey but will get you super-fit

New hotel for The Arts Club

It was off to the rather fabulous private members’ club The Arts Club  on Wednesday evening and the launch party for its new hotel. Sadly the hotel itself, with its 16 rooms and suites, will not be open for guests until 2015, but pictures and an explanatory talk by its designers, Sagrada, certainly whetted the appetite.

The opulently-appointed rooms, which will be on the second, third and fourth floors of the Georgian building, will be designed in a early 1900s-Europe style, with lashings of marble, stretched fabrics, hand-tufted rugs and ‘eglomise’ mirror panels (where the glass is gilded on the back with gold or metal leaf).

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However the main draw is likely to be the superb location just off Piccadilly within a cocktail olive’s throw of the Ritz, Langans and the Wolseley, not to mention a free run of all that The Arts Club has to offer, including three restaurants of its own, a garden and a stunning bar and nightclub.

While launch party guests might have to wait a while for their chance to stay in what The Arts Club’s Alice Chadwyck-Healey  described as ‘high-quality, glamorous and discreet’ suites, the goodie bags of champagne, chocolates and a scented candle at least gave them the chance to enjoy a little bit of luxury at home. Possibly without the eglomise mirrors.

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The Arts Club, 40 Dover Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4NP
020 7499 8581
www.theartsclub.co.uk