Before setting off to research this edition, I enlisted my friend Jenis for company, to prevent me going solo and looking like a ‘lady of the night’ in some the establishments. What I’ve found are real gems. As a Londoner, one can get stuck and be reticent about what’s out there. I’ve realised that not only is this a guide for worldwide visitors, it is also a guide for Londoners – it’s for us all.
It's the Olympic Games and all that walking around and is going to work up a thirst or even the desire to set your eyes on something else. When you feel like your feet could with a break, here are 5 ideas as to what to do.
Bar 45 is in the heart of Mayfair and Piccadilly, yet it’s ever so discrete. 45 Park Lane is the younger, cooler brother of The Dorchester Hotel, and all rooms have a view of Hyde Park. As soon as we entered the beautiful modern Art Deco interior designed by Thierry Despont, we were greeted with the warmest of smiles. On the ground floor is Wolfgang Puck’s ‘CUT’ restaurant, the walls filled with Damien Hirst artwork - beautiful pieces and far from controversial. The bar is on the mezzanine up the central staircase.
We deliberated over the drinks menu, with help from the professionals on hand opted for the ‘Devil in Disguise’ cocktail: Patron resposado tequila and passion fruit served in Riedel crystal glasses rimmed with smoked Kashmiri salt – delicious and divine.
This is the sort of venue where you never know who you might see or meet, an A-list celebrity or future spouse – all very possible in this sophisticated, high-end yet ever so comfortable environment to relax in and savour.
Prince Charles Cinema
The Prince Charles is situated just off Leicester Square. This independent cinema is one of my (and Quentin Tarantino’s) favourites, and has the most inventive screenings in London. Be ready to sing to your heart’s content at the Sing-a-long-a Grease nights. Other events include the Pyjama Party night back-to-back teen movies all night, such as Clueless and The Breakfast Club and where prizes are given for the coolest pyjamas worn. For something less girly and just as fun, is The Blues Brothers Sing Along where you’re encouraged to go dressed as a Blues Brother or as Prince if you attend the Purple Rain Live-ish screening.
These events are brilliant ways to meet people especially if you’re a single traveller. When you’re in town go and enjoy some great movies, London-style. You’ll leave on a complete high - we did.
The Amaranto bar at the Four Seasons’ is sumptuous and spectacular with its Asian fusion inspired décor designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and private entrance just off Park Lane. We were seated facing a magnificent wall of wines, (250 varieties, mainly Italian) as I sat, I thought no one could forget where they were even after one cocktail too many! The stream of waiters and sommeliers enriched our experience as were so accommodating without being patronizing. The intention here was to create a luxurious bar without the ‘stuffy’ feel and they’ve succeeded. We stayed with the ‘spicy’ theme for the cocktails. As I didn’t want it to get too messy, after all I was ‘working’.
We were given a mini-tour of the restaurant – once again magnificent. The handsome men at the helm; Executive Chef Adriano Cavagnini, and Restaurant Chef Davide Degiovanni made me an offer I couldn’t refuse - to come back and experience the restaurant. Watch this space, Luxury London will definitely be back.
The Lexi Cinema
The Lexi is very special in that 100% of its profits are donated to charity and is run by volunteers. So when you visit for entertainment, know that you are giving to an impoverished community somewhere else in the world. So many great reasons to visit, it is a child friendly cinema that has special screenings for families. Depending on when you visit you can also take in some Opera or Theatre shows. Various unique films are shown and frequent Q&As with directors. I’m excited to see ‘Marley’ there at the end of month. Just like the legendary Bob Marley, The Lexi is on a mission to bring awareness and change to the world.
Back to the bars, we moved on to the heart of Soho to Archer Street. The décor was similar to the trendy member’s clubs dotted around town; large cushion laden sofas set in chic lounges. A space where young media creatives are drawn to. The difference; the entire bar staff and waitresses…sing, yes and they can really sing!! The DJ played pop classics like the Spice Girls ‘Wannabee’, popular ones to encourage all guests to sing along. At one stage, Jenis and I were singing at the top of our voices TLC’s ‘I don’t want no scrub, a scrub is the guy that can’t get no love from me. Hanging on the passenger’s side of his best friend’s ride – trying to holla at me..!” So much fun and very relevant being newly single ladies.
Continuing with our spicy cocktail theme of the night, The ‘Hearts on Fire‘ cocktail was garnished with a fresh red chilli – I made the mistake of sipping from the rim where the chilli once lay. My attempts to cool down the left corners of my lips, was a source of deep belly laughter for us and some people sitting nearby. It was a fabulous finale to the evening.
I’ve really enjoyed writing this edition of the mini-series, not only due to the cocktails tastings but also because of what I discovered. Writing this column has forced me to stop taking this city for granted. I will be revisiting all the bars, as they were ambient, great places you didn’t want to leave.
There is so much to experience, as I’ve said before the beauty of London is that it can enhance and enrich your life if you let it, in this instance - one cocktail bar and one cinema at a time.
Welcome to Luxury London.
Written by Camille Adomakoh – Karma-Style