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48 Hours In

Head East: 48 hours in the City of London

You’re spending forty eight hours in the greatest city on earth, whether you are working in the Capital or business has sent you, enjoy it!

It’s a city of heritage, gastronomy, fashion, architecture and it’s also the greenest capital city in the world! 48 hours is definitely not enough but enjoy a good mix of everything, arts and culture, food and drink. Head East to the City of London, and try our top picks for a whistle stop visit. Here we go…

Sleeping and Dreaming

Check out the new Soho House venture in an old bank complete with original vaults, The Ned. In the summer, the rooftop pool parties are a nobrainer, with views stretching from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Gherkin. The Hotel includes an outpost of Mayfair’s Cecconi’s, an Italian restaurant complete with a globe light-topped and leather-clad bar; Malibu Kitchen, a healthy Californian-inspired eatery; British and American Millie’s which will offer up classics such as fish and chips 24 hours-a-day and Zobler’s, a Jewish-style deli offering the likes of Reuben sandwiches. There is also a subterranean spa, complete with 20-metre lap pool in a former vault and a hammam with pink marble sourced from Devon; a gym with boxing ring; and outposts of Cheeky nail bar and Neville barbershop.

For somewhere more chilled, I love the Nobu Hotel in hipsterville, Shoreditch. Hidden behind a striking façade of glass, concrete, and cantilevered steel beams on Shoreditch’s Willow Street, it is already one of the City’s hottest hangouts. With seductive interiors, the rooms feature dark wood panels, brass fittings and low-slung furniture, bowling ball-shaped ceiling lights, which illuminate king-size beds, with ­good-quality linen and natty cotton gowns folded on top. The restaurant steals the show here. Walk there via the lobby and sashay down a breathtaking staircase trimmed with neon on each side with the DJ hub at the top. For breakfast, order the activated-charcoal lemonade, and Eggs Benedict with crispy tofu, snow crab, salmon eggs and shiso béarnaise.

However, my sources tell me that hands down the best hotel in London is the Shangri La in the Shard. Located on floors 34 to 52 of the building, the view is sublime with 360-degree vistas of the capital from just about everywhere, and the top-floor infinity pool area is a particularly desirable space. But the compromise here is the area immediately around the hotel but it’s right by the tube. I don’t intend for you to sleep very much however!

Day 1

Start with breakfast (or Frunch, Friday brunch) as they call it, at The Bad Egg including bottomless processo, mimosas and an excellent range of menu options from pancakes, to burgers to granola and breakfast tacos. It gets you prepared for the walking around you are prepared to do. Top tip, opt for the lighter options because you’ll want to try our other suggestions for eating spots.

Alternatively, Bourne & Hollingsworth is a modern all day British brasserie in Clerkenwell, with a greenhouse relaxed café vibe, a beautiful interior with wrought iron circular stairwell, tropical print upholstery and a huge stone fireplace. Try the French toast or the baked avocado with runny egg and toasted soldiers.

It’s worth having a good wander around Spitalfields market and the surrounding boutiques too. A shipping container turned into a shopping mall pubches above it’s weight for retail therapy- find Boxpark by Shoreditch High Street station.

Take a tour of 19 Princelet Street Synagogue (check in advance as it is rarely open due to its fragile condition), one of London’s smallest and most beautiful historic buildings. Once a Protestant Huguenot weaver’s house, it has a shabby façade that gives no indication of the beautiful secret Victorian synagogue built by Jewish immigrants over the former gardens of the house.

Before you head home to get ready for dinner, head to Dinerama on Great Eastern Street opposite Boxpark is worth a look, a split-level, global street food market housing cluster of stalls & bars in a lively environment. Very cool, very hipster. Even if not hungry, check out the upstairs wine bar. Open from 5pm until 1am, Thursday to Saturday only.

Morito (sister to Moro), does not take dinner reservations, so while you may have to wait, the food and buzzing atmosphere are all worth it. Tuck into Spanish tapas, classic cocktails and sumptuous sherries.

If its music you are after with some great food, Nightjar by Old Street roundabout has nightly jazz and the best cocktails. It’s not far to Gibson’s Cocktail Bar, created by Nightjar’s former bar manager, a vaguely prohibition-themed cocktail bar shaking knock-out cocktails. You will be taken on a journey through time and space. With the help of the classic pickled cocktail, the Gibson, and a supporting cast of over 40 highly inventive cocktails, The Gibson’s menu is built around a magical calendar that transports you to different seasons in different eras.

For some live music and burlesque, find Hester’s Hideout in Exmouth Market, behind an unmarked door, just look for the tradesman’s entrance. Kansas Smitty’s in Hackney have a legendary house band and the swing nights draw together London’s artsy movers and shakers. Combine with dinner at Cub and a cocktail at Super Lyan in Hoxton and this will be the highlight of your trip. You won’t find tourists here and you will be served by regularly voted “best barman in the world” Mr Ryan Chetiyawardan. Don’t be intimidated though, he is a gentle soul and always delighted to speak about his passion for food and drink. Don’t rush to head back, you can sleep when you are finally at home!

After work spots?

If you’re there for work, and you are looking to unwind or maybe show off to your colleagues with City favourites, here are some after work spots that we recommend.

Tucked away beneath one of the city’s leading restaurants you’ll find The Soda Room in The Botanist. This cocktail lounge and nightclub brings stylish hedonism to Broadgate Circle. An inviting space featuring exotic taxidermy, dark golds and copper-decorated walls, this place offers a programme of live music and DJ sets throughout the week. Head downstairs for a post-dinner tipple or make a night of it with an evening of drinking and dancing.

For wine lovers, its all about the Humble Grape in Fleet Street. A sleek, opulent venue in the heart of the City. Serving over 30 different types of wine, guests can unwind after a stressful day in the office with a carafe or two of their favourite international wines.

One of the best bars in the City, BYOC stunning little London speakeasy is a fun, new way to do cocktails. Bring your own bottle of booze and watch it transform before your eyes into fabulous drinks, courtesy of the BYOC mixologists.

Set over two floors, Kitty Hawk fuses New York style with the coolness of London, with wooden furnishings setting a homely tone against industrial flourishes. Their wine list is extensive and even features selections from the Rothschild Estate, and there’s a wonderful list of craft beers and cocktails as well.

Day 2

If you are up early enough, begin with breakfast at Rochelle Canteen on Arnold Circus in Shoreditch. This lovely, understated restaurant with communal tables is housed in a converted bike shed, part of a former primary school now used for studio space. And make way for Columbia Road Flower Market (only open on Sundays), is one of London’s most visually appealing markets, overflowing with bucketfuls of beautiful flowers. Alongside the Sunday market you’ll find a host of independent galleries and shops selling pottery, perfume and the like. Turn up as things start to wind down at around 2pm for the best bargains, or as early as humanly possible if you want to guarantee yourself the pick of the crop.

If you want to sweat out that hangover, book a yoga class high up in the Shard with Yogasphere or a spin class at Psycle by Shoreditch House. Classes are available daily at various times, so check the schedule in advance.

You are going to need a suitable brunch so I recommend Hoi Polloi in the Ace Hotel. For character, ambiance, and of course, its food. This is the best spot for all things organic, natural, and ‘of the earth.’ Enter through the flower store, Hoi Polloi is a reflection of Shoreditch and its characteristics, and is definitely one of the coolest spots in town.

Nearby, have brunch at Hot Box, who take you from Shoreditch to the Texas plains with a specialist American BBQ. It is located in a former art gallery in a Grade II listed building on Commercial Street. To start with, choose from Prosecco, Mimosas or a long list of Bloody Mary variations. The menu has all the American classics you would expect including Buttermilk Pancakes with bacon & syrup as well as Ribs from the famous smoker and some luxurious Truffled Eggs.

I would encourage you to explore the surrounding areas by doing this excellent self guided street art walking tour. I do it at least once a year because artists regularly paint over their comrades work and it’s like an ever evolving exhibition.

Head to Dennis Severs’ House, only open at select times on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Its like stepping into a painting by one of the Old Masters. Restored in the style of east London’s Huguenot period, it’s open for tours throughout the year. In silence, visitors pass through its ‘still life drama’, visiting each room to see evidence of an eighteenth-century silk weaver’s family life without ever meeting a soul: a dinner lies half-eaten, a fire still crackles, a chamber pot needs emptying.

London can offer so many interesting new experiences. Sticking to the glossy listings in the magazines and Tripadvisor will definitely mean you miss out on London’s underground culture.

This is the day to do something novel- maybe an immersive theatre show from Secret Cinema? Maybe a part immersive part virtual reality journey called Somnai in Farringdon?

Secret Cinema showing of 28 Days Later

Secret Cinema showing of 28 Days Later

Feel like using your brain and team work skills? Check out The Grift at the nearby Town Hall Hotel. Work with your team to unlock the mystery left behind by the now deceased owner of the hotel.

Finally, end your day with dinner at Luca, Farringdon. It’s the new restaurant from the owners of The Clove Club (No.26 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants). This is upscale country comfort food, brings contemporary Italian dishes to Clerkenwell, translating into choices like spaghettini with Morecambe Bay shrimps, rump of Angus beef stuffed with pancetta, and ravioli of grouse with potato and whisky sauce. Make sure you try the parmesan truffle fries to start. They are not just any variation of the potato.

Now that you are all set for a fantastic 48 hours in the City London, check out our what to pack section, you don’t want to come along without these.

  1. An umbrella and suncream for changeable weather
  2. A scarf and sunglasses- you may well find yourself wearing both!
  3. Chic trainers- comfy but trendy

What to Pack

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