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Archive for November, 2012

Waterloo and City Line

There are eleven tube lines on the London Underground but one I often overlook is the Waterloo & City Line. It’s the shortest line at just 1.5 miles long and doesn’t have any stops along the way so it is simply Waterloo to Bank station.

 

I have to admit, I found this ‘map’ very funny.
© TheJRB

 

It’s primarily used by commuters working in the City and catching a train to their homes outside of London in the southwest of England from Waterloo Railway Station. It runs for less hours than the rest of the London Underground network and is closed on Sundays. But it is a really great way for visitors to connect two parts of town that you might not think of seeing on the same day.

 

 

About The Waterloo & City Line

Some Londoners refer to the line as the “Drain” as it passes under the River Thames. The line opened in 1898 with the intention of connecting the work places of the City with the mainline train station at Waterloo. It was run by Southern Railway, so not part of London Underground, until 1994. The line has an annual 9.6 million passengers with most travelling on weekdays during the two ‘rush hours’ – roughly 7-10am and 4-7pm.

 

The four car 1992 stock trains wind back and forth and in and out of service as required, tooting their whistle where necessary.
© TheJRB

 

There are five trains in use with a depot at Waterloo. The trains are shorter than other tube trains at only four cars (carriages) long but they are the same design as used on the Central Line.

 

Bank Station

The Waterloo & City Line is separate from the other tube lines at Bank so you need to come through the barriers and cross over to the W&C Line walkway. There’s a travelator here which always makes me feel as if I’m going on holiday as I generally only see them at airports.

 

Travelator at Bank Station
© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

Make sure you ‘touch in’ again with your Oyster card so the system knows you are catching a W&C Line train. Look out for the ‘validators’ before the platform. (When at Waterloo, make sure you ‘touch out’ at the end of the walkway, before the stairs, and not on the South West Trains platform or you’ll get overcharged. Check with station staff if you’re unsure.)

 

Waterloo & City line 1992 stock train at Bank tube station awaiting departure towards Waterloo.
© Sunil06902

 

What To See Near Each Station

Waterloo brings you to the Southbank so you can stroll along the pedestrianised riverside walkway for a fabulous free day out. You can start from the London Eye (also the London Aquarium and London Dungeon in County Hall), then the Southbank Centre which often has free events including a weekend food market just behind, watch the skateboarders, stop for a bite to eat at Gabriel’s Wharf, shop at the OXO Tower and visit Tate Modern – the nation’s free contemporary art gallery in a former power station.

 

Waterloo has some excellent hotels in the County Hall building including Park Plaza County Hall and London Marriott County Hall.

 

At Bank you have arrive in the heart of the City of London which is busy with office workers in the week but wonderfully quiet, and maybe slightly eerie, on the weekends. In the week you could visit the Bank of England Museum for free and try and lift up a gold bar (where else can you do that?) or you could visit the Roman Amphitheatre under the Guildhall Art Gallery then admire the Pre-Raphaelite artworks. You could stroll to the Museum of London and you still won’t have spent any money as all of these attractions are free.

 

Near Bank, I can recommend Threadneedles Hotel as I love the grandeur of the lobby with its domes stained glass ceiling to remind us the building was once an opulent bank.

 

© Laura Porter

 

 

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s. Laura is @AboutLondon on twitter and @AboutLondon Laura on Facebook. You can find out more about her at about.me/LauraPorter.

 

London’s Best Tea Shops

Is it time for tea already?

 

We as consumers in the UK drink gallons of the stuff each and every year. Yet with our tastebuds growing even more sophisticated, we are slowly becoming accustomed to picking out the finest tea our lips can get hold of.

 

When it comes to afternoon tea, we are the kings of the tea mountains. There is nothing more quintessentially British than having a scone smothered in clotted cream with a pot of luxury hand picked tea to wash it all down with.

 

From lapsang souchong to organic golden monkey, here is where Londoners are heading in order to seek out the ultimate brew.

 

Postcard Teas - 9 Dering Street, London W1S 1AG

 

shop

(c) Postcard Teas

 

Situated on Dering Street, Postcard Teas is definately a must for all tea enthusiasts.

 

Enjoy the beautiful period features that ooze elegance from this 18th Century venue. You will have the ability to choose from a wide selection of items which encompasses green tea, black as well as a large choice of Oolong numbers.

 

In addition to this, if you do get stuck with the dizzying array of teas available, there are always the warm and friendly staff who are on hand to guide you through the process.

 

Considered to be one the finest tea stores in the capital, Postcard Teas was founded by Tim d’Offay and work in collobaration with a number of independent tea growers all over the globe.

 

Loose leaf teas are definately the order of the day and from the moment you step, you will wrapped up in a warm blanket of different fragrances and aromas.

 

If you want to blend some of the stuff yourself then this all made possible thanks to their tailored tea blending service.

 

 

Tea House – 15 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9PU

(c) Tea House

 

Located in the heart of Covent Garden, the Tea House has been an institution for the best part of 3 decades. You will be able to choose from more than an impressive 70 different varieties inside their quaint store.

 

These include several black teas which are hand selected from India, Sri Lanka not to mention Africa while there are also green, white and even flowering teas which are available to thirsty customers.

 

Meanwhile, there are a host of caffeine free varieties to choose from that takes in numerous not to mention countless fruit blends and the healthy Rooibos Red Bush tea.

 

Teanamu Chaya – Notting Hill, London, W11 1DP

Enjoy the calmness of the GongFu tea ritual at every table in chaya teahouse.

(c) Teanamu

 

One of the meccas of tea in London, Teanamu is devoted to all things tea and is really all about the experience.

 

Evoking a calm and reflective atmosphere, this venue is run by tea connoisseur  Pei Wang. If you are lucky, you can have the chance to take part in free tea tastings

 

This independent tea venue although small in size makes up for it in their sheer amount of choices on offer. This features an extensive selection of scented, Japanese green and oolong varieties on offer.

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.

Focus On: Peter Blake New Exhibition

 

Now James Brown was the godfather of soul but when it comes to the art world, Peter Blake is without question the don of British pop art.

 

Having recently celebrated his 80th year, Blake is coming back to the capital with a brand new showcase of more than 50 different types of work which are either brand or have not been peeked at before.

 

Born in 1932, Sir Peter Blake grew up in Kent in the city of Dartford. Heundertook studies at the Gravesend School of Art for 2 years between 1949 and 1951 as well as the Royal College of Art during the 1950′s,

 

In 1962, he was launched onto the art scene thanks to his first showcase which took place at the Portal Gallery in London. He has been an official member of the Royal Academy of Arts since 1981 and went onto receive a Knighthood ten yeara ago in 2002.

 

Entitled Rock, Paper, Scissors this particular showcase gives great emphasis on Blakes work in 2 dimensions. We have all come to love the work of Peter Blake since the groundbreaking days of the 1960′s.

 

This was a time when revolution was in the air and this zeitgeist was also transferred to art where he was responsible for the album cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

 

Peter Blake: Absolutely the very last Appearance of the Butterfly Man. 2012

(c) Peter Blake

 

At the heart of Sir Peter Blake’s oeuvre is a genuine interest with popular culture as well as entertainment, film and even a wide variety of sports.

 

Some of the most iconic images he has created feature Self-Portrait with Badges 1961 but he stil stays true to his paintings and works which focus on Realism across the world.

 

(c) Peter Blake

 

Some of the highlights that you will be able to explore at his latest exhibition include a number of distinct wooden sculptures that depict a family measuring 2 metres in height posing under a tree.

 

In addition to this, he presents six objects as standalone pieces showing the likes of Henry Moore as well as Barbara and a host of other major people from the twentieth-century.

 

Check out one of Blake’s latest watercolour pieces entitled, ‘Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II’, that was specially commissioned by the Radio Times and featured on their Diamond Jubilee front cover edition.

 

Meanwhile, the comic book convention at Piccadilly Circus that brings together a wealth of super heros and characters is a fantastical piece of work.

 

If you still want more then why not stop and stare at the giant six foot canvas that Blake has been working on since 1963! Called ‘Drake, land wars in Ireland and Essex’, this painting is a true marvel to behold.

 

You can have the chance to gaze at Blake’s work at The Waddington Custot Galleries in London and is his biggest display of art for more than 5 years.

 

And if you are travelling in and out of Gatwick Airport, you can view a number of his works on display thanks to his production of canvases showing London through the generations that currently adorn both the North and South Terminals.

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.

Focus On: Savile Row

When you think about Savile Row, we tend to consider style, fashion and elegance. But this is also one of the most famous street names in the capital.

 

Steeped in history, Savile Row has had a chequered past including being the former site of wives and officers during the war.

 

Yet it now famous for one thing and that is tailoring. This “Golden Mile” of style has had a number of famous clients who have all been suited and booted such as Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson and even Napoleon III.

 

Running exactly parallel to Regent Street,Savile Row was initally constructed in the 18th Century. It took 4 years to build and was finished in 1735.

 

So where does the actual name come from? Well it turns out that this derives from Lady Dorothy Savile, who was wife to the 3rd Earl of Burlington.

 

But with the copious selection that is currently available, where does one look to get kitted out?If you want to get your mitts on one of the 8,000 plus suits that are produced every year then check out the hottest designers on the Row!

 

Ozwald Boateng - 30 Savile Row  Mayfair, London W1S 3PT

(c) Ozwald Boateng

 

Ozwald Boateng has been pleasing clients with is high end bespoke tailoring for many years and has been awarded an OBE for his merits.

 

He is considered to be one of the leaders of the original tailoring pack and has been at it since the tender age of 16. He set up shop by the time he reached 24 years of age.

 

He has received the plaudits from a worldwide audience thanks to his incredible suits and already has a stable of impressive clients.

 

These include Hollywood A Listers as well as British celebs from Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson to Aussie heart throb Russell Crowe, and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.

 

Gieves and Hawkes - 1 Savile Row, Mayfair, London, W1S 3JR

Savile Road, London

(c) Gieves and Hawkes

 

With its enviable address at Number 1 Savile Row, Gieves and Hawkes resonate everything there is when it comes to quintessentially British bespoke tailors.

 

Dating back to the end of the 1800′s, you can benefit from formal wear not to mention immaculate suits and much more.

 

In fact it is the proud owner of several Royal Warrants including from Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as well as The Prince of Wales. That’s some seal of approval.

 

Davies and Son – 38 Savile Row  City of Westminster, London, W1S 3QE

(c) Davies and Son

 

This independent tailor can be found at Number 38 and was set up in 1803 by George Davies.

 

Davies and Sons claim to fame is they actually produced the original uniforms for the maiden police force invented by Sir Robert Peel.

 

Other customers over the years have featured the rich and famous including Michael Jackson, Clark Gable and even former President Harry S. Truman.

 

Meanwhile if you have a cool £20,000 you can enjoy a home visit, wherever you may be in the world.

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.

 

History of Harrods in London

It’s a world-famous luxury department store now but I’ve been looking into the history of Harrods. Harrods is much more than a shop or a splendid building. Harrods is a British institution. I was reading a book that mentioned Harrods had been in the East End and I was so surprised I wanted to find out the story behind the store.

 

There are some reports that Charles Henry Harrod (1799-1885) worked as a Miller in Clacton, Essex but his London life started properly in 1824 when he was 25 years old. He opened a business at 228 Borough High Street in south London noted variably as a draper, mercer and a haberdasher. It looks like he started out with a partner as in 1825 the business was listed as ‘Harrod and Wicking, Linen Drapers, Retail’ but this partnership was dissolved at the end of that year. It appears he ran a business from this Borough High Street address until 1831. Let’s see what’s there’s now:

 

1824-31: Harrods / Now: Kleen Dry Cleaners
228 Borough High Street, SE1
Hmm, Kleen Dry Cleaners, next to a chicken shop is not such an illustrious establishment.
© Laura Porter

 

In 1832 he opened his first grocery story in Clerkenwell. ‘Harrods & Co. Grocers’ was at 163 Upper Whitecross Street, EC1. The street is now Whitecross Street; let’s see what’s there now:

 

1832-34: Harrods / Now: Closed
163 Upper Whitecross Street (now Whitecross Street), EC1
© Laura Porter

 

A quick chat with the cafe opposite and I found out this currently closed shop was last a beauty clinic. Whitecross Street has a thriving street market and, as you can see, the food stalls were getting ready for the lunchtime rush when I visited one morning.

 

But the one I really wanted to find was the East End location and that came next. In 1834 tea started to become more important to his business and he opened a wholesale grocery at 4 Cable Street, E1 with a special interest in tea. Let’s see what’s there now:

 

1834-49: Harrods / Now: Cirilo Noodles
4 Cable Street, E1
Now a noodle bar squeezed between a betting shop and a barbers.
© Laura Porter

 

Always planning ahead, Charles saw the potential in west London with the Great Exhibition coming in 1851 so he rented a small shop in 1849 on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. The grocery shop was called ‘Harrods’ and started with a single room and a turnover of £20 per week. Soon the tea counter alone was making £200 per week. And yes, that’s where Harrods is now.

 

During the 1850s, Knightsbridge became highly fashionable and Harrods was able to expand and acquired the adjoining buildings.

 

In 1860, Charles sold the business to his son Charles Digby Harrod (1841-1905). By 1868 turnover was £1,000 per week with sixteen staff and by 1880 there were one hundred staff to offer that personal service the store is still famous for. It was by now a thriving department store offering everything from medicines and perfumes to clothing and food.

 

A major setback happened in December 1883 when the store burnt down but, incredibly, Harrods still managed to deliver all the Christmas hampers ordered and made a record profit. There was even a temporary Harrods store opened just along the road for their very loyal customers.

 

A new store was built on the same site, with the help of architect Charles William Stephens, and continued to attract the wealthy clientele of London. Known for its grandeur, when the store reopened it had a palatial style, featuring a frontage clad in terracotta tiles adorned with cherubs, swirling Art Nouveau windows and was topped with a baroque-style dome.

 

Harrods today
Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1
© Laura Porter

 

First Moving Staircase

Harrods continued to expand and innovate and on 16 November 1898, Harrods debuted England’s first “moving staircase” (an escalator). Nervous customers were offered Cognac and smelling salts at the top to revive them after their ‘ordeal’. I seem to remember a similar story for guests using the lift/elevator in the Savoy Hotel.

 

Star Wars Connection

In 1976, Harrods launched the most modern sports department: Olympic Way. Among the experts dispensing advice was fitness guru David Prowse – soon to gain worldwide fame as Darth Vader in Star Wars.

 

The department store was purchased by the Fayed brothers in 1985 making it a family-owned business again. They undertook a £300m refurbishment plan of restoration.

 

In 2010, Harrods was sold to the Qatari Royal Family for £1.5 billion.

 

 


Sweets for My Sweet: London’s Best Ice Cream Shops

 

If you are looking for an indulgent treat then ice cream is always the perfect tonic. From glace to gelado, we enjoy this in every corner of the world.

 

Whether you are a classic chocoholic fan or a little more daring there are a number of flavours to take advantage of on the streets of the capital.

 

These include whisky, apple, limoncello and many more. If you want to indulge your sweet tooth (I know I do!) then check out whose serving up the best Ice cream in Old London Town.

 

Freggo - 27-29 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4QR

(c) Freggo

 

Located in the heart of Picadilly, Freggo delivers a mouth-watering selection of some of the finest ice-cream in the city. Known for their beginnings in Argentina, this premium ice cream chain has much to offer.

 

Choose from a dizzying array including Irish Cream, Banana Split as well as Swiss, White and Double Chocolate.

 

In addition to this, you can experience the wonder of seasonal flavoured ice cream such as Malbec and berries not to mention a sharp passion fruit version. All in all a throughly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!

 

Nardulli - 29 The Pavement, London; SW4 0JE

 

shop-building2

(c) Nardulli

 

Based in leafy Clapham, Nardulli is considered to be a real institution on the ice cream front. Claphamites as well as people from all over want to sample a morsel of their hand made Italian delights.

 

There are cakes, glasses, semifreddi not to mention delicious crepes to choose from in a wide range of flavours.

 

These include After Eight which is a minty little number, Cinammon and fragrant Cardamom right through to Nutella, Coconut and Cardamom.

 

And if you are not full then why not taste of the 20 plus varieties of milkshakes to boot.

 

 

Scoop Gelato – 40 Short’s Gardens, London, WC2H 9AB

(c) Scoop

 

Perfectly placed in Covent Garden, this umarket parlour takes advantage of its prime location nestled in between Seven Dials and the Piazza.

 

You will benefit from exclusive imported ingredients that are shipped in regularly from Italy, while their focus is purely on “natural luxury.”

 

You can have the chance to scoff on more than 20 different flavours including mint with fresh peppermint extract from the Piedmont region, Tiramisu, Amaretto and many more.

 

There re also gelato cakes, sorbets and milshakes if you want a yummy alternative. Check out their other venues which are based in  Soho on Brewer Street as well as Kensington.

 

 

Marine Ices - 8 Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, NW3 2BL

 

(c) Marine Ices

 

Creating magical ice cream history for a stunning 80 years, Marine Ices has been a permanent fixture on the Haverstock Hill landscape. This family run institution has been serving up their famous gelati since 1928.

 

There is a constant buss to this venue with all their ice cream hand made on the premises. There is an extensive choice featuring Caribbean insipired coconut, coffee made from fresh arabica beans, toffee crunch and Amarena cherry.

 

Their sorbets are just as inspiring, offering refreshing options such as melon, mango and raspberry.

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.

Focus On: Best Sherry Bars in London

If you are looking for the perfect warming winter tonic then put down your hot toddie and invest in a delicate, sweet sherry.

 

With classic drinks such as armagnac, whisky and bourbon becoming all the rage again, it is no wonder that sherry has joined this impressive list of alternative beverages.

 

Originally from the area of Cadiz, this fortified wine is the perfect accompaniment with a wide range of Spanish cuisine.

 

So if you are looking for another funky venue to add to your little black book then check out below some of the capital’s most wonderful sherry bars!

 

Now I’ll raise a glass to that!

 

Bar Pepito - Varnisher’s Yard, The Regent Quarter, London, N1 9DF

(c) Bar Pepito

 

Located to close to King’s Cross, this ornate sherry bar is typical of the “bodegas” you might find while galavanting around Andalusia.From the highly succesful Camino stable, its quaintness adds to the vibrant atmosphere. After all there are only five tables to choose from!

 

Opened since 2010, there are around 15 different types of sherry to choose from whilst the perfectly formed tapas will have you hanging around for hours. There is also a small outdoor terrace when the weather is nice to munch on a few olives, jamon or other yummy sustainable creations. Definately one of the best kept sherry secrets.

 

Cigala - 54 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, WC1N 3LW

(c) Cigala

 

With ingredients brought back to the restaurant by the owner direct from Spain, Cigala isable to offer a wide range of sherries which oozes elegance and sophistication. This includes Amontillado, Oloroso which has a distinc tnutty flavour as well as the concentrated Pedro Ximinez.

 

The focus tends to be more on drier numbers while there is subtle yet sweet Moscatel to take advantage of.

 

Fino - 33 Charlotte St, London W1T 1RR

(c) Fino

 

Based on Rathbone Street in the heart of Soho, Fino has been pulling in the sherry aficianados for some time now.

 

This is thanks to not only their impressive sherry list but their creative cooking which features a wide range of tapas dishes as well as several dishes cooked on a traditional plancha.

 

These feature mouth-watering delights such as whole leg of Pyrenean milk-fed lamb and suckling pig that will make you squeal with delight!

 

Choos a number of sherries by the glass with many hand picked from highly regarded bodegas. Exclusive brands include Dos Palmas, Inocente and Antique.

 

Moro -  34 – 36 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE

(c) Moro

 

Established in 1997, Moro has been wowing sherry fanatics with their flights of fancy. This encapsulates three regular glasses of your choice.

 

In addition to this, there are more than 20 different selections to choose from with different types of styles with a focus on those little numbers from the Jerez area not to mention El Puerto de Santa Maria.

 

You can experience some of the excellent deep and intense Pedro Ximinez and Moscatel options which includes the El Maestro Sierra PX or the Don PX Gran Reserva…truly the Don Quixote of sherries.

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.

Sherlock Holmes Filming Locations in London

 

The British film director Guy Ritchie, has brought us two Sherlock Holmes movies – Sherlock Holmes in 2009 and Sherlock Holmes: A Games of Shadows in 2011 – with talk of a third film about the detective being made in Hollywood still with Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as his sidekick, Doctor Watson.

 

The BBC TV series Sherlock started in 2010 with series 3 in production in 2013 starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson.

 

Guinness World Records did their own detective work and deduced that Sherlock Holmes has more film and TV appearances than any other character so let’s look at some of the London locations you can visit.

 

Speedy’s Cafe on North Gower Street, near Euston Square station.
© Laura Porter

 

My favourite from the BBC TV series is Speedy’s Cafe, which is on the ground floor below the flat where the detective duo supposedly lived. And it’s not so far from the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street or the Sherlock Holmes Hotel. You can see more of the TV series locations on the excellent Sherlockology website.

 

Brompton Cemetery
© Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

Brompton Cemetery has been used as a filming location quite a few times including for Finding Neverland (starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet) and Johnny English (starring Rowan Atkinson). The vaults here were used in Guy Ritchie’s 2009 Sherlock Holmes as the setting for ‘Lord Blackwood’s Tomb’.

 

Middle Temple Lane, London EC4
© J D Mack

 

The opening scene of Sherlock Holmes (2009) is filmed in Middle Temple Lane, near to St Paul’s Cathedral.

 

St Bartholomew the Great
© John Salmon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

A popular film location, The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great is used as the interior of St Paul’s Cathedral in Sherlock Holmes (2009). The spiral staircase was filmed inside St Paul’s but the crypt where Lord Blackwood is apprehended while preparing a human sacrifice is the nave here.

 

Some still visit to worship, but most come to see where such iconic movies as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Elizabeth​ were filmed.

 

The Reform Club, Pall Mall, London SW1
© Gerry Lynch

 

The restaurant used in Sherlock Holmes (2009) as ‘The Royale’ was actually filmed inside The Reform Club, one of London’s exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. This was also a location for the 2002 Bond movie Die Another Day. Nearby is the Cafe Royal, a splendidly elegant French restaurant that opened in 1865 and the place where Holmes was attacked in the short story The Adventure of the Illustrious Client. The building closed in 2008 but has just reopened as the stunning Hotel Cafe Royal.

 

Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2
© Eluveitie

 

In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Freemasons’ Hall is used as the location for Blackwood’s Masonic meeting. This is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, the oldest Grand Lodge in the world. When the Grand Temple is not in use there are up to five tours per day and there’s a museum for visitors too.

 

The Punch Bowl, Farm Street, Mayfair W1
© Ewan-M

 

A brief shot of this Mayfair pub appears in Sherlock Holmes (2009) which is possibly unsurprising as it is owned by Guy Ritchie, the film’s Director. Apparently the attic is also used as the site of a bare knuckle fight but these days most go for a decent pint and the chance of some celeb spotting.

 

 

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s. Laura is @AboutLondon on twitter and @AboutLondon Laura on Facebook. You can find out more about her at about.me/LauraPorter.

Have a Wee Dran to this: London’s Best Whisky Bars

If like me you enjoy the finer things in life from incredible 5 star hotels to those sumptuous Hotel Chocolat batons, then why not indulge in the capital’s hottest places to enjoy a vintage whisky.

 

Whether you are a connoisseur of the stuff or a beginner, you will be able to find the perfect hang out spot thanks to this guide below. So if you are a Johnnie Walker Classic kinda guy or a Glenmorie gal, check out these fabulous haunts.

 

 

Whisky Mist @ Zeta – 35 Hertford Street, Mayfair, London, W1

London Hilton on Park Lane hotel - Whisky Mist Main Bar

(c) Whisky Mist

 

Located inside the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, Whisky Mist has been turning people’s head for some time now.

 

Oozing exclusivity, this comes from the same stable of the infamous Mahiki owners and has royalty and A listers as part of their chic clientele. These include Leonardo diCaprio and Christina Aguilera among many others.

 

There is the usual suspects which prop up the bar not to mention premium vodka brands which will cost you in excess of 200 quid! Meanwhile, a host of classic cocktails will ensure you have an alternative from the luxury whisky available which is as copious as Pete Doherty on a night out.

 

 

Whisky Bar @ The Athaneum Hotel - 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London, W1J 7BJ

Picture of Whisky Bar at The Athenaeum in Mayfair, London

(c) The Athaneum Hotel

 

With a whoppng 270 different whiskies to choose from, it is no wonder Londoners have been flocking to this hip bar like pigeons on Nelson’s head.

 

Situated inside the luxury 5 star Athaneum, you can admire the sheer variety of drams that take in everything from Scottish to sexy Japanese numbers.

 

Enjoy the elegance, discreetness as well as the black and white imagery which harks back to significant periods of London’s history while the dedicated whisky sommelier is on hand to be your extensive all knowing whisky sherpa.
Blues Kitchen – 111 Camden High Street, Camden, London, NW1 7JN

(c) Blues Kitchen

 

This jazzy little venue has been tooting its own horn for some time thanks to stocking possibly the largest choice of rye whiskeys and bourbons in the capital.

 

With more than 20 individual bourbons available, you might as well prop yourself up and enjoy not only the ambiance but the fine array of soul and blues music which takes place throughout the week.

 

And the food aint bad either! Watch out for their sinful yet spicy hot buffalo wings, juciy fried steaks as well as southern fried chicken that would definately make poppa proud.

 

 

Moti Mahal - 45 Great Queen Street  London, Greater London WC2B 5AA

(c) Moti Mahal

 

Experience the unforgettable at Moti Mahl with a wonderul melange of contemporary drinks that uses only the freshest ingredients. Always in season they have one of the most diverse and exclusive choices when it comes to whisky.

 

Watch out for the American and Irish selctions while the rare malts stretch as far back as the 1970′s.

 

They also have at their disposal some of the most sought after labels in the capital and have been bestowed a prestigious Silver Medal honour from the Scotch Whisky Society – now that’s certainly worth drinking to ladies and gents.

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.

Raise a glass: London’s best champagne bars

With the party season soon in full swing, isn’t it time to find out where the best places to sip bubbly are?

 

Here for your eyes only is the real scoop on just where Londoners are quaffing their champers this Christmas.

 

Searcys St Pancras Champagne Bar: St Pancras International, Upper Concourse, Euston Road, London, NIC 4QL

St Pancras

(c) Searcys

 

Gloriously British, this venue is considered to be the longest champagne bar in Europe. Situated in the revamped and reinvigorated St. Pancras International, it is the perfect place to sip with a loved one or the start of an affair d’amour before hopping on the adjacent Eurostar to Paris!

 

With an extensive selection that’s as long as the Magna Carta (they house the biggest choice of Grand Marque numbers did you know), Searcys offers 17 different types of bubbly by the glass as well as independent French producers and Brit pop specialities.

 

With touches of Art Deco, feel inspired by the sheer glamour and elegance of this particular venue. And the price? Well a Brut vintage will set you back around the £90 mark while if you’re feeling flush a Taittinger Reserve might set you back in excess of £1000!

 

For those savvy drinkers, why not indulge in a little Pommery which is presented in 4 cute flutes.

 

 

Champagne + Fromage: 22 Wellington Street, WC2

(c) Champagne + Fromage

 

What could be better than a beautiful Gallic melange in the heart of Covent Garden.

 

This is what Champagne + Fromage is all about thanks to its collection of not just more than 20 grower Champagnes but an extensive and breathaking fromagerie selection that like a good Camembert is subtle, delicate and extremely appealing.

 

There are more than a stonking (or should that be stinking) 30 cheese available that have been carefull sourced from all over France. This deli also serves up a delectable range of other goodies that will no doubt leave you wanting more.

 

This includes frog’s legs, snails, soups, as well as a dazzling charcuterie choice from across La Manche – Tres bien indeed!

 

 

Hix Restaurant and Champagne Bar: 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB

 

(c) Hix Restaurant and Champagne Bar

 

From the empire that is Mark Hix comes one of his popular haunts for those shopaholics among you.

 

Situated in the iconic Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, HIX is a both a champagne and caviar bar which provides the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the aisles.

 

Behind the Conran inspired interior lies a real vibrant place to relax and unwind..oh and admire the glorious art produced by the likes of Mat Colishaw and Tracy Emin.

 

Make this your favoured pitstop and sample the array of small but beautiful individual champagne producers as well as several perfectly executed snacks and afternoon tea delights!

 

 

 Kettners Champagne Bar: 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London, W1D 5HP

 

(c) Kettners

 

A true stalwart on the London scene, Kettners is still wowing London crowds since it’s opening in 1867.

 

Yet you do not need an august occasion in order to celebrate. Raise your spirits with several different champagnes served either by the bottle or glass with an inspirational cocktail list to boot.

 

Don’t miss out on sipping Cristal here, where you can enjoy it by the glass…a very rare thing to behold for a champagne bar.

 

 

Simon Lazarus is an experienced PR/Business Consultant and copywriter with a number of clients across different territories including the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His vast portfolio includes writing content for a variety of sites on food and drink, travel, personal finance, news, showbiz, sport, technology and much more.