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Archive for March, 2013

Londons best Bloggers Listing

London’s unsung heroes who do more for London tourism than all the resources of the “official websites”

blogger

 

 

There are some serious London bloggers out there and  many deserve recognition.

Lets face it,  most do it for no financial gain, they just like to write and pass on their knowledge or thoughts.

Here is a list of those London Blogs which we think are pretty good.

 

If you have more suggestions please let us know so we can add these super heroes to our list

 

They are in no particular order !

 

Laura Porter:     Twitter 20,000+     Visit

She writes for us on a regular basis so its only fair to add her first!  Laura writes from first hand experience about her excursions around London.  Her popularity gets into places that Joe public can only hope to aspire to.

 

Dave Hills London Blog:   Twitter 11,000+    Visit

Dave writes for the Guardian Newspaper.  His blog’s main focal point is the evolving socio economic landscape of London with his keyword being regeneration – the good, bad and the corrupt.  He occasionally publishes some pretty neat pictures.

 

The Londonist:  Twitter 113,000+    Visit

How do they get so much good info????

This is a blog we visit almost daily.  Great content and arguably the #1 London blog.

 

SE1:   Twitter 21,000+    Visit

This is another of our daily reads.  It covers the Southbank which for non Londoners is the south side of the River Thames.  They pen real up to date info across the whole subject spectrum.  Check out their website – forget the dated look (sorry guys),  just appreciate the content!

 

Going Underground – Annie Mole:   Twitter  5,000+    Visit

Best info source for the day to day goings on about the London tube.   There are some good pictures covering happenings and celebs.  The blog is cosmetically very dated but the content is great!

 

Obesssed with London – Drisk:   Twitter  1,200+    Visit

A witty, and sometimes satirical, cool blog about London arts and culture.  Owlondon has nicely presented pages with great images.  Deserves a greater following than it currently has, we like this one a lot.

 

London is Cool – William Wallace:   Twitter  2,200+    Visit

This guy, William Wallace has a  dry sense of humour (but then he is Scottish).  He chronicles his ramblings around London in a uniquely personal way – its like reading a good diary.  Some good images.  The language can be a little 18+ and the text font will not suit everyone but well done Bill, right up our street, keep it coming!

 

 

I Love tea and cake – Natasha:   Twitter  860+    Visit

Its one of those info sources that you visit for inspiration when you are undecided as to where to go in London for a few hours.  Some nice reviews.

 

 

 

Top of the Chocs: Finest Easter egg shops in Chelsea

If you go down to the woods today you are sure of a big surprise. Well, you might encounter an angry bear or two but if you are hungry to gorge on some chocolate before the holidays then sink your gnashers into some of these wonderful shops.

 

When it comes to Easter, there is nothing better than unwrapping that first bit of foil to reveal the sexy and sinful interior. With millions of pounds spent on eggs of all shapes and sizes, this cracking lot will certainly provide the ideal eggstravaganza!

 

 

In fact you could say these eggs are so Made in Chelsea.

 

 

Artisan du Chocolat - 89 Lower Sloane Street, London, SW1W 8DA, Nearest tube: Sloane Square (Circle and District lines)

Artisan

(c) Artisan du Chocolat

 

Situated just a heartbeat away from the posh shops of Sloane Square, you will be spoilt for choice inside Artisan du Chocolat. Forget Willy Wonka, this is where chocolate magic happens.

 

 

It was set up in 2000 by Gerard Coleman who has gone on to produce chocolates for the likes of many a celebrity chef including Gordon Ramsay.

 

 

Why not indulge in one of their sumptuous Golden Lace Easter eggs or a dark Colombian Jungle Egg which takes its inspiration from the region itself. Mind you that’s nothing compared to the unique take they have done on the Egg and Soldiers Egg.

 

Using only the finest dark Colombian chocolate as well as a salted caramel sauce, this one will set you back a mere £45!

 

Rococo Chocolates - 321 Kings Road, London, SW3 5EP. Nearest Tube: South Kensington (Circle, District and Piccadilly lines)

chelsea

(c) Rococo Chocolates

 

Ever since 1983, Rococo has been tempting us with their array of delicacies and confectionary. Now with three branches, spoil yourself in this potent Chelsea haunt.

 

 

When it comes to Easter, they have it all figured out. This is thanks to their divine numbered offerings which feature a Stroppy Teenager Easter Egg – perfect for that troublesome teen who wants a quick sugar fix.

 

 

A milk chocolate sphere is complimented by four mini eggs made entirely from praline and finished with four rich eggs made from ganache and salted caramel.

 

 

Meanwhile, you can enjoy a host of other goodies such as ten ganache filled treasures with numerous fillings. Talk about sweets for my sweet.

 

 

William Curley - 198 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 8UN. Nearest Tube: Sloane Square (Circle and District lines)

3c4a14b6-6af0-43df-a0b7-911fb94a68aa

(c) William Curley

 

Located in chic Belgravia, this should definately be on your choc hit list. William Curley is not only a chocoholics dream but a master pâtissier. Opened since 2009, it is home to a wonderful Dessert Bar where you can pull up a seat and tuck into his selection of cakes and pastries.

 

 

In addition, there are also a wealth of masterclasses if you really want to get up close and personal with all things chocolate.

 

Easter treats chez Curley include a sublime 350 gram milk chocolate egg with Gianduja almonds, a dark chocolate version that will make you go nuts and one entirely filled to the brim with their signature dark truffles.

 

 

Now to find that exercise DVD.

 

 

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. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors.

Marchmont Street Tokens

Why does a street in Bloomsbury have metal ‘tokens’ embedded into the pavement? Many people walk along this side street and don’t notice these unobtrusive decorations but they were placed there as a permanent public art installation in 2010 called “Tokens” by John Aldus. There are twenty artworks to see and they are replicas of tokens held at the nearby Foundling Museum.

 

pavement

 

The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital which cared for abandoned children in this area from 1739 to the 1920s. The hospital was set up by Thomas Coram who was a pioneer in child welfare, along with William Hogarth – the artist, and George Frederic Handel – the composer. Each left a lasting legacy as Hogarth convinced well known artists of the day to donate paintings to the Hospital and wealthy people would then pay to see them thus creating the first art gallery in London. Handel gave annual performances of The Messiah at the Hospital which brought an income and his Will and scores of his work are on display at the Museum. Coram is a children’s charity that took its name from Thomas Coram to remember all he did to support vulnerable children. There is also the fun free playground in central London, Coram’s Fields.

 

coin

Anyway, back to those tokens. Why tokens? It can be hard today to imagine the desperation mothers felt at not being able to care for their children. There was no social welfare and there were three major wars in the 1700s so mothers were often left alone and unable to support their family. Before the Foundling Hospital opened babies were often abandoned and the streets of London had piles of dead babies. It sounds sickening now but it was a sign of the times. There was literally nowhere for the mothers to turn to before the Foundling Hospital so it played an important role in saving lives.

 

As there were so many children who needed care not all could be accepted at the Hospital and there was a ‘pick a ball from a bag’ system to see if you could join the queue that day. If you got the right colour you stayed that day, otherwise you had to try again and hope your child didn’t die before you could return.

 

inamoreThere were then further strict admittance rules as the child had to be under 12 months old, illegitimate, the mother’s first child and from a mother of good character. These rules could be ‘bent’ in some circumstances and there’s an exhibition at the Foundling Museum at the moment (Fate, Hope & Charity) which includes a heart-wrenching hand-written letter from a mother held at Newgate jail in 1757. In the letter Margaret Larney describes herself as “the unfortunate women that lies under sentens of Death”. Two of her children had already died in the jail with her but she gave birth to a son at the jail who was accepted at the Foundling Hospital along with another brother. She was later executed.

 

Anyway, why are those tokens along the pavement? Each child that was accepted at the Foundling Hospital was given a new name but the parent, usually the mother, would leave a token to be kept to help identify their child if they were ever in a position to return and collect them. The tokens were never given to the children and were kept wrapped in a piece of paper with the admittance information and filed by date order.

 

The tokens were small trinkets such as buttons which might show that the father was in the army or small pieces of fabric that could be matched up with the rest of the pattern if the child was ever collected. Thimbles might express the mother’s love even more strongly as dressmaking might be her livelihood and she would be reducing her ability to work by leaving something so valuable with her abandoned child. Coins with added notches to personalise them were sometimes used as tokens and some tokens were designed and engraved specially with as many clues to the identity of the parents as could be included in such a small item.

 

pavement2

 

Marchmont Street is named after the 2nd Earl of Marchmont (1675-1740), one of the founding governors of the Foundling Hospital. The metal representations embedded into the walkway show symbols of hope from eighteenth century women; they show love and the strong desire to give their child a better life than they could offer them. So what seems like very little today actually signify a lot of social history and a very emotional story.

 

How to Find Them

The nearest tube station is Russell Square. Cross over the zebra crossing right outside the tube station and Marchmont Street is straight ahead (just to the right of Tesco). The tokens are on the right-hand side as you walk up the street.

 

On Marchmont Street, just after the tokens, is Alara, a great Healthfood shop with an excellent fresh salad take-away. The Brunswick Centre is popular for shopping and the Foundling Museum and Coram’s Fields are the other side of the Brunswick Centre.

All images © 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.

What’s On: David Bowie @ The V&A Museum

Ground control to Major Tom! Those are the famous words taken from Space Oddity but if you want to enjoy a real out of this world experience then head to the new David Bowie exhibiton.

 

 

Taking place next week in the always enchanting Victoria and Albert Museum on Cromwell Road, South Kensington is in for a real treat this Easter.

 

 

bowie_aladin_sane_custom_290x320_06200686

(c) Victoria and Albert Museum

 

In fact you would be hopping mad to miss it! The Ziggy Stardust maestro has been a major influence on several writers and artists across the generations and is considered to be one of the most influential musicians of all time.

 

For the very first time, the museum has access all areas to several major pieces from Bowie’s archive which have all been carefull curated into one incredible exposition.

 

It will chart his extraordinary career whilst taking into consideration a number of different factors. These include the inspiration behind his creative thinking as well as what makes this genius such a musical pioneer.

 

In addition to this, you will have the chance to explore Bowie’s ever changing style, fashion trends not to mention his constant rebirth which has made him still current after half a century in the music business.

 

So how much is on show I hear you ask? Well, you can admire a staggering three hundred different objects on display that encompasses the true essence of Bowie.

 

bowie_self_portrait_130

(c) Victoria and Albert Museum

 

Meanwhile, you can scour through a host of items ranging from costumes, music videos and ostentatious set designs to some of the great man’s very own instruments.

 

If you are a fan of the written verse then salivate over some of the original written lyrics that will be on show. No stone is left unturned when it comes to getting under the skin of Bowie.

 

You will also be able to gain an insight into his work thanks to his many projects with numerous artists, designers, producers and even individuals from the arts and theatre.

 

bowie_konrads_130

(c) Victoria and Albert Museum

 

Watch out for the iconic 70′s Ziggy Stardust bodysuits which were created by Freddie Burretti, while you can pull up a pew and marvel at the stunning visual performances from Boys Keep Swinging.

 

If that’s not enough then take your time pouring over some of the great man’s sketches as well as musical scores and never before seen diary excerpts.

 

 

David Bowie is starts on the 23rd of March and runs until the 11th of August 2013. For more details, log on to http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/david-bowie-is/

 

 

If you are feeling “Under Pressure” and looking for a place to relax then why not rest your weary head at either the contemporary 4 star NH Kensington or the smart Hilton Kensington situated just a hair’s breadth away from leafy Holland Park.

 

 

 

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. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors.

Artists in their Studios – New Photographic Exhibition

No two artists’ studios look the same. Some need everything to be tidy and in order and others thrive with chaos. Some work in cramped conditions and others need a lot of space both to produce their artworks and to be creative. A fascinating photographic exhibition opens at Leighton House Museum this week of ‘Studio Sittings’ of famous Royal Academicians featuring Victorian artists and many household names still working today.

Lord Leighton  © National Portrait Gallery, London

Lord Leighton
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Clearly Lord Leighton had to be included as the exhibition is staged where he used to live and work. Leighton House was commissioned by Lord Leighton in 1859 and has a large studio upstairs where he produced such stunning artworks as Flaming June, one of my all-time favourite paintings (the original is at the Ponce Museum of Art in Puerto Rico). The Arab Hall with its golden dome, intricate mosaics and walls lined with beautiful Islamic tiles is not what you would expect to find but it was part of his ‘Palace of Art’ and an added attraction when he opened up his home to the public while still living here.

GF Watts  © Watts Gallery Archive

GF Watts
© Watts Gallery Archive

Artists were celebrities in Victorian times, as they also are today, so it’s interesting how they have chosen to pose and be remembered.

Kenneth Armitage  © Anne Purkiss

Kenneth Armitage
© Anne Purkiss

Anne Purkiss has been photographing some of the most celebrated Royal Academicians for the last 25 years. This is the first time the collection has been displayed together and the images offer a wonderful insight into the way these artists work.

Grayson Perry  © Anne Purkiss

Grayson Perry
© Anne Purkiss

Some of the artists I most admire are included such as Grayson Perry. For years I believed he was a fool in a dress but look beyond the clothing as he is an incredibly talented artist.

Daivd Nash  © Anne Purkiss

David Nash
© Anne Purkiss

I met David Nash when he had his exhibition at Kew Gardens in 2012-13. His artwork is produced from whole trees although he never cuts down a living tree so he also has incredible patience to wait for his material.

Antony Gormley  © Anne Purkiss

Antony Gormley
© Anne Purkiss

The photographer who we have to thanks for these wonderful images is Anne Purkiss, a German born artist who has worked in London since the 1980s, first for Associated Press and then as a freelance photographer.

Christopher Le Brun  © Anne Purkiss

Christopher Le Brun
© Anne Purkiss

Studio Sittings: 15 March to 12 May 2013

Address: Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, Kensington, London W14 8LZ

Web: www.leightonhouse.co.uk

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

It’s a lovely exhibition and well worth seeing. And, of course, you can visit the rest of Leighton House Museum while there and admire the home and work space of a Victorian artist. Do visit the garden too as it is one of my favourite Tranquil Places in London.

 

Related:

Why the Milestone Hotel London is a great choice

The Insiders Guide to Kensington Hotels

Unique places to eat in Kensington

Discover unique places to visit in Kensington

Things to do in Kensington

Kensington Roof Gardens

Blythe House (Science Museum stores)

 

Innovation: London Hotel Price Tracker

London hotels price tracker

London hotels price tracker

 

London-Hotels.co.uk have released “average nightly hotel price stats” for all areas of London.

 

Originally produced for the public to enable them to pick a cheap date to stay in a hotel, the “at a glance” stats are now being used by the hotel sales offices of  London hotels to plan forwards their pricing campaign.

 

The stats are compiled and updated daily by London-Hotels.co.uk who  poll 1000 hotels for their published prices up to a year in advance.  The prices are then sorted into geographical areas and the averages published.

 

Stats are available from individual hotel level right up to London as a whole.

 

price-tracker-hotel

 

For the public, the stats have proved exceptionally popular as they can identify the lowest price and get maximum value for money.  For hotels, they can see what the competition are planning and adjust their prices accordingly.

 

Beta testing is also in place with an instant real time chat facility  between a hotel’s clients (past, present and future), the hotel admin and also the website admin.  They have recognized that Tripadvisor is  ”historical” information whilst social media now enables instant review feedback and information flow.

 

Later in 2013, London-hotels.co.uk will be offering tailor made  in-depth price statistics and also the real time client chat app.   These innovations will be available to all London hotels free of charge.

 

London-hotels.co.uk is part of the AR Limited Dubai Group.  They are currently producing prime-domain hotel websites for the UK, Europe and the Far East.  They also develop bespoke augmented-reality packages for companies, institutions and governments. 

 

London-hotels.co.uk

 

 

 

Spotlight On: The Goring Hotel

Where: Situated less than a mile away from Buckingham Palace at 15 Beeston Place, The Goring is considered to be one of the plushest hotels in London.

 

As quintessentially British as strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, this is a must stay for any discerning traveller. It’s also within touching distance of seveal major landmarks including Buckingham Palace, so much so you may be able to wave to her Majesty from your room!

 

Belgravia is also literally on your doorstep if you want to splash out further amid the shops and boutiques surround this majestic area.

 

Goring

(c) Goring Hotel

 

So tell me about it: From its beginnings on the 2nd of March 1910, the Goring has provided only the highest level of service as well as combining old charm with countless modern influences.

 

It has even been given an official Royal seal of approval by Queen Elizabeth II. This glorious 69 room venue is where famous dignatries have rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous for decades. In addition to this, it has played host to the coronations of both George VI and the Queen.

 

Each of the bedrooms and suites have been carefully designed by a host of well respected British interior designers. Masters of their trade they have created an elegant and sophisticated experience to enjoy.

 

Marvel at the Silk Rooms, inspired by Russell Sage with hand crafted wall fascias made entirely from silk.  Their indulgent afternoon tea is certainly worth pouring over. This features rich, buttery scones and delicate fancies which can be taken in the Garden Lounge.

 

There is a fine selection of British cuisine on offer using high quality British ingredients. The grandoise building is continued through to the spectacular Dining Room. Designed by David Linley, this houses three incredible crystal chandaliers consisting of precious Swarovski crystal.

 

Dining Room

(c) Goring Hotel

 

What are the rooms like? Just as stunning which incorporates a melange of different styles from traditional country right through to contemporary. Each individual room offers plenty of ornate furnishing and unique pieces which shows a great deal of attention to detail.

 

In fact, you can step into Spring thanks to their luxury hampers from Fortnum and Mason which come with every stay. Meanwhile, 2013 is certainly your year as that’s how much it will cost for a decadent stay in their impressive Belgravia Suite.

 

Belgravia Suite

(c) Goring Hotel

 

By the way: Did you know Kate Middleton spent her last night as a single woman at the Goring? You too can have the chance to experience this if you have a cool five grand to splash.

 

Royal Suite

(C) Goring Hotel

 

The Royal Suite awaits you which is where the Duchess of Cambridge allegedly bunked the night before her big wedding to Prince William.

 

It boasts a couple of bathrooms, two beds, a private dining and sitting area, whilst you can rest in the four poster bed that incorporates a plasma TV at the end.

 

More information and to book a room at the Goring Hotel London

 

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. He also advises businesses on strategies and marketing across different sectors.

Blythe House

Behind the Olympia Exhibition Centre in Kensington I discovered a fascinating building with even more fascinating contents. Blythe House was built in the late 19th century and was originally the Post Office Savings Bank. Blythe House was designed by Sir Henry Tanner who was the Principal Government Architect at the time and responsible for a lot of grand Victorian buildings across London including Oxford Circus and the Pavilion Tea House in Greenwich Park.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

While Blythe House is not a listed building it is in a conservation area so the historic facade needs to be maintained and interior renovations cannot go ahead without extensive planning consent. As it was built as a bank the red brick exterior may look quite standard but there is a cast iron structure inside for security. Before the building got its current occupants it was used as a film location and the 1970′s TV series Minder and The New Avengers were filmed here. It’s still a sort after film location and more recently was used for a remake of Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and the Sherlock series, plus a Jessie J pop video was filmed here too.

Yes, there is a bra in the collection  © Laura Porter

Yes, there is a bra in the collection
© Laura Porter

Museum Storage

The Post Office Bank moved out in the late 1970s and it was bought by the Department of the Environment in 1978 to provide additional storage space for the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Science Museum. It took until 1986 for the museums to be able to start using the space but the large site – 5 acres – and its open plan rooms – the largest 100m long – made it worth waiting for.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

While the bank had around 6,000 staff, the three museums employ about 40 staff at Blythe House. The Science Museum were kind enough to offer a tour of their storage facilities here, something they can offer to researchers upon request.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

There are literally millions of objects stored here, many which have never been on public display. The Science Museum alone currently houses around 85% of the museum’s collections in over 100 rooms in the stores with the remainder either on display, on loan or at the large object store in Wiltshire. The Science Museum decides which storage facility to use by the size of a washing machine: smaller objects come to Blythe House and the rest goes to Swindon where there are six aircraft hangers of large objects including combine harvesters and the Rolling Stones tour plane.

NASA shuttle computer  © Laura Porter

NASA shuttle computer
© Laura Porter

I was lucky to be taken to all floors of the building but some sections are off limits such as the two rooms of radioactive objects and potential asbestos dust hazards are in sealed areas.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

The recent closure of the Science Museum’s Shipping Gallery has meant many new objects have been brought to Blythe House and each has been packed in their own mini eco-system to help with the temperature contrast from the warm museum to the cool storage building. They will remain packed for the next year to acclimatise before assessing and conserving as necessary. Fortunately Blythe House storage is not at capacity and they are always looking at ways to make room for more objects while still allowing them to be accessed, when needed.

Shipping Gallery objects  © Laura Porter

Shipping Gallery objects
© Laura Porter

The Wellcome Collection fills the lower floors from Henry Wellcome’s mad anthropological medical collections which were given to the Science Museum, on permanent loan, in the mid-1970s. This chap made a fortune from introducing tablet medicines into Britain and then indulged himself with non-stop collecting including Egyptian mummies to x-ray machines and from stethoscopes to African carvings.The Science Museum already has two floors of exhibits from this collection and there’s also a Wellcome Collection museum near Euston which includes such gems as Napoleon’s toothbrush and a lock of King George III’s hair. Repatriation of some objects is happening as clearly some should never have been removed.

Prosthetic limbs in the Wellcome Collection  © Laura Porter

Prosthetic limbs in the Wellcome Collection
© Laura Porter

The Blythe House tour was fascinating. We saw many museum models mixed in with NASA computers and 16th century telescopes. One of the more unusual objects was a Dog Spit – a wheel which was used in the 18th century in an alehouse by a specially-bred dog to turn the spit roast. Nope, we didn’t guess that either.

Dog Spit  © Laura Porter

Dog Spit
© Laura Porter

On the Telecommunications floor there is the first BBC transmitter with the plaque: “This transmitter was part of ’2LO’ the London Station Transmitter originally installed at Marconi House, Strand London and was used by the BBC from 1922 to 1925″.

2Lo  © Laura Porter

2LO
© Laura Porter

This shoe x-ray machine was used in a shoe shop with viewing for the child, parent and shoe shop staff to see the child’s feet in the shoes. While it sounded like a great idea the radiation was also deadly.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

We were reminded that every object stored has a story as this large x-ray machine was designed by a Jewish German doctor who wanted to save it during WWII so smuggled it into the UK. He designed it himself for x-raying stomachs and some of his family members have been to see it and remember him using it with his patients.

Rotating stomach x-ray machine  © Laura Porter

Rotating stomach x-ray machine
© Laura Porter

I am immensely grateful to have been invited to see the Science Museum stores and I’d like to offer my thanks to the Science Museum and the team at Blythe House.

 

Related:

Why the Milestone Hotel London is a great choice

The Insiders Guide to Kensington Hotels

Unique places to eat in Kensington

Discover unique places to visit in Kensington

Things to do in Kensington

Kensington Roof Gardens

 

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.

Why The Milestone London is a great choice

 

I recently found myself having to book a hotel in the area where I actually live.  Having walked past The Milestone most days for years, I decided to throw my budget out of the window and spoil myself.

I was flying in from Dubai and the flight landed at an indecent early hour which put me on Kensington High Street by 10am.  I killed an hour in the Wholefoods Store (always a pleasure) and then walked the 200m to the Milestone.

It is actually like walking into someones posh house rather than a hotel and I was greeted by the smiling man on reception in a very friendly and not “stuck up” manner.  I explained that I was early and was it possible to leave my luggage there whilst I waited for a room to come free;   “No problem at all Sir”.

milestone-reception

 

OK, then came the comment which sold me totally.

“Is that a Blackberry in your shirt pocket Sir?” 

“Why don’t you leave me your number and I will call you as soon as a room is available”

I was impressed!

Around noon I got the call and returned to the hotel.  I had been upgraded to a Suite, which is always a nice feeling.  Bit of a shame my wife was not with me on this trip.

The suite was called the Safari Suite.  Very quirky with animal prints and like being in Africa in a posh tent.

The Safari Suite at The Milesone Hotel

The Safari Suite at The Milesone Hotel

 

The next 24 hours was very pleasurable indeed.  I has a quirky suite with views over Kensington Road towards the Palace Gardens and on the doorstep was what I consider to be one of the best areas of London. In the room were home made biscuits, fresh fruit and then the maid brought in canapes.  I could do this permanently!

 

milestone-conservatory

 

In the evening, I went into the Stables Bar.  Its small and comfy and the bar man was very knowledgeable about the Milestone Wine Cellar.   Several nice glasses of Bordeaux (Château Mongiron), a fairly large bill and off to bed!  He took the time to chat about his wines without being in your face.

 

The Stables Bar at The Milestone Hotel London

The Stables Bar at The Milestone Hotel London

 

Check out was simple and again very friendly.

I felt as if I had been to a spa for a day, I was so refreshed and in such a good mood !

If you get the chance, give it  a try.

FYI

The Milestone Hotel is located right opposite Kensington Palace Gardens, the very eastern part of Hyde Park and of course, where Kensington Palace is situated.

The closest tube is High Street Kensington which runs directly from Heathrow Airport.

The Milestone is 5 minute stroll from The Royal Albert Hall

Kensington Roof Gardens with its fabulous Babylon Restaurant is 5 minutes away.

For more information go to our Milestone Hotel page.

[Pictures courtesy of the Milestone website]

 

Find out more about Kensington and where to stay with the Kensington Hotel & Insider’s Guide.

Related:

Why the Milestone Hotel London is a great choice

The Insiders Guide to Kensington Hotels

Unique places to eat in Kensington

Discover unique places to visit in Kensington

Things to do in Kensington

 

 

 

Kensington Roof Gardens

Did you know there’s a rooftop garden in central London that you can visit for free and flamingos live there? Kensington Roof Gardens is a hidden gem. It is 100 feet above Kensington High Street on top of a former department store building. And it’s not small. In fact at 1.5 acres it’s one of Europe’s largest roof gardens.

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History of The Roof Gardens

The gardens were laid out between 1936 and 1938 by Ralph Hancock who was a well-known landscape gardener and created many gardens in the UK and US in the 1920s, 30s and 40s including the Rockefeller Center in New York.

Hancock was commissioned by Trevor Bowen who was the Vice President of Barkers department store which was built in 1932.

The building was then the seven storey Derry and Tom’s department store until 1973 and then the Biba fashion store until 1975. The Biba store was immensely popular and a million visitors a week was quite normal.

By 1978 English Heritage decided the roof gardens were worth preserving and gave them a Grade II listed status. But nothing happened on the rooftop for a few more years until Virgin bought it in 1981.

The luxury portfolio of Virgin Hotels Group Ltd – Virgin Limited Edition – use the roof gardens for private parties and events, a rooftop cinema, plus London’s only rooftop Private Members Club on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s also the Babylon restaurant for contemporary British cuisine with great views across the gardens.

 

Three Gardens in One

The gardens are divided into three themed areas.

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Spanish Garden The Alhambra in Granada, Spain was the inspiration for this garden. The Moorish influence is clear with the fountains and vine-covered walkways.

 

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Tudor Garden The hanging wisteria over archways is all rather romantic and in the summer the roses, lilies and lavender make this a fragrant place to visit.

 

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English Woodland Garden The oak and fruit trees here are growing in just 1.5m of soil. This is where you can meet the flamingos: Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks and there are resident ducks too who enjoy the stream filled with fish.

 

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How to Visit

While the public can visit for free, you do need to call in advance in case the gardens are booked for private events or for winter maintenance. There’s a recorded message on tel: 020 7937 7994 offering news on availability each week.

The nearest tube station is High Street Kensington and the address is 99 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA. Access is via a doorway on Derry Street, just off Kensington High Street. Official website: www.roofgardens.virgin.com

All images © Laura Porter.

 

Find out more about Kensington and where to stay with the Kensington Hotel & Insider’s Guide.

Related:

Why the Milestone Hotel London is a great choice

The Insiders Guide to Kensington Hotels

Unique places to eat in Kensington

Discover unique places to visit in Kensington

Things to do in Kensington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.