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THE VACATION REPORT THE INSIDERS’ GUIDE TO LONDON

Designers, editors and tastemakers share their favourite spots and hidden gems.

Compiled by Georgina Lucas.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MODERN DESIGN REVIEW and DIRECTOR, MDR GALLERY

LAURA HOUSELEY

‘The Beaumont is my favourite London hotel (thebeaumont.com). It has been so carefully created, it really transports you. I spend too much time in book and magazine shops – I can’t resist the magnetic pull of Artwords Bookshop in Shoreditch and Libreria on Hanbury Street is a new find. For supper, I always return to Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch – tucked away inside the walls of an old school, it feels secretive and cosseted. On a perfect autumn evening, dinner here is followed by a Danish beer at the Mikkeller Bar on Hackney Road. Until recently, my contemporary design gallery was located at Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross, so the tiny bar, House of Cans on Lower Stable Street, is an indispensable haunt. It’s a privilege that the majority of London’s major cultural institutions are free – I love the Barbican (barbican.org.uk) for its architecture and amazing exhibition programme and equally enjoy small neighbourhood spots across the city: the Geffrye Museum in Hackney, South London Gallery in Peckham, 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, the Estorick Collection in Islington. The mother of them all is the V&A (vanda.com), my favourite place in the whole city, packed with culture from every age and every country, I always leave refreshed and excited.’

The Beaumont Hotel lobby
The Victoria & Albert Museum, 'Renaissance City 1350-1600'
The Beaumont Hotel colony dinner

FOUNDER, ALIGHIERI

ROSH MAHTANI

‘For drinks, I love Noble Rot on Lambs Conduit Street; they have the best natural wine, and it always feels like a treat to go there with a friend you haven't seen in a while and catch up. The British Museum (britishmuseum.org) is a treasure trove for me; I love seeing the bronze jewellery and ceramics from Roman times and following the way in which jewellery has remained a constant mode of communication across all cultures. I often find myself eating in Grainger & Co. (graingerandco.com) as it’s close to my studio, and it always uses fresh, healthy ingredients. And one of my favourite places to go is Ducksoup (ducksoupsoho.co.uk). I grew up in Hampstead and that will always be my favourite part of London. It’s so peaceful and there are dogs everywhere. It doesn’t feel like you’re in a city – you can go for little walks on the Heath, tea at Burgh House, potter around the little market on Flask Walk. It’s ideal.’

Egyptian sculpture gallery at the British Museum
Noble Rot bar
Hampstead Heath

FOUNDER, SUITCASE MAGAZINE

SERENA GUEN

‘Bar Termini (bar-termini-soho.com) is my go-to. I’m part Italian, so this little spot in Soho transports me right back to Turin where my family is from. You must order a negroni and take one home with you in a beautifully decorated bottle. I love evening talks – Intelligence Squared, The School Of Life, How To Academy – a welcome break at the end of a busy day. My favourite restaurant in London is Luca in Clerkenwell, hands down – spectacular food, the best ingredients, the best drinks. The design is very interesting and the team are so kind. If I didn’t live in London, I’d happily hotel hop between the Belmond Cadogan (belmond.com) – especially in summer because you have the square nearby – and the Ham Yard Hotel (firmdalehotels.com), which has so many fun bits and pieces – the Soholistic spa, the bowling alleys. My top London spot is a tie between Maison Assouline’s incredible bookshop on Piccadilly, Peter Harrington bookshop in Chelsea, or the Curzon cinema in Victoria, where you can find me almost every weekend in winter. To escape the city, it has to be Heckfield Place (heckfieldplace.com). It’s only an hour’s drive from London, but you feel like you’re miles away. It took 10 years to design the hotel, so I think that’s saying something!’

Ham Yard hotel library
Ham Yard hotel orangery
Heckfield Palace
Heckfield Palace

ARTIST AND DESIGNER

LUKE EDWARD HALL

‘I love the interiors of 5 Hertford Street, Mayfair – very classic English country house. Each floor feels very different and you can race between them, drink in hand, on a fun night out. I like Kenwood House (english-heritage.org.uk) for Robert Adam’s ice-cream pink and pale blue library and Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn. My absolute favourite restaurant is The River Café in Hammersmith – I usually go for my birthday. You can’t beat the grilled squid with chilli, lemon and rocket. I also love Westerns Laundry, which is a few doors down from my studio in Highbury – its changing daily menu of seafood is always delicious and I sit at the same spot on a high stool in the corner. For a perfect afternoon, I’d head to Bloomsbury to wander around the British Museum, then pay a visit to my favourite art shop, L. Cornelisson (cornelissen.com). The Coral Room in the Bloomsbury Hotel (doylecollection.com) is excellent for a pre-dinner drink (I did the artwork for the bar and my friend Martin Brudnizki designed the interior). Nearby Lamb’s Conduit Street is lined with good places to eat – try Noble Rot, La Fromagerie or Ciao Bella.’

Kenwood House library; Kenwood House
Kenwood House
Kenwood House

BEAUTY DIRECTOR, GLAMOUR, AND COLUMNIST, THE OBSERVER

FUNMI FETTO

‘I don’t drink, so I love the emergence of sober bars like Redemption in Shoreditch. For food, I love Chisou (chisourestaurant.com), the black cod is divine – many of my most memorable meals and conversations have been had here. Less talking and more dancing has been had at Annabel’s in Mayfair – I highly recommend it for breakfast, where you get to appreciate the hothouse-flowers-meets-high-glamour décor and you’ll be tempted to steal the decadent napkin rings. Attending the Olivier Awards this year reminded me of how great London theatre is – for left-of-centre plays, try the Almeida Theatre (almeida.co.uk), Bush Theatre (bushtheatre.co.uk) and Arcola (arcolatheatre.com). For exhibitions, the Serpentine Gallery (serpentinegalleries.org) is glorious in its scope – the recent Faith Ringgold show was epic. I grew up in Brixton – I could spend hours wandering around the market buying food, visiting black hair shops and Nollywood DVD sellers. There is a buzz, culture and a realness I hope never goes away. Treatments are one of my forms of escapism – Pfeffer Sal (pfeffersal.com) do the most amazing facials – along with a decent book – Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street is one of my favourite places on earth.’

Bush Theatre bar
View of St. Paul’s cathedral

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PHOTOGRAPHS: benjamin davis, roman fox, ed robertson/unsplash. the british museum, richard newstead/getty images.

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