London is not a city that can be easily categorised or summarised in a single or few sentences. It is almost like a collection of a few mini-cities coming together, not necessarily harmoniously most of the times, but the urban ruction and personality divergence is what makes London so terribly exciting. If Brexit and other supposedly ground-shattering and history-bending events have not succeeded in bringing this great city to her knees, then this steely spirit and fiery will must seal London in her place in the pantheon of the great cities that this puny little planet will ever know.
wee black book : LONDON EDITION
D I S C O V E R
ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS
It’s well on the beaten track for art lovers but we have to put it here as one of the top recommendations for London. There are so many reasons to love it: it is run by artists (since 1768!), it showcases the best in various disciplines in the arts, often engaging in the interplaying of many of them, and housed in the stately Burlington House.
WORLD CLASS GALLERIES
Given its status as one of the world’s leading art trading centres, spending half- or indeed an entire- day at some of London’s top-tiered galleries will surely be a feast for the eyes. A smattering of commercial galleries that we recommend include Victoria Miro, Gagosian, and White Cube. Drop in also on a biased favourite of Bespokcracy's, the Lisson Gallery, which was one of the pioneer galleries to advance minimalist art in the swingin' 60s.
More a private museum than a working gallery, the Saatchi Gallery also strives to support young artists from in and outside of the UK by providing a leading venue and a dedication to promoting the best contemporary art from the heart of London.
THE DESIGN MUSEUM
Founded by Sir Terence Conran in 1989 and moved to the west (in Kensington) after 24 years at the Shad Thames. Renovation works were led by famed minimalist designer John Pawson while architectural responsibilities rested on the shoulders of OMA, led by Rem Koolhas. The old building was bought by Zaha Hadid to be turned into a venue for architecture exhibiltions.
D I S H
If ever there was a proverb that stands completely contrary to “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”, Sketch will easily be the posterchild of said axiom. It is an immersive art gallery, the interiors are stunning and the restaurant space named ‘The Lecture Room & Library’ holds two Michelin stars. Never heard of experiential gastronomy that explodes all the senses? Then head to Sketch now.
THE COAL OFFICE
A masterpiece of the interiors by Tom Dixon combined with masterpieces on the table by Chef Assaf Granit: monochromaticism and masculinity of the surrounding complements the aplomb and assuredness of the modern Middle Eastern fare. And all this within the new complex of the Coal Drops Yard which is itself a destination.
A drunkard's holler from the Royal Academy sits a club so decadently opulent, it might as well be the modern day's restaurant-club equivalent of the Versailles minus the crazy family. The gilded Pegasus in the hallway, the Jungle Bar that truly lives up to its name with its order-in-chaos foliage and those pink onyx sinks in the bathroom are all the creative doings of Martin Brundnizki. Welcome to how London does unadulterated decadence.
S N O O Z E
Take a page out of the book of Corinthia if one wishes to transform a drabby former Ministry of Defence building into one of the plushest luxury stays in town. Even for the incredibly discerning, there might be next to nothing to whinge about with this place that is so uncompromising with its level of luxury that no expense is spared with the ultra-luxe refurbishment and has a (ESPA) spa that is spread across a mere 4-levels. And the location. I rest my case.
COMO, THE HALKIN
In Belgravia, polite elegance is strictly mandatory and this COMO outpost does Singapore hospitality proud by manifesting oodles of that. The cream tones exude contented quietude and combined with hints of Asian minimalisn with touches of Art Deco, this is a masterclass in subdued (and definitely very polite) elegance. Oh, and that afternoon tea at the Halkin Bar is just rather divine too.
That East London has arrived is so 2016. But the wealth of its art and design offerings and the continuous surge with its street cred, is consistently quite astounding to behold. The Boundary Hotel right in the heart of Shoreditch exemplies all of that. Each of the 17 rooms are inspired by a celebrated designer or known design movement, from Young British Designers to Bauhaus, Mies to David Tang, and obviously the hotel’s architect and designer has his own suite in the form of the Terence Conran loft suite. If you’re mad enough to tire of your room, there’s also the lovely rooftop bar to have that invigorating glass of wine.