Travel Spotlight

London Loosens Up

Reinvention is the theme in London this spring, with previously ignored neighborhoods attracting new interest and hotels and restaurants taking over onetime office spaces. Lighthearted food trends encourage self-indulgence, whether that means tucking into a rack of ribs, lingering over a mimosa-fueled brunch or spending an afternoon at one of the city’s new food halls. Recover from such splurges with a pit stop at London’s latest concept store, which, when not operating as a fashion emporium, hosts such innovative pop-ups as yoga classes and book groups. To take advantage of all this innovation, visitors are camping out at the city’s two whimsical new hotels, one of which is imbued with a sexy glamour, while the other is a definitive hipster haunt. Here are this season’s best newcomers.

Where to Stay

Mondrian London: 

Backed by Ian Schrager’s Morgans Hotel Group. the Mondrian London opened in late 2014 in a drab office building in Hackney, on the South Bank, that was transformed into a sleek city hotel by the king of British industrial design, Tom Dixon. Dixon’s design is well thought out, from the dramatic showstopper of a lobby to the spacious, light-filled Agua Bathhouse & Spa and spacious gym. All 359 rooms (the best of which boast river views) are sumptuous and stylish, decorated in plush gray with flashes of neon. A glossy postwork crowd flocks to Dandelyan, the award-winning cocktail bar. For heartier fare, patrons head to the hotel’s gleaming restaurant, Sea Containers, where a wood-fired grill adds a homey touch and New York restaurateur Seamus Mullen turns out Mediterranean-inspired bites.

Hoxton Holborn: It might be just a short stroll from Covent Garden, but the Hoxton has a decidedly East London flair and is already a hit with London’s creative community. The lobby features low lighting and plush sofas, inviting both travelers and local freelancers taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi to grab a cold-pressed juice or flat white while lingering with their laptops. Each of the 174 rooms is simple yet stylish, offering a grown-up take on affordable luxury. Among the hotel highlights are the excellent dining options, overseen by Soho Hotel Group: Hubbard & Bell, an inviting diner-style brasserie, the trendy Chicken Shop, downstairs, and Grind, popular with commuters and lobby loungers alike for its Origin coffee. Read more.

Where to Eat

Street Feast London: 

Londoners have fallen hard and fast for market halls, and Street Feast runs several of the best. Each of its four venues (the one in Dalston is the most established) is casual and chaotic while remaining unmistakably fun. Don’t miss Bleecker St. Burger, the food stall of the moment, and perennial favorite Smokstak ribs. Arrive before 7 p.m. or be prepared to wait.

Duck and Waffle: Housed on the top floor of a commercial skyscraper in the financial district, Britain’s highest restaurant is a favorite with the city’s foodies as much for the 360-degree views as for its cuisine. The pan-European menu emphasizes sustainable ingredients, but don’t miss the (less-than-healthy) house dish: duck confit with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup.

Kitty Fisher’s: Located in Shepherd Market, Kitty Fisher’s is a youthful addition to Mayfair’s dining scene, which can be a touch formal. Chef Tomos Parry is renowned for crafting a simple menu that incorporates only the freshest ingredients. Dishes like beef tartare with nasturtiums and rye and monkfish with blood oranges and monk’s beard have impressed food critics and discerning locals alike. Note: the reservation line is open from 10 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.

Where to Shop

House of Hackney: 

Devoted fashion mavens cross oceans to stock up on finds here, so this store in the heart of Shoreditch is well worth a pilgrimage from West London. House of Hackney’s iconic print collections are youthful and fun (the brilliantly quirky Hackney Empire and Dalston Rose prints are modern-day classics.), and almost everything, from the furnishings to the fashions, is made in Great Britain.

Slow Food Market: Open only on Sundays, the Rosewood London’s Slow Food Market (located in the hotel’s serene inner courtyard) hosts more than thirty food stalls purveying regional, in-season produce that has been responsibly harvested. It has rapidly won over local foodies as well as visitors. Head here for a gloriously gluttonous afternoon.

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