Travel Spotlight

What’s New in London: Fall 2023

Indagare editorial director Annie Fitzsimmons shares the highlights of what’s new and notable in the British capital this fall.It is hard to believe it has been a full year of the new Carolean age with King Charles III’s reign. Last week’s newspapers in Britain were plastered with portraits of Queen Elizabeth II in remembrance.

But after a recent visit to the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery after a three-year closure (it’s well worth a visit, though I’d try to avoid the weekends), I was reminded of the breadth and depth of British history through portraits of its people going back centuries—far beyond the royals that we know. More thoughts below, including the iconic Shakespeare portrait to see—and as it turns out, there are a few new celebrity-driven Shakespeare adaptations on stage this fall.

A note on hotels: Of all cities globally right now, London is arguably seeing the most extraordinary boom in luxury hotels, with the Peninsula London and Raffles London at the Old War Office (aka OWO) leading the way with lavish openings. Our fall magazine will have a report on all the top openings.

Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to London. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.

New Restaurants To Try

If I had to pick a favorite on this list (open for breakfast and lunch only) I’d say it’s Lorian in Chelsea, just off Sloane Square and parallel to the forever-charming Pavilion Road. It will be even better when the construction across the street is finished, but it has never bothered me on three different visits. It’s a deli, bakery, coffee shop and restaurant serving the food you want to eat now—perfect salads and sandwiches; plus scrambled eggs and pastries all day. Head chef Emily Dobbs did a stint at Petersham Nurseries.

Pavyllon, newly opened at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, is bringing new energy into this hotel’s dining scene, previously reserved for al fresco business lunches and those sightseeing in London who want total comfort and ease. Chef Yannick Alléno holds 15 Michelin stars at his restaurants in France, and this marks his first foray into Britain. It’s modern French for dinner but would also recommend breakfast for his rendition of a croissant loaf, better than any cronut.

Battersea Power Station, which I wrote about last year as a “former industrial no-man’s-land hoping to become one of the city’s top shopping and dining hubs” is continuing to evolve after its opening a year ago. A second iteration of Arcade Food Hall—an actually great food hall on chaotic Oxford Street—has opened inside the station with favorite outposts including Bebek! Bebek! and BAO for the fluffiest, best bao buns in London.

Just opened at the National Theatre is 160-seat Forza Wine, whose first location in Peckham, south London, has been a favorite for snacks, drinks and excellent London views for years. Aside from cocktails and wine, they’ll serve seasonally-driven Italian small plates and their signature soft-serve ice cream, a Forza must.

I grew up in the southwestern U.S., so I know tacos. I can no longer say there are no good tacos in London. Sonora Taqueria, on Stoke Newington’s high street, is an extremely hyped taco joint that delivers, if you’re willing to brave the queues and put on your sense of adventure hat. Combine a visit to this leafy northeast London neighborhood, which has tons of independent shops to explore (and one of London’s Whole Foods outposts) with a walk through Clissold Park. Go for lunch Thursday to Sunday from 12:00-4:00 p.m.; walk-in’s only.

Since I am also a huge proponent of what I call the “Not Hot” restaurant list, I’d also love to mention a recent find—Ma Cuisine in Kew, perfect for lunch before or after a visit to the magnificent Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. It’s a neighborhood French bistro with wonderful food, lovely people and a whimsical parrot chandelier to admire, in one of London’s most charming villages.

Read more of Melissa’s favorites from a trip this past spring, including Socca Mayfair and Mount St.

Travel this fall in style with this exclusive shopping edit from Mytheresa. Plus, explore all of our packing guides—for beach, ski, safari and more—here.

New Exhibits

In spring 2020, the National Portrait Gallery closed, re-emerging this June after a $53 million renovation. The portrait collection is the largest in the world and consists of more than 220,000 pieces. The ultimate goal is to tell the story of Britain through the people who shape it. To start, my favorite is the first portrait ever acquired by the gallery, in 1856. Known as the Chandos Portrait, it almost certainly depicts William Shakespeare. Though painted in the early 1600’s, he looks contemporary, like he could be walking down the streets of London today and not look like he is from a different era.

Portraits of modern icons, including King Charles III, the Princess and Wales, Dame Judi Dench and Ed Sheeran, are particularly striking—and you’re reminded that people will likely view these centuries from now through a much different lens.

The rooftop Portrait Restaurant by Richard Corrigan still has one of the best views of Big Ben and the London skyline, though the menu may be too fussy for some (pigs’ feet; duck hearts; pasta with snails).

At the Tate Britain, Sarah Lucas: Happy Gas debuts on September 28 with more than 75 bold sculptures—all conversation starters that explore the human body, sex and class systems. Lucas was part of a group dubbed (later) as the Young British Artists (YBA’s) in the 1980’s, a group that included Damien Hirst and a major art movement that revitalized the British art scene. Through January 14, 2024.

The exhibit to catch this season is Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto opening September 16 at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in South Kensington. Created with the support of the Chanel brand, the exhibit finished a run at Palais Galliera, the City of Paris Fashion Museum, in 2021 and honors this French legend of haute couture, best known as Coco Chanel, of course. How Chanel evolved in style—and fame—through the decades is interpreted through fashion pieces, portraits, jewelry, bags and more. With many tickets sold out, consider becoming a V&A member (starting at £77) to see the exhibit at any time, with no booking. Through February 25, 2024.

In leafy south London, at the brilliant Dulwich Picture Gallery, Rubens & Women opens September 27, aiming to challenge the notion that Peter Paul Rubens painted only one (fleshy) type of woman through a study of his relationships with women and his faith. Visit beautiful Dulwich Park before or after, and stop for a pint at The Crown & Greyhound pub on Dulwich's high street. Through January 28, 2024.

On October 5, the controversially postponed Philip Guston Now, a major retrospective of the American artist’s 50-year career arrives in London at the Tate Modern after runs in Boston, Houston and Washington, D.C. Through February 25, 2024.

The Best Theater & Musicals To See Now

Ralph Fiennes plays coach Gareth Southgate in Dear England, which recounts Southgate’s career and the deep national pride that ebbs and flows with team England’s wins, losses and total heartbreaks—you could feel it in the streets for weeks after England lost to Italy in the European Championship loss to Italy in 2021, played on home turf at Wembley Stadium. The show has been transferred to the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre from its original run at the National Theatre. Through January 13.

My trusted insider source for London’s theater and musical scene is back with a strong opinion on The Time Traveller’s Wife, on at the Apollo Theatre: “It’s really mediocre. If you like [actor] David Hunter, maybe. But you won’t love it,” he texted me. Still, it’s one of the bigger debuts this year—from a novel to a film, TV show and now, a musical. Through March 30, 2024, at least.

See Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James on stage in Lyonesse, about a reclusive actress (played by Scott Thomas) who emerges decades later ready to tell her story to a young film exec (played by James). October 17 through December 23, 2023. Limited tickets available.

Kenneth Branagh starred as Hamlet in the 1996 film; now, 27 years later, he is playing the title role in Shakespeare’s King Lear at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre for only 50 performances. October 27 through December 9, 2023. Limited tickets available.

Another hot Shakespeare ticket? David Tennant and Cush Jumbo will star in MacBeth, with previews starting at the Donmar Warehouse on December 8. Through February 10.

Maggie O’Farrell’s best-selling Hamnet—a page-turner about Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son dying, something history has told us very little about—has been adapted by the Royal Shakespeare Company and will run for 14 weeks starting from September 30 at London’s Garrick Theatre.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda has been a West End sensation since it opened in 2011. Will Dahl magic strike twice? Starting November 7, The Witches will start at the National Theatre, an adaptation of the slightly terrifying children’s book into a (hopefully more fun than scary) musical. Recommended for ages eight and up. Through January 27, 2024.

If you happen to be in Birmingham (two hours, 10 minutes by train from London), Matt Doyle stars as Frank Sinatra in a musical about a certain arc in Ol’ Blue Eyes’ life called none other than Sinatra. If all goes well, it may transfer to London. Through October 28, 2023.

Don’t forget: The Royal Albert Hall’s beloved Christmas line-up of events is now on sale, including Home Alone and Elf in concert and a slew of choral concerts and orchestras.

Concerts

Madonna will bring The Celebration Tour to The O2 for five nights this fall: October 14, 15, 17 and 18; plus, December 5.

Contact your Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a trip to London. Our team can match you with the accommodations, reservations and activities that are right for you.

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