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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

 

The History of Mayfair

A stroll along any of Mayfair’s streets will usually involve gazing through windows adorned with displays of the finest tailoring, jewellery, yachts and real estate that money can buy. It’s been like this for over 200 years. However, the area we now refer to as Mayfair has not always been quite so glamorous, with achequered past being the cause for concerted effort to gentrify the area. 

Back in the 1680s, James II launched a fifteen day fair mainly for the purpose of cattle trading. This would take place each May and would engulf Brookfield Market, the myriad streets and piazzas we now call Shepherd Market. As a result, the district became known as Mayfair. The fair quickly grew in popularity and size with both the rich and poor of London convening to trade and party throughout the fortnight. 

Simultaneously, London was in the grips of the so-called “Gin Craze” – an epidemic of extreme drunkenness, caused by the ready availability and low cost of gin which reportedly saw almost two pints of gin being consumed per week by every single Londoner! 

Over the years, the May Fair became rife with overexuberance and disorder. It was finally banned in 1764 and local architect Edward Shepherd was tasked with redeveloping the district with grand houses in the place of the iniquitous taverns. The centrepiece was a two-storey market topped with a theatre which attracted a much higher class of visitor, with which Shepherd Market is associated today. 

Very quickly, Mayfair became the most fashionable of addresses, its appeal being further elevated in the 19th and 20th centuries, with regular high society references in the works of Oscar Wilde, P. G. Wodehouse, Virginia Woolf and Noel Coward.

Such history on our doorstep is from where we have taken inspiration for our particular celebration of gin, the spirit of choice at The Arch Bar, here at InterContinental London Park Lane. Historical anecdotes compliment descriptions of each of our signature cocktails and our bar team, led by the ever-enthusiastic Stefano Filistad, has a million unprintable stories to tell from this foregone era. And if you want to be thrown back to a time that celebrates Mayfair and an age gone by, come along to one of our regular Gin & Jazz evenings, (ginandjazz.com), to experience what has been drawing those that enjoy the finer things in life to our doorstep for many centuries.

To celebrate the 3rd birthday of Gin & Jazz, we are hosting an exclusive evening on 3rd October. Find out more about  about our Gin & Jazz Dinner Offers.

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Camden Beach

The Roundhouse
is one of London's most iconic music venues, but this summer, it's offering Londoners (and tourists alike) the chance to enjoy its 'Camden Beach'. With over 900 square metres of pseudo-shoreline and 150 tonnes of sand, it's the perfect way to spend an afternoon and soak up the sunshine. The best part? It's free to visit and there are also kids facilities available. 

For more information, click here. Open now until 23rd August. 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Perfect Picnic Spots Park

As one of the greenest cities in the world, the capital’s picnic options are bountiful, so we asked award-winning Chef Theo Randall to help navigate the best spots…

Hyde Park, The Serpentine
On the doorstep of the hotel, Hyde Park is the ideal place to sit back and enjoy the summer weather. Take your hamper and set up by the Serpentine Lake, where you can hire a deckchair or do it the old fashion way and get a picnic rug. Also, from May to September the Serpentine Lido is open if you fancy a quick dip.

Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill
Arguably Primrose Hill offers the best view of London, and also overlooks London Zoo; so the kids will be happy. Open all day, it’s easy to see why it’s such a firm favourite on hot summer days.

Alexandra Park
Alexandra Park is a great place for a Sunday afternoon picnic. You can pack your hamper with fresh produce from the Alexandra
Palace Farmers’ Market and kids are kept occupied by watching the waterfowl and deer.

Kyoto Gardens, Holland Park
Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park is truly a hidden gem. The serene waterfall will make it hard to believe the pavements of Kensington are only minutes away. The garden was created in 1991 (and refurbished in 2001) by a team of Japanese gardeners
from Kyoto. Well worth a visit! 

Bushy Park 
Bushy Park is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks and is just north of Hampton Court Palace. If you’re looking for something a little interactive, the park offers fishing, model boating ponds and horse rides. Keep your eyes peeled for its most famous inhabitants; Red and Fallow deer.

 

 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

London Microbreweries

London was once seen as the brewing capital of the world, however, owing to the emergence and popularity of foreign lagers, the city’s breweries became few and far between. With this decline saw entrepreneurship. Smaller, independent breweries began to crop up around the city, producing handcrafted artisan beers from miniature ‘micro’ breweries to larger sized brewing houses, producing up to 10,000 pints per week. Over the last 10 years or so, Londoners have really developed a taste for the capital’s bitter, with more and more varieties and brands available. Insider has rounded up the best of London’s local brews... Cheers!

Zerodegrees Logo
ZERODEGREES
Located in the green suburb of Blackheath, south east London, Zerodegrees is named after the temperature in which beer ferments. The bar has an industrial feel to give punters a true taste of being within a working brewery. Their pints contain no preservatives or additives and it’s not filtered, so you get a genuinely British taste. They also serve delicious homemade food, such as wood oven-baked pizzas.

Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, SE3 0TJ
020 8852 5619
www.zerodegrees.co.uk

London Fields Logo2
LONDON FIELDS BREWERY
Nestled within onevof London’s most culturally vibrant areas, Hackney, the London Fields Brewery has been crafting its own beers since August 2011. This Hackney institution even offers weekly tours around their famed brewery. Just £10 per person, the experience includes a full tour and tasting and runs every Saturday at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

365-366 Warburton Street, E8 3RR
020 7254 7174
www.londonfieldsbrewery.co.uk

Camden Town Brewery Logo
CAMDEN TOWN BREWERY
Located a stone’s throw from the bustling area of Camden in the north west of London, Camden Town Brewery started in 2010 and is tucked away in previously unused railway arches. Since then it has become London’s third largest brewery, and even has its own bar; the Brewery Bar so you can drink the freshest beer in town. Now you can experience a taste of all five of their beers, with their ‘Beer Flights’; five one-third pints of their best brews for just £7.

55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, NW5 3NN
020 7485 1671
www.camdentownbrewery.com

OUR TOP PICKS
• Hells Lager from Camden Town Brewery - soft biscuity malt and a light lemony, peppery hop character
• Hackney Hopster from London Fields Brewery - grapefruit, lemon zest and gooseberry hints
• Wheat Ale from Zero Degrees - fruit notes with some caramel coming through on the rich elegant finish

For more recommendations of our favourite microbreweries, please speak to Concierge

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A Memory Made - Bomber Command

On Thursday 28th June 2012 a memorial was unveiled in our neighbouring Green Park to honour the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who lost their lives in World War II. This Sunday will mark two years since the grand unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial by Her Majesty The Queen. Insider speaks to Colin McGregor, former RAF Tornado pilot, and Arthur Spencer, one of the original Bomber Command, to find out what the memorial means to them.

Colin McGregor is a former RAF Tornado pilot who learnt to fly the Lancaster World War Two Bomber as part of the BBC1 programme ‘Bomber Boys’ which he made with actor and brother, Ewan. “The veterans of Bomber Command, many now in their nineties, waited 67 years for a fitting memorial to be built in London to their lost colleagues, the airmen from countries round the globe who gave their lives in Bomber Command during World War Two. Of all the volunteer aircrew who joined Bomber Command between 1939-1945 nearly half lost their lives, and only one in four completed their tours of duty. Yet, the Bomber Boys never received the recognition they deserved, as the politicians of the time sought to distance themselves from the strategic bombing campaign of the War. After a mammoth fundraising effort, mainly by Bomber Command veterans themselves, a Memorial to Bomber Command was built in the North West corner of Green Park. “As a former RAF pilot, I know that the public understands the importance of supporting the men and women who risk their lives in the Armed Forces, regardless of the politics. This Memorial is a fine physical example of that important principle. Having met many of the veterans, I also know how important this memorial is to them. Despite overwhelming odds, Bomber Command crews continued to carry out the orders of their political and military leaders with unparalleled dedication and bravery. The surviving veterans lost many friends and compatriots during the campaign and they have worked tirelessly to get them recognised”.

Bomber Command Memorial

Arthur Spencer, a navigator in 97 Squadron during 1942/3 explains about his time in the Forces and the significance of the memorial opening. 

"I was born in Wiltshire in 1921 but my parents moved to Southampton in my infancy where I enjoyed a happy upbringing. I was lucky enough to enjoy school and stayed on in the Sixth Form, but during my first year came the Munich crisis – it was pretty clear that war was coming sooner or later. 

“After the school year came to an end, I applied to join the RAF as aircrew, but wasn’t called until November just before the big night raids on Southampton began. “After a year training in Florida, and more training in England, I was posted to 97 Squadron, one of the first in Bomber Command to be equipped with Lancasters. Our first real operation over Germany involved carrying a 4,000lb. bomb and over 1,000 small incendiary bombs to the Ruhr. I was absolutely horrified to be greeted by searchlights and flak all over the sky, and I just couldn’t comprehend how an aircraft could survive in such a maelstrom of fire. Eventually, I even got used to it and I went on to fly in 50 operations, more than half of them in Pathfinder Force. To this day getting caught in search lights remains the most frightening memory from my time in the Air Force. 

“Later, in Transport Command and BOAC, I travelled the world and I made some incredible friends, one of whom, a navigator that I trained with in Florida in 1941, recently spoke at my 90th birthday. I also lost some wonderful friends including three of my crew who were killed over Berlin just two months after I left. Their names are on the Runnymede Memorial for those airmen with no known grave. My pilot was an eighteen year old Canadian; it was his 57th operation. 

“The opening of the RAF Bomber Command is an opportunity to remember those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy freedom. The generosity of the people who have donated means that those men have not been forgotten”. 

Arthur Spencer is now a retired comprehensive school headmaster, who lives with his wife Eva in Weston-super-Mare. They have two daughters,five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. 

The Bomber Command Memorial was dedicated and unveiled on June 28th 2012 at a private ceremony attended by many relatives of the veterans of Bomber Command, and both Colin and Arthur were present at the event. 

InterContinental London Park Lane hosted a special Afternoon Tea service for the attendees of the event. Click here to see more photos from the day. 

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Aziza

Congratulations to Aziza Igamova from the Wellington Lounge who was recently awarded 'Tea Champion' status and is now officially our first Tea Expert here at the hotel. The course was created by our friends at London tea emporium Tea Palace, and saw Aziza embark on an intense one-on-one Tea Specialist course exclusively designed for her which explores all aspects of tea including countries of origin, production methods and, most importantly taste profiles. 

In keeping with the emphasis that we place on sourcing individual ingredients, even displaying our own botanical apothecary at The Arch Bar, Tea Palace explored the botanical features of the tea plant and the way in which it is cultivated. Aziza can pass on her knowledge to both the rest of the Team and guests alike, understanding how altitude, climate and manufacturing processes each contribute to subtle differences in flavour and define different types of tea from black and green through to lesser known teas such as Oolongs and Pu-erhs.

Tea’s growing popularity as a health drink is transforming the tea industry today, not just the nation’s favourite drink, but the second most popular drink globally after water. As we remember that when tea was first welcomed to British soil, it was enjoyed by those in royal and aristocratic circles – what could be more appropriate than sitting in the Wellington Lounge, located on the site of Queen Elizabeth II’s former childhood home? By tracing the development of the different traditions of afternoon tea, Aziza was able to form a deeper understanding of how tea is enjoyed today not just in the UK but in each tea drinking country.

All this while continually tasting the teas from the extensive Wellington Lounge Afternoon Tea menu. This includes two exclusive Bespoke Blends (Number One Park Lane and The Wellington Blend) developed by Tea Palace together with the hotel team to complement our Afternoon Tea menus. Comparing and contrasting distinctive notes and aromas, Tea Palace’s in-house tea specialist guided Aziza through the tasting, enabling her to identify each taste profile and determine the quality of the tea.

As our resident Tea Expert, Aziza has an excellent understanding of the world of tea and is able to advise guests on each tea enabling them to make a well-informed choice. Aziza says "I am extremely proud to be InterContinental London Park Lane's first ever Tea Expert, and to wear my specially designed teapot badge! The course was hugely informative and I thoroughly enjoyed delving deeper into the world of tea to better advise my guests and colleagues alike. It's vital that I inform guests, much in the way a sommelier would, about which teas are best suited to their menu choices. I look forward to putting my knowledge to the test!".

For more information on Tea Palace, visit teapalace.co.uk. Be sure to visit Aziza in the Wellington Lounge soon! 

Tea Palace Champion

 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Wimbledon 2014

The Wimbledon Championship has been held since 1877 at the All England Club in Wimbledon, South West London. The event, which starts today, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is uniquely played on a grass court. The tournament takes over the town from today and ends on 6th July. Guests fly in from all around the world in order to watch Gram Slam tennis at its best and rub shoulders with the stars from the worlds of sport and entertainment. 

The all-important question for this year is, will Andy Murray be able to hold on to his title? You can catch all the games on our large TV screens located in and around the hotel. 

For more information, visit wimbledon.com or speak to a member of our Concierge team. 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Taste of London Blog

Theo Randall and team are at the world-renowned Taste of London again this week, held in Regent’s Park. Sample some of Theo's most iconic dishes including Cape Sante in padella, soft chocolate cake with crema di mascarpone and more. The event starts on Wednesday and finishes on Sunday, and Theo can be found at stand R38. Alongside showcasing some of London's best culinary offerings, there are also demonstrations and masterclasses from top Chefs. For tickets, please speak to Concierge

Follow #TheoatTaste to keep up to date with all the goings-on from the festival or visit Theo's Facebook page

Taste of London - Theo Randall2

 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Panzano - Theo Randall

Located between Florence and Siena, Panzano is a small town with a large reputation for gastronomy. Mark Jones, Executive Editor of BA High Life, joined chef Theo Randall on a food adventure to find out where he gets his inspiration for his award-winning restaurant at the InterContinental.

It is a bright midsummer morning in the heart of Tuscany. In Panzano, a small hilltop village halfway between Florence and Siena, life proceeds at a slow pace. This is Chiantishire at its most shire-like. The bakery and café are doing steady business. A couple of older citizens sit on a bench and discuss life. There’s not much traffic other than the occasional farmer’s van or a visibly lost hire car. 

Panzano has a higher, newer part and an older, lower one. They are divided by a cobbled road and surrounded by gentle, sloping hills of oak, cypress and vines. Red-roofed villas and farmhouses dot the hillsides. If you were a Renaissance painter seeking a pastoral backdrop for your latest Medici commission, you wouldn’t go far wrong here – even if it is 500 years since the Medicis were around. 

But in the distance there is a strange sound that your Renaissance painter – or anyone not familiar with the village – would find distinctly at odds with these tranquil, timeless surroundings. It’s a pounding, insistent kind of noise. Theo, Giovanni and I walk up the hill from the higher part of the village. The fuzzy cacophony begins to separate into its constituent parts: thumping drums, crunching guitar and caterwauling vocals. 

Here, in the land of cantatas and madrigals, someone is playing the Aussie rockers AC/DC at full blast. There’s obviously some kind of party going on. People, some of them with wine glasses in hand, are spilling onto the pavement. Inside, the place is packed with people laughing, drinking, tucking into various titbits being handed around by the staff.

It’s really not like any other butcher’s shop I’ve ever been to. Nor does the butcher act like any other butcher I’ve encountered. Seeing Theo, he strides across the floor, gives him a bear hug and lifts him about three feet into the air. Not quite the behaviour distinguished chefs are accustomed to, perhaps, but this is Dario and when Dario is around polite handshakes and English reserve don’t really work. Theo has been coming to see Dario for years. Any chef who, like him, has an international reputation for cooking top-notch Italian food, comes to see Dario Cecchini whenever they can. Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali – they all know Dario: his shop is a place of pilgrimage for people who know and care about meat.

Dario
Dario Cecchini

Dario looks a bit like Jack Nicholson’s jovial Italian cousin. He has arched, decidedly demonic eyebrows, a large hooked nose and a huge, burly frame. Around the shops there are posters of Dario in his younger days when he was leading the campaign against the ban on serving beef on the bone, a ban that stopped him serving his beloved Florentine steaks. The photographer made Dario look like an especially grumpy hitman. It’s an undoubtedly effective shot – Dario became something of a celebrity in the United States – but it’s wholly untrue to the character of the man. You might think a butcher’s shop is a place of dead things; and you wouldn’t be wrong. Yet Dario’s, paradoxically is a place where life is celebrated. He celebrates the life of the animal and treats them with the utmost love and care in the fields and on the chopping board. Outside, under the vines and on long tables, we eat course after course of his succulent beef. There are glasses of Giovanni’s majestic Chianti Classico reds. And there’s time to talk about Panzano.

If you know Tuscany a little you might head for Siena and San Gimignano. If you know Tuscany a little better, you might seek out less touristy Greve with its medieval centre and wonderful markets. But if, like Theo Randall, you are a real Tuscany insider you go to Panzano. 

It’s not all about Dario: this is a food lover’s idyll. The best guide you can have is Giovanni Manetti of the Fontodi winery. If Dario is a Tuscan Jack Nicholson, Giovanni is an Italian Cary Grant: tanned, beautifully dressed, dryly humorous. Whether he is talking to an Albanian seasonal worker in the vineyards or a holidaying tech millionaire in one of his villas, he is unfailingly courteous. Generations of his family are buried in the churchyard on the hill. But in spite of his courteous, conservative air, Giovanni is something of a radical hereabouts.  

Before I find out why, Giovanni drives us around his 80-hectare estate. Let Theo Randall introduce the place: “Fontodi is very special place,” he says. “When you drive up the steep path to its entrance you are taken aback at its sheer beauty but also its simplicity.

“The views over its magnificent vineyards in the Conca D’Ora are inspiring, particularly in summer when the scent of lavender and rosemary is so strong. Giovanni Manetti has made Fontodi one of the great – if not the greatest – of the Chianti Classico estates. When you taste the ‘normale’ it really is a great expression of what Fontodi is all about – simple, elegant and full of character”.

The Conca d’Oro – the Golden Shell – really is a kind of heaven for winegrowers and cheesemakers, as well as butchers, English chefs and AC/ DC fans. It is sculpted into the hills 450 metres up. The south facing slopes bask during the day then cool at night. That makes, says Giovanni, for perfect ripening conditions for his vines – mainly Sangiovese, the classic constituent of Chianti Classico, though he is introducing alternative varieties like Pinot Nero and Syrah. So what’s radical here in this simple rustic landscape? It’s this. In 1990, Giovanni began to experiment with organic methods. Now that’s all he does. But this isn’t only about the wine. His vines are interspersed with barley. The barley feeds his herd of 35 Chianina cows. Their manure feeds the vines, their milk makes the local cheese and of course their meat ends up in Dario’s big, capable hands.

This part of Italy is one of the most intensively cultivated parts of Europe. For Giovanni, it’s just a case of outing the clock back 60 years to a time when the land and the people were self-sufficient and shared their expertise and produce. In so doing, Giovanni and his fellow producers have done more than put this pretty but seemingly insignificant village on the map. 

Theo Randall Panzano
Theo Randall

“Anyone who knows about Tuscan wine and food,” says Theo Randall, “sees it as an epicentre.” Early evening in the epicentre of the epicentre, Dario is cranking up the volume and sharpening the knives. The coals in Dario’s inferno are white hot and Highway to Hell blasts out of the speakers. Here in foodie heaven it’s going to be a long and hellishly good night.

Written by Mark Jones, BA High Life

For more information on Theo Randall and his restaurant, visit theorandall.com

 

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 Brazilian Carnival - A Carnival of Flavours

It’s an exciting time in Brazil. We will all be dancing to a samba beat as the country prepares to host two of the world’s greatest sporting events. The 2016 Olympics will be the first time that the Games has ever been held in South America, and the 2014 World Cup, which starts today, will be the first time that the tournament has come to the continent since Argentina in 1978.

With such exciting times ahead for this passionate and patriotic nation, Insider takes a look into what visitors to the country can expect from its diverse cuisine. With over 500 years of history, Brazilian cuisine is the result of a great mixture of traditions and ingredients – the product of a natural progression from an indigenous community that experienced the arrival of diverse cultures over the centuries. The continental country is home to a great variety of ingredients and each region has its specialities, due to the differences in climate, type of soil, vegetation and the history of the area’s colonisation.

Brazil

AMAZON REGION
Much of this region’s cuisine is influenced by its indigenous legacy. The shrub Cassava is a highly used ingredient in Brazilian
cooking and is originally from the Amazon. 

Typical dishes: Tacacá (hot broth served with tucupi, dry shrimp, jambú and tapioca starch); Maniçoba (the feijoada from Pará – cassava leafs cooked for seven days and served with pork meat) and Pirarucu de casaca (fish with flour).

NORTHEAST REGION
From the shores of Pernambuco to Bahia, African presence is stronger due to the legacy of slavery from the sugar cane plantations. On the northeast hinterlands, the climate favours the consumption of meat, especially combined with root vegetables.

Typical dishes:
Acarajé (deep fried black-eyed peas); Baião de Dois (rice and beans, often served with dried meat) and Canjican (corn porridge).

PANTANAL (Wetlands)
The tropical Pantanal wetlands in Mato Grosso is the largest continuous flood plain on the planet. From these formations, a selection of ingredients came to the table of the people from the wetlands, generating very specific recipes in the region.

Typical dishes:
Caribéu (jerked beef and cassava stew); fried Chipa (fried cured cheese and tapioca flour dumpling); Furrundu (green papaya sweet and brown sugar) and roasted Pacu (fish).

SOUTHEAST REGION
Until the 19th Century, Southeastern cuisine was influenced by its Portuguese, African and indigenous origins. Since then, the arrival of Italians, Japanese, Lebanese, Syrians and Spanish, particularly in São Paulo, has transformed the region into a great culinary melting pot with many innovative and unique dishes. 

Typical dishes:
Feijoada (stew); Couscous Paulista (steamed cake made from corn flour, vegetables, spices, chicken, or fish); Shrimp Bobó, Moqueca Capixaba from Espírito Santo State (seafood and fish stew) and Brigadeiro (chocolate truffles).

SOUTH REGION
The South boasts an incredible ethnic mix resulting in a cuisine completely different from the rest of the country. Italian and German dishes complement the omnipresent Portuguese and Spanish influence.

Typical dishes:
Capelete soup (tortellini soup); Sago with wine (Tapioca/starch pearls); Barreado (meat stew with banana) and Arroz Carreteiro (Cart Rider’s Rice)

BRAZILIAN FOOD IN LONDON
Brazilian cuisine has become increasingly popular in London. There is a growing interest, not only the result of a large Brazilian community in the capital, but also by the growing British passion for discovering this fresh and exciting culinary tradition. Some of the most authentic experiences can be found behind the most unassuming doors, such as Rodizio Britannia on the Wandsworth Road, Stockwell or Barraco Cafe in Kilburn. There is also a growing presence of Japanese-Brazilian fusion, the product of more than 1.4 million Brazilians of Japanese decent in Brazil, which in London alone has brought up-scale dining at the likes of Sushinho on the King’s Road and SUSHISAMBA at the top of the Heron Tower in Bishopsgate.

For more recommendations, please speak to a member of the Concierge team. 

 

 

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Brazil World Cup

FIFA WORLD CUP - 12TH JUNE – 13TH JULY

If you do not enjoy football, then it’s probably best to head to the nearest desert island and bury your head in the sand, because it’s going to be hard to avoid it this summer. The World Cup is back and this time it’s in Brazil. Expect copious samba beats, scantilyclad beauties and scenes of the Copacabana to be broadcast intermittently between matches, whilst the English bemoan their team’s inability to win a penalty shoot-out. London is normally a fabulous place from which to watch the tournament, however with the time difference this year, most matches will not be broadcast until pretty late into the evening. We recommend booking a room at InterContinental London Park Lane and making the most of our TVs and Room Service menu! Alternatively, there will be large flat screen TVs in and around the hotel (including Cookbook Cafe, Theo Randall at the InterContinental, The Arch Bar and Wellington Lounge) for you to enjoy each of the games.

Whoever you are supporting, we wish all the teams the best of luck!

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Craftsmen - Made in Mayfair

Following on from our first Made in Mayfair post, another organisation championing creativity in the heart of Mayfair is The New Craftsmen, a company established in 2012 to represent and sell the work of Britain’s finest craftmakers. Natalie Melton is the co-founder of The New Craftsmen. In this post, she celebrates time-honoured British craftsmanship and explains why Mayfair is
a fitting place in which to showcase it.

Craftsmen - Made in Mayfair2 Craftsmen - Made in Mayfair4 Craftsmen - Made in Mayfair3

To date we have worked with some 70 craftmakers from the length and breadth of the British Isles with a wide variety of skills and knowledge. From the far north we have worked with a traditional Orkney chair maker, Kevin Gauld, and partnered him with a rising star of the design world, Gareth Neal, to reimagine an Orkney chair and present a contemporary take on this classic piece of furniture. We have fourth generation scissor makers from Sheffield, jewellers from Hatton Garden, wood-fired potters in Dorset and award-winning silversmiths from Devon…there is a wealth of talent across the British Isles and it is very much our job to go out and find people who deserve to have a spotlight shone on their amazing work.

Mayfair is recognised across the world as the heart and home of luxury – and the roots and origins of luxury are based in craftsmanship. It was the natural home for an enterprise that wants to give a platform to true craftsmanship in all its shapes and forms. Mayfair is an exciting place to be at the moment – there are so many emerging British brands taking up residence here and forging an international reputation – it’s an inspiring place to be and to be able to establish our own base here is enormously exciting.

Mayfair is a shopper’s paradise – beautiful streets and heavenly windows to entice you into the treasures in store. For me, Mount Street has a great mix of the traditional and the contemporary. The butcher Allens of Mayfair and Sauter cigars are both worth a isit for heir rich history. Hedonism Wines is an oenophiles paradise; the interior is extraordinary, the staff fantastically knowledgeable. Solange Azagury Partridge has opened her atelier on Carlos Place, coincidentally in the very same building where we launched with a pop-up in December 2012. I love the fact that you can see the workshop in the basement. Connection

to the making process is very visible and that’s an important element of what we represent. They have worked wonders with the building – a gorgeous riot of colour and decadence that perfectly complements her exquisite jewels. I can’t wait for Roksanda Illincic to open on Mount Street this year. The technical skills of her designs, along with her divine use of colour makes her a stand out as a designer in my opinion. 

What makes Mayfair a truly unique place for me is that it is at the heart of the city, but operates at its own pace – less hectic, more considered. As shopping increasingly becomes about experience, an afternoon wandering through the streets and shops of Mayfair is pretty hard to beat – stunning architecture, wide open streets, charming doormen, grand squares and public art. But it continues to evolve, with old spaces being put to use in new ways, and quiet streets taking on new life. Our new home is up in north Mayfair, and this is an area that is undergoing significant transformation – it will be exciting to see who will be joining us in as-yet-undiscovered shops and spaces. 

The New Craftsmen will open their new shop and showroom at 34 North Row this month. For more information visit thenewcraftsmen.com

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Glymdebourne Festival

The historic Glyndebourne Festival celebrates some of the most quintessential of British traditions; picnics and opera. This year, the festival takes place from 17th May to 24 August 2014 and includes three new productions: Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera, Verdi's La traviata and revivals of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Handel's Rinaldo.

For more information and for tickets visit glyndebourne.com or speak to a member of the Concierge team. 

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SUNDARI - Spa InterContinental

Spa InterContinental is thrilled to welcome some California vitality to No. 1 Park Lane with the inclusion of a new Ayurveda-inspired skincare line and treatment menu from luxury brand SUNDÃRI. Created by supermodel Christy Turlington and two-likeminded female partners, Ayla Hussain and Cavan Mahony, SUNDÃRI promotes health and beauty by balancing mind, body and spirit.

Lisa Capozio - SUNDARI

Lisa Capozio is Head of Development for SUNDÃRI. Lisa helps us to understand Ayurveda and how it is woven into their products and treatments. Ayurveda, acknowledged as the oldest medical science in India, is a 5,000 year old science of life advocating a methodology that seeks to establish one’s holistic balance. Ayurveda teaches that the balancing of mind, body and spirit will ultimately lead to peace, harmony and lasting beauty. In basic terms Ayurveda is the balance of three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha and when they are in sync this equals health and when unbalanced this equals disease. We all possess a unique combination of these doshas, which define our temperament and characteristics. Each of us has a natural combination of these three elements and the aim is to seek this balance.

Christy and her partners wanted to create a line of products and treatments that combined these principles with modern technology and the purest botanicals that would help nurture truly healthy skin by encouraging a sense of well-being. Their legacy is SUNDÃRI, which looks at the whole picture when preparing a treatment or regimen, which includes the individual constitution, daily habits, food habits, exercise and sleep. Unlike traditional science, Ayurveda has a holistic vision that considers the body, mind and soul. Stress is both external and internal and many disorders are known to ensue from stress-induced disharmony. This is not just a philosophy; research has shown that stress is linked directly to accelerated ageing with collagen and elastin protein breakdown, skin wrinkling, acne and hair loss. Each SUNDÃRI session bgins with an Ayurvedic consultation during which the therapist will prescribe your personalised treatment plan. Looking at the heat of the room, the type of therapeutic grade oils used and pressure of touch, we can achieve optimum results. Our Abhyanga massage is a rhythmic, stress-reducing massage which combines traditional Ayurvedic movements with the drizzling of warmed oil to rejuvenate and restore the flow of ‘Prana’; our body’s vital energy. Profound relaxation is induced through the clearing of stagnant energy and the oxygenation of cells. The Andhana massage is a muscle melting form of Abhyanga which softens and heals muscles through deep pressure and stretches. Tissues are warmed and renewed through increased circulation from Katafray whilst soreness is relieved with Arnica. Even the stiffest of muscles are restored and renewed.

Our SUNDÃRI Head Massage diminishes stress and tension in the scalp, neck and shoulders with a melting massage adapted from the ancient Indian Head Massage. Hair is nourished with warming and soothing Neem and Coconut. Peppermint and Eucalyptus is used to awaken the mind and relieve pressure. Formulated with organic ingredients and therapeuticgrade essential oils, SUNDÃRI products are free of synthetic dyes and fragrance, and they are not tested on animals. Key ingredients range from such well-known plants as camomile, aloe vera and lavender to more exotic ingredients from India. We offer four key collections that feature firming, which uses ingredients such as Gotu Kola to stimulate collagen production. Supplifying uses a proprietary complex with Omega-3 to help ultra-hydration for mature skin, healing with the incredibly versatile plant Neem. Finally, to nurture we use essential oil and botanicals that maintain healthy skin. SUNDÃRI facials incorporate a customised skincare programme inclusive of a deep exfoliation and an intensive treatment mask. Our signature MarMassage (energy point stimulation) continues to bring balance to both the mind and skin.

For more information on SUNDÃRI and the new treatments available at Spa InterContinental now, please visit spaintercontinentallondon.com

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Summer of Sport

In our 
previous blog post, we focused on the increasing US investment into sport in the UK, with Americans now owning English football clubs and seeking franchise opportunities for the NFL and NBA. It placed the size and passion of British fan bases as most appealing to these wealthy investors. Subsequently, we’ve decided to take a look at what lies in store this summer on the British sporting agenda in the hope of finding out exactly why the Brits love their sport so much.

CRICKET

ENGLAND VS SRI LANKA ODI SERIES
22ND MAY – 3RD JUNE

England’s cricketers were on the receiving end of a series whitewash in The Ashes Down-Under earlier this year, so this Summer is all about restoring pride. In the One Day International series they won’t exactly have it easy, with the visiting Sri Lankans sitting above England in the ODI rankings and boasting some of the world’s leading cricketers, including Sangakkara, Dilshan and Malinga. There are 5 ODI matches in the series, with two in London: on 22nd May at The Oval and on 31st May at Lord’s. Tickets are priced at £70. Visit ecb.co.uk

ENGLAND VS INDIA TEST SERIES
9TH JULY – 19TH AUGUST

India is currently second in worldwide Test ranking and will be looking to make up for their narrow series defeat against top-ranked South Africa in December. England will have it all to do and much will rely on their early summer progress against Sri Lanka. Expect big hitting from India’s Pujara and Kohli and fierce pace bowling from England’s Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, whilst England’s Barmy Army attempts to out-chant the fervent India fans in the stands. This five-match Test Series takes place in Nottingham, Manchester and Hampshire, as well as two London matches at Lord’s (17th – 21st July) and The Oval (15th – 19th August). Tickets are distributed through a ballot. Visit ecb.co.uk

Cricket

FOOTBALL

FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL
12TH JUNE–13TH JULY

Click here to read more about the World Cup. 

FA CUP FINAL
17TH MAY

The FA Cup is steeped in history and is one of the most treasured trophies worldwide. A fixture on the footballing calendar since 1871-72 season when the Wanderers defeated the Royal Engineers at Kennington Oval in front of 2,000 spectators, the final now attracts a 90,000 capacity crowd at Wembley with additional domestic viewing figures of 8.5million. FA Cup Final day is simply unique, packed with so much tradition and folklore; just ask any man, woman or child about their greatest FA Cup memory and be prepared for a long, emotionally fuelled story. The Final is at Wembley Stadium, which is easily reached by tube from Baker Street. Tickets for the Final go on sale approximately one month in advance and are sold through the clubs directly involved in the final. For all information, visit thefa.com

Football

HORSE RACING

ROYAL ASCOT
18TH– 22ND JUNE

Royal Ascot dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. It is one of the world’s most celebrated race meetings and is attended by HRH Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family. It is a major event on the British social calendar, with Ladies’ Day on the Thursday being famous for some of the world’s leading designers dressing celebrities and high society in extravagant hats and posh frocks. Royal Ascot itself proclaims a promise of “Excitement, Pageantry, Fashion & Style”. Need we say more? Ascot Racecourse is about a 45 minute drive west of London and can easily be reached by train from London Waterloo. Entrance to the Royal Enclosure is strictly for members only, with tickets for the less formal Silver Ring starting at just £20 and Grandstand Enclosure tickets priced between £55 and £75. Visit ascot.co.uk

EPSOM DERBY
7TH JUNE

The Epsom Derby earns its winner a cool £1.25million, not bad for a 2,432 metre flat race. Having been founded by the 12th Earl of Derby and first contested in 1780, it has since spawned equivalent high profile races around the world, including the Irish Derby, the Derby Italiano, the Australian Derby and the Kentucky Derby. Epsom is in Surrey, directly south of London. It is easy to get there from central London by train, either to Epsom or Tattenham Corner station. Tickets start at just £10 to enter the Family Enclosure on The Hill, with Grandstand Enclosure tickets priced at £45. Early winners might like to upgrade to the Queen’s Stand for £99. Visit epsomdowns.co.uk

Horse Racing

GOLF

BRITISH OPEN, ROYAL LIVERPOOL
13–20TH JULY 

In the UK, 4 million people play golf, which equates to 8% of the adult population. Each July, all eyes turn to the world’s elite golfers as they vie to get their hands on the famous Claret Jug, the current holder of which is American Phil Mickelson. This will be the 143rd British Open, the oldest of the 4 major tournaments, (which include the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championships). This year it will be played on the Hoylake course at Royal Liverpool, (and yes, that’s in Liverpool!) It’s the twelfth time that The Open has been on this course, the last time being in 2006 when Tiger Woods reigned supreme. £65 per adult and £25 for Concessions (16 – 21 years). Visit theopen.com

RYDER CUP, GLENEAGLES
23–28TH SEPTEMBER

Two years ago saw that ‘Miracle of Medinah’, when, dressed in the colours of the late Seve Ballesteros, Europe pulled off one of the comebacks of all time to retain the Ryder Cup. The tournament is back on home soil this year. Team Europe, captained by Paul McGinley, will take on Tom Watson’s Team America, who returns for his second stint as captain having led America to victory in 1993. This year’s Ryder Cup is at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland. Match Day tickets (Friday – Sunday) are sold out. Tickets for Practice Days (Tuesday – Thursday) cost £45. Visit rydercup.com

Golf

ROWING

HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA
2ND–6TH JULY

In comparison to The Boat Race, Henley is one of the society events of the British sporting calendar. Taking place over five Champagne and canapé filled days in July, Henley attracts competitors from all over the world. As one would expect, there are strict dress codes to adhere to for members in the Stewards’ Enclosure, whilst those that enter the less formal Regatta Enclosure tend to get into the spirit of things by dressing up even though it is not enforced. What fun! Henley-upon-Thames is about a 90-minute drive west of London and can be accessed by train from London Paddington. Regatta Enclosure badges can range from £17 to £23. The Stewards’ Enclosure is reserved for members and their guests only. Our Concierge Team can assist with ticket enquiries for Henley Royal Regatta. Visit hrr.co.uk

Rowing

RUGBY UNION

AVIVA PREMIERSHIP FINAL, TWICKENHAM
31ST MAY

The Aviva Premiership Final is, simply put, the winner of the play-offs between the top four teams in the highest division in a rugby season that runs from September to May each year. Expect lots of grunts and sweat in the oppressive heat of one of the finest rugby stadiums in the world. If you have not yet visited Twickenham stadium, this is worth the journey alone. It is best to go there by train from London Waterloo, (approximately 25 mins), which will allow you to sample some of the great pre-match atmosphere offered by many of the pop-up food stalls and classic rugby pubs such as the Barmy Arms and The Turk’s Head. Adult tickets range from £25 to £80. Visit premiershiprugby.com

HEINEKEN CUP FINAL, MILLENNIUM STADIUM, CARDIFF
24TH MAY

The Heineken Cup Final is the culmination of a season-long tournament that sees the clubs from within the Six Nations (England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales), fight it out to be the top team in Europe. It’s Northern Hemisphere rugby at its finest. Toulouse has won the competition a record four times, Leinster three times, while Munster, Leicester Tigers
and London Wasps have won it twice each. Will current holders Toulon defend their title successfully? Little effort is spared by any team to get their hands on this illustrious trophy which also serves as the finale to the professional season. The Heineken Cup Final moves each year. This year, it’s back at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Expect Welsh fans aplenty, bringing their rugby anthems from all around the valleys, irrespective of there not actually being any Welsh team in the final this year! Tickets range from £35 to £75 and can be purchased online at ercrugby.com

Rugby

TENNIS

QUEEN’S CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS
9TH–15TH JUNE

Queen’s has historically been seen as the warm-up to the Grand Slam tournament that follows at Wimbledon, but it continues to attract the biggest names in tennis since it began in 1890. John McEnroe holds the record for most tournament wins, (four singles and one double), whilst Pete Sampras has amassed a record £241,804 in prize money from his participation. The current holder is Andy murray, who captured his third Queen’s Club Championship by beating Croatian seed Marin Čilić. Queen’s Club is one of London’s oldest sporting clubs, opened in 1886 and named after Queen Victoria. The club is tucked away in an unassuming location between West Kensington and Hammersmith, easily accessible by London Underground and Overground Trains, Bus and Car. Tickets for the Aegon Championships are sold via a Ballot and then a General Sale. Ground Passes cost £19, whilst Show Court tickets start from £36. Visit lta.org.uk

THE WIMBLEDON CHAMPIONSHIPS
23RD JUNE – 6TH JULY

The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon is the Holy Grail for any professional tennis player or fan and has been a fixture on the international sporting calendar since 1877, pausing just for the World Wars. In 2013, the prize money totalled £22.25million with Andy Murray and Marion Bartoli walking off Centre Court as Champions with a cool £1.6million each. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, (to give it its full name), is a short walk from Wimbledon Village and Southfields. Regular shuttle services run from Wimbledon Station during the tournament. Getting your hands on a Wimbledon ticket is the equivalent of winning one of Willie Wonka’s Golden Tickets. Each year, tickets are distributed by ballot, which opens on 1st August and closes on 31st December. So unless you get lucky in the ballot or are prepared to line up for endless hours in searing heat or driving rain, we suggest you head for one of the live Wimbledon Screening zones dotted around the capital.
Visit wimbledon.com

Tennis

 For more information or to speak to Concierge about tickets to any sporting events, please contact us

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Theo Randall - Veal Cappelletti Recipe
This week, Theo was awarded 'Best Dish' at the 2014 Tatler Restaurant Awards for his Veal Cappelletti. Try it for yourself using his simple recipe from his first cookbook, PASTA.

Theo says 'Cappelletti are a slightly larger version of tortellini. This dish has been on the menu in the restaurant from day one, as we always serve veal chops and we use the flank of the loin to make this pasta. The more you prove the pasta dough by passing it through the machine, the finer you can roll it, making a more delicate dish'. 

300g veal flank, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3 equal pieces
1 tbs olive oil
100g pancetta, chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
a glass of white wine
100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
1/2 quantity of Pasta dough (see Theo's pasta recipe)
75g unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the veal with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a casserole dish, add the seasoned veal and cook until golden. Remove from the pan, add the pancetta, celery, carrots and onion and cook for 10 minutes or until the pancetta is golden too. Return the veal to the pan, add the white wine, cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid and transfer to an oven preheated to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Cook for 1.5 hours or until the veal is very tender. Remove the veal and vegetables from the pan and chop very finely by hand. Season to taste, then add the Parmesan and enough of the cooking juices to give a moist but not wet mixture. 

Roll out the pasta dough as thinly as your pasta machine will let you. Cut out 8cm squares and place a teaspoonful of the mixture on each one. Brush the pasta edges with water, then fold in half so you have a triangle. Bring the 2 opposite points of the triangle together and squeeze tight. Repeat this process until you have used up all the filling. The Cappelletti can be cooked straight away or kept in the fridge on a floured tray for up to 2 days. 

Add the Cappelletti to a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for 3-5 minutes, until al dente. Meanwhile, soften the butter in a large frying pan, but don't let it melt completely. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter. Serve with Parmesan and black pepper.

For more information on Theo Randall at the InterContinental, visit theorandall.com

p theo randall 400x600

Image courtesy of Tatler.
Theo collecting his award for Best Dish at the Tatler Restaurant Awards 2014. 


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 English Wines - InterContinental London Park Lane

With more than 430 vineyards producing around 3 million bottles of wine, England is quickly being recognised as a serious wine producer poised for the world stage. Julia Trustman Eve, Managing Director of the English Wine Producers, explains the current boom and the future of the British grape.

Romans are credited with introducing the vine to England and the Normans advanced this by planting and connecting vineyards with manorial holdings and monasteries. Henry VIII destroyed many of these structures and with that went the vineyards. 

Wine production lay mostly dormant until the mid-20th Century when the first commercial vineyard was planted in Hampshire in 1952. In the late 1980s investment in the production of sparkling wine began when an American couple, Stuart and Sandy Moss, planted the first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier varieties on their estate in Sussex. 

Planting these three grapes, which are the main varieties grown in Champagne, grew quickly in the early 1990s. Today they account for 45% of all plantings with sparkling making up 65% of the wines produced. 

England is geographically close to the Champagne region – one of our Sussex producers calculates that as the crow flies his estate is just 88 miles away – and our sparkling wines have a strong similarity. They possess a lovely freshness, clean acidity and some people prefer the slightly softer fruitier notes. Our still white wines, which are made from the aromatic Bacchus grape, account for 25% of England’s wine production. They are fresh, crisp and relatively light in alcohol – lovely with seafood, salads, fish, white meats and as an apéritif. 

Over the last decade, English wines, (particularly sparkling), have done consistently well in competitions and blind tastings. Time and time again we have beaten tough competition from well-established wine regions. In this same period the British have become much more aware and supportive of local produce. The food and drink industry has grown exponentially in popularity with more people wanting to know what they are consuming, where it comes from and how it was grown. We are proud of what is being produced on our doorsteps and English wines have benefited dramatically. 

An important point when discussing ‘English wine’ is the use of the term itself. There is a distinct difference between English wine and British wine. English wine is produced from grapes grown in England and the wine is produced in wineries here too. British wine is a product made from imported grape concentrate – the only British component being the water that’s added to it – and it’s bottled over here. It’s not technically wine and is not very pleasant to drink. Unfortunately, it is an easy mistake to make – particularly when referring to English and Welsh wine collectively. 

The future is looking very promising for English wines. We have seen more plantings year-on-year and in the last seven years acreage has nearly doubled. While we won’t see the results of this for a number of years, (it takes seven years from planting to having a bottle ready to sell), we know that the next few years will be very exciting. I predict that we will see more export taking place with new labels and wines coming on the market. It has already started, but there are some very exciting prospects. I hope also that the trend for consuming English fizz will continue to grow and remain something we can all be really proud of.

Next time you are at No. 1 Park Lane, why not try some of these English wines, available at The Arch Bar.

Bacchus, Chapel Down, Kent England (White)
The Bacchus grape has been selected for its ability to ripen in cool climates, (perfect for the unpredictable nature of the English weather). The grape produces a refreshing, fruity and medium bodied white wine, great with fish, Thai dishes or with a summer salad.

Chapel Down English Rose (Rosé)
A blend of Pinot Noir that delivers a wine with great aromas of red fruits, red currants, strawberries and hawthorn. Great with barbecued meats or salads.

 

 

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 Chelsea Flower Show

Taking place on 20th - 24th May, the world renowned Chelsea Flower Show is back for its 101st year.  The event is held by the Royal Horticultural Society in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and has a long history attached to it. It is perhaps the most famous flower show, and one of the most highly regarded events in the British social calendar, in the world attracting visitors from all continents, all enticed by the showcase of trends and the launching of new plants. Click here to speak to Concierge about tickets and transport.

For your chance to win tickets to the event, why not try InterContinental London Westminster's limited edition 'Edible Garden Afternoon Tea'. 

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Away Days - Insider

This bank holiday, why not take a break from the Big Smoke and see what else England has to offer. We've selected our pick of the best places for an away day, all of which are located just a couple of hours away from the capital. 

BESIDE THE SEA
With more than 350 miles of coastline, Essex has the longest of any English county. From traditional seaside resorts to historic maritime towns, Essex has a plethora of unspoiled coastline to explore. Just a stone’s throw from London, explore some of its lesser-known gems. Take a trip to one of the county’s many beaches, such as Southend-on-Sea, and check out the world’s longest pleasure pier or pay a visit to one of the town’s fish and chip shops for an old fashioned British classic. Head to Leigh-on-Sea and sample some of the seafood on offer from the rickety cockle sheds and finish the day by watching the boats come in from the warmth of one of its cosy pubs, (try the Crooked Billett). For something different, and totally delicious, head to Company Shed in West Mersea for no-frills, freshly caught seafood. Opened over 30 years ago and one of Jamie Oliver’s favourite places too. 

PICTURE PERFECT
A short train ride from London lies the picturesque county of Sussex. From stunning coastline and rolling hills to cosmopolitan cities such as Brighton, historic Chichester and the picture-perfect village of Rye and Pevensey Bay, Sussex is the perfect place or a day away from the bright lights of London.

Sussex

RYE
The historic town of Rye features picturesque alleys, cobbled streets and Tudor architecture. It lies at the confluence of three rivers; the Rother, the Tillingham and the Brede. Complete with its own harbour and fishing fleet, Rye has quickly become one of Sussex’s biggest draws. Take a stroll through the narrow lanes, having a drink in one of its many traditional pubs, (our favourite is the 15th Century Mermaid Inn), and stop for lunch at The George. Whilst there, be sure to check out the Rye Marshes and the rather surreal Dungeness.

THE WITTERINGS
Located a short way from the historic Roman city of Chichester lies the Witterings; a collection of harbour villages and naturally sheltered beaches. Stretching from West Wittering Beach to Bracklesham Bay, the area is known locally as ‘God’s Pocket’ thanks to the fact that it enjoys more hours of sunshine than the rest of the UK. After a stroll along one of its famed beaches, head to one of the nearby pubs for a drink and enjoy the oldworld charm of a traditional British boozer.

THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND
Kent is described as the Garden of England for good reason. Inside its sea-lined borders you’ll find a fragrant landscape of gentle hills, fertile farmland, cultivated country estates and fruit-laden orchards. It could also be described as the beer garden of England, producing the worldrenowned Kent hops, some of the country’s finest ales and award-winning wines from its numerous vineyards. Kent lays claim to some of the country’s leading wine producers with many wines punching well above their weight in national and international markets. Whilst there, head to Stodmarsh and try The Red Lion; a traditional British pub set amongst the vineyards and hidden away in the countryside. It’s famed for having some of the freshest produce around, as much of it comes from its garden.

Kent

DISCOVER THE DOWNS
One of the easiest trips to take out of London is down the A3 into leafy Surrey, home to millionaire footballers, celebrities and city financier commuters. The county is full of Roman and medieval history, much of which has been incorporated into visitor attractions and municipal buildings.  One of our favourite away days is the historic county town of Guildford. Guildford Castle was built shortly after William the Conqueror’s invasion in 1066. The castle started off as a Royal residence until the 14th Century when it fell into such a state of disrepair and decay that it became only good for holding common prisoners. However, the tower and walls were restored and opened to the public as pleasure gardens in 1888 to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and now the surrounding gardens are extremely popular, not least for the life-sized statue of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, which is a memorial to Lewis Carroll who lived nearby until his death in 1898.  

Just 5 miles from Guildford is Shere, one of Surrey’s hidden gems and referenced in the Doomsday Book. It’s a pretty little village with some decent pubs for lunch, (try Surrey Pub of the Year 2013, The William Bray), and a handful of shops full of local craft and art. Shere has had its moments in the limelight too, being the setting for the film The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Kate Winslet. Try asking the locals where the snowy cottage was located and you’ll uncover the real secret of the silver screen… 

Bringing you back into London, no trip should be complete without a stop off at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley. Wisely is the second most visited garden in the UK, after Kew Gardens, and was gifted to the RHS in 1903 by Sir Thomas Hanbury, a wealthy Quaker who had founded the celebrated garden of La Mortola, on the Italian Riviera.

For more information on the perfect away day from London, speak to a member of the Concierge team.  

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Covent Garden May Fare Festival

The 39th annual Covent Garden May Fayre & Puppet Festival brings together Punch and Judy puppeteers from around the country. Taking place on Sunday 11th May, the festivities include a brass band procession, puppet shows, workshops and traditional maypole dancing.

The event begins at 11am with the Grand Procession held at St Paul's Church Garden, Covent Garden. 

Speak to the Concierge team for more details. 

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