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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Farmers Markets London

Farmers’ markets are springing up across London. They are good for local economies, farmers, consumers and the environment, and can be a driver for a vibrant community. They are also a great place to find creative and delicious food.
Buying local also means staying in touch with the seasons and finding produce you may have never come across before; such as sloes, medlars, wild mushrooms and raw buffalo milk. Our Executive Chef Paul Bates has selected some of his favourite Farmers’ Markets from across the city…

Paul Bates


Marylebone really does have that village feel, and on a Sunday it’s great to explore and sample some delicious food. The market site usually has between 30 and 40 stalls and is heaving with locals doing their weekly shopping, as well as food enthusiasts from all over the capital. Once you’ve had your fill of organically farmed goods you can step down a side street and visit any of the shops, cafes and restaurants nearby. 

Paul recommends: Freshly shucked oysters from Simon Long.
Every Sunday, 10am – 2pm, at Cramer Street Car Park, Marylebone, W1U 4EW



Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market is the UK’s only weekly all-organic Farmers’ Market. It’s a truly local market as all produce is sold by the people who grew, reared or produced it themselves and most of the farmers come from within 60 miles of the market.

Paul recommends: Hackney Growers’ Kitchen, who bake wonderful cakes and savoury snacks made from fruit and veg from the Growing Communities’ organic box scheme.
Every Saturday, 10am – 2.30pm, at St Paul’s Church, Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7UY



At Blackheath Farmers’ Market all the producers come from within 100 miles of the M25, and Everything must be raised, grown or made by the stallholders – no meddling middlemen allowed. The young affluent urban couples of Blackheath mingle with food conscious pensioners among 20-odd stalls selling fresh and mostly organic produce. 

Paul recommends: Andrew Lingham’s beef pasties.
Every Sunday, 10am – 2pm, at Blackheath Station car park, Blackheath, SE3 9LA


Brixton is a very community oriented area with lots of people interested in knowing where their food has come from. The Farmers’ Market has been in operation since September 2009, and has a loyal following of locals and South Londoners alike. 

Paul recommends: Biodynamic fruit from Brambletye Fruit Farm and Akiki Organics.
Every Sunday 10am – 2pm, Brixton Station Road, Brixton, SW9 8JX


It is one of the area’s best kept secrets, tucked away behind the tube, and locals want to keep it that way. Many farmers who attend now have permanent spaces for them reserved in the fridges and larders of Notting Hill’s residents. 

Paul recommends: Olive Farm, with their fresh milk, cream, yoghurt and cheese from their herd of Guernsey cows.
Every Saturday 9am – 1pm, at the car park behind Waterstones, Kensington Church Street, Kensington, W8 7PP 

For more information about the best Farmers’ Markets to visit, speak to the Concierge team.


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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

London Best Cocktails

The question of what makes a great bar is a topic of discussion in many corners of the world and here in London it’s no different. Our resident cocktail expert Stefano Filistad, Manager of The Arch Bar, gives Insider his take on London bars old and new, and who’s doing it best…

Stefano Filistad Arch Bar

Some experts will argue that it is actually here in Britain, (not the US), which is the birthplace of the cocktail. I’m Sicilian, so I’ll stay out of that argument! Putting these historical quarrels aside, London possesses a multitude of bartenders and bars worthy of being the inventor. In a good cocktail bar, the bartender will be knowledgeable, the cocktails and service will be first-class, and the customers will be worldly. Here are some of my favourites…

The Cocktail Lounge at the Zetter Townhouse is a collaboration between Chef Bruno Loubet and cocktail impresario Tony Conigliaro. It celebrates the area’s distilling heritage with recipes for tinctures, bitters and herbal remedies as well as homemade cordials. It was also voted the Best Place to Drink 2012 at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. 

49-50 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JJ

The ECC, as it’s affectionately known by Londoners, is our very own London speakeasy, tucked away behind a secret door in
the heart of Chinatown. The cocktails are some of the best and most unusual in town and the super-cool surroundings make it a tempting place to spend an evening.

13a Gerrard St, Chinatown, W1D 5PS

‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’, written by Head Bartender Harry Craddock in the 1930s, remains one of the world’s ultimate recipe guides. Current Head Bartender Erik Lorincz has ensured that the aura and heritage of the bar’s 1898 origins are completely respected and Harry’s legacy is fully intact.

The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EU

Alessandro Palazzi at Dukes Bar is renowned for making one of the best martinis in London. Frequented by James Bond author
Ian Fleming, the bar is said to be the inspiration for the classic line, ‘shaken, not stirred’.

Dukes Hotel, 35 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NY

Stefano Filistad is the Manager of The Arch Bar. His award-winning team celebrates the hotel’s Mayfair location; with more than 40 varietals of gin, The Arch Bar has one of London’s most comprehensive gin offerings. Twice a month, The Arch Bar transports guests to an era of decadence and splendour at Gin & Jazz, an evening that combines Golden Age Jazz with classic cocktails.

The Arch Bar at InterContinental London Park Lane,
One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7QY

For more suggestions on our top places for cocktails, speak to a member of the Concierge team. 


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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Chefs Protege

You may have caught Theo Randall on hit new BBC2 show The Chef’s Protege earlier this summer, where he battled it out with Michel Roux Jr and Tom Kitchin in a quest to find a new protege to mentor and inspire. 

Theo may not have won the show, (the title went to Tom Kitchin and his protégé, Jamie), but Theo’s young hopeful, David Meredith, has become the newest member of his kitchen team. Insider speaks to David and Theo to find out how the show helped them both and to see what the future has in store for his newest recruit.

Theo Randall Protege

INSIDER: Theo, why did you want to take part in The Chef’s Protégé?

THEO: The show gave me a chance to try and inspire a new generation of Chefs and it was so humbling to go back to my old
catering college, Brooklands, to meet the students. I wanted to share my philosophy of rustic, Italian cooking with them and help
them cultivate their own style and personality, which hopefully I did! 

INSIDER: How did you find the whole process of being involved in the programme?

DAVID: I really enjoyed it although it was nerve-racking. Nothing was staged and the competition had incredibly high standards. On the day I met Theo there were four cameras filming our first introduction so it was really full on from the start. I got used to the cameras, but not watching myself on the show… I had to leave the room if I knew there was a scene coming-up where I made a mistake!

INSIDER: How well did you think you performed in the final?

DAVID: I learnt a lot of lessons throughout the contest and felt that I performed pretty well in the final under the circumstances.
I definitely made errors with timings but turned it around in the second round. 

INSIDER: David, what did it mean to be offered a permanent job by Theo to become his real protégé?

DAVID: I couldn’t believe that I was offered a role as a Commis Chef. I was very nervous at the prospect of my first real job out of college being such a big one, but knew that I needed to take it. I had built a good rapport with Theo over the show so I was really excited to learn more from him and continue what we had started. 

INSIDER: How are you finding working at Theo Randall at the InterContinental?

DAVID: I am loving it! It has the highest standards of any kitchen I have worked in, (I guess that’s what comes from being the UK’s best Italian restaurant!), and everything has to be spot on, so it is very pressurised. However, it is also the nicest. Everyone is really respectful and works well together. I can see that this is the key to success as it helps to create a strong team.

INSIDER: Theo, what does it mean to have a real protégé join your team?

THEO: It’s great to be able to carry on the legacy of The Chef’s Protégé and teach and mentor David; especially as he came from Brooklands College. He did such a great job and I am proud of what we achieved on the show – the team were definitely rooting for him! It was a fantastic show and I hope it inspired a new breed of Chefs. I am excited to have him work with the kitchen team and am sure David will have a very successful career.

Images courtesty of Shine TV. 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

InterContinental Davos

It has been another busy year for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, with landmark hotel openings in new destinations. 

In May, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), unveiled its 200th hotel in Greater China with the opening of the InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin. It marked another milestone for IHG, which was the first international company to enter the Chinese hospitality industry almost 30 years ago and reinforces the group’s leadership in the world’s fastest growing market.

Furthermore, this new opening in Shanghai signalled the arrival of another “heritage hotel” for the InterContinental brand, joining an iconic handful of hotels that played witness to key historical events. Formerly the State Guest House of Shanghai, the InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin has a rich heritage having served Chinese historical figures such as Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. During the War of Liberation, the hotel was the headquarters of the Communist Party in Shanghai. 

The InterContinental brand continues to open hotels of note throughout the world, including a second here in the capital, InterContinental London Westminster, at the end of 2012. The hotel has fast gained an excellent reputation for its charm and wit and was recently voted Best New Business Hotel in the World at the Business Traveller Awards 2013. 

In April, the brand added InterContinental Marseille – Hôtel Dieu in Marseille, a city designated as European City of Culture 2013. It took three years to transform the Hôtel- Dieu hospital into a 5-star hotel without altering its architecture, its history or its connection with the city and its inhabitants. The result is a stunning 194-room luxury hotel, with Clarins Spa, a versatile conference centre and exquisite dining at Alcyone. 

Just opened is the stunning InterContinental Davos. This eyecatching 216-room hotel soars 1600 metres above sea level in the spectacular Swiss Alps, in a city renowned for high-powered meetings, not least the annual World Economic Forum. On the 10th floor, Studio Grigio is one of three restaurants and will offer upscale dining overlooking the snow-covered mountains, whilst an extensive spa is available for down time and indulgence. In the surrounding towns of Davos and Klosters, guests can enjoy possibly the most traditional sporting, leisure and cultural activities the entire Alpine region has to offer, with museums and festivals, hundreds of kilometers of ski slopes and cycle trails, golf courses and an immeasurably varied range of entertainment. We expect a visit to the new InterContinental Davos to be on everyone’s agenda in 2014!

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Jason Hawkes

Jason Hawkes
is a renowned aerial photographer, whose work has been published in some of the world’s best publications as well as our other story on the changing face of the city. Insider speaks to him about what it’s like to have a bird’s eye view on London.

INSIDER: How did you get into aerial photography?

I have been an aerial photographer for over 20 years now. I studied a degree in
photography and happened to go flying in a microlight one day. I bought one a month after my
first flight and spent six months flying around England building up a portfolio before switching
to helicopters.

INSIDER: Why do you like shooting London so much?
I live just outside the capital and spend more time flying around London than anywhere else. It’s just such a vibrant city to
photograph, there is always something going on. With the Olympics last year and so many 0new skyscrapers, (The Shard and
20 Fenchurch Street), the skyline is ever-changing and there is always so much to shoot.

INSIDER: How do you think London has changed over the last few years?
When I first started shooting London, Canada Tower at Canary Wharf was just being constructed and the whole of the skyline was quite low rise. Now we have so many iconic buildings being constructed, and the city is going through an incredibly dramatic change.

INSIDER: What is your favourite part of the London skyline?
At the moment it has to be around the City (Bank and Liverpool Street). There are so many great architects designing such amazing new structures, it’s just a pleasure to fly around and shoot it.

For more information on Jason’s work, visit or follow him at @jasonhawkesphot 

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

Photographer Jason Hawkes

London is in a constant state of flux. Historically, the city owes its success to the fact that it is so adaptable and so willing – both in spirit and form - to embrace the new alongside the old.

Sometimes the relationship is an uneasy one and sometimes the juxtaposition of stark modernity against a historic landmark is a breathtaking success. To walk from the South Bank across Sir Norman Foster’s elegant, blade-like Millennium Bridge at night and see Sir Christopher Wren’s magnificent baroque cathedral ahead, floodlit and shimmering against a starry sky, is an unforgettable experience – for Londoners and for visitors alike. Yet St. Paul’s Cathedral, which replaced a medieval building destroyed by The Great Fire in 1666, was once controversial. It was a bold departure for its time – criticised by some for bringing a dangerously European flavour to the architectural landscape of the city. Ironically, today it is one of London’s best-loved landmarks and a building that people throughout the world immediately recognise and associate with the capital.

The fire of 1666 presented a chance to rebuild the City of London on a new scale and plan, but ultimately, these ambitions were thwarted for reasons of economy and intractability. London was rebuilt on the same pattern of the narrow medieval streets consumed by the fire and this continues to present a challenge, (and a creative opportunity), to architects working today.  In 2013, soaring, sparkling offices - the new temples of commerce – often have to fit on peculiarly shaped plots or sites within the city. The ‘Walkie- Talkie’ building, more properly called 20 Fenchurch Street, maximises space by spreading, you could say ‘bulging’, outward as its floors climb upward.

It is a controversial design attracting affection and derision in equal measure. One of the main criticisms levelled against it – and indeed against other new London skyscapers, including The Shard in Borough Market and The Cheese-Grater at 122 Leadenhall Street, (we Londoners do love our nicknames!), is the fact that it obscures and negates the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and other historic landmark buildings including The Tower of London. This is a thorny issue with no simple answers. London has to develop and evolve, but at what cost?

Cities are characterised by their skylines — New York is a towering city of crystalline chasms while Paris is composed mostly of mellow, low level apartment buildings. London, until recently a low rise city, is in transition and a spate of bold, inventive, new skyscrapers is raising questions about the kind of city it should be. It’s tempting to wonder whether in 350 years time or so, developers of the future will be criticised for obscuring the ‘iconic’ view of the Gherkin?

Kate Griffin, writing for The SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings). For more information about Britain’s oldest heritage charity go to

Image courtesy of Jason Hawkes Photography (

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Posted by in Insider Guide to London

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Welcome to our Insider Guide to London. The Insider forms part of our mission to provide guests with unparalleled access to local attractions, cultural events and ‘insider’ travel tips.

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