|Brick Lane in London’s east end is a popular destination for eclectic shopping and sightseeing.|
Filled with history and heritage, London has something for just about every taste, but younger travelers may need a few insider tips on events and attractions that will appeal to their own unique styles. Here are our suggestions.
Theater & Music
While we are all still in mourning for music icon Whitney Houston, fans will be able to hear many of the great singer’s classics onstage in London when the theatrical adaptation of her 1992 movie The Bodyguard opens in the fall.
A romantic thriller, The Bodyguard will include many of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I’m Your Baby Tonight, Run to You, I Have Nothing, How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and, of course, one of the greatest hit songs of all time: I Will Always Love You. Tony- and Grammy-award winner Heather Headley, who starred in Aida on Broadway and has released several albums of her own, has been rumored to play the role made famous by Houston in the movie.
Visit www.thebodyguardmusical.com for more information, including how to purchase tickets when they become available, and what theater the musical will call home.
On alternate Friday nights, theater-minded visitors should make a point to visit Cafe Koha’s Show Off Piano Bar, an open-mic event in the heart of Theatreland that frequently attracts performers from nearby shows and music students. Guests can dine and drink as they listen to top-notch singers belting out popular songs, and can even step up to the microphone themselves if they like. Note: The event has become popular and the room fills up quickly, so make reservations for your clients in advance.
Next Generation Cigar Bars
While cigar bars and lounges have been popular in high-end hotels for decades (if not longer), they are now seen as somewhat of a relic, appealing to an older generation. As such, hotel cigar bars in London are now seeking to appeal to a new generation.
For example, later this spring, The May Fair Hotel will open what it is calling a “COSA”—that’s “cozy outdoor smoking area”—with live fireplaces to keep guests warm on chilly evenings. The cigar bar will offer products from Hunters & Frankau, the UK’s leading independent Cuban cigars importer. Cigar highlights include Habanos and products exclusive to The May Fair Hotel. (Note:The embargo blocking American guests from purchasing Cuban products is still in effect.)
Bonus: The top 30 loyal regulars will be given the privilege of storing their cigars in private humidors so they are preserved for future visits. For new cigar converts, a cigar concierge will be on hand to offer trials of different brands and latest releases and will talk guests through the specific qualities and tastes of each cigar available.
Guests can also try a selection of fine cognacs, armagnac, high-end single malts and vintage champagnes from the hotel’s “150 at The May Fair” VIP area.
While there’s nothing like a bespoke Savile Row suit, younger shoppers may want to find some post-modern shopping options.
Camden Town, with a range of markets, shops, restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, theaters and cinemas, is reportedly very popular with younger locals and visitors alike, especially on weekends. Camden Lock Market sells crafts and numerous other goods, while Camden Stables Market is a hub of the alternative fashion scene.
Note: Visitors can get to Camden by tube on the Northern line, and while many people get off at Camden Town station, they can also alight at Chalk Farm, which is close to the markets.
Brick Lane’s markets, which are open on Sunday mornings (generally from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.), are also very trendy for unique shopping. Later in the day, visitors can explore the Brick Lane UpMarket, which has more than 140 stalls selling clothing, accessories, crafts and music every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Ely’s Yard (entrances on Brick Lane and Hanbury Street). Use the Shoreditch High Street station.
Perhaps recognizing an untapped market, numerous museums around the city have extended hours on certain evenings, making it easier to see more in a day and to avoid the crowds.
On the last Friday night of every month, the Natural History Museum offers “Lates with MasterCard,” which are free but tickets must be arranged in advance. Attendees get the whole museum to themselves and can participate in discussions and dine (and drink!) at the Blue Bar or Red Bar.
Sir John Soane’s Museum is candlelit on the first Tuesday of each month, between 6 and 9 p.m. (last entry 8 p.m.), bringing about a unique way to see the artwork inside. (Note: No tickets are available for this event, so advise your clients to get to the museum by 5 p.m. for a place in line.) On May 18, the museum will be part of the national “Museums at Night” initiative, giving visitors exclusive access to the halls for just one evening, with curators taking them on a tour of the labyrinthine house. (Tickets to this once-a-year event are available on the website.)
Other museums that offer late-night access (on a monthly or weekly basis) include the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the Tate, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
|Women’s clothing and other eclectic items on sale inside Rokit vintage shop, on Brick Lane in London’s east end.|
|Tate Modern has free admission, except for major exhibitions.|