What's On in London in 2013

For those of you kicking off 2013 across the pond, we've rounded up the latest news coming out of Foggy London Town.

In the hotel world,  Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will make its debut in Europe's tallest building, The Shard, in March, according to Hotelier Middle East. The 202-room Shangri-La at The Shard, London will occupy floors 34 to 53 of the 1,016-foot tower. Of those 202 rooms, 17 will be suites, and all rooms will have a "Shangri-La Bed" with patented body-contouring technology (we can't wait to find out the details on that) and designer LCD televisions. The hotel will have a good range of business and communication features, a fine-dining restaurant as well as an indoor infinity swimming pool and a fitness center with panoramic views of the London skyline. The Shard itself was designed by Architect Renzo Piano and is due to open on February 1. To book tickets to the Shard's Observatory, visit www.theviewfromtheshard.com. For more information about the upcoming Shangri-La, visit www.shangri-la.com/london.

Last year, the InterContinental Hotels Group opened its first UK hotel in over 36 years on November 27. The InterContinental London Westminster is located alongside New Scotland Yard and the Ministry of Justice injecting a new lease on life into an historic former government building. The hotel has six guest floors with 256 rooms including a Penthouse, 14 one-bedroom suites, and 30 studio suites. A short walk from Parliament and within sight of Westminster Abbey, Blue Boar Smokehouse and Bar will be the centerpiece of the hotel’s food and drink offering. Taking inspiration from the best American pit masters (but with a distinctly British influence), the menu uses authentic smoke house techniques. On-site charcoal and smoking ovens will produce classic comfort food using great British produce. (Good to know: The restaurant, formed of one busy central chamber, will have a private dining area for a more exclusive meal.) The Blue Boar Bar will bring an upscale vibe to the traditional British pub, offering everything from local ale to a signature cocktail. The Lobby Lounge, meanwhile, will be a prime spot for a traditional tea with homemade cakes and savories. The hotel also has a Club InterContinental Executive Lounge and a 24-hour gym for exclusive guest use. The eight state-of-the-art meeting and event rooms will be the go-to place to do business in Westminster, providing a secure environment for privacy and confidentiality, with the support of a comprehensive business centre. InterContinental London Westminster will be the second UK hotel within the brand, joining the InterContinental London Park Lane.

In London's cultural world, the London Underground is celebrating its 150th Anniversary. “Mind the gap,” the phrase associated with the London Underground, is now famous around the world. Did you know it made its first passenger journey—under the city streets from Paddington to Farringdon—on January 9, 1863? In doing so, it became the world’s first underground train. Now an iconic institution, The Tube will mark its 150th anniversary in 2013. Needless to say, Transport of London is pulling out the stops to celebrate this big birthday. There’s an exclusive new collection of gifts and souveniers inspired by the London Underground archive (think cufflinks, ceramics, glassware, and limited edition prints). And here’s a sampling of exhibits and activities: steam train runs made by the Metropolitan Railway Steam Locomotive No. 1; heritage train outings with the Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage No. 353, Sarah Siddons and the Chesham set; a series of lectures by the authors of the 150th anniversary official book, Underground, How the Tube shaped London; "Poster Art 150: London Underground’s Greatest Designs," an exhibition of the very best poster art; and Behind the Scenes events and Open Weekends at the Museum’s store at Acton. For more information, visit www.ltmuseum.co.uk (London Transport Museum).

Did you know that the W Hotel London- Leicester Square has a private screening room? Fitted with 39 red seats and the latest tech equipment (Real D-3D System, PlayStation/DVD, and surround sound speakers), the sexy cinema is located on the hotel’s first floor next to the Lounge. It’s often rented out for press screenings, parties and business events, but last month saw the launch of the W Film Club. Up to 39 movie-goers can escape the winter blues by catching a flick-- with popcorn included. Tickets are £15 per person, and HotelChatter suggests opting for the VIP tickets (£20) which includes a drink from the W Lounge Bar. The calendar of screenings is: November 13 – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower; November 27 – Killing Them Softly; December 11 – Seven Psychopaths; January 8 – Life Of Pi; January 15 – Gangster Squad. For more information, visit www.wlondon.co.uk/calendar.

Numerous attractions are being promoted, too. These include: The Great Map, which brings the National Maritime Museum’s largest open space to life with a huge interactive world map that visitors can use to discover more about British maritime history; The View from the Shard at The Shard, London Bridge on February 1, 2013 for a “multi-sensory experience and exhilarating views for 40 miles across London”; Tiger Territory at the ZSL London Zoo, opening April 2013 to inform and inspire a generation of people to treasure the tiger and understand their role in its survival; Imperial War Museum (IWM) re-opening after transformation in July 2013; and the Olympic Park, which is to reopen in 2013 as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with the reopening slated on July 27.

Exhibitions include: Manet: Portraying Life at the Royal Academy from January 26 to April 14, 2013; Man Ray Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery from February 7 to May 27, 2013; Extinction: Not the End of the World? at the Natural History Museum from February 8 to September 8, 2013; Roy Lichtenstein at the Tate Modern from February 21 to May 27, 2013; Barocci: Brilliance and Grace at the National Gallery from February 27 to May 19, 2013; and Alien Revolution at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from March to August 2013.

Events slated in 2013 include: The Southbank Centre’s 20th Century Music Festival from January to December 2013; London International Mime Festival from January 12 to 27, 2013; Snowdrop Days: A Midwinter Celebration at the Chelsea Physic Garden from February 2 to 10, 2013; Six Nations Rugby at Twickenham Stadium from February 2 to March 16, 2013; and the Chinese New Year on February 10, 2013.

Meanwhile, entertainment offerings include: Viva Forever! at the Piccadilly Theatre, featuring a “joyous contemporary musical about the value of friendship in the face of fame and fortune”; Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA at the Royal Albert Hall from January 5, 2013; Quatermaine's Terms at Wyndham's Theatre from January 23, 2013; and Ceviche at Shoreditch, opening in Spring 2013.

Meanwhile, Nobu is opening a hotel also in 2013. This new development from Nobu will have 143 bedrooms and a five meter high basement restaurant. The design, by industrial designer turned architect Ron Arad, features a metal exoskeleton protruding out on one side. 

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