London’s In Season

05 Jul 2011

Quintessentially British but also vibrantly diverse, England’s capital is a melting pot of cultures, history and celebrities

London’s skyline is one that tells the wondrous history of the city, from the ultra-modern Gherkin building to the iconic Big Ben, the metropolis has a fascinating and tumultuous tale to tell.

One building that continues to grab attention is the red-bricked St Pancras Renaissance Hotel where Ahlan! attended its grand reopening on 5 May, marking 138 years since the original opening by Queen Victoria in 1873.

Its famous architect, George Gilbert Scott celebrates his 200th birthday this week (13 July), so what better time to visit the illustrious building whose extravagant gothic design has made it a fave among film directors and celebrities – it was here that the Spice Girls filmed their debut video Wannabe and where many blockbuster hits including Bridget Jones Diary, Batman and Harry Potter were filmed.

The hotel’s grandiose interior and compelling exterior echoes the designs of the Houses of Westminster and draws many of Hollywood’s elite as well as politicians and royalty. Sources told Ahlan! that Prince Charles is a fan, while actors Ed Westwick and Adrien Brody are among a long list of stars who’ve hired out suites.

Should you visit St Pancras Renaissance and not spot a celeb, which is doubtful, you’re in luck, as much like the hotel London is a celeb-haven...

Head down to Notting Hill to see where stars including Richard Branson, Elle Macpherson and Robbie Williams reside. The area will probably look familiar to you as it’s been used in many a film set notably Notting Hill, Love Actually and Alfie. It’s also here that The Clash, Lily Allen and Pink Floyd launched their careers. While relatively a posh part of London, authentic Banksy graffiti adorn some of the walls, and Jimi Hendrix fans can see the famous Hotel Samarkand, in Lansdowne Crescent, where he died.

Notting Hill’s Portobello Market is where many sartorial A-listers including Alex Chung and Taylor Swift have been spotted buying vintage finds. For more extravagant purchases Knightsbridge and its flagship store Harrods draws the rich and famous. Selfridges on Oxford Street is just as popular for its high-end collections as its innovative window displays. Its decadent food hall is definitely worth exploring.

When it comes to partying there are two places the stars head to: Mahiki and The Box. Loved by royalty, actors and musicians alike, Mahiki has a host of colourful fans including Rihanna, Jay Z, Kate Moss as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton. It’s no VIP room policy means you could be rubbing shoulders with some of your heroes. Renowned for its potent cocktails try Wills and Kate’s fave, the Treasure Chest.

Party royals Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice were recently seen stumbling out of The Box, the hot new burlesque club that’s so exclusive even some celebs struggle to get in.

So, whatever it is you crave, history, diverse culture, exclusive fashion or celeb spottings, one thing’s for sure, London will never let you down.

While You’re There...

Dine in Style: The Gilbert Scott restaurant by Marcus Wareing, offers a distinctive bar and restaurant experience. The food is divine, the décor exquisite. Not to be missed. Book in advance.

Catch a show: No trip to London is complete without catching a West End show. From Billy Elliott to Chicago to Harold Pinter’s Betrayl, you’re spoilt for choice.

Do the eye: What better way to see England’s capital in all its glory than to see it from above. The London Eye offers fab panoramic views so don’t forget your camera.

Where to Stay...

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel: Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott to receive travellers through St Pancras Station, the former Midland Grand Hotel offers a world of grandeur, luxury and fantasy behind its fairytale red facade. With its award-winning restaurants, unique spa and abundance of history you will never be bored here.

Spotted: Adrien Brody and Ed Westwick attended the grand opening of St Pancras Renaissance.