The Inside Track on London

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The true art to enjoying any visit to London is knowing those special hidden gems and forgotten about little places that make it such a special city. This travel season Smythson partnered with Preferred Hotels & Resorts which has in its portfolio three of London’s most iconic places to stay; The Beaumont, ME London and The Wellesley. To get the real inside track on London we spoke to their Concierge, the men who are really ‘in the know’.

Jim - The Wellesley
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Jim Cameron – Head Concierge at The Wellesley Hotel

If you could only visit two places whilst in London where would you go?

The Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington is one of the world’s leading museums for art and design, I could spend all day there. The current Elytra Filament Pavilion is a real stand-out feature which you must go see. Secondly, it would have to be Borough Market as its a heaven for foodies and a treat for all senses. There is such an eclectic mix of cuisines under one roof; perfect for lunch with it’s buzzing atmosphere or for stocking up on gifts to take home.

Where do you get the best view of London from both indoors and out?

The view from The Shard over the city is unrivalled. High-speed lifts whisk guests up to the viewing platforms that occupy floors 68, 69 and 72. For the best outdoor views in the city I would have to choose Hampstead Heath. With one of the highest natural vantage points in London, it offers truly wonderful views and a gorgeous setting.

If you are leaving London, where would you recommend for a day trip?

Bath or Oxford offer scenic and quintessentially British days out. Whether it is Bath’s iconic Thermae Bath Spa and Georgian architecture or Oxford’s gothic spires and historic university, these cities offer something for everyone. For a more rural day out, I’d recommend the Cotswolds for its rolling hillsides and charming villages.

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Ronan Gawronski – Concierge at the ME London Hotel

Are there any local hidden treasures you would recommend visiting?

There are so many wonderful places to discover in London that you can find by exploring the city on foot. Gordon’s Wine Bar is the oldest in London and is set underground, they serve a range of fine wines and cheeses in an enchanting candlelit setting. Somerset House is home to The Courtauld Gallery, where visitors can enjoy a beautifully curated art collection, including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces.

Which are the best local artisan shops?

Maltby Street Market is Borough Market’s baby sister. Off the beaten track, it is a weekend market which serves a broad range of produce from farms across Britain. Visitors can also shop for vintage and reclaimed furniture available under the market’s railway arches.

What is the best rainy day activity?

A rainy day in London is the perfect excuse to explore the city’s museums and art galleries, including the Design Museum in East London and the Tate Modern on the Southbank. Designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the Tate Modern has a roof terrace with 360-degree views of the river Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral and the spires of Sir Christopher Wren.

Adam Mills - The Beaumont_Update
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Adam Mills – Head Concierge at The Beaumont Hotel

Are there any places off the beaten track you would recommend visiting?

The Handel & Hendrix House Museum; the respective homes of two music icons. Separated by a wall & 200 years, these museums give insight into two men who made London their home and found it a continuous source of inspiration. The Wallace Collection is a must see for any art lover. Hidden in a tranquil garden square, this former townhouse of the Marquesses of Hertford, houses in its collection such works as the famous Laughing Cavalier by Fran Hals and Francois Boucher’s world renowned Madame de Pompadour.

What is the best way to get around the city?

London’s iconic black taxis and red Routemaster buses are still the most interesting way to travel around the city. Black taxis can be hailed in the street when the orange light is on. Plus you will always get some great insider tips and latest gossip from a London cabby.

Where would you recommend for:

 Art lovers

Newport Street Gallery, Damien Hirst’s new gallery showing works from his private collection.

Theatre goers

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a stunning dazzling show about the wonders of life.

 Adventure seekers

Up at the O2 Arena, climb up the world famous London O2 arena – when the weather is clear you can see up to 15miles away.

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We asked our three Concierge who makes the best Martini in London. ‘No surprise that they all said their own, so as a little tip from us…’ try Dukes Bar frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming. The bar is said to be the inspiration for the classic line, ‘shaken, not stirred’…need we say more. And finally if you did not know, our Smythson iconic diaries contain curated list of shopping and cultural destinations for London, Paris, Milan and New York.