With a slew of new design exhibits and hip hotel openings, London Town is a feast for the eyes this summer.
With the Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, hotelier Loh Lik Peng has pulled off the unthinkable: turning a government building (the 1910 Bethnal Green Town Hall) into luxurious modern accommodations. The highly praised interiors by the architecture and design firm Makemei incorporate many of the building’s original features into an elegant, bespoke tableau complete with sheepskin rugs, one-off vintage furniture, and personal entertainment centers. Quirky offerings include in-room meals prepared by a private chef, as well as a roving cocktail expert, known as the “Town Hall Tea Lady,” who mixes unique concoctions on command.
Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, Patriot Square, Bethnal Green, London, townhallhotel.com.
Upscale cocktail bar the Luggage Room—built in the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square’s former baggage-storage area—takes its cue from the Roaring ’20s. Opened in December 2012, the lounge’s art deco–style accents include deep leather sofas, a marble fireplace and stairs, and industrial-chic white chandeliers. The walls, meanwhile, feature the same hammered nail heads found on fine vintage luggage. Bar plates include pork pies, salmon scotch eggs, and cheese with spiced-cider-pear chutney, all supported by a rotating menu of cocktails served in period glassware.
The Luggage Room, Grosvenor Square, London, luggageroom.co.uk.
The 23-year-old Design Museum celebrates architecture, graphic design, and fashion. Each April, the institution announces the winners of its annual Designs of the Year award—considered the Oscars of the design world—recognizing the most exciting work produced in the past year. From Yayoi Kusama’s Louis Vuitton collection to Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho Building, in Beijing, to a nonstick ketchup container from MIT’s own Varanasi Research Group, the accompanying exhibit showcases the imagination and skill of our generation’s most cutting-edge architects and artists.
3/20–7/7, Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London, designmuseum.org.
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Exhibit
The grounds of this gallery feature a temporary latticed steel pavilion and café designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.
6/8–10/20, Kensington Gardens, London, serpentinegallery.org.
“Richard Rogers: Inside Out”
Marking the 80th birthday of the famed architect Richard Rogers, this exhibit examines his influence while providing a rare look into his creative process and personal life.
6/18–10/13, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens, London, royalacademy.org.uk.
“The Spirit of Utopia 2013”
This group exhibition showcases works that explore art’s potential to influence positive social change.
7/4–9/11, Whitechapel Gallery, 77–82 Whitechapel High St., London, whitechapelgallery.org.
The Ampersand Hotel
Reflecting South Kensington’s status as a cultural hub, each corridor in this one-year-old boutique hotel has an academic theme.
10 Harrington Rd., London, ampersandhotel.com.
Apex Temple Court
Originally a post-war office building, this four-star hotel marries history and style.
1–2 Serjeants’ Inn, Fleet Street, London, apexhotels.co.uk.
Sanctum Soho Hotel
Guests at Sanctum, an opulent 30-room boutique hotel occupying two Georgian townhouses, can request a guitar and amp—or a Harley Davidson—from the concierge.
20 Warwick St., London, sanctumsoho.com.
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
Modern dishes inspired by the Basque region are served under a ceiling made of 7,000 spice-filled glass vials.
Halkin Hotel, 5 Halkin St., London, ametsa.co.uk.
Built inside three restored railway arches, Beagle offers a rotating menu that includes dishes like braised rabbit and pig’s-head croquette.
397–400 Geffrye St., London, beaglelondon.co.uk.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Huge kitchen windows let guests watch the chefs prepare food over an open fire.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, dinnerbyheston.com.
Tom Sellers’s new Tower Bridge spot, Story, features traditional British fare with a literary twist—customers are encouraged to leave behind books to help build the restaurant’s library.
201 Tooley St., London, restaurantstory.co.uk.