2023 has an impressive line-up of exciting exhibitions in some of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, London and Paris this year …
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1664–67, oil on canvas. Mauritshuis, The Hague. Bequest of Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, The Hague.
The main event: The Rijksmuseum is launching a record-breaking Johannes Vermeer exhibition next month, running from February 10 – June 4. This will be the largest Vermeer exhibition ever staged with at least 28 of Vermeer’s paintings on display. Receiving loans from all over the world, the exhibition will feature the iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring (from The Hague), Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid (from the National Gallery of Ireland) and all three of The Frick Collection’s Vermeer pieces will travel from New York to feature in this exhibition. Where to refuel? As soon as my Dad books a flight to Amsterdam, he books a table at Casa di David – it is our family’s favourite restaurant in Amsterdam. Perfectly located along a canal, if you’re lucky enough to get a coveted window seat, you’ll be treated to a delicious Italian feast with a lovely view.
Where to recharge? You’ll like Hotel Estheréa for its location, but you’ll love it for its eclectic interior design. There’s almost a sense of excess to the hotel’s style with its endless colours and prints, but it feels so playful and unique, and the room I had was one of the most beautiful hotel rooms that I’ve ever stayed in. Where to unwind? While there are many ways to unwind in Amsterdam, I’d recommend taking a night cruise – it’s a great way to experience the city and see the houses along the canal lit up. There are lots to choose from, but the boat tour I took was BYOB, so I’d recommend picking up a nice bottle of something in duty free on your trip over to enjoy as you cruise along the canals.
Installation of David Hockney’s “Gregory Swimming Los Angeles March 31st 1982”. Composite polaroid, 27 3/4 x 51 1/4″, © David Hockney.
The main event: Regarded as one of Britain’s most influential living artists, David Hockney is launching his Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) exhibition this month at Lightroom, an exciting new home for artists in King’s Cross. The exhibition will feature both his iconic paintings and new work, and it won’t just be a visual experience with Hockney providing the commentary himself, offering a uniquely personal insight into his artistic process. The initial booking period for the exhibition is from January 25 – April 23. Where to refuel? For me, no trip to London is complete without a Dishoom breakfast for one of their bacon and egg naan rolls, and conveniently they have a restaurant location just around the corner from the exhibition venue. Inspired by the old Irani cafés of Bombay, Dishoom also serves up delicious lunches and dinners.
Artist Residence London.
Where to recharge? In keeping with the art theme, Artist Residence London is a quirky ten-bedroom townhouse just five-minutes’ walk from Victoria Station with a homely vibe and each guestroom is individually curated with bold artwork such as the limited-edition print by the street artist Pure Evil in the Club Suite. Where to unwind? On my last trip to London, a friend surprised me with tickets to Magic Mike Live at the Theatre at the Hippodrome Casino and it’s one of the best live performances that I’ve seen on stage. Conceived by Channing Tatum, the show is based on the Magic Mike films and it is a whole lot of fun, and very sexy: you’ll be treated to incredible dance routines choreographed to some great tunes along with a fiercely feminist and witty MC. (Top tip: wear a birthday sash, even if it’s not your birthday, for a little extra attention from the performers). Current booking period: until July 2 2023.
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat #143 New York City, July 10, 1985. Photographer credit: © Michael Halsband, 2022.
The main event: The Fondation Louis Vuitton will host the Basquiat x Warhol, Painting 4 Hands exhibition this spring, exploring the collaboration between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in the 1980s. In addition to featuring more than 100 paintings jointly signed by Warhol and Basquiat, this exhibition will also display individual works by each artist and the “Boxing Gloves” photograph series captured by Michael Halsband for their exhibition poster in 1985. Where to refuel? Le Café Marly for the most delicious croque monsieur served with an impressive view of the Louvre. And for any Emily in Paris fans reading this, it’s where Sylvie and Camille lunched with Emily in the first episode of season two.
Where to recharge? The super-cool Le Pigalle hotel located in the 9th arrondissement. This is one of my all-time favourite hotels, which I plan to stay in every time I visit Paris. Culture vultures in particular will enjoy the guestrooms for the hotel’s stylish curation of artwork and books, and some of the rooms come with a turntable and a selection of vinyls. Where to unwind? The exhibition will run from April 5 – August 28 and it’s as if they timed the exhibition to perfectly coincide with rosé season, so for me, the best way to unwind in Paris at this time of year is to park yourself on one of those rattan chairs outside a café with a cool glass of rosé and simply people watch. We all envy Parisians and their style for a reason – they look so good, all the time.
Colourful houses at Nyhavn. Photographer credit: © Kim Wyon. Via Visit Denmark.
The main event: Copenhagen has been crowned the UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture for 2023 and fittingly the Danish Architecture Center will open its first permanent exhibition, Made in Denmark, on March 24. This exhibition will take you on a journey of Danish architecture from the Viking Age up to present day, and in addition to exploring architectural history, there will be an opportunity to learn about new projects and actually meet the architects. And bonus points for this exhibition’s venue, located in the BLOX building along the waterfront of the city’s beautiful harbour. Where to refuel? A Copenhagen native brought me to Jah Izakaya & Sake Bar and you know a restaurant is going to be good when the locals dine there. This Japanese restaurant serves delicious small plates for a tapas-style dining experience.
Manon Les Suites.
Where to recharge? Manon Les Suites is such a unique place to stay and the main reason why I booked it is for the incredible indoor pool. You feel like you’re in Copenhagen when you’re in your room, styled with a minimal Scandi aesthetic, but the second you reach the pool (which is the focal point of the hotel), you’d you think you were in Bali – it’s so unexpected to find this bohemian oasis in a central-city hotel. Where to unwind? The Tivoli Gardens, which is a short walk from the hotel, is an amusement park that also hosts musicals, concerts and ballet performances, and to add to all that, the grounds are simply really pretty to walk around – one of my favourite comedians, Katherine Ryan, celebrated her civil partnership at Tivoli Gardens and that lady has style (check her out).
‘Florence’ hood and ‘Spray’ dress by Cimone, Autumn Winter 2017. © Cimone Ltd, Photograph © Rhiannon Adam.
The main event: Beyond the Little Black Dress will be the National Museum of Scotland’s major summer exhibition running from July 1 – October 29. Displaying over 60 looks from designers and collections from across the globe including Alexander McQueen, Ying Gao and Simone Rocha, this exhibition will examine the role that the colour black has played in fashion.
Palm Court, The Balmoral.
Where to refuel? Afternoon tea in the stunning Palm Court at the Balmoral Hotel. This decadent treat will set you up for the day and what I like about their menu is it changes with each season. Where to recharge? The lovely 23 Mayfield B&B. This family-run guesthouse has a warm old-school décor featuring dark woods, poster beds, stained-glass windows and of course some tartan (you are in Scotland after all!), and guests get to enjoy their breakfast in a candle-lit breakfast room. Where to unwind? Roaming the streets of Edinburgh on a literary walking tour. Now for those of you who aren’t athletically inclined (like me!), you might recoil at the mention of a walking tour, but Edinburgh is not a vast city in the best possible way and you won’t need any electrolytes to partake. This beautiful and historical city has been home and inspiration to so many writers from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Dame Muriel Spark, and while you might think you have to be a book worm to enjoy this particular activity, I actually think a literary tour is a unique and interesting lens for anyone to explore a new city through.