How To Spend 24 Hours In London - The Gloss Magazine
London city guide

How To Spend 24 Hours In London

Planning a weekend city break? Head to London. From Caravaggio to high drama, Italian eateries to superlative stationery shopping, this is what we’re loving in London right now …


We love to eat up at a bar, and a seat at the counter of Bocca di Lupo is one of the best in town. The Italian food – courgette flowers with mozzarella and anchovy, peerless walnut pasta and spaghetti with crab, huge plates of grilled spring chicken – is prepared in front of you and whipped out by warm and friendly staff. It’s like being in a calm happy version of The Bear. They offer walk-ins, and have a lunch and pre-theatre menu too.

Other informal spots with great, good-value food include Polpo, for Venetian-style cicetti, or sharing plates (try the courgette fries) and sprawling Brasserie Zedel, in Piccadilly (it used to be famed 1980s hotspot the Atlantic bar, which appears in One Day). In Smithfield, search out the glorious Brutto for Tuscan specialities in a hip and cosy atmosphere, where the resident French bulldog sits up high on a stool.


It’s lovely being right in the buzz of London, but sometimes you want to do lots of stuff in the city, walk a million steps, and then sleep well, somewhere quiet and very comfortable. And when you stay centrally, it can be hard to find a room that offers a properly peaceful night’s sleep. The Biltmore in Mayfair is in prime Monopoly real-estate, taking up a whole side of a quiet green square. Stay in a room off the square, though, and you’ll be rewarded with possibly the most peaceful night in the city – no sirens, shouting, bin lorries, nothing. Finding this is like nirvana in London; if you were choosing a spot for a bed-in, this could be it. Staff are universally helpful and friendly, and the Pine cocktail bar, with curved peachy velvet seats, is a sophisticated late-night spot. The reception spaces have an art deco vibe, with glorious huge flower arrangements everywhere. It’s very much designed for high-rollers, with butlers available, should you be in that zone. The hotel restaurant Grill88 is sleek and sophisticated. And you’re mere minutes from key spots in the city, from Green Park to New Bond Street, with designer stores such as Simone Rocha and star restaurant spots like Scott’s (a favourite of Tom Ford) just round the corner. Rooms from around €532.

The Biltmore, 44 Grosvenor Square, London, W1;


With a spare evening in the city recently, I wandered into the Harold Pinter theatre and asked about last-minute tickets for the new Jez Butterworth play, The Hills of California, directed by Sam Mendes, just on the off-chance. I bagged stalls row D tickets for a seriously reduced rate, just as the show was about to start, and it was an utterly transfixing three hours. The sterling ensemble cast includes Belfast’s Laura Donnelly and 20-year-old rising star, Dubliner Lara McDonnell. Everyone was desperate to see The Picture of Dorian Grey, that just finished, starring Olivier award-winner Sarah Snook in a high-tech, mindblowing stage version – but Hills is just as worth your time. Another Succession star (and brilliant stage actor long before that), Brian Cox, is starring in Long Day’s Journey into Night (as is Irish actor Daryl McCormack) until June 8, if you can bag a return. This production of the great play is very long and surprisingly static, not helped by a TV audience munching crisps and struggling to concentrate (why can’t people switch off their phones?!). Instead, opt for the most fun night out at the theatre right now: Guys & Dolls at the Bridge theatre. Even if the very idea of “immersive theatre” sounds like your worst nightmare, and you’re not even keen on musicals, book a standing ticket and move around with the irrepressible action and great songs. It’s a blast.


Obviously, there’s Liberty, the best place to shop for beauty in London, especially with its new perfume salon, an entire floor of scents that features everything from the divine Perfumer H (try the Dandelion scent) to your Malles and Le Labos. But on a recent trip, I was more excited by pen and paper. I finally visited Choosing Keeping, a stationery addict’s dream, hidden away in a side street in Covent Garden. You may have admired it on Instagram, but nothing compares to stepping inside the real thing. From John Derian paperweights to endlesss arrays of scissors, staplers and ink pens, here you’ll find everything you need for an old-school, pen on paper existence. Buy stickers, coloured ink in pretty bottles (including scented ink created by Perfumer H), glorious notebooks, frame-worthy wrapping papers, the chicest pencil sharpeners and – somewhat bizarrely – any amount of cake-shaped candles. Add in a beautiful light store, and friendly staff. I haven’t loved a shop so much since I first visited Labour & Wait several decades ago. It’s sheer joy. Open Monday to Sunday at 21 Tower Street, London WC2.

Yoko Ono Half-A-Room 1967 from HALF-A-WIND SHOW, Lisson Gallery, London, 1967. Photograph © Clay Perry / Artwork © Yoko Ono.


Don’t miss The Last Caravaggio at The National Gallery (until July 21) – it’s free to visit, and worth the queue (clearly the Ripley effect), to immerse yourself in the artist’s dark genius. We’re planning now to visit the Van Gogh exhibition starting there in September, too. Meanwhile, there are Expressionists at Tate Modern (until October 20) and Yoko Ono (until September 1) – there’s some good Yoko Ono merch at the shop, including this baseball cap, £20stg, and Imagine Peace T-shirts; you’ll also find exclusive collabs with brands such as Uniqlo and Swatch).


SPF Make sure you take a good SPF to protect your skin in the city. We’re taking the bargain Q+A sunscreens: each of the three SPF50s (a hybrid mineral/chemical formula) feature a different skincare ingredient, from peptides to niacinamide and squalane, a natural moisturiser, and at €18 for 50ml they are excellent value. At pharmacies nationwide and

Chic perfume We’ve just spotted the Frederic Malle discovery set back in stock at Brown Thomas for €25 – with six minis that are perfect for travelling with, and the only affordable route to wearing FM right now (the Hair Mists are another option). Yes, the set says “for him”, but with beauties such as French Lover and Geranium Pour Monsieur in there, you won’t want to leave these just for the guys. These sell out fast …

Make-up For a glamorous one-stop make-up solution, Chanel’s Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sun-Kissed Powder compacts – available in five colour combinations, from light coral to deep rose gold – feature bronzer and blush in one, delivering an instant glow. €85 each, at counters nationwide.


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