Monday, 12 July 2010

Redleg's Tourist Agency.

I am a member of a rare breed: the born and bred been ‘ere for centuries gor’ blimey time for a ruby’ Londoner. Apologies to any non-Brits I have just confused. This means I get asked what to do in London by those visiting for the first time. It makes sense, whenever I travel the advice and kindness of locals always radically improves the experience. I thought it might be an idea to post some suggestions. I also thought there would be a different itinerary for those visiting who want to put a vintage slant on their stay. It was quite interesting thinking it up. You could go on forever in a similar vein; London for Socialists, London for Alcoholics, London for the Lazy, London for the Dandy… Still I will start off with a couple of itineraries for different visitors. Naturally I take no responsibility for mishaps, closures or attacks by footpads. It is slanted towards the lady, but in the natural way of things we are in charge anyway. As long as you chaps get some decent food and a few libations along the way…

Mayfair/Piccadilly based itinerary for deco/30’s/40’s fan.

Breakfast: The Wolseley on Green Park. Originally a Wolseley car show room it is now an opulent Austrian style dining room. Despite this it is quintessentially London and functions as one of its sitting rooms. Have coffee from a silver tea pot and the Eggs Benedict. Or if you are feeling brave; a full English. Watch out for famous diners. Pricey but worth it.

Morning: Jump on the tube to South Kensington and go to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Look at the fashion collection, the jewellery and the Japanese rooms. The medieval display is remarkable although that may be taking vintage a little too far. Free.

Luncheon: Back to Green Park and to Bentleys for Oysters and fish. Pricey but good and may have a set, cheaper lunch menu.

Afternoon: If sunny have a wander through Mayfair, Jermyn Street and Savile Row are all close by. Or head into Green Park and St James Park, feed the ducks and hire a deckchair for a kip. If rainy or cold jump on the Bakerloo Line at Piccadilly and head over to the Imperial War Museum, uniforms, the home-front and missiles….Free.

Dinner: The Dean Street Townhouse Hotel to try some of that English food (it is better than you think). Medium price

Evening: Go to a play, there will always be a Coward revival or a period musical to catch. At the moment the hot retro ticket has to be the 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre. Reasonable.

Late: Whatever retro club or event is happening (and there will be one). If not sure the Pigalle Club has a pleasing fifties supper club feel, cocktails and often a retro dj spinning the shellac. Price varies.

Best Afternoon Tea in area is at the Lanesborough Hotel which takes place in a wonderful frivolous room that looks like it was designed and decorated by Cecil Beaton.
Best shopping for souvenirs (and best toilets): Fortnum and Masons.
Best booze: Dukes Hotel for their legendary Martinis.


Tina said...

Hi, I'm relatively new to London and have been trying to find a place to buy vintage styled hats and gloves. Do you have any recommendations?

Thanks for the tourist tips. I'm hoping to try the cafe for crumpets and coffee.

Cheers. Tina

RedlegsinSoho said...

Hi Tina,
My personal favourite is Lynettes little shop off of Camden passage in Islington. She sells good vintage hats. Tricia Cox who you can find on-line makes felt vintage repro and Orizu hats (sunday at spitalfield market) has lovely straw.
A new shop has opened in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street devoted to millinery and is worth a look. Happy hat hunting!

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