July 21, 2022
After a cold Spring, the month of July is like a belated birthday present, just waiting to be unwrapped: Wimbledon and strawberries and cream; long summer nights; cricket at Lord’s; the start of the school holidays. But even if you can’t tell your Kyrgios from your Djokovic, or you think that cricket is about as exciting as hanging around in a supermarket queue, there is plenty more to celebrate – especially this Summer, in a happily liberated London.
It’s time to wave a flag for the things we might once have taken for granted – for romantic weekends (his/hers/theirs), for a birthday celebration, for anniversaries, for friends and family.
London is looking particularly carefree these days and there is more than enough to please all tastes and ages, whether you opt for West End theatres and Royal Parks or street art and trendy Spitalfields cafes. This summer you can take advantage of The Rochester Hotel’s Kids Week package. Free theatre tickets, discounted family rates, family breakfast, dinner and more.
The beauty of hotels in London England is that they weave into the life of the city. Take the area surrounding the Tower of London. It may be a UNESCO world heritage site, but it shares that status with the people who work and live nearby. This is not just a museum, frozen in time. The area is full of cafes and busy markets where people buy food for an evening meal.
None of which should stop you going for romantic riverside walks beside Tower Bridge or exploring quaint Victorian Warehouses and hidden pocket gardens. There are ornate covered markets bustling with street food and sophisticated shops. Not to mention one of the most visited contemporary art museums in the world (Tate Modern).
But to get back to Wimbledon (at the time of writing it’s still finals week) here’s a recommendation for the tennis fan without a ticket: if you want a VIP seat that will provide spectacular views, both off and on the tennis court, then head for the big screen and a private cabana on The Skyline London rooftop terrace, or at Cento Al Fresco. Well it has to beat Henman Hill, surely?
The Skyline London on top of Blue Orchid’s Tower Suites hotel has the best views of the city skyline from its magnificent terrace bar, including the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And if you get hungry watching tennis stars battle it out over a tie break, then you can order a delicious meal from the Cento Al Fresco restaurant; alternatively you could opt for strawberries and cream, with a glass of Whispering Angel bubbly. It’s the epitome of a luxury Tower hotel.
Never Too Late
If you are one of the many who missed a special occasion thanks to Covid, then why not make up for lost time? It could be a friends’ reunion, or a family get–together, either way Blue Orchid’s Tower Suites provide luxury apartments that cater for everything from solo travel to big parties. It’s among the top rung of event venues in London.
The Blue Orchid Celebration package starts with an overnight stay for two, which includes a three course dinner at the Italian–inspired Cento Alla Torre restaurant. There’s also a complimentary bottle of champagne, a rooftop photoshoot with the London skyline as your backdrop, and room service breakfast, after which you can explore the surrounding area.
Fish Street Hill
Five minutes’ walk from your boutique apartment you’ll find The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. From there you can rub shoulders with ancient history and sophisticated urban living. Follow the outer wall of the Tower down to the Thames path and stroll beside the river to London Bridge. Walk up the wonderfully named Fish Street Hill and discover The Monument and picturesque Leadenhall Market. Then walk back over London Bridge to Southwark Cathedral, Tate Britain and St Paul’s.
Or stroll across iconic Tower Bridge and discover the quaint Victorian warehouses of Shad Thames on one side, or Hays Galleria on the other. Keep going for Tate Britain and Borough Market.
Back on the North bank, the Tower of London has grown an ocean of wildflowers in its extensive moat for SUPERBLOOM, an eco–haven for people and wildlife in the city, a beautiful legacy for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Jubilee at the Tower
Tower Suites even offers a Royal Jubilee at the Tower staycation. Alongside an overnight luxury stay for two, there are two adult tickets to Superbloom and the Tower of London, plus complementary in-room breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner at Cento Alla Torre.
Royal Time at the Tower
This is another great deal from Tower Suites, offering an overnight stay for two friends or a couple, plus a private walking tour of local landmarks, as well as a private tour of the Tower of London.
If privacy is your thing, then a candlelit dinner for two might appeal. The Romantic Escape package comes with a bottle of champagne, a bespoke cake, continental breakfast and rose petals scattered on the bed (not necessarily in that order). The following day you can discover the sights and sounds of nearby Spitalfields or Borough for yourself.
Relax and Unwind
Even more cosseted is the Relax and Unwind package for two: a stay of one or two nights plus a full body massage or rejuvenating facial from Adamo Spa, as well as dinner for two at Cento Alla Torre and room service breakfast. All in–house, nestled within a Tower hotel London.
Royal Jubilee Afternoon Tea at the Tower
There is still plenty of time to relish the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a Royal Jubilee Afternoon Tea at the Tower. It’s a lovely way to keep up the tea–time tradition of finger sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam. And a variety of teas, of course. Two adult tickets to Superbloom and the Tower of London are included, to round off a perfect day of vibrant wildflowers and traditional treats. There are some impressive London deals on offer this Summer.
Tower Millennium Pier
The other wonderful thing about finding a hotel that’s close to Tower Bridge is that you are next door to Tower Millennium Pier, which happens to be the main commuter river boat service in London. In one direction is the West End and Westminster Pier – which is less than a 10 minute walk to Blue Orchid’s Rochester and Wellington Hotels. In the other direction is Canary Wharf and historic Greenwich.
Back in the day, when London bridge was the only permanent river crossing, people used the Thames as a major means of transport. In Elizabethan times, London Bridge looked like something out of a Miyazaki anime, it was so crowded with rickety medieval buildings. So it comes as no surprise that the quickest way to travel around London was by river. It was especially favoured by the rich and the royal.
In Shakespeare’s time, his original Globe Theatre plied its trade in Southwark which was then notorious for being a lawless, debauched part of town. The south side of the Thames had a reputation that resembled America’s Wild West in those days, and the gentlemen who were ferried across the busy Thames were often taking a risk with their valuables, if not their lives.
It was only in the latter part of the 20th century that the South bank picked up some serious kudos. First with the building of the National Theatre and the South Bank Centre in London’s Waterloo. These days that part of town is recognisable as much for the London Eye as its brutalist architecture.
Then in the 1980s London’s artists (like Derek Jarman and David Hockney) took up cheap studio space in the old Victorian warehouses that lined the Thames. The artists are long gone, and the warehouses are now fashionable apartments like Shad Thames, on the South side of Tower Bridge.
On the North side of Tower Bridge you have St Katherine’s Dock and the delights of beautiful Leadenhall Market with its sophisticated shops, and historic Spitalfields Market with its restaurants and niche stores. The Spitalfields district has a reputation for trendy bars and quirky retail.
Brick Lane Market, also on the North side, combines a working East End market with Asian restaurants, street food and historic Jewish bagel shops. It adjoins the Old Truman Brewery, with its covered Sunday markets that sell jewellery and prints, fashion and art, and retro clothes. If you walk the length of Brick lane and explore the alleyways on either side, you’ll find evidence of Shoreditch Street Art on the walls.
Not far from Brick Lane is the Whitechapel Art Gallery, but one of the best examples of recent enterprise in Spitalfields must be Dennis Severs’ House.
Dennis Severs’ House
This remarkable recreation of an old Huguenot family house is a kind of time capsule. Each room has been transformed into a feast for the senses, and every room suggests a story. A man called Dennis Severs bought this (then derelict) piece of real estate in 1979 and brought it back to life. You feel like you have walked back in time when you enter it.
At night it is lit by candles, and there are fires in the grate. It gives the impression of being lived in. In fact the whole house becomes a piece of theatre, far more than you would expect of any ordinary museum.
Dennis Severs himself has since died but recordings of some of his tours still exist (he was quite the main attraction, back in the day) and in a sense, he has become part of the story that still breathes life into the place. Somehow, a very London story… The house was built in 1724. Haunting.
Aldgate Square, EC3
A mindful musical lunch break with live concerts. 12-2pm Tuesday throughout July and August.
Petticoat Lane Thursday’s
Wentworth and Goulston Street
Music, fun, food and creative goods. 12-3.30pm Thursdays 14th, 21st, 28th July.
Aldgate Square, EC3
Community arts and culture festival celebrating the Bangladeshi, Latino and Cockney cultures, part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. 2-8pm Friday 22nd July.
Nocturnal Creatures Festival
Whitechapel Gallery and various locations across East London
A festival which transforms Whitechapel Gallery and historic and outdoor locations nearby. DJ sets, live performances. 6-11pm Saturday 23rd July.