February 28, 2023
It may be the shortest month of the year, but February punches well over its weight in terms of excuses to be in London. You may be there for a romantic experience, to reset your fashion antennae at London Fashion Week, or to dive into some family fun during the school half-term holidays – or perhaps all or none of the above. It suffices to say that there’s a lot happening, so just choose what takes your fancy, book a room, and prepare to be dazzled/fascinated/entertained (depending on what you’ve chosen).
Squint a little and this often-overlooked corner of London (not far from Paddington) really could be Venice. Picturesque, tranquil and oh-so-romantic, what it loses gondola-wise it more than makes up for with its selection of narrowboats – most available for tours up the river. There’s a wide variety of pubs and eateries along the way and even a floating theatre. Located between Blomfield Road, Warwick Avenue and Warwick Crescent. London W9.
Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola
Built by a soap magnate in the first decade of the 20th century for a now-demolished manor house, this Arts and Crafts garden and amazingly lengthy vine-covered pergola were restored in the 1990s. Perfect for long, romantic strolls and lingering, meaningful pauses, visitors would swear they were in a sun-bleached Grecian courtyard… if it weren’t for the British weather and those striking views of London. Inverforth Close (off North End Way), London NW3.
Open 8.30 am-4.30 pm
Kew Orchid Festival
Just in time to usher in spring is this fantastic orchid display at the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens. More than just a cluster of colourful flora, the Festival wows visitors with giraffes, lions, gorillas and other animals sculpted from plants amid a variety of stunning landscapes. After-hours live music, food and drink and activities make this event a real grower. Kew Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens.
Runs until 5 March. Admission is free with a ticket to Kew Gardens.
SKINT: Cost of Living Creations with W Heath Robinson
‘Simple things are done in insanely overcomplicated ways’ is the basic theme of the hilarious contraptions drawn by W Heath Robinson. This exhibition at the Cartoon Museum collects some of the best – and most relevant, given the latest wave of cost of living troubles in the UK and elsewhere since 2022. The Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells Street, London W1.
Runs throughout February. Tickets are £9.50 (adults) and are free for those under 18s. Closed Mondays. Open Thurs 10.30 am-8 pm; Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun 10.30 am-5.30 pm
City of London Children’s Trail
Three special routes take children and parents on a fascinating self-guided tour of the museums, medieval buildings (including the Tower of London), skyscrapers and ‘hidden gems’ of the City. Included in the package is a map complete with stickers and activities. The full tour takes approximately 45 minutes and is suitable for children 5-11 years old. Map available from the City Information Centre next to St Paul’s Cathedral.
AHOY! Children’s Gallery
The National Maritime Museum’s premier attraction for children seven and under offers the prospect of play within a variety of themes like pirate or polar explorer. Kids can take the helm of a ship, stoke coal in the engine room, or find gainful employment in the interactive boatyard or as a fish-seller quayside. The National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, Greenwich, SE10.
Tickets are £3 (children over six months), and free for accompanying adults.
Fly In League With The Night
A highlight at the Tate Britain on 26 February is this exhibition of around 70 enigmatic works by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. At first glance, the paintings seem like straightforward portraits with a slightly sinister edge – until one realises that they are drawn entirely from the artist’s imagination. Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1.
Tickets are £16, booking is recommended. Open Mon-Sun 10 am-6 pm
The Gunpowder Plot
Visit the Vaults at the Tower of London for an immersive retelling of the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Motion simulators and enthralling special effects including a digital cast of characters bring you back to early 17th century London, right in the thick of explosive surprises and twists and turns of Guy Fawkes’ conspiracy to assassinate the king and blow up Parliament. Tower of London, EC3.
Advance booking is strongly recommended.
Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
The Harold Pinter Theatre presents this lighthearted rom-com by Sam Steiner that explores ‘what we say, how we say it, and what happens when we can’t say anything anymore’. Starring Jenna Coleman and Aidan Turner, directed by Josie Rourke. 4 Panton Street, London, SW1.
Runs to 18 March. Tickets from £15. Advance booking is recommended.
The Big City
Some of the largest works in the Guildhall Art Gallery’s collection are showcased in this exhibition of monumental painters of London. Gaze in awe at works by Frank O Salisbury, Terence Cuneo, David Hepher and many more as you take in the city on a stunningly grand scale. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2.
Runs to 23 April. Admission by donation. Open Mon-Sun 10.30 am-4 pm
Grant Museum Of Zoology
Like all great museums, the Grant looks less like an institutional collection and more like an eccentric uncle’s hoard of bizarre knick-knacks. Located in a former library at University College London, its 67,000 specimens include such fascinating (and slightly disturbing) oddities as a collection of bisected heads, a jar of moles, a collection of mammal and reptile brains, dodo bones, and some surprisingly exquisite glass models of invertebrates. 21 University Street, London, WC1.
Admission free. Open Tues-Fri 1-5 pm; Sat 11m-5 pm
After an afternoon of gazing at a jar of moles, what better place to enjoy a delightful selection of wines, cheeses and charcuterie than at a public lavatory? A redevelopment of a long-disused public loo, this new wine bar offers both outdoor and subterranean seating, with the interiors retaining much of their original Victorian tile mosaics – though thankfully vigorously sanitised and sparkling like new.
Clapham Common South Side, London, SW4.
Open Mon-Thurs 6-11.30pm; Fri 6pm-12.30am; Sat noon-12.30pm; Sun noon-10.30pm
Located not far from the Tower of London, this site has been occupied by a church since the year 1100. The original structure survived the Great Fire, was enhanced with the addition of a Sir Christopher Wren-designed tower in 1700… and sadly, was blown to smithereens in 1941. But what remains is one of the most picturesque overgrown ruins in the city – romantic by day, a little haunting by night. St Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3.
Open daily, 8 am-7 pm
Rooms For Every Imagination
Blue Orchid Hotels are renowned not just for their prime locations, but for being among the select few affordable luxury hotels London. Start with Tower Suites, just a short walk from the iconic Tower of London, its clean and modern architecture, generously sized rooms and ample amenities make it an exceptionally inviting ‘home base’ for anyone looking to enjoy the best the city has to offer.
As well as being spacious, rooms here are immaculately kept and technologically up to date, with such features as high-speed Wi-Fi and smart TV. Most offer excellent views of the city – with some even including the nearby Tower Bridge – another iconic London sight. Meanwhile, the hotel’s in-house landmarks include the famous alfresco Skyline London with its sweeping views across central London; Cento Alla Torre an elegant and highly regarded Italian restaurant; and Adamo Spa, offering an acclaimed selection of restorative and energising treatments. Everything you could expect and more from a hotel near tower bridge London UK.
For a more traditional but not less luxurious experience, The Rochester and The Wellington hotel London are five-star candidates for a London hotel booking. Located at leafy Vincent Square, both offer unusually spacious, comfortable accommodations featuring high-speed Wi-Fi and LCD TV, plus in-house dining at the Wellington Restaurant and Wellington Alfresco. Best of all, both hotels are within easy walking distance to such can’t-miss destinations as Tate Britain, Buckingham Palace, Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.
To make the most of your stay at any Blue Orchid hotel, check out their extensive list of special packages. You’re sure to find something that fits with your schedule – and adds value to your visit. Tower Suites’ ‘Family Package’, for example, includes an overnight stay for up to four persons, breakfast and dinner for four, a family pizza-making class, special goodie bags (including colouring packs) on arrival, and a 10% discount on all F&B outlets and Adamo Spa treatments. Also tempting is The Wellington and The Rochester’s ‘Fit for a King’ package, with a two-night stay for two, fish-and-chips and traditional afternoon tea, a picnic hamper for two, self-guided walking tour of iconic sights including Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, and a Paddington Bear souvenir.