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Aesop – London Guide

My favorite skincare product, Aesop has created a little guide of places to go to in London. I can only agree with them, so I thought I would share it with you.

Click below to see the guide.

A

ALLENS BUTCHER
117 Mount Street
W1K 3LA
+44 (0)20 7499 5831

This traditional butcher has supplied Londoners with quality beef and game for 175 years. It also sells seasonal treats such as gull eggs. If the sight of all this raw food whets your appetite, head for the sushi bar at Umu – it might hurt your wallet but it will thrill your taste buds. Umu is at 14 Bruton Place W1J 6LX.

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BRITISH MUSEUM
Great Russell Street
WC1B 3DG
+44 (0)20 7323 8299

Visit the Easter Island statues, Rosetta Stone and mountain of Viking artifacts. With so much treasure – their collection contains more than seven million items – perhaps they might return the Elgin Marbles to Greece? We like to spend time in the sunlit Great Court, which wraps around the original Reading Room.

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COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET
Columbia Road
Shoreditch E2 7RG

Sells trees, shrubs and bulbs, with cut flowers going for half-price after 2pm. You’ll also find garden tools and accessories here. Open Sunday, 7am to 3pm. Broadway Market in Hackney is also a treat: it’s dusted itself off and is enjoying a revival. Broadway stalls sell food, art and craft. Open Saturdays, 9am to 5pm.

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DICKENS HOUSE MUSEUM
48 Doughty Street
WC1N 2LX
+44 (0)20 7405 2127

Visit the only surviving London home of author Charles Dickens. The vast library holds a copy of a book penned by Charles’ missus, titled What Shall We Have for Dinner? And the front hallway boasts drawings by Fred Barnard. Given Dickens’ harrowing childhood it’s pleasing to know he did, at one point, live well.

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ELK IN THE WOODS
39 Camden Passage
N1 8EA
+44 (0)20 7726 3535

You can stop by for a Nordic aquavit or glass of wine from their extensive list, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try the meatballs. The Elk is rustic but uncluttered, nestled among the antique and book shops that line Camden Passage. Settle into a leather chair and relax. Open from breakfast to dinner.

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THE FILM SHOP
33 Broadway Market
Dalston E8 4PH
+44 (0)20 7923 1230

Offers an extensive selection of art house movies to rent. Not far away, on Kingsland High Street, is the Rio Cinema, still defiantly independent. While Dalston features in several films (Leigh’s Naked, Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things), viewers of The Mighty Boosh know it as the home of second-hand shop Nabootique.

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GORDON’S WINE BAR
47 Villiers Street
WC2N 6NE
+44 (0)20 7930 1408

Once this building was home to Samuel Pepys, but since 1890 it has been a drinking spot for parched Londoners. It claims to be our oldest wine bar and people flock here for the old-world atmosphere in this small, dark, underground venue. Access via a steep wooden staircase. Not for the claustrophobic.

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HAMPSTEAD HEATH
Belsize Park tube station.

Enjoy the enormous expanse of the place, have a picnic or go for a head-clearing walk. The Heath is one of London’s greatest treasures, a northern equivalent of New York’s ‘lungs’ in Central Park. Sprawling across more than 300 hectares, it has woodlands, ponds, playgrounds and most precious of all, space.

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ICE-SKATING
Somerset House
The Strand WC2R 1LA
+44 (0)20 7845 4660

Drink mulled wine or champagne at The Skate Bar and Café and gaze upon the twinkling lights of Somerset House after you’ve skated on this beautiful outdoor rink. Open from November until the end of January, the rink offers DJ nights, torch-lit evening sessions and skating lessons for young and old.

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JELLIED EELS FROM F.COOKE
150 Hoxton Street
N1 6SH
+44 (0)20 7729 7718

Delicious fare for the not-squeamish. If eels don’t appeal, we recommend the crusty pies served with mash and drowned in parsley sauce. F. Cooke is famed for its food and friendly, personable service (which we all know to be a rarity in London) and unpretentious sawdust-on-the-floorboards approach to decorating.

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KONSTAM AT THE PRINCE ALBERT
2 Acton Street
WC1X 9NA
+44 (0)20 7833 5040

Owner/chef Oliver Rowe serves cuisine using seasonal produce sourced from the area marked out by the London Underground network. The wine list ventures off-shore but offers local cider and beer from Greenwich. The eco-friendly agenda and good food mean this small restaurant is often full, so call ahead.

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LIDO SWIMMING
On the Serpentine
Hyde Park W2 2UH
+44 (0)20 7706 3422

The Serpentine was created in 1730 as a playground for Queen Caroline’s fleet, but peasants are now allowed to splash about in the coolish waters. Swim in the lake, pool or toddler’s paddling pond. Deck chairs available to rent should you wish to recline in style. The nearby Lido Restaurant serves passable lunches.

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MAGMA CLERKENWELL
117-119 Clerkenwell Road
EC1R 5BY
+44 (0)20 7242 9503

Terrific selection of magazines, books, jewellery and affordable art, with an emphasis on customer satisfaction. From the Magma website: ‘Can’t this thing we call “shopping” be changed into a rich and inspiring activity? To use that dreaded term, can’t retail be more creative? We believe the answer is yes.’

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NOTTING HILL ARTS CLUB
21 Notting Hill Gate
W11 3JQ
+44 (0)20 7460 4459

Enjoy live bands, DJs and art. The themed music nights, which include Bombay Bronx, Disco Geisha and Future World Funk, are renowned. Expect to queue for most. On Craft Night scissors will be provided. Past art exhibitions include poster work, graffiti, photography and – Lord save us – performance art.

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THE OLD BELL INN
High Street
Hurley
Berkshire SL6 5LX
+44 (0)16 2882 5881

This is the country hotel of our dreams: an old coaching inn given warmth and modern elegance by Ilse Crawford. Light rooms, with dark wood floors and furniture, are cosy and free of clutter, with wi-fi, flat-screen televisions and Aesop bathroom supplies on offer. Outside, a meadow garden and tennis court await.

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PORCHESTER SPA AND TURKISH BATHS
Queensway W2 5HS
+44 (0)20 7792 3980

High-ceilinged, marble-tiled, Art Deco style centre with pools (one an ice-cold plunge pool), a Finnish log sauna, Russian steam rooms, Turkish hot rooms and a relaxation lounge. Mint tea, massages and chess boards all available on request. Call before visiting this haven: there are single-sex and mixed bathing times.

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QUALITY HAMPERS FROM FORTNUM AND MASON
181 Piccadilly
W1A 1ER
+44 (0)20 7734 8040

Handmade wicker baskets filled with the finest wine, fruit and cheeses. We like the Marquis, Windsor and Children’s selections. If you opt for a wine hamper, such as the generous Vitner Hamper, complement it with cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy in Covent Garden and head to your closest shady park or garden.

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RIGBY AND PELLAR
22A Conduit Street
Mayfair W1S 2XT
+44 (0)20 7491 2200

Offers a range of fabulous lingerie, sleepwear and bathers. Rigby & Pellar has been awarded a Royal Warrant, and the Queen has bought her bras and smalls here since 1960. The company stocks luxury brands plus their own designs. If you’re not taken with the ready-to-wear selection, they also create bespoke lingerie.

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STEVE HATTS FISHMONGERS
88 Essex Road
Islington N1 8LU
+44 (0)20 7226 3963

Line up for best-quality fresh seafood and smoked kippers, mackerel, and trout, cured on the premises in 80-year-old smoke holes. The staff has a reputation for being helpful, so if in doubt about the offerings, ask for advice. Owner Steve Hatt has been in charge since 1970, following three previous generations of Hatts.

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TAYLOR OF OLD BOND STREET
74 Jermyn Street
St James’s
SW1V 6NP
+44 (0)20 7930 5544

This establishment has the official nod to shave throats both royal and common. As well as operating as a barber, Taylor’s sells grooming products including shaving brushes, razors, soaps, hair tonics, and masculine fragrances. Their website, www.tayloroldbondst.co.uk, offers sage advice on shaving technique.

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UMBRELLAS FROM JAMES SMITH AND SONS
53 New Oxford Street
WC1A 1BL
+44 (0)20 7836 4731

Since 1830, James Smith has sold stylish umbrellas, canes and seat sticks to dapper ladies and gentlemen. Even if you’re not in the mood to buy, this crowded Victorian shop is a delight to visit. The company cautions its patrons not to lend their umbrellas to even a dear friend since they are almost never returned.

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VINOTECA BAR AND WINE SHOP
7 St John Street
EC1M 4AA
+44 (0)20 7253 8786

A great range of wines to drink in the bar or take home, all reasonably priced and imaginatively explained. Wines by the glass change every week. Simple fare can accompany your tipple should you wish. The twice-yearly ‘Portfolio’ tasting events allow you to sample their preferred wines, ports and sherries.

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WHITECHAPEL GALLERY
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
E1 7QX
+44 (0)20 7522 7888

The gallery re-opened early April 2009 after a major renovation. In addition to exhibiting contemporary works and holding select retrospectives, it regularly holds public lectures. Whitechapel is known for its longevity, since it was founded in 1901, and for showing Picasso’s Guernica in 1938 as part of a touring protest exhibition.

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XSTRATA AND RHIZOTRON TEETOP WALKWAY
Royal Botanic Gardens
Kew
Surrey TW9 3AB
+44 (0)20 8332 5655

Stroll the 200-metre long, 18-metre high boardwalk surrounded by the canopies of sweet chestnut, lime and oak trees. The walkway starts underground, in a rhizotron, where you can view the vital webbed root system of the trees. This permanent structure was designed by the architects of the London Eye.

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YAUATCHA RESTAURANT
15-17 Broadwick Street
Soho W1F 0DL
+44 (0)20 7494 8888

Go for the dim sum, lobster, prawn and date dumplings and 150 varieties of tea, not for the famed so-so service. The restaurant earned a Michelin star for its superb food, but the swanky nightclub interior (lit fish tanks, sleek furniture and twinkling ceiling), design by Christian Liaigre, is also drawing praise.