The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences
The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences is located in the post district of Mayfair and it is an exclusive family run five star hotel of London which boasts an elegant independent personality. The new look of this exciting property is by British agency Kinnersley Kent Design which perfectly combines the spirit of the area, from the spectacular architectural lobby and lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows that give the impact of being in Green Park that it is situated opposite. Kinnersley Kent Design has struck a stunning balance between the sophisticated and approachable, the classic and contemporary.
Located in front of Green Park, The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences offers to its guests a captivating and elegant retreat close to Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Buckingham Palace and all the facilities like boutiques, bars, restaurants, musuems and so on of Mayfair neighborhood. It offers 132 rooms, 12 suites, 18 residences and The Penthouse Suite which takes pride in its individuality. The re-design serves to strengthen this philosophy by honouring the hotel’s heritage with everything carefully chosen to complement and emphasise its award-winning one of a kind spirit. Formerly the entire property was built in 1850 with the aim to be a private residence, it became a Gentleman’s Club for high society during the Victorian era and only then it was transformed into a five-star hotel like we know nowadays. All the rooms and residences offer elegant and fashionable furnishings with lovely and individual pieces of art combined with contemporary furniture. Rooms, suites and full-service residences with kitchens, living and dining areas are contemporary but homely, unfussy yet inviting, practical whilst stylish. Each room have Bose docking stations, Hypnos beds, large flat-screen TVs and Nespresso coffee makers. They are equally convenient for business travellers as they are for families staying for a flying visit or year-long sabbatical.
Hotly awaited is the new restaurant Galvin at The Athenaeum restaurant and The Bar at The Athenaeum. The Michelin brothers, Christ and Jeff Galvin overseen the food and beverage area of the hotel, from breakfast to afternoon tea, from lunch to dinner but also private dining experiences and last but not least the 24/7 In Room Dining. This is the first ever partnership for the Michelin brothers that are known for an impeccable seasonally driven and market leading cuisine, and they showcase their favorite dishes, alongside new ones created for The Athenaeum, using local producers’ home grown produce. The Bar of The Athenaeum which has a discrete entrance on Down Street, is famous for its incredible whisky collection but also for its delicious cocktails and elegant interiors. Outside, the new Terrace is one of the few outdoor dining areas on Piccadilly.
All the guests can get benefit of Spa facilities and gym. The latter provides strength training equipment and cardio machines to name a few. There’s also relaxation areas within the REN Spa. Children are so welcome there’s a Children’s Concierge and many of the fully-serviced residences were designed with families in mind. Last but not least the Living Wall is a captivating vertical garden that goes from the street level to the 10th floor Penthouse.
Located opposite Green Park, the guests can even boast the Royal Family as their neighbours; London’s Piccadilly which isn’t just an iconic address, it’s one of the capital’s most important thoroughfares. In the heart of Mayfair it stretches from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park with some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks lining the way. These include The Royal Academy, Green Park and much more. The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences holds the primary elements of English Style: personal, interesting, discreet, lavish, friendly and quirky. But it’s perhaps the views that leave the lasting impression, taking in Royal Green Park, the spires of Buckingham Palace and London Eye beyond.
Mayfair is the most central of London’s wealthy areas. Royalty and government are within earshot and the tranquility of the capital’s famous parks virtually on the doorstep. The hotel overlooks Green Park, and so very convenient for Mayfair, St James’s, and Knightsbridge. With its spacious new pavement terrace, its living wall and its views over Green Park, it has a more refreshing, natural feel than neighbouring hotels, especially in summer. With attractions such as Buckingham Palace, the Royal Albert Hall and the beautiful boutiques of Knightsbridge all within close reach, The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences is the perfect location for your London getaway.
The history of The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences:
The prestigious address of 116 Piccadilly has seen its fair share of inhabitants over the years. Back in 1850, it started life as Hope House, the elegant private abode of MP Henry Hope. The mansion was said to have attracted the attention of Charles Dickens, who noted its extravagant interiors. This is not to suggest, however, that Mr Hope was an ostentatious character. In fact, he was renowned for his astuteness and committed patronage of the arts. His prize collection of Old Masters, which he would occasionally put on display to the public, made Hope House the home of one of Europe’s finest private art collections.
The same rational attributes cannot be assigned, however, to Henry Hope’s son-in-law, the roguish Henry Pelham-Clinton, the 6th Duke of Newcastle. When the Duke wed Hope’s only daughter, Henrietta, his spiralling gambling debts (around £230,000 – an eye-watering £143 million today) were settled and he acquired an impressive property portfolio to boot. When he died aged just 45, Henrietta sold Hope House to the fashionable Junior Athenaeum Club.
Gentlemen’s clubs were all the rage in the Victorian era, and the Junior Athenaeum surged in popularity as it entertained the great and good of London society. Among the MPs and Lords that passed through its doors, the club was particularly favoured by gentlemen connected with literature, science and art. The word “Athenaeum” loosely translates as “library” and is derived from the Greek name Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The noble name stayed at 116 Piccadilly in the 1930s as the club disbanded and the building was transformed into a luxurious Art Deco apartment block.
Four decades later, the Athenaeum and its neighbouring Victorian townhouses were snapped up by British entertainment group The Rank Organisation. The company renovated the apartments into an iconic hotel to accommodate its movie stars whenever they were filming at London’s famous Pinewood and Ealing Studios. As a five-star hotel, The Athenaeum has long been associated with the rich and famous. Charismatic executive manager Sally Bulloch heralded the hotel’s Hollywood golden age in the 1970s, where her natural charm and perennial presence at the hotel bar made her a hit with guests. She was said to have enjoyed a glass of champagne (or two) with Elizabeth Taylor, among countless others, and once (gently) admonished Russell Crowe for leaving his room untidy. Boy band Take That announced their split from the penthouse of The Athenaeum and legendary film director Steven Spielberg even installed an editing suite in one of the hotel’s residences when working on E.T., Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Today, stars, world leaders and the well known continue to use The Athenaeum as their discreet home-from-home.
The Athenaeum has been family-run since the 1990s and could not be more committed to its famous five-star service. An independent spirit remains at the heart of the hotel, where it continues to welcome everyone as VIPs and to make their stay individual.
Value for Money
Double rooms are from £280 (Euro 320,00). These rates are per room and per day and include breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Rates are subject to change without prior notice.
Access for guests with disabilities?
This hotel has lift to all floors.
Yes, there are 18 apartments with kitchenettes and bunks or pull out beds for the kids, and staff are very accommodating. There’s a dedicated Children’s Concierge and nannies and babysitters on hand.
Our Special Readings
What you should never do in London
Today we start a new and funny travel column about what you should never do in several cities in the world. We could not start better this new column if not talking of London. Mind the gap. Stand on the right. London is a city that runs on rules, and while most are second nature to locals, it takes a little more time for visitors to adapt to protocol. Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you avoid social slip ups on the tube, around the city and, of course, in the pub.
When it comes to the tube, don’t…
Travel during rush hour
If possible, try to avoid getting the tube between 7:30 and 9:30am, and 5:00 and 7:00pm, especially if you have a lot of luggage. During this time, tube stations can get congested and trains are packed with weary Londoners making their way to and from work. If you do find yourself swept up in the rush hour commute, however, you’ll get a great insight into just how far Brits will go to avoid eye contact despite extreme physical proximity.
Stand on the left
If there’s one golden rule in London, this is it. Do not, under any circumstances, stand on the left of an escalator in the London Underground. The left is for walking. The right is for standing. Failure to adhere to this will immediately single you out as a tourist and earn you plenty of disapproving tuts.
Top European Xmas Cities
Christmas in Europe is synonym with snow, time-honored traditions, Gothic churches with fabulous choirs, and charming medieval squares brought to life by colorful Xmas markets. Some cities celebrate the holidays in grand style, others with peculiar customs and yuletide nostalgia aplenty, and some of them are simply at their finest during this time of the year. Combining idyllic ancient architecture, fabulous festive fairs, and sweet winter scents that bring back childhood memories, a trip to one of these Christmas-perfect European cities will knock the Scrooge out of you. Here they are: the best European cities to visit for Christmas!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, the Gothic fairytale of Europe, celebrates Christmas with glam and grandeur, its breathtaking architecture providing a truly dramatic backdrop for sipping scented mulled wine and getting lost in the Christmas shopping frenzy. Winter in the Czech capital is crisp and chilly, but walking down its cobbled alleys that whisper about ghosts of a tumultuous past, along gorgeous Gothic buildings covered in fresh snow, is like stepping into a Christmas card.
Prague’s Christmas markets are among the most famous in Europe, providing an excellent opportunity to discover the traditions, cultural values, and delicious cuisine of this landlocked Central European country steeped in history. The biggest, oldest, and most impressive is the one set in the Old Town Square, at the foot of the Church of Our Lady before Týn. Nevertheless, those held in Wenceslas Square and Náměstí Míru are equally appealing. Everywhere you look, cheerful, beautifully decorated wooden huts jam-packed with festive goodies sell everything from craft gift items and beautiful Christmas tree ornaments to typical Czech delicacies such as spit-roasted hams or Trdelník, a traditional hot sugar-coated pastry. The entire scene is animated by music, lights, animal stables, and nativity scenes.
After filling your shopping bag with all sorts of glistening decorations, warm up with a hot mug of mulled wine and a spin on the ice skating rink, or attend one of the fabulous concerts that take place in the city’s remarkable churches and halls during Christmas. Really, is anyone still doubting that Prague is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe?
Dazzling street illuminations, fabulous window displays, and tons of festive fun make London one of the best Christmas cities in Europe. It really couldn’t be otherwise! As the setting of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the capital is brimming with stunning skating rinks, Victorian-themed events, and magical carol concerts that will melt any Grinch’s heart. Get into the holiday spirit at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland; attend a memorable performance in glorious surroundings at St Paul’s Cathedral or the Royal Albert Hall; and pay a visit to the Kew Gardens in West London for lovely seasonal shopping, delicious treats, and some of the most spectacular Christmas lights you’ll ever see.
If Christmas shopping in London is your priority, you will be spoiled for choice in the city’s wonderfully creative fairs. The charming Christmas Market at Tate Modern is overflowing with handmade wooden toys, festooned gingerbread, and beautiful traditional decorations, while Hyper Japan at Tobacco Dock makes an excellent spot to buy unique, exotic gifts, feast on sushi and sake, and take part in all sorts of interesting workshops. If you’re more into one-off design goods, head to Mile End’s Ecology Pavilion, where over 50 artists display their unique homemade creations, from homeware and ceramics to art, clothing, and jewelry.
Tower of London, symbol of British Monarchy
A little under a millenium ago, in the year 1066 to be exact, William the Conqueror founded the Tower of London as a symbol of Norman rule. Initially built with timber, it grew to become the imposing stone structure it is today through the efforts of Richard the Lionheart and Edward I. This castle is considered to be one of the most endearing in Europe.
While the tower is famously known as the residence of past monarchs, it also gained a rather dark reputation as a place of torture and death, even though only seven people were executed between the 11th and 19th centuries. Interestingly, the twelve executions between the first and second wars in the first half of the 20th century outnumber the previous nine hundred years of the tower’s existence. However, it’s not the number of people who died in the tower that may have captured attention but the identities of those imprisoned there. Some of these include William Wallace, Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes, Rudolf Hess and the two princes named Edward and Richard. And of its former prisoners, it is said that the ghost of Anne Boleyn still walks the tower’s halls today.
Apart from ghosts, the Tower of London‘s other two-legged residents are a bit more unusual. Hailing from the crow family, ravens took up permanent residency after Charles II decreed that at least six should always be present, lest the monarchy fall. Apart from a residence and a prison, the Tower of London was used as a barracks, an armony, the royal mint, and even a zoo for exotic animals. Today, it is home to the Crown Jewels and is one of the most popular destinations in the United Kingdom.
London’s calling a trip
Posh accents, perfect tea brews and a 2.000 year-old history aside, there are hundreds of other unique events, scenery and shops to scope out in London Town. Check out these three London experiences that you might not know about for your next trip across the pond.
Barbican Art Gallery
The Barbican Centre in and of itself is a cultural treasure trove, but the crown jewel is located on the third floor of the Brutalist building. Here, the Barbican Art Gallery has a rotating number of exhibitions. Past exhibitions include retrospectives of the work of Viktor & Rolf, Le Borbusier, Bauhaus, Yohji Yamamoto, Pop Art and Jean Paul Gaultier. After walking through the exhibits, take a load off by treating yourself to the lemon drizzle cake from one of Barbican’s cafés and enjoy outdoor seating on the Lakeside, weather permitting.
London’s oldest food market, Borough Market, dates back to the time when the Romans built the London Bridge and has lasted on its current site for the last 250 years. Whether you’re a foodie or a shopping expert, Borough Market offers everything from exquisite macaroons to wholesale trading opportunities. Even if you’re just window-shopping, Borough Market is a prime spot for people watching and experiencing the hustle and bustle of a Londoner’s life.
5 day trips with base in London
London is one of my favourite cities in the world and will likely seduce and conquer your heart too, but if you have any more than three days in the city, take the opportunity to get out of London and see more of the UK as there are some great day trips to take from London. Here are the 5 best day trips from London to inspire your trip!
Bath, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge
A day visit to Bath, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge is the most popular day trip to take from London. Sure, its a long day, but it is entirely worth it to pack so much into one day. Should you wish to spend more time in Bath and skip the others, this is also a really great day trip from London and can be done on your own by train (1.5 hours one way).
Oxford, Blenheim Palace & Woodstock
Another very popular day trip from London is to visit nearby Oxford University City (1.5 hours one way). If you make it out for a day visit, you’ll have plenty to fit in as there are a handful of free universities and some paid that cannot be missed (particularly Christ Church for Harry Potter fans!) If you allow time for a few hours to visit Blenheim Palace just 20 minutes up the road by bus, be sure to take the time to also drop into Woodstock, a small town right next door. Buses are frequent (usually every 20 minutes) and inexpensive (6 pounds return Oxford-Blenheim Palace).
Where to see the London skyline for FREE
Want to really appreciate the London skyline? You don’t need to buy a ticket for the top of a skyscraper or shell out for a fancy cocktail on a rooftop bar to clap eyes on London’s loveliest views (though you can if you want). In fact, you can gawp at these stunning skyline scenes without parting with a single penny. From grassy vantage points to central London views, here are eight spectacular spots to see the London skyline for free.
One Tree Hill
Almost certainly not the inspiration for the glossy US teen TV drama, One Tree Hill stands between Forest Hill and Brockley, and offers an unexpectedly breathtaking view of London to the north. Climb the steps to the summit and the cityscape is framed by hybrid black poplars and London plane trees. You’re standing above Europe’s largest underground reservoir, and there are the remains of a WWI anti-aircraft gun emplacement nearby, both of which add a frisson to the splendid vista. Honor Oak, SE23. Honor Oak Park rail.
The Switch House at Tate Modern
When Tate Modern opened its iconic extension in 2016, it very decently included a viewing level in the design. Thanks, Tate Modern! Now, as well as looking at all that amazing free art, visitors can enjoy a free 360-degree panorama of the city (you can see as far as Wembley Stadium on a clear day). While lots of London galleries have great views from their penthouse café, the National Portrait Gallery, for example, you won’t even have to fork out for a cup of tea to take in this one. Bankside, SE1.
The Insider Tip: Books for Cooks in London
“The best cup of coffee in Notting Hill.” This is how, in an interview Rosie Kindersley and Eric Treuillé, define their Books for Cooks, a bookshop at 4 Blenheim Crescent, in the London borough of Notting Hill. My reaction to those words is immediate, and two questions arrives on my mind. The first: when can I organize a trip to taste this cup of coffee? The second: could it be that Rosie and Eric are a bit arrogant?
However, the last time I went in London, I took the subway to Ladbroke Grove. It would be more convenient to go down to Notting Hill, but it is Saturday morning and it would mean to make headway with elbows among the crowds of people who enjoy Portobello Market. Thus, I walked along Ladbroke Grove, then turned onto Blenheim Crescent. I remember the words of the two owners: honestly their description is a bit an unusual for a bookshop. And indeed, Books for Cooks is an unusual library. Beyond the bright red-painted door, there is a world of tall bookcases filled with books, large wooden tables arranged next to a living-looking leather sofa, where a couple of Londoners drunk steaming coffee by reading some pages of thick books.
What most draws my attention is the kitchen at the back of the shop, where aromas of coffee and freshly baked pastries come from. Little by little the place is filling up with people who may be looking for a quiet place from the confusion of the market stalls of Portobello Market, but I found a free table next to the counter where chocolate, raisin and cream cakes are exposed. I ordered a cup of the famous coffee and a walnut muffin. While waiting to be served, I do like the other customers around me: I take a book from one of the shelves and start to have a look through it. I am not too lucky: I god a book of food chemistry, so I turn the pages without paying attention, thinking instead about the formula of the success of this bookshop.
Let yourself be surprised forever by London
To be able to say that you know London is not enough to go there once, for a weekend or a week. London never ceases to amaze you with its continuous innovations that flank the already endless historical wonders. That’s why there’s always more than one good reason to come back. It is not enough to have walked on the Strand, photographed Big Ben with the Parliament behind it, looked through the spotlights of Carnaby Street, saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, shopping at Harrods and having dinner in Soho. There are plenty of other things to see and experience in London, as these six tips that I’d like to suggest you.
What was once an old thermoelectric power plant, thanks to the project of the prestigious Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, has become a must-see gallery of modern art. Visit the Tate Modern to admire the masterpieces of the great artists of the twentieth century, from Mondrian to Pistoletto, and be enchanted by the famous water lilies of Claude Monet as well as by the imposing paintings of Pollock. Before leaving, check out the Turbine Hall, the large central atrium created under the central chimney that rises up to 99 meters in height: it periodically hosts a new installation of contemporary art.
13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Stop at number 13 of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, that is not just any house but the home of architect Sir John Soan converted into a museum since 1830. The rooms that follow each other in the three articulated floors of the house contain surprising treasures and extravagances, including symbologies Masonic, convex mirrors in the ceiling, secret panels that open onto mysterious rooms, archaeological finds and even the sarcophagus of the Pharaoh Seti. I especially recommend a special candlelit visit which takes place only on the evening of the first Tuesday of the month.
Going for museum off the beaten track
London galleries and museums are more often than not an overwhelming experience, an endless parade of disoriented visitors blocking your view and usually accompanied by a busy soundtrack of camera clicks. But there’s a different and far more interesting art and design game being played in a handful of addresses, mostly a stone’s throw from the main thoroughfare. With a little effort, you can catch artists with an edge, mingle with art-minded locals in cafes with a view or hunt for quirky souvenirs to wow friends back home. Getting back to museums, here you can get a slice of true London inspiration and a slice of unbeatable crumble cake all at the same time.
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
A house of subversive creation since the 1940s, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has secured its own rebellious corner on The Mall, the illustrious road that leads from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace over the elegant spreads of St James Park. Walk through the rows of pillars that give The Mall that classy je-ne-sais-quoi of a Parisian Boulevard and enter a world populated by the likes of Damien Hirst and Yoko Ono, William Burroughs and The Smiths. Here you will see a smart selection of emerging artists that will challenge your ideas and views, with exhibitions and talks, film screenings and live music. The cafe itself, overlooking the park, fuses graceful flowers with tasty mix platters and smooth modern beats, giving vital space to after- show meetings and debates. You will also find a perfectly complemented collection of dvds and books on art theory, philosophy, politics and sound.
British Film Institute (BFI)
Just a few minutes walk over the scenic Waterloo bridge to the south side of the Thames, the British Film Institute awaits to immerse you in the fanciful world of film: From classics like Guys and Dolls and ET to the much-awaited London Film Festival premieres and the Q & A with famous screen stars. The BFI is the meeting place for film aficionados (it holds an astonishing collection of British film and television) and fans of the beautiful Thames alike. Look for wild Pedro Almodovar collectables at the shop, before you make your way towards the Riverfront Cafe, Bar & Restaurant for delicious nibbles and drinks under the atmospheric Waterloo bridge. Weather permitting, grab a chaise lounge outside for people watching (the Southbank Centre book market has rows of second hand and antique books sprawling ahead), or get mesmerized by the playful flirtations of shadow and light when the sun sets.
Special City Guide: London
Whether you realize it or not, London shaped your destiny. There’s hardly a quarter of the globe that it hasn’t changed. The United States was founded in reaction to London’s edicts. Australia was first peopled with London’s criminals. Modern Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand were cultivated from London. India’s course was irrevocably changed by the aspirations of London businessmen, as were the lives of millions of Africans who were shipped around the world while Londoners lined their pockets with profits. Even the fact that you’re reading this in English though it was written somewhere other than in England, is evidence of London’s reach across time and distance. And its dominion continues to this day: London is the world’s most popular destination for foreign tourists.
London is inexhaustible. You could tour it for months and barely get to know it. Few cities support such a variety of people living in remarkable harmony. That diversity makes London like a cut diamond; approach it from a different angle each day, and it presents an entirely fresh shape and color. From famous stories to high style, London is many things in every moment.
The old always sits alongside the new here nowhere more so than at Wren’s great baroque dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, framed by 21st-century skyscrapers and London is rightly famed for its museums and galleries. Prized collections, ancient and contemporary from Bloomsbury’s British Museum to the South Bank’s Tate Modern share top billing with small spaces such as the Sir John Soane’s Museum that could only exist in this city. Ride the London Eye observation wheel to get to grips with the city’s layout.