Alex Sims is a freelance writer and editor covering lifestyle trends, culture, food and everything in between. Formerly Time Out’s Things to Do editor, she has also worked and written for Stylist, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Refinery29 and The Independent. Alex moved from Yorkshire to south east London all the way back in 2010 and has since been on the hunt for chips and gravy that can rival the ones in Leeds.

Alex Sims

Alex Sims

Contributing Writer and Editor

Articles (56)

The best bookshops in London

The best bookshops in London

London is a bookworm’s paradise. Whether you’re after novels, comics, antiquarian tomes, or just somewhere beautiful to curl up with a good book, you’ll find it here in one of the many shops dedicated to the printed word. Hearteningly, the rise of online retailers hasn’t put a dent in the city’s characterful, welcoming book-monger scene. Instead, bookshops have upped their game, offering personalised recommendations, readings, book clubs and cosy cafĂ©s where you can enjoy your purchases over a steaming cuppa. Ready to get turning pages? Here’s our guide to the best bookshops in London, whether you’re in central, north, east, south or west London. More of a borrower? Head to these lovely London libraries.  RECOMMENDED: Literary destinations and activities in London.Also: Our pick of the 100 best children’s books ever.    

Things to do in London this week

Things to do in London this week

So far, it’s been a bit of a damp squib of a summer. But, even if July has brought far less sun, a bit more rain and fewer sporting wins than we imagined, it doesn’t mean the month’s a right off yet.  If the Euros and Wimbledon weren’t enough, the Paris Olympics begins this week too. You can spare the effort of hopping over the Channel and head to one of the many dedicated fan zones dotted across the capital instead where you can watch all the action on a big screen and even get involved in some athletics-themed activities. Fill up on theatre by seeing Imelda Staunton at her all-singing and all-dancing best in a terrific production of ‘Hello, Dolly’. Book a ticket to Fuerza Bruta’s new deliriously danceable show ‘Aven’ full of eye-popping spectacles like a giant smoke-spitting globe and a huge tube filled with a vortex of confetti. Or, ditch the Edinburgh Fringe and head to the far cheaper Camden Fringe instead for plenty of fun theatre and comedy shows.  Otherwise, pretend it’s summer, even if the weather doesn’t want us to believe it, by hitting up Big Penny Social’s vintage seaside pop-up with frozen cocktails, fish and chips and penny sweets, and heading to South Facing, Crystal Palace’s music festival full of big-hitting line-ups.  Still got gaps in your diary? Embrace the warmer days by heading out on one of London’s prettiest walks, or have a sunny time in one of London’s best beer gardens. If you’ve still got some space in your week, check out London’s best bars and r

Things to do in London this weekend

Things to do in London this weekend

Ah, the Great British Summer, forever testing our patience by dishing up a weather forecast as varied as a family pack of Revels. But, even if July has brought far less sun, a bit more rain and fewer sporting wins than we imagined, it doesn’t mean the month’s a right off yet.  If the Euros and Wimbledon weren’t enough, the Paris Olympics begins this week too. You can spare the effort of hopping over the Channel and head to one of the many dedicated fan zones dotted across the capital instead where you can watch all the action on a big screen and even get involved in some athletics-themed activities. Fill up on theatre by seeing Imelda Staunton at her all-singing and all-dancing best in a terrific production of ‘Hello, Dolly’. Book a ticket to Fuerza Bruta’s new deliriously danceable show ‘Aven’ full of eye-popping spectacles like a giant smoke-spitting globe and a huge tube filled with a vortex of confetti. Or, ditch the Edinburgh Fringe and head to the far cheaper Camden Fringe instead for plenty of fun theatre and comedy shows.  Otherwise, pretend it’s summer, even if the weather doesn’t want us to believe it, by hitting up Big Penny Social’s vintage seaside pop-up with frozen cocktails, fish and chips and penny sweets, and heading to South Facing, Crystal Palace’s music festival full of big-hitting line-ups.  Still got gaps in your diary? Embrace the warmer days by heading out on one of London’s prettiest walks, or have a sunny time in one of London’s best beer gardens. If

The best things to do in London this summer

The best things to do in London this summer

The tube is hot and stuffy, the sun’s set to a suitably scorching level that you’ll regret not slathering on suncream when you go for some tinnies in the park, and there’s a festival taking place somewhere in London seemingly every weekend right now. It’s official: summer is well and truly in full swing. If your aim is to have a dead good summer, you’ll want to listen up. Sure, you could follow the crowd and spend the sunny season going to a mediocre event just because all your mates are. But you aren’t a sheep, are you? You’re a glossy sheepdog and a very handsome one at that. But don’t be fooled into spending the sunny season going to a mediocre event just because all your mates are doing it. You aren’t a sheep, are you? You’re a glossy sheepdog and a very handsome one at that. Instead, come here to us, Time Out. We’re your wisest, oldest friends and we’re here to guide you towards the best that London’s got going on over the next few months. Starting with this list of all the good summer stuff that you really can’t miss. Recommended: You, outside, right now! It’s the very best of outdoor London. 

The Best Hotels in Portland, Oregon

The Best Hotels in Portland, Oregon

You’ll find murals and graffiti reading ‘Keep Portland Weird’ all over this Pacific Northwest city and its quirky, ramshackle, artsy charm is what makes it special. Oregon’s best-known city is a place of thriving underground art scenes, uber cool wine bars, craft beer taprooms, very serious coffee shops and buzzing live music. Whether you want to get lost in one of the largest independent books shops in the world, eat doughnuts the size of your head, explore gorgeous Japanese gardens or cycle across the city’s many famous bridges – it’s all here.  It means you’ll need somewhere cosy to bed down for the night after a long day’s sightseeing and all these wonderful hotels manage to provide luxe comfort while losing none of the eccentricity Portland is famed for. From historic masterpieces to urban hangouts, these are the best hotels to book in Portland, Oregon right now.  RECOMMENDED:Best things to do in PortlandBest Airbnbs in PortlandBest restaurants in Portland Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in and review every hotel featured, we've based our list on our expert knowledge of the destination covered, editorial reviews, user reviews, hotel amenities and in-depth research to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines. 

London events in July 2024

London events in July 2024

July is set to be sun-soaked and full of brilliant happenings. Make the most of the hot weather with a splash in one of the city’s lidos, a meal outdoors or a cocktail or pint in one of London’s best rooftop bars or beer gardens. At this time of year, London’s parks are at their finest, or for more outdoor action visit one of the city’s urban beaches or outdoor cinemas.  London music festivals are still in full swing in July, and it’s also a chance to take in the city’s lavender and sunflower fields, which are at their blooming loveliest. Here’s our guide to the best exhibitions, shows and things to do this July 2024 in London.  RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

London’s most beautiful libraries

London’s most beautiful libraries

London’s bookworms will find no shortage of quiet corners to curl up with a good book in the capital. But if you’re still searching for a peaceful spot to enjoy your new find or borrow a novel that’s been on your list for a while, London is full of fantastic hideouts: in the shape of libraries. From big libraries to secret libraries, tiny libraries and aesthetically-pleasing libraries, each of them is bursting with books to borrow and read. Some of them are historic lending archives that have existed in the city for centuries and others are modern celebrations of the written word. Some are famous, while others you might not be familiar with, but all of them are great little spots to spend an afternoon letting your mind wander a fantasy world in the pages of your chosen book.  RECOMMENDED: The best bookshops in London

Wimbledon tennis screenings in London

Wimbledon tennis screenings in London

Has all the hype around ‘Challengers’ got you gagging for even more racket-based entertainment this summer? Great news, because the Wimbledon Tennis Championships – aka the oldest, and arguably the very best, tennis tournament in the world – is back in SW19. Missed out on tickets in the ballot this year? Can’t face camping out on the street for a chance to nab day tickets? Not to worry! You don’t have to make the pilgrimage to Murray Mound (fine, Henman Hill) to feel like you’re part of the action. London is a city that gives back, and as usual it’ll be peppered with big screens showing all the Centre Court action in so much blown-up high-res glory that you might as well be court-side.  This year the tournament (which started in 1877!) runs from Monday 1st July 2024 to Sunday 14th July 2024 and you’ll catch screens across the capital showing televised matches for the duration of the contest, so there are plenty of opportunities to spend an afternoon or evening in a sweet viewing spot.  There will be more big screens announced nearer the time, many of which will also have extras such as special edition cocktails, food offers and even pop-up tennis coaching. So grab yourself some M&S gins in tins – and a nice big punnet of strawberries while you’re at it – and pull up a pew at a summery screening near you.  RECOMMENDED: Our full guide to Wimbledon 2024.

Pride parade in London 2024: route, map, start time and best places to watch

Pride parade in London 2024: route, map, start time and best places to watch

London is home to a wealth of queer bars, clubs, nights and other spaces, so it’s no wonder the city’s LGBTQ+ scene is among the most fabulous in the world. But, it’s Pride Month when the LGBTQ+ celebrations really take off, as Pride in London fills the city with LGBTQ-themed events, protests and parties. The jewel in Pride Month’s crown is the annual Pride Parade, which typically comprises of around 600 groups and over 30,000 participants. The mayor of London usually leads, and newly re-elected Sadiq Khan is in keeping with tradition this year. What’s more, five free stages plus a brand-new Family area will be offering a wealth of free entertainment across the city centre. Here is everything you need to know about the route and timings of Pride 2024’s Parade.  RECOMMENDED: All the London road closures for the Pride parade. When does 2024’s London Pride parade start and who is performing? When is the London Pride Parade 2024? This year London’s Pride parade will place on Saturday, June 29. Applications are now live here for groups wishing to take part in the Parade, while tickets for the Haymarket Grandstand are on sale here.  What time does the London Pride Parade start? Like in previous years, the parade will begin at noon at Hyde Park Corner, with a grandstand in Haymarket open from 11am. The route will leave the park and head along Piccadilly through through Piccadilly Circus, down Haymarket and along Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square, before culminating at Whiteh

15 of the best spas in the UK

15 of the best spas in the UK

What’s better than a stay-cation? A stay-cation involving a spa, of course. If you’re looking for a bit of well-earned R&R to get away from it all, the UK is brimming with top quality spas and wellness centres to help you wind down. Hot tubs to soothe aching muscles? Check. A facial to cleanse tired skin? Yup. A deep-tissue massage to sort out all of that tension from being bent over a computer all day? Sounds good to us.  From glorious country houses to trailblazing eco-spas, lake view hot tubs and city centre hideaways, this country has it all. Don’t know where to start? Our editors have been out and about, trying and testing spas to sort the good from the fantastic. Now, all you need to do is lay out your comfy clothes and hit the road. And
 breathe.  Recommended: the best wellbeing and yoga retreats in the UKRecommended: the cosiest cabins and log cabins in the UK

Open House London 2024: highlights and best buildings to see

Open House London 2024: highlights and best buildings to see

If you’re as nosy as we are, chances are you’ll be looking forward to the annual Open House festival – which gives curious Londoners the chance to pull out their best Loyd Grossman impression and go through the keyhole (and doors) of some of the capital’s biggest, most renowned and most secretive addresses for free. For a week in September, a whole load of top-grade London real estate will be open for snooping across nearly every London borough. Here is everything you need to know about Open House London, 2024.  What is Open House London? A huge festival dedicated to making the capital’s architectural spaces accessible to all. It allows entry to private homes, government buildings and historic sites that are normally closed to the public and just waiting to be explored. Some of the buildings offer free tours, others are simply open to walk-in visitors. It’s the largest event of its kind in the world and features walks, talks and tours as well as the chance to nose around intriguing London places you’d never usually get to enter. When is Open House London? The 2024 edition will take place from Saturday September 14 to Sunday September 22. Where is Open House London?  Hundreds of buildings across all of London’s boroughs, plus the City of London, will be taking part. It’s a vast sprawl, so you’ll need to dedicate some time to planning what you’d like to see. If you want to visit multiple locations, check the Open House website in advance for details. Open House is extremely p

The 19 best true crime podcasts

The 19 best true crime podcasts

Although there’s a hell of a lot of podcasts out there, there’s no denying that the true crime genre dominates all. The genre was basically introduced with ‘Serial’ back in 2014, and now tends to take on many forms; everything from investigative reporting to jokey chatter (we haven’t included the latter here – not our style).  But the best thing about true crime podcasts is how much deeper you can dig into a story than with an hour-long documentary. And you can listen to it while cleaning the house. Win win. From gripping court cases to tales of deceit and deception, here are the best true crime podcasts to listen to right now.    RECOMMENDED:🎧 The best podcasts of 2024✊ The best political podcasts📰 The best news podcasts

Listings and reviews (11)

Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa

Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa

It’s not until you get to the very northernmost reaches of England that you realise just how big and varied the country really is. Perched at the top of Cumbria, not far from the Scottish borders, it’s a long, winding adventure through pretty villages and remote country lanes to reach Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa, a grand stone pile deep in the wild and much less touristy northern Lake District.  Sandwiched between Bassenthwaite Lake (the fourth largest watery landmark in this part of the world and the only one to use ‘Lake’ in its name), Skiddaw Mountain and the Lake District Fells, the 15th-century manor house is a little pearl of glamour among the craggy surroundings. Inside there are oak-panelled dining rooms that look straight out of a BBC period drama, lobbies with mounted deer heads on the walls and fireplaces as big as a small car, as well as billard rooms lined with framed ‘Punch’ magazine drawings. I stayed in one of the newly refurbished garden suite rooms which are cosy little hideaways with pillowy king-sized beds, mid-century inspired furnishings, private terraces and glamorous touches like soft dressing gowns, slippers, sweet-smelling toiletries and Cumbrian snacks.  The spa is in an extension off the main house with a hydrotherapy pool with plenty of nozels and settings to target different muscles and a thermal suite with a sauna, steam room, aroma room and various fancy showers with different temperatures and sprays. A real highlight is the outdoor hot tub

Drumsheds

Drumsheds

More often than not in London, cultural institutions close down only to turn into luxury flats or some other kind of corporate hellhole. Finally, the reverse is true. The old big Ikea in Tottenham has been transformed into a multi-level, multi-room cultural space. The meatballs and Billy bookcases have been swept away (although the royal blue exterior remains) to make room for three separate dancefloors, five different bars – including a 25,000 sqft bar in the main 15,000 capacity room – 48-metre-long LED screens and an outdoor terrace and food court.  Broadwick Live are behind the new venue, whose previous ventures have included the much-missed Printworks and the og Drumsheds by Lee Navigational Canal. They’re also the folks behind Depot Mayfield in Manchester where you’ll find The Warehouse Project. So, high hopes for the ‘festivals, large-scale entertainment, private parties, fashion [and] exhibitions’ they’ve promised the space will be used for.  The whole site comes in at a whopping 608,000 sq ft and they’ve kept Ikea’s escalators that will transport partygoers up from 35 security and ticket lanes into the cavernous party den. While Drumsheds will mostly be a clubber’s paradise to begin with – its opening season features shows from Bicep, Marcel Dettmann, Marco Corola, Kelly Lee Owens, Loco Dice, Girls Don’t Sync, Sherelle, Skepta and Jammer, DJ EZ and Todd Edwards, along with takeovers from BuggedOut! The Hydra and Piano People – Broadwick Live has also said it will be

Late at the Library: Drexciyan Realms

Late at the Library: Drexciyan Realms

Do you know Drexclya? In the 90s and 00s, the electronic music duo from Detroit imagined sub-aquatic Afrofuturistic worlds through their hypnotic techno-soundscapes. To kick off new biennial arts festival Black to the Future, the British Library will be conjuring up these cutting-edge sounds influenced by Black history and mythology. Expect performances by band Dopplereffekt, psychedelic visuals and a conversation between Drexciya collaborator-artist Abdul Qadim Haqq and DJ Josey Rebelle at this atmospheric late.

Explorers Family Festival: Black Natural History

Explorers Family Festival: Black Natural History

From managing environmental disasters and studying marine animals to researching alpine plants and trying to decolonise the climate crisis, the Natural History Museum’s Black scientists will be explaining how they’re helping to save the planet at this fascinating day of curator-led tours and talks catering to kids of all ages. Ticketed events will be prioritised for those from racially marginalised backgrounds, but there are plenty of drop-in sessions too.

Pride in London Parade

Pride in London Parade

This weekend, London’s getting its annual helping of rainbow flags, fun-loving crowds, and LGBTQ+ spirit with the Pride in London Parade on Saturday July 1, marking the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots. With 35,000 people marching and over 1.5 million expected attendees, it's set to be a technicolour bonanza in the heart of London. Registration to take part is now closed, but you're guaranteed to have just as much fun from the sidelines.  Recommended: the full Time Out guide to Pride in London. The day usually culminates in a big party in Trafalgar Square, with a line-up of pop-tastic entertainment. And all day long, Soho Square and the surrounding streets will be filled with members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies gathering to celebrate (and continue) the battle for equal rights. Details of the Parade route and the main acts haven’t been announced yet, but check the website for updates on the full line-up and times, as well as important information about road closures. And if you’re new to Pride, here’s our beginner’s guide to having a great time.  Pride in numbers: 19 things you didn't know about Pride

Crofton Books

Crofton Books

Not many bookshops organise stock by colour, via signs reading ‘mix of old and new but like trending stuff’ or have hand-drawn floor plans tacked to the wall, but organised chaos is the vibe at Crofton Books in SE4. Set up by local poet Jason Shelley, it sells predominantly secondhand and antiquarian literature. Books tumble from shelves and rise from the floor like Jenga bricks in precarious-looking stacks that spill on to the street. Depending on which day you visit, you might find a metal shopping basket full of ‘yellow books’, a shelf full of old school Penguin classics or a hardback with a bizarre inscription scrawled in the sleeve from the Occult section. Whenever you go, you’re guaranteed to stumble across something strange and fantastic – and for an absolute steal (most books are £2). Like Paris’s Shakespeare and Co, it oozes literary magic. Don’t pass up a chance to visit, and bring a few empty tote bags when you do, you’ll definitely need them.

Red House

Red House

There’ll be a point on the epic journey it takes to get to Red House when it seems you’ve come to the wrong place or turned the wrong way at the Bexleyheath Toby Carvery. But somewhere among the pebbledash and cul-de-sacs of deep south London suburbia you’ll find this fairytale red brick pile: the former home of artist, socialist and the brains behind all that flowery wallpaper, William Morris. The National Trust-owned propery is full of Rapunzel-style turrets, sweet-smelling gardens and dazzling stained glass. The more you explore, the more secrets you discover like the hidden smiley face on the painted hallway ceiling and phenomenal gilded murals painted by Morris’s Pre-Raphaelite mates Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal and Edward Burne-Jones, while the garden features a striking centre-piece intended by Morris to be the social centre of the house. If it all sounds a bit twee, bear in mind the house was essentialy an artists’ commune in its heyday, the place of Pre-Raphelite parties, drug taking and everything in between. Whether or not you’re an Arts and Crafts stan, a day trip here is a great chance to get up close to some rare work by iconic artists while escaping from the bustle of central London for a few hours. A win all round.

Frameless

Frameless

4 out of 5 stars

London seems to be, well, immersed in immersive art right now. From multi-sensory exhibitions animating the work of Frida Kahlo and Gustav Klimt to numerous Van Gogh ‘experiences’, the city is awash with retina-battering, virtual-reality art. What you think of these shows will probably depend on whether you’ve managed to catch one of the better, thought-provoking exhibits or one that makes you wonder why you didn’t just go to the National Gallery to see it for free instead.  But, unlike many of the new slew of immersive exhibitions, the newly founded immersive art gallery Frameless is not temporary. It’s a permanent gallery dedicated to the art of submersion. Having taken over the old Odeon at Marble Arch in late 2022, the former subterranean cinema rooms have been converted into four multi-sensory galleries featuring iconic masterpieces from the greatest artists of our time. Well, sort of. As its name suggests you won’t find any physical paintings here. Rather each of the rooms across the 30,000 sq foot site contains a mini show where some of the most famous and recognisable art in the world are stripped down to their base colours and then reconstructed in dazzling 3D animations that dance across mirrored ceilings and swirl across the floors and walls, all set to rousing soundtracks.  The big hitter is ‘The World Around Us’ gallery dedicated to iconic landscape paintings, which the top-notch projectors turn into something that’s genuinely jaw-dropping. In fact, I hear multip

Eurovision Party hosted by Felix le Freak

Eurovision Party hosted by Felix le Freak

As well as screening all the action live from Liverpool, Signature Brew’s Eurovision celebrations will culminate in a huge pop party hosted by drag star Felix le Freak. After watching the performances on the big screen le Freak will be serenading you through the results with a cheesy tune-filled DJ set. The ‘glitter, glam, cocktails and tunes’ will continue on until 1am. 

Temper Shoreditch

Temper Shoreditch

4 out of 5 stars

Descending into the gloom of Temper Shoreditch’s basement restaurant is like entering a cult club night. Thudding disco and raucous chatter envelop you as you walk in from Great Eastern Street straight downstairs into a dark, smoky, neon-lit subterranean world. But instead of a DJ, the star of the show here is a huge smoldering fire pit that takes pride of place behind open bar seating.  The fourth restaurant in the Temper family, the Shoreditch incarnation of these steakhouse and barbeque spots is cut from the same cloth as its older Soho sibling (there are two other joints in Bank and Covent Garden). It has the same pitch-black walls and ceilings and illuminated fridges full of glistening slabs of raw steak. Like the W1 spot, hunks of charring meat hanging over the glowing coals are visible across the restaurant floor in various blackened states, sending scents of searing fat into the air. Every now and then a rush of flames erupts as the chefs flambé smoking cuts of meat. It’s wonderfully theatrical and flashy – something that feels straight from the mind of a gout-ridden Tudor king.  In fact, the concept was the brainchild of restauranter Sam Lee and chef Neil Rankin who founded the mini-chain. Rankin’s since left and now David Lagonell heads up the menu. While the restaurants still pride themselves on butchering steaks in-house from rare breed cattle, it’s moved on from each site having its own specialism (Soho concentrated on tacos; the City site on curry). Now they sha

Peckham Cellars

Peckham Cellars

4 out of 5 stars

If you lived in southeast London over lockdown, you may have spotted a lone pink and turquoise van pootling down the empty streets. It belongs to wine bar and restaurant Peckham Cellars, which, even when we weren’t allowed to leave the house, kept on resolutely delivering tasty bottles of wine to our doors. For me, seeing those little vans at the height of the pandemic was a small sign of hope: proof there was still life in our shuttered city and that neighbourhoods all over London were looking out for the independent businesses that make them shine.  Looking after locals is still very much in Peckham Cellars’ soul. A friendly cloud of chatter drifts down the street as you approach the place along Queen’s Road as people loll about on wooden benches on the pavement outside, hands clasped around wine glasses and forks hungrily diving into an assortment of small plates. This is a neighbourhood joint so relaxed and laidback, you’d think nothing of popping in for a drink and snack on any day of the week. But, unlike many local joints, it manages to pair this breezy atmosphere with exceptional food and an impressive wine list worth making a long journey on the Overground for. (It’s officially a Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning spot, if you needed any convincing.)  It’s no surprise the place has attracted such attention. The collected CVs of the three friends who started it up in 2019 read like an anthology of London’s hottest restaurants: Spring, Quo Vadis, BAO, Rovi and Morito are al

News (33)

Where to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2023 in London

Where to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2023 in London

Fancy yourself a bit of an oenophile? Then you’ll probably already know that this coming Thursday is a pretty big day in the wine world. That’s because the third Thursday of November is Beaujolais Nouveau Day, i.e. the first day on which this year’s bottles of the good stuff are allowed to be sold. A gamay grape wine from the Beaujolais district of Burgundy, Beaujolais Nouveau is one of the few varieties of plonk that’s sold during the same year in which it’s produced. The juicy red has gained a bit of a following in London in recent years, with many of the capital’s favourite wine bars throwing special events to celebrate the cult cuvĂ©e. Here are some we especially like the look of.  Gordon’s Beaujolais Breakfast If Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the equivalent of Christmas in your world, then Gordon’s should be the first place you head to on the Big Day. London’s oldest wine bar is playing every oenophile’s St Nick, letting you sip on glasses of the good stuff bright and early from 8am on, so you can sample this year’s crop before everyone else. They’ll be serving up Full English brekkies to soak up all the booze, and nice strong coffees for anyone needing to sober up quickly. All the same, we’d probably still advise going into the office on this particular Thursday. Gordon’s Wine Bar. Thu Nov 16. Free entry. Top CuvĂ©e Beaujolais Nouveau Masterclass If there’s a burgeoning trend on the British wine scene, you can bet that London’s most ‘banter’ wine merchants will be heavily i

The 6 best fortified wine cocktails in London to try for National Sherry Week

The 6 best fortified wine cocktails in London to try for National Sherry Week

Like NFTs and Orlando Bloom, sherry has long been tipped by those in the know to be due its big moment of glory, but somehow the giddy heights of ultimate popularity never came. No matter how successfully the fortified wine has shaken off its reputation as the sickly sweet drink your Gran would drag out every Christmas, unlike port or tequila, sherry has never fully experienced its moment in the sun. But, passing over the Spanish delicacy is a big fat miss on the part of any discerning oenophile. ‘Sherry is actually the driest wine in the world because of the way it's made,’ says Sandra, bar manager at Spanish importer and restaurant group Brindisa. ‘There are lots of completely different styles that are dry, fresh, salty and refreshing.’ The Jerez-made wine also has a far more storied heritage than you might think. ‘Sherry is a super classic ingredient in traditional mixology,’ says Sandra. ‘If you go to that golden era of mixology in the 18th and early 19th centuries you get a lot of sherry and old recipe books feature a lot of it too.’ A drink called the ‘Sherry Cobbler’ became hugely popular in the 1840s coinciding with the invention of the drinking straw, while another sherry cocktail, the ‘Artist’s Special’, was invented in Paris in the 1930s, becoming a favourite with Picasso and other artists living in the city at the time.  This week – November 6 to 12 – marks National Sherry Week and in celebration of its glitzy history we’ve rounded up the very best sherry cocktail

Can you handle the zen? Europe’s first competitive relaxing event comes to London this month

Can you handle the zen? Europe’s first competitive relaxing event comes to London this month

London is pretty stressful, right? In fact, complaining about stress – that annoying neighbour playing hardcore techno right under your bedroom ceiling every night or the mindfuck of trying to exit any Central line platform at Oxford Circus – is a time-honoured London pastime. But if you were forced to relax and then timed on how long it takes you to reach a calm level of zen? Well, that might well sound like the most disquieting experience of them all. However, in the name of peace and tranquillity, that’s exactly what’s coming to London this month.  The Extreme Relaxing UK Championships will be landing in the Kia Oval, a venue usually known for anxiety-inducing cricket matches. It’s Europe’s first-ever competitive event dedicated to relaxing and involves 30 frazzled people going head-to-head to see who can achieve a relaxed state against the clock in the face of stressful ‘obstacles’.  Each contestant will have their resting heart rate taken before competing in three heats. They’ll be tested, scientifically, for their speed at relaxing and their ability to recover from stressful surprises like car alarms and jarring TV clips, presumably playing scenes like accidentally cc’ing the wrong person into a *sensitive* email chain or being made to re-watch the Lionesses’ penalty shootout against Nigeria in the Fifa World Cup this week. The winner will be able to take these fraught experiences in their stride and reach a state of calm in the fastest time possible.  It may all sound

London is getting a new women’s museum later this year

London is getting a new women’s museum later this year

London is already doing its bit to reassess the patriarchy. The city is home to The Women’s Library at the London School of Economics and The Feminist Library in Peckham, and now a new glass-ceiling mashing institution is about to join the feminist fold.  Barking and Dagenham Council has announced plans to open a Women’s Museum later this year. If you live around Barking Wharf Square you may have already spotted the future site which is covered with a mural designed by artist Clare Mason displaying a timeline of local women’s history stretching from 600AD to the present day and featuring female trailblazers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Muriel Lester and Doris Lester, Sandie Shaw and Zara McFarlane.  Psst! There’s no better day than #InternationalWomensDay to share a little SNEAK PEAK of what we're working on to celebrate the amazing women from our borough. Keep your eyes peeled 👀 for more info coming soon. #WomensMuseum pic.twitter.com/V70MgpdjsU — Barking and Dagenham (@lbbdcouncil) March 8, 2023 The space, which is linked to the local history service at timber-beamed Tudor manor Valence House Museum and Archives, aims to ‘showcase the history, heritage, stories and role of women from the local area and beyond.’ Due to open in late 2023, the programming will kick off with an exhibition by curator and artist Nephertiti Oboshie Schandorf on the Abbesses of Barking Abbey, exploring how the former Royal Monastery was home to radical and highly-educated women

Is this the end of the line for the Heathrow Express?

Is this the end of the line for the Heathrow Express?

London has one of the best public transport systems in the world. But anyone who’s spent a hot, sticky journey on the coach to Luton Airport or faced a long meandering trundle down the Piccadilly Line stressing about making a flight at Heathrow knows that travelling to the capital’s airports can be a trying experience.  That’s where the Heathrow Express comes in: the Uber executive of train journeys, the snazzy express service whisks passengers from Paddington Station to Heathrow Airport in just 15 minutes, making it the fastest direct rail route between central London and the UK’s biggest airport. But there’s a hefty price to pay for the speedy journey. The Heathrow Express is the second most expensive rail journey in Britain, costing £25, or £1.50 per mile for the 16.5-mile trip. This didn’t stop the Heathrow Express from generating a whopping £31 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2019, with people opting to pay a premium for stress-free travel. But things might be about to change for the high-speed service.  According to reports seen by The Times, the opening of the Elizabeth Line appears to have made a dent in the Express’s revenues. Heathrow Express’s passenger numbers apparently haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels despite flights at the airport being pretty much back to normal. Heathrow said revenues from Heathrow Express in the first three months of 2023 were at £22 million – a third less than during the first quarter of 2019. The new Lizzy Line gets you t

Michelin-starred restaurants 2023: the winners and losers in London

Michelin-starred restaurants 2023: the winners and losers in London

It’s that time of year again when the Michelin Guide bestows its shiny stars on the great and the good of the British and Irish restaurant scene. Yep, it’s Michelin awards ceremony day when chefs across the two nations wait in anticipation to see who has received new stars (and retained them) for 2023.   Whether or not you think that the awards are too highbrow, too European or too dwindling in relevancy, there’s no denying the clout that the big fat white man mascot still holds. Plus, those little stars can have a huge impact on a restaurant’s footfall, which is especially important right now after years of turbulence thanks to the pandemic, not to mention inflation, and rising food and energy costs.   As any proud London foodie knows, the capital is home to a wealth of brilliant restaurants. So it’s no surprise that London’s dining rooms usually occupy a good chunk of Michelin’s list. This year, there are four new one-star restaurants in the capital and two new two-stars. No new three stars were awarded in London this year. Only one restaurant has been given the proverbial chop and lost a star: Seven Park Place in Mayfair. Sadly one of the restaurants that held a Michelin star in 2022 has permanently closed: The Glasshouse in Kew.  Here’s the full list of new Michelin stars for London restaurants, and who’s in, and who’s out.  Which London restaurants have won a 2023 Michelin star? NEW ONE-STARS Cycene, Shoreditch – Theo Clench Luca, Clerkenwell – Robert Chambers St Ba

The UK’s most popular indoor attraction is in London

The UK’s most popular indoor attraction is in London

It rains in London. Lots. Even in the summer. It can also be quite chilly. This means you’ll frequently find Londoners on the hunt for interesting places to hide away from the elements. So, it’s sweet relief to know that our fine capital city houses the UK’s most popular indoor attraction, which surely makes it the UK’s very best indoor attraction (that’s what we’re claiming, anyway).  A ranking of visitor numbers by The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has crowned the much-loved Natural History Museum in South Kensington the most-visited indoor attraction in the country. According to the data, a whopping 4,654,608 people passed through the grand doors of Alfred Waterhouse’s landmark romanesque building in 2022.  It’s no wonder that visitors flock to the capital’s cathedral of nature. The 142-year-old museum and research centre is home to more than 80 million items, including a cup made from a human skull, a life-size animated T-Rex, an earthquake simulator, cabinets full of sparkling gemstones and beautiful glass models of marine invertebrates. Even the entrance hall has a massive 25-metre-long blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling (called Hope, fyi). What’s more, it’s totally free to see all the main collections making it the perfect spot for a family-friendly day out or a fun pitstop to hide away from the weather on a day out.  The Cromwell Road institution isn’t the only indoor attraction in London to make the list. Ranked close behind it are the British

Waterloo Station is getting gender-neutral toilets this year

Waterloo Station is getting gender-neutral toilets this year

Huge news for anyone with a bladder who travels through London Waterloo Station on the reg: the UK’s busiest rail terminus is getting a massive toilet refresh, which will include the addition of gender-neutral lavs to ‘improve inclusivity’.  It’s all part of a big project to make the passenger experience at the station better. It involves giving the bathrooms a complete revamp with new and improved facilities and the installation of a ‘balanced number of female and male facilities’ as well as the new gender-neutral loos. Extra baby-changing areas and better access for those with reduced mobility are also promised. Network Rail has even released a fancy CGI graphic of what the new lavs will look like.  Photograph: Network Rail Construction of the new WCs is due to start in mid-February and be completed during the summer. Cem Davis, Network Rail’s London Waterloo station manager, hoped the new facilities ‘will make journeys a lot more pleasant and comfortable’. Ironically, given its name, Waterloo needs a real lav spruce-up. It’s repeatedly crowned the busiest railway station in the UK (an estimated 41 million passengers passed through its concourse in the 12 months to the end of March 2022). And it’s pretty clear that London is long overdue better toilets in general. A report from ​The London Assembly in 2021 found 90 percent of Londoners thought there weren’t enough public toilets in the capital, while another survey from the same year found 30 percent of the city’s so-call

Amanda from ‘The Traitors’ is hosting a ‘betray ball’ at Two Brewers tonight

Amanda from ‘The Traitors’ is hosting a ‘betray ball’ at Two Brewers tonight

Not since Bimini Bon Boulash sashayed down the runway on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ back in 2021 has anyone become a nationally revered gay icon as fast as Amanda Lovett from ‘The Traitors’.  The BBC reality TV show described as ‘the ultimate game of detection, backstabbing and trust’ became an unlikely hit at the end of last year. The premise: 22 people are taken to a remote castle in the Scottish Highlands. Among their number are three ‘traitors’ – a group of contestants selected by host Claudia Winkleman and tasked with covertly ‘murdering’ the other players – the ‘faithfuls’ – without being detected to steal a £120,000 prize fund for themselves. Basically, it’s a chaotic, long and very emotional version of ‘wink murder’.  Out of all the players, Welsh grandmother Amanda – who was picked as a ‘traitor’ on the first day of the contest – quickly stole our hearts. Her camp mix of warm, maternal energy and merciless ability to mastermind the perfect game-playing strategy made it feel like she’d wandered straight out of a Love of Huns Insta post.  It was only a matter of time before Amanda – aka the Welsh Dragon – did the rounds of the UK’s premier LGBTQ+ venues and tonight you’ll find her at Clapham’s long-established gay pub and club The Two Brewers.  She’ll be appearing at The Betray Ball alongside drag queen host Poppycock (who may or may not be channelling Winkleman in an overly chunky knitted jumper) for a meet and greet where guests can snap a picture with the star and catc

That hyped ÂŁ11 milk bread has arrived in London

That hyped ÂŁ11 milk bread has arrived in London

Move over sourdough – who wants to be reminded of that soggy starter you nursed like a Tamagotchi in deepest, darkest lockdown anyway? A new doughy delight has started flying off the shelves of bakeries around the world and now it’s arrived in London.  Sweet and pillowy soft, shokupan (aka Japanese milk bread) is taking over sourdough and focaccia as the internet’s bread du jour. Incredibly photogenic – you’ve probably seen your feed filling up with pictures of intricately sliced ‘sandos’ packed with neat stripes of rainbow-hued fillings – and with a unique, chewy texture, the bread sits somewhere between a bog-standard white loaf and brioche on the taste and texture scale and it’s now selling out in specialist bakeries everywhere from LA to Australia.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Happy Sky Bakery (@happyskybakery) In Tokyo, scores of cafes and bakeries churn out hundreds of the squishy white loaves daily where they’re served plain, toasted, in sandwiches, or shaped into cute animals and decorated with fruit. Its cloud-like fluffiness and milky sweetness are down to something called the ‘tangzhong’ method, where the baking process begins by mixing a tiny amount of flour with water or milk to create a base and give the bread a unique chewy bite, a bit like mochi.  Now Londoners can get their teeth into a slice at Hammersmith’s artisan Japanese bakery, Happy Sky. The only catch? It’ll set you back a bit at £11.40 per loaf.

This ‘Emily in Paris’ heart-throb star has just opened a north London dive bar

This ‘Emily in Paris’ heart-throb star has just opened a north London dive bar

Following in the footsteps of Ed Sheeran, Mark Wahlberg and Krept & Konan, ‘Emily in Paris’ actor Lucien Laviscount is the latest celebrity to join the London hospitality scene.  The 30-year-old who plays Alfie in the series has teamed up with restauranter Zac Lichman and head chef Gareth Drew (formerly of Nobu and Buddha Bar) to open The Wealthy Beggar in Kensal Rise.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by The Wealthy Beggar (@wealthybeggar.london) Described as a ‘five star dive bar’, the new joint has a speakeasy atmos, a menu packed with tropical cocktails and Pan-Asian tapas to soak them up with. Tipples include the ‘Loaded Dice’ – a piña colada style concoction with watermelon, banana, coconut, pineapple and three types of rum, and the ‘Velvet Hand’ which mixes together fresh pomegranate cordial, sparkling wine and apple-infused brandy. And from the kitchen, there’s an opulent selection of snacks including wagyu tartare with whipped foie gras and cheeseburger dumplings with kimchi ketchup. Fancy.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by The Wealthy Beggar (@wealthybeggar.london) But, perhaps the most exciting news is that they’ve teamed up with none other than dub and reggae legend Don Letts, who‘ll be overseeing the programming for the new venue, including live music every Wednesday, DJ sets and weekend parties. There’s even a recording studio on the bar’s lower floor.  View this

Alexandra Palace’s future is under threat

Alexandra Palace’s future is under threat

Alexandra Palace has been through a lot over its 149-year history. Just 16 days after opening in 1873 the whole building was gutted by a huge fire (before being quickly rebuilt and reopened with – what else? – a massive fireworks display). It also survived another big blaze in 1980 that burnt large chunks of it to the ground. In between these flaming disasters, the ‘People’s Palace’ has also been used as a refugee centre and an internment camp during WWI, all the while working its way into London’s heart with its annual bonfire displays, roster of electrifying gigs and a whole load of whacky events from the World Darts Championship to Red Bull’s whacky races style soapbox run. But now Ally Pally is facing taxing times again. As if we needed any more reasons to be bitter about the cost-of-living crisis, it looks like the UK’s crap economic situation is taking its toll on the finances of the Haringey landmark. Turns out massive Grade-II listed Victorian buildings are quite hard to heat and rapidly rising energy costs mean the price of keeping the drafty pile warm has surged. A recent report from The Alexandra Park and Palace Charity Trust, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said costs to run the building have rocketed by 132 percent, largely due to soaring energy prices. It warned the building may run up an operating deficit of £1.1 million this year. A pretty terrifying figure that may even reach £2 million next year. The venue has said it’s putting in cost-cuttin