Soaking up the cultural delights over a weekend in London needn’t cost the earth finds Stylist’s photography and specials director, Tom Gormer
2017 and there is no better year to visit London for a weekend of culture*. Next month the comprehensive David Hockney retrospective at Tate Modern (tate.org.uk) opens and you can also cross the Thames to reach Kensington Palace (hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace) and trace the evolution of Princess Diana's style at Diana: Her Fashion Story. If you wait until summer to visit you can enjoy the full impact of the temporary ‘White Garden which will complement the exhibition and reflect memories of her life (expect white roses, Cosmos daisies and delicate Gaura).
Come September and the Barbican will be showing provocative American artist Jean-Michael Basquiat's first large scale UK exhibition Basquiat: Boom For Real looking at the relationship between his art and his love of film, TV and music (barbican.org.uk). Then from October you can immerse yourself in literary magic with original material from JK Rowling’s own archives at Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library (bl.uk). You can round off the year at the V&A (vam.ac.uk) with a nostalgic look at pencil sketches, proofs, photos and letters of Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore in Winnie The Pooh: Exploring A Classic.
"Great,” I hear you say. “This all sounds brilliant and a weekend in London is all good and that, but where the heck am I going to stay?"
When you think of booking a hotel in London, you probably imagine two extremes; the massively expensive posh hotel that has 10 types of cutlery and room service that you can’t afford or the hotel you optimistically book online only to discover it’s in zone 12 on the tube map and you're convinced the owner is spying on you so you sleep with a heavy wine bottle by the bed as security.
Z Hotels will change all of this. With branches nationwide and a a reputation for affordable modern style, they have recently overtaken six large Georgian townhouses on Gloucester Place, literally a stone’s throw from Selfridges, Hyde Park and must visit London restaurant of the moment, Jikoni (jikonilondon.com).
House Number 87 houses the CLUB, a 20 room conversion which is simple, slick, clean and comfortable. The linen sheeted bed gave me a good night’s sleep, the shower was powerful and the wifi fast.
There is no stuffy hotel restaurant or awkward cafe. You have access to a complimentary buffet breakfast and, at Number 87 you simply go to the kitchen and help yourself to what you want, morning, noon, tea time or night [do you have to pay extra for this?]. Fridges are full with chilled drinks and there is a member of staff on hand if you want something that isn’t there (bacon sandwich in the courtyard? Fine). In the evening there are even cocktails which you can enjoy with other guests or take to your room.
With prices starting from £85, this is the future of city accommodation and means more money leftover for a limited edition print in your favourite gift shop.
*I am fully aware that Hull is the UK City of Culture 2017 so you should visit there too.
Rooms at Z Hotels at Gloucester Place start at £85, including breakfast; thezhotels.com, 020 3551 3129