by Angela Bronner Helm
In this city of stone, class distinctions are clear, ghosts are ever present, tabloid news rules, and royalty is revered. Bespoke suits, blue-eyed soul, curry in a hurry, thick meat pies, and skinny boys with fab haircuts all figure prominently into today’s London, host to this summer’s Olympic Games (london2012.com). Here, a brief guide to the city, it’s equally intriguing countryside, and the food in both.
Bob Marley and Mick Jagger may have lived here in its Bohemian days, but Chelsea today—with its epic football club, antiques, and scores of high-end retailers on Knightsbridge (Cartier, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, and Prada)—is now more the domain of the investment banker than the starving artist. Haute Spot: Shop at Bluebird, a chic 10,000-square-foot boutique for clothes, interiors, shops, music, and concessions. Their window displays are as celebrated as their apparel (think Bergdorf Goodman) and there’s even an onsite spa for unwinding after all that money dropping. theshopatbluebird.com
You already know the names of this prestigious district’s areas: Bond Street, Piccadilly Circus, and of course, Savile Row, where tailors are said to make the finest bespoke suits in the world. Other musts include the Beatles’ Apple Records (3 Savile Row); Burlington Arcade, one of the world’s first shopping “malls”; and Liberty, an essentially English department store housed in a beautiful Tudor building. Haute Spot: Dover Street Market. The London outpost of Comme des Garçons is a cross between an art gallery, department store, and designer street market (with Lanvin dresses, Dominic Jones jewelry, and taxidermy bird lamps). On the top floor is the Rose Bakery, as famous for its celebrity clientele as it is for its sumptuous brownies. doverstreetmarket.com
Above: Dover Street Market