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Here are 5 experiences that take you away from fellow tourists – giving you the London vibe that locals seek. We’ve chosen places that are all located in central London – so easy to reach and not requiring any special travel arrangements.
1. Friday late at the V&A
On the first Friday of each month, the Victoria and Albert museum in South Kensington is open until 10pm. The V&A is the original contemporary late night event in London. Here you can explore the ground floor galleries, meet face-to-face with artists and designers and experience live performance, film and installations – all with a glass of wine in hand to the sounds of the DJ’s vibes in the foyer! What is there not to like?! The crowd is arty and all age groups so don’t be afraid to dress in your coolest threads. Oh, and it’s free too! But note, you’ll be advised that filming and photography will take place throughout the evening – so you may appear in a magazine or TV show!
2. Dinner at Le Coq d’Argent
If you’re seeking a top London restaurant with a roof top viewing terrace, it has to be ‘Le Coq d’Argent’ in the City of London. Here you can dine whilst overlooking the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange (London’s first shopping mall in 1570!) and the Mansion House (home to the Lord Mayor of London) – as well as the City skyline stretching to the horizon; home to hundreds of banks and insurance companies.
3. A performance at the Guildhall school of Music and Drama
This is real London. Friends and families of students at the ‘Guildhall’ will descend upon the Silk Street premises (make sure the performance is here) to marvel at the instrumental, dramatic and musical performances. It’s an annual programme of events, so check the website for whatever is going on during your visit. Our favourite is the annual show, in Spring. In the UK, around a quarter of our performing talent graduates from the Guildhall each year; alumni have included Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig, Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis, Mabel Clements and Ewan McGregor. So hang on to your programme!
4. Courtauld Gallery
The Courtauld Gallery is a must-see for French impressionist paintings. In-fact its fair to say the French are seething that we Brits have a selection of the finest French Impressionist paintings holed up in London. The number of paintings by French impressionists are; Vincent van Gogh (2), Cézanne (12), Degas (6), Gauguin (3), Monet (3), Pissarro (4), Seurat (9) and Renoir (4). It’s all thanks to the wealth and foresight of industrialist Samuel Courtauld.
The gallery itself is situated in a wing of Somerset House, another historic site that was home to the infant Elizabeth I and her, not so caring, Uncle Thomas Seymour (brother of Jane). You can always follow up your visit with a wander around the buildings and grounds of Somerset House – you’ll recognise it from the ‘Duchess’ and ‘Goldeneye’, to name just two…
5. Handel Hendrix in London
This is quite crazy! George Frederic Handel and Jimi Hendrix were neighbours – 200 years apart. George Frederic Handel lived in this Georgian new build house in Mayfair from 1723, for almost 40 years. You’ll enter Handel’s house and work your way up through the building to the sounds of the Messiah and Zadok the Priest. Once at the top of the house you’ll cross over into the next door property; Jimi’s top floor flat and bedroom! Jimi lived here with his English girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham from 1968 – before he died under mysterious circumstances in Notting Hill. Needless to say this is pure gold if you’re into Handel, Hendrix or both! Hendrix wrote in 1968: ‘This is my first real home of my own’!
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