In London, a Platinum Jubilee and ‘Bridgerton’ events await visitors

Royal culture, historic sites, and traditional British experiences are catnip to those who have missed traveling across the pond. (Photos: NYTimes)
London is springing back to life. Heathrow Airport reported that March 2022 was its busiest month since the start of the pandemic, with passenger travel from North America, in particular, increasing by more than 60 percent from January 2022.اضافة اعلان

The uptick is linked to the British government’s recent elimination of coronavirus restrictions, a welcome move for many travelers eager for their fill of British culture, including once-in-a-lifetime Platinum Jubilee events and experiences based on “Bridgerton,” the heady hit show from Netflix.

Some city stalwarts closed their doors during the pandemic. Among them: Cafe de Paris, a cabaret venue in the West End since 1924; Le Caprice in St James’s, once a favorite spot of Princess Diana; and the physical locations of Debenham’s, the 242-year-old department store. But throughout London, other cafes and shops bustle, scads of new bars and restaurants have opened, and city squares teem with everyday life. Many of the Royal Parks are ablaze in daffodils and brimming with picnickers, while live theater is back in the West End.

The return of in-person events lends to the buoyancy of the Platinum Jubilee “Central Weekend” in June, when public celebrations will mark Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign.

Here’s more on what is new and noteworthy in London.

The latest in restaurants

It’s a testament to London’s vitality that new restaurants managed to open and even thrive during the pandemic. One of the buzziest spots is Sessions Arts Club in Clerkenwell, a reimagined 18th-century courthouse where artwork and crumbling, dramatic décor lend a fanciful patina to fare from chef Florence Knight. Dishes like sea bream with parsley and eel with creme fraiche are delightfully British with whiffs of France and Italy (entrees range from around $13 to $32).

Another new hit is KOL, Britain’s first Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant, where chef Santiago Lastra turns out items like pork belly carnitas with cabbage purée. On the ground level is The Mezcaleria, which serves kicky, mezcal-focused cocktails (six- or nine-course tasting menus cost between $111 and $155, without wine or mezcal pairings; cocktails at Mezclaria are around $20).

Vegans and meat-eaters alike might be delighted with the restaurant Gauthier Soho’s pivot from classic French gastronomy to plant-based fine dining. One dish, rice with truffle “cream,” delivers the richness of dairy through a potato-and-lentil starch combination (the tasting menu starts at around $60, without wine pairings).

When Leroy in Shoreditch adopted rotisserie chicken takeaway as a pandemic survival maneuver, the Michelin-starred restaurant might not have imagined the side hustle would evolve into a stand-alone eatery. Now, Royale sells whole or half cornfed Anjou chicken, sides like leeks vinaigrette, and a hazelnut parfait dessert (whole chickens cost around $37, sides about $12).

New cocktails

At his 1970s-inspired, Thames-facing bar Lyaness, bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana crafts cocktails around offbeat ingredients. A spring drink called the 21st Daisy blends vodka, passion fruit, and crystallized verbena with a homemade “Green Sauce Liqueur”, but this South Bank location also serves a weekend “Spirited Tea”.

Brown’s clocks in as the oldest hotel in London, opening its doors in 1837, but the bartender Salvatore Calabrese devises fresh ways to revisit the property’s history through cocktails. The First Call honors Alexander Graham Bell (who famously made the first phone call from Brown’s) with Elephant gin, pistachio pesto, verjus, coconut syrup, egg white, and white port.

Another drink, the Winston — as in Churchill — is whisky-based and spiked with coriander, lime juice, and a swirl of smokiness.

New hotels and lodging

In Covent Garden, the New York-based design company Roman and Williams has transformed a 19th-century Magistrate’s Court into the first European Nomad Hotel. The selected art and textured materials imbue spaces with a contemporary edge and the restaurant is housed within a three-story glass atrium (rates from $505).

Two interconnected Georgian homes are now the 14-suite Beaverbrook Town House in Chelsea, where interiors designed by Nicola Harding offer vibrant color combinations, lively prints, and tassel-fringed upholstery inspired by London’s grand theaters (rates from $610). Hotel guests can access the leafy, residents-only Cadogan Gardens as well as enjoy “Bridgerton”-themed experiences with the sister property Beaverbrook Estate in Surrey.

Kingsland Locke has unveiled 124 sleek apartment-style rooms in East London’s Dalston neighborhood, with a coffee shop, microbrewery, and kebab restaurant on the ground floor (rates from $151).

West End offerings

Lights are back on in the West End with blockbuster musicals like “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and “Six,” a modern chronicle of the fate of Henry VIII’s wives. For those seeking plays, there is “Much Ado About Nothing” at The Shakespeare Globe (through October 23) and the West End openings include “The Glass Menagerie” starring Amy Adams (from May 23 to Aug. 27) and “Prima Facie” with Jodie Comer of “Killing Eve” fame (through June 18).

Ticket prices range for various shows, from $6 (standing room only) to around $111, and may be sold out for popular shows. Weeknight tickets and matinees are cheaper and the TKTS booth in Leicester Square offers discounted day-of tickets. Note that some theaters have their own vaccine requirements, so double check to see what documentation is required for entry.

Museum exhibits

 “Surrealism Beyond Borders” at the Tate Modern explores the global reach of the surrealist movement with works by lesser-known artists from Osaka, Japan, and Bogotá, Colombia, juxtaposed with paintings by Dali, Miro, and Magritte (free and ticketed admission to the museum and advance bookings are recommended;

The Platinum Jubilee and other live events

Britain is celebrating the Platinum Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth II as the first British monarch to spend 70 years on the throne, all year. But from June 2–5, events like “Trooping the Color,” a ceremonial parade featuring 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians, will be held. The parade will march from Buckingham Palace down the Mall with members of the royal family; among the other festivities that weekend are a concert at Buckingham Palace and a series of street parties.

Hotels are also celebrating. The Jubilee edition of the Berkeley’s “Prêt-à-Portea” features Her Majesty’s most iconic looks in petit fours and other pastries (around $97 per person, available from May 30 to June 12) and on June 5, the Connaught will throw a Jubilee street party, with an English brass band, bunting and family-style tables offering tea sandwiches.

Other non-royal, high-profile events welcoming spectators once again are the Chelsea Flower Show, (May 24–28); the Royal Ascot horse racing (June 14–18), and Wimbledon (June 27–July 10).

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