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Little Black Book to London 2018

Londoners don’t know how to stay in - and why should we? In a city where every evening brings another pop up bar or bijoux bakery, there’s simply far too much fun to be wrung out of the city.
Here’s our guide to the capital’s coolest new spots


Iconic London venue Kettner's has flung open its doors following a two year refurbishment by The Soho House Group and early reviews are glowingly good.
Kettner's - whose high profile past guests include Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde - now houses a champagne bar (that’s open until 2am) and a restaurant serving French comfort fare. Expect a Vol-au-vent of kidneys, sweetbreads, black truffle and vegetables, Omelette with smoked eek and hollandaise and Poulet de Bresse au foin (chicken cooked in hay) - all washed down with Ruinart.
If you’ve overdone the drinking, wander upstairs to the 33 bedrooms which boast William Morris wallpaper, twenties chandeliers and velvet fringed armchairs.
Kettners Townhouse, 29 Romily Street, London, W1D 5HP (http://kettnerstownhouse.com/)

Dominique Ansel


Cafes and coffee shops abound all over the capital but the buzz right now is  about Dominique Ansel - the first London branch of the famous New York bakery.
On arrival, chances are you’ll be dazzled by the display of Cronuts ®  - a croissant-doughnut hybrid created and cannily trademarked by Monsieur Ansel. We doubt there’s a single food group in them but even girls who survive on a diet of spirulina and soups, have been known to go loopy over one of the most talked about sweet treats in history.
Once you’ve managed to drag yourself away from the cake counter, sink into plush banquette seating and wait for your goodies to arrive. In addition to the celebrated Cronuts, there’s the ‘DKA’, a caramelised deep-fried croissant and Dosa Mille Feuille - Puff pastry dosa shell, hazelnut coffee, whipped chantilly, lemon curd and candied lemon peel - to get stuck into, as well as a good selection of sandwiches and soups (we can vouch for the Avocado toast and Creamy roasted pumpkin & Yorkshire soup).
Cappuccino (£3) and a Cronut (£4.80) here can be a pricey experience, but it is special and staff are charming.
21 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RP (http://dominiqueansellondon.com/)

The Blues Post


The folks behind Barbary London and The Palomar have opened The Blue Posts - a three storey food and drink emporium over on Rupert Street.
The ground floor is given over to a pub boasting a menu of independently brewed cask ales, craft beers & ciders including Mondo Brewing’s flavourful Denis Hopp’r, Sussex SeaCider, and  ‘World’s Best Pale Ale’ winner Sambrook’s Wandle.
More of an oenophile? Head upstairs to The Mulwray - a stylish cocktail lounge (expect a marble-clad bar and comfy velvet seats) where the drink to order is Forget It Jake, aka a Margarita with a twist.
Last but not least there’s Evelyn Table - a teensy, tiny 11-seater restaurant, led by The Barbary’s head chef Nacho Pinilla specialising in Modern European plates that all scream for attention.
Encompassing all things under one roof, this quirky, unconventional place shows what it’s possible to do with an old Boozer. Someone has done their homework here and it definitely shows.
28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ (http://theblueposts.co.uk/)



If you have ever visited Sri Lanka and want to recapture that feeling, head here.
The Sethis, who are basically Midases of the restaurant world having brought us Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and Bao to name but a few, have opened a second branch of Hoppers - their acclaimed Sri Lankan restaurant.  Happily however for those who are averse to queing for hours on end, the new outpost is bookable.
Hoppers 2.0 is spread over two floors, with an extra 16 seats outside and a private dining area split into four private dining ‘vaults’.
The menu features signature Hoppers dishes from the original site in Soho - read String hoppers ( a bowl shaped breakfast dish made from fermented rice and coconut batter and filled with curry) and hearty mix of rice and curries, as well as new dishes such as Jaffna beef rib fry and Tuna and tapioca cutlets with avocado sambol.
Finish with a sensational watalapam - spiced ‘set’ coconut custard that’s addiction on a plate. If you’re in St Christopher’s Place this is a culinary must.
77 Wigmore Street, W1U 1 QE (ww.hopperslondon.com)

Jack Solomons
There’s a new speakeasy bar in town: take a bow Jack Solomans which opened at the end of 2017, on Soho’s Great Windmill Street.
Inspired by the legacy of Jack Solomons, an iconic Soho character whose boxing gym was located here throughout the 1940s and 50s, Jack Solomons Club epitomise a bygone era of London clubs: look out for the pewter-metal bar counters, shaded velvet furnishings and red leather walls.
Entry is via a hidden door accessed via an after-hours street-side deli, that brings you to the bar area where a live band play. Descending the stairs you’ll pass a glass wall peering into the neighbouring kitchen’s butchery chamber before reaching the basement - home to a subterranean speakeasy cocktail club to one side, and dance floor to the other.
Even better? Entrance to this pleasure pit is absolutely free, all of which means that a night out in Soho doesn’t necessarily equal financial destitution.
41 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7NB (www.jacksolomons.com)

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What's hot: May 2016

Just About Travel tells you what’s hot in the travel world this month


London calling
Record numbers of tourists are expected to visit the English capital this summer - partly due to affordable exchange rates and partly because of celebrations such as the Queen’s 90th birthday, and exciting new exhibitions like Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the National Portrait Gallery.
In other good news for the capital, London has been hailed the most talked about travel destination on Twitter. The word 'London' was tweeted more than 81 million times in 2015, which is more than Sydney, Tokyo and Rome combined. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson commented: “With our unbeatable cultural attractions, outstanding dining and top notch shopping, it's no wonder that London is the most talked about travel destination on social media.”

Golfing in Egypt
The Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA)recently host some of the world’s best golfers at the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge (20-23 April). The second tournament in the European Challenge Tour 2016 was be held at the Sokhna Golf Club in Ain Sokhna, a beautiful town on the western shore of the Red Sea's Gulf of Suez - and was shown on TVs across the world in what can only be a welcome boost for tourism to Egypt.
The once popular holiday destination attracted just 346,500 tourists in February 2016 compared to 640,200 the previous year, in the aftermath of bombings, a decade of political unrest and last year's plane crash in Sharm El Sheikh.

Love at first flight
Single and looking for love in 2016 but done with the usual dating websites and apps? Then new dating site, UPdates, is the name you need to know - so long as you’re cashed up. The brainchild of entrepreneurs, Léon McPherson and Gareth Thompson, applicants are screened and vetted thoroughly to ensure that ensure eligible singles with similar lifestyles can meet each other. Members are then flown by private jet to enviable locales where they can enjoy bespoke dates such as gourmet dining, wine tasting, river cruises and curated cultural experiences. For more information, visit www.up-dates.london

Touching down in Dubai
Dubai International Airport has overtaken London’s Heathrow to become the world’s third busiest airport in terms of international passengers.  The Middle Eastern Hub leapfrogged Heathrow to claim third place behind Beijing (second) and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson (first). The Delta hub, which saw more than 100 million passengers pass through its terminals last year, defended its title for the 18th year. However aviation insiders say it’s inevitable that Dubai will soon be the world’s busiest airport. 

Planning a trip to Peru
Paddington Bear will be able to visit his Aunt Lucy a lot more frequently from now on thanks to BA’s new twice weekly (and three times in the summer months) direct Gatwick to Lima flights, which start this month. starting in May. While he’s there, the Marmalade loving bear might want to check out Mountain Lodges of Peru’s new cultural programme which allows guests to choose their own adventures each day. Need help planning your trip to Peru? Look to Lonely Planet’s new Peru travel guide - guaranteed to take you to the heart of Peru.

Travel talks
National Geographic Traveller will be regularly hosting Travel Geeks: Rush Hour - a new informal series of after-work get-togethers brings together experts, writers, readers and travellers in an open forum to talk about travel. The events are tailored to fit into participants' busy schedules - subsequently Travel Geeks: Rush Hour lasts for only one hour, during which guests can share a drink and join in with the lively debate.
The next event takes place on 3 May 2016 and is aimed at First-timers to South America. Future events include Expeditions: Arctic and Antarctic (7 June) and Walking and trekking (5 July). Tickets available now from natgeotraveller.co.uk/events

No more lugging luggage to the airport
Huzzah! The days of bags slowing and weighing you down are numbered thanks to AirPortr - a London based travel-technology company that delivers passenger bags within hours between London locations (homes/ hotels/ offices) and London Heathrow airport. Bags are either dropped off in the airport with an AirPortr, before being promptly transported to their London destination. Alternatively, bags are collected from any London location and delivered to the airport allowing travellers to make the most of everything the city has to offer. Even better? AirPortr has extended its service at Heathrow to include Terminal 4, so it is now available at all Terminals – arriving and departing.

Best book
Travelling with little ones over the May half term? Treat to this bright and bold journal (£8.99) from Lonely Planet Kids. Packed with writing topic suggestions, lists to complete, ideas for getting the creative juices flowing and lots more fill‐in fun, it’s the perfect way for young travellers to record their memories from a trip. There’s space to write, draw, collage, colour and complete – turning the finished journal into a wonderful scrapbook to treasure. It’s backpack friendly too…

Flying with Virgin America

The Virgin budget airline, which flies to 21 destinations in the US and Mexico and was launched in 2007, has been bought by Alaska Air.The Seattle-based airline has acquired Virgin America in a US$4billion deal, to become the fifth largest US airline vaulting over JetBlue Airways Corp, which also participated in the bidding for Virgin America.
Despite the cash windfall, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson says he is saddened by the merger. The British billionaire wrote in a company blog: "I would be lying if I didn't admit sadness that our wonderful airline is merging with another.”

Minding the gap
Advertising mogul, Sir Martin Sorrell has clashed with student travel firm STA over the value of gap year breaks. Sir Martin, chief executive of WPP - the largest advertising agency in the world - claims gap years are too short to be meaningful and need to be "more focused and specific”. Speaking at the Varkey Foundation Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Sir Martin said:"I don’t believe in gap years. Those [gap years] from what I’ve seen, that tends to be wasted."