Visit London Blog » Aly Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:06:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style at The Barbican Fri, 06 Jul 2012 14:46:09 +0000

Bond is back and this time he’s at The Barbican. Designing 007: Fifty Years of  Bond Style is an exhibition celebrating the world’s most illustrious spy, who first appeared on our screens in 1962.

On display are Bond gadgets, costumes, set designs, props, weapons, artwork and stunts; all of which help to create the world of James Bond on screen. 

There are impressive full-size models such as Jill Masterson’s golden-sprayed body from 1964’s Goldfinger and scenery from recent Bond movie, Casino Royale. I especially loved the bikinis worn by Ursula Andress and Halle Berry in Dr No and Die Another Day respectively, and the Golden Gun from The Man with the Golden Gun.

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style at The Barbican until 5 September 2012

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The Queen: Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery Thu, 17 May 2012 14:01:14 +0000 The National Portrait Gallery celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a new exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image.

Portraits from legendary artists including Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol, Lord Snowdon and Lucian Freud show the changing image and public perception of the Queen over the years, with a mixture of formal and candid shots. 

A highlight is the majestic 1954-55 painting of Her Majesty by Annigoni, which is rarely displayed and is reunited with another of his portraits from 1969. These paintings immediately caught my eye and reminded me of the powerful image the Queen conveys.

I especially enjoyed the reminder of the Queen’s early years and the powerful image she displayed even then.

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David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts Mon, 23 Jan 2012 15:49:04 +0000

If you manage to get your hands on tickets for David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts, you are in for a treat.

David Hockney is one of Britain’s finest and most-loved artists. He was asked to take part in this exhibition almost five years ago, after the Royal Academy of Arts realised they could base a whole exhibition on his most recent works. 

The paintings are mainly local landscapes created in Hockney’s native Yorkshire. Many of the 150 paintings on display were made within the last eight years and various mediums and media have been used. Some of the most interesting on display are his iPad paintings, depicting glorious landscapes and effectively replacing the traditional sketchbook.

Some huge paintings have been done using several canvases. “Winter Timber, 2009″ is one example: an oil painting on 15 canvases.  Others are individual paintings filling an entire wall and again, the vivid colours pop out and bring the room to life. 

Some of my favourite paintings on display were inspired by memories from Hockney’s childhood, as well as his recent recollections and they present an extraordinary collection.  The landscapes seem real yet we know they contain an element of the imagined.

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts until 9 April 2012

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The Rib Room Bar and Restaurant Mon, 19 Dec 2011 12:00:51 +0000

The famous Rib Room at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel is celebrating its 50th year, having built up a reputation as one of the top restaurants to enjoy a steak in London.

I recently had dinner at the iconic and newly refurbished restaurant.

We began our evening with indulgent champagne cocktails. We were then seated at a table in one of the restaurant’s three private dining areas, surrounded by art by Feliks Topolski.

The British menu offered all kinds of steak as well as other dishes such as whole roast Suffolk partridge and black truffle roasted Cotswold whole chicken.  I had the Orkney scallops accompanied by butternut squash and apple-glazed bacon for starters, which made a delicious combination. 

I also had the famous roast rib of Casterbridge Aberdeen angus which was cooked to perfection.

Our waitress was attentive and experienced, helping us to select wine to complement the dishes we had ordered.

I highly recommend The Rib Room for an elegant evening with delicious food and wine. If you end up too full to move then why not book yourself in to one of the hotel’s suites for the night!

Aly was a guest of Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel

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Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill Christmas Afternoon Tea Fri, 16 Dec 2011 15:40:54 +0000 If you need a break from Christmas shopping, treat yourself to a Festive Afternoon Tea at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.

 We escaped the bustle of Oxford Street  to take in the calming atmosphere of the hotel’s restaurant, The Montagu, and get into the festive mood. 

We ordered their special Christmas-themed afternoon tea which included turkey and cranberry sandwiches, scones with strawberry jam, mini mince pies and iced gingerbread cupcakes. I especially loved the mini Christmas cake and the mini chocolate Santa Claus.

I appreciated the roaring log fire which made the place feel homely and as an extra special treat, had a glass of champagne before we braved the shops again. 

The Festive Afternoon Tea is served daily, 3-6pm, £28 per person or £35 per person with a glass of Pommery Champagne. To make a reservation or for further information contact The Montagu on + 44 (0) 20 7299 2037 or email

Aly was a guest of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

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Degas and the Ballet at the Royal Academy of Arts Tue, 27 Sep 2011 17:00:30 +0000

For anyone who grew up wanting to be a ballet dancer, there is a stunning exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts that will bring those childhood dreams alive: Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement.

The extensive collection features more than 85 paintings and sculptures of dancers, many of whom were ballet dancers based at the Paris Opéra during the late 1800s.  Edgar Degas was known as the Painter of Dancers and he was fascinated by the study of movement, especially that of dancers bodies.

His works show ballet dancers rehearsing in the studio, performing on stage and preparing off stage. Degas interprets them in such an intimate way that you feel you are also in the room. 

Some of my favourite pieces include Dancers in Blue and Three Dancers, as well as Degas’ famous bronze sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. The latter is based on a series of 20 drawings of a live model from different angles – a technique known as photosculpture.

Degas also experimented with photography, which was a fairly new medium at the time, and three of his only known photographs are displayed at the exhibition.

Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement at the Royal Academy of Arts until the 11 Dec 2011. Book tickets

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Celebrating the Tuxedo Exhibition at Burlington Arcade Tue, 13 Sep 2011 16:34:16 +0000

Just off Piccadilly, Burlington Arcade is a gorgeous covered walkway with specialist shops lining each side. These shops offer a range of luxury goods, from jewellery to luggage to cashmere clothing.

The design hasn’t changed since it was built in 1819, and at 192 years, it’s the oldest shopping arcade in the country.

Burlington Arcade is currently hosting an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the tuxedo.  The Little Black Jacket exhibition displays beautiful tuxedos worn by the rich and famous including Frank Sinatra and Truman Capote.  

The exhibition also showcases tuxedos designed by students at the London College of Fashion, who have created their own interpretations of this British style classic for the modern day.

I was lucky enough to be given a tour of Burlington Arcade by Head Beadle Mark Lord.  Beadles are a rarity nowadays but when the arcade first opened they were all over London working as a substitute police force. 

Burlington Arcade proudly continues the tradition as the Beadles still assist with security and visitors. Mark was fascinating and told me many stories about the arcade, including how it originated – Lord George Cavendish built it for his wife after she complained that there was nowhere to shop and walk with her friends when it rained! 

The Little Black Jacket exhibition is open until 22 September 2011. Burlington Arcade is open every day from 8am to 9pm and from 11am to 5pm on Sundays.

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South Pacific at the Barbican in London Thu, 25 Aug 2011 12:33:05 +0000

Escape the wet summer in London by watching the sunny musical South Pacific at the Barbican.

This production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic musical has already been a hit on Broadway and winner of several Tony Awards including one for Paulo Szot who plays the main male lead, Emile de Becque.

The highlight of the musical is the songs, which many will know regardless of whether they have seen the musical before or not.  The actors and orchestra beautifully perform these songs on stage, including I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Some Enchanted Evening, Happy Talk and Bali Ha’i.

Paulo Szot’s baritone vocals will move you and Samantha Womack is superb along with the rest of the cast.  

The only problem you may have is getting the songs out of your head after the show ends… One day later and I am still humming Bali Ha’i to myself!

South Pacific at the Barbican until 1 Oct 2011. Book tickets

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Glamour of the Gods at National Portrait Gallery Thu, 07 Jul 2011 16:28:42 +0000 I’ve been eagerly waiting for Glamour of the Gods to open at the National Portrait Gallery since I first heard about it. I went along for a preview and was not disappointed.

This exquisite collection of over 70 portraits celebrates the golden Hollywood era and the Hollywood stars that captivated the world between the 1920s and the 1960s and beyond.  

They were part of the infamous star system that large film studios like MGM had in place and their images were strictly controlled by these studios. 

Image was of the upmost importance and the portraits convey the fascination and god-like appeal of these stars.  It is perhaps because of these images that they became such celebrated stars. 

There are  many included such as Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, James Dean and Audrey Hepburn to name just a few. The collection is immense and fabulous.

I especially loved the portraits of Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and James Stewart, having never seen them before.  It’s amazing to think that there are still unseen images of these icons and the beautiful vintage prints will surprise many.

It is a truly incredible collection which shows the importance of the photographer in the making of these stars resulting in images which forever capture the elegance and glamour of its day.

Glamour of the Gods at the National Portrait Gallery, until 23 Oct 2011. Book tickets

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Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts Tue, 07 Jun 2011 09:00:32 +0000

It is hard to believe that the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts has been running for 243 years! 

Each year it showcases a selection of art from established and emerging artists chosen from more than 12,000 pieces, all hoping for a place at this prestigious art show. The result is a superb array of paintings, photography, sculpture and film to brighten your day – even if the weather does not match it!

The fantastic sculpture by Jeff Koons that greets visitors as they walk into the RA courtyard is a personal favourite as we loved the warm, cheery feelings that it evokes and it sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition.

The Summer Exhibition gives visitors an unrivalled variety of art. Each room is jam-packed with art: big art, miniscule art, art in boxes, art hanging from the ceiling, minimal art, immensely detailed art, kinetic artworks, modern sculpture sitting alongside impressionist-styled painting, surrealism standing alongside new architecture and plenty more.

At first we found it odd that the myriad works in the gallery weren’t accompanied by individual explanations or titles. After a few minutes we realised why; The focus of the exhibition is on the artwork rather than the explanation. We are granted a short overview in each room but that’s it.

Favourite pieces include Simon Brundret’s Dog In a Bin which shows a life-size moving dog sculpture rummaging for food in a rubbish bin and a beautiful oil painting of London by Ken Howard titled Rain Effect In The City.

It’s rare to be afforded the privilege of experiencing works by established modern artists such as Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor alongside emerging talent. This is one exhibition where, like London, there really is something to suit all tastes.

Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts until 15 Aug 2011. Book tickets

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