Visit London Blog » the athenaeum Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:51:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top Gluten-Free Restaurants In London Fri, 16 May 2014 09:00:34 +0000 Fish and chips at The Truscott Arms

If you’re gluten intolerant, eating out can be a minefield of indigestible grains. But where once the question: “is this gluten-free?” would have had waiters rushing back to the kitchen with quizzical looks, London’s restaurants are becoming increasingly sympathetic to coeliacs’ needs – we’ve picked our top restaurants for gluten-free dining in London.

Best for Asian

Mumbai-style street food at DishoomDoes a menu in an Indian restaurant seem like a long list of uncertainties? Thankfully, Mumbai street-food inspired venue Dishoom highlights suitable dishes, including a range of grills, salads and curries. If East Asian cuisine is more to your taste, the noodle bar chain Wagamama has a wealth of “cereal-free” options noted for the gluten intolerant.

Best for Italian

Mounds of pasta, flour-laden carbonara sauce and doughy pizzas usually lead to hours of discomfort, but thankfully some of London’s Italian eateries have cottoned on to the plight of coeliacs. Choose from the dedicated gluten-free menu at Pizza Express venues across London, including pizzas made with wheat-free dough, risotto and chocolate brownies. Or, if you fancy some pasta, Spaghetti House offers coeliac-friendly spaghetti on request as well as gluten-free gnocchi made with purple potato – but they cannot guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens due to shared kitchen preparation areas. For something a little different, La Polenteria has a menu focused on Italian “peasant” food, polenta, which has grown in popularity in recent years and is full of gluten-free goodness.

Best for pub grub

Try gluten-free beer at The Truscott ArmsInspired by their daughter, who is coeliac, the owners of The Truscott Arms have introduced an adaptable menu crammed full of gluten-free options such as fish and chips, beef shin chips and scotch eggs.  But it doesn’t stop there; this charming Maida Vale pub also serves gluten-free beer– making it the perfect place for a pub lunch or night out in the laid-back neighbourhood close to Little Venice’s canalside attractions.

Best for burgers

Fast-growing chain Honest Burgers is a welcoming place for coeliacs with its option of wheat-free buns and burgers on request; although co-founder Tom is quick to point out that a totally gluten-free experience cannot be guaranteed as food containing gluten is prepared in the same kitchen. Now on their sixth venture, having started out in Brixton in 2011, Honest Burgers mixes carefully-sourced produce and an unfussy menu with a relaxed vibe.

Best for all-day dining

The Athenaeum offers afternoon tea for coeliacsServing breakfast, lunch and dinner – each with plenty of gluten-free options based on the full à la carte menu – Nopi is a great place for a plate or two, whatever the time of day. Just notify the accommodating staff upon reservation and you’ll be given a range of dishes to choose from at this eatery that’s part of Yotam Ottolenghi’s ever-expanding group.

Best for afternoon teas

When it comes to afternoon tea, it’s usually a nightmare of “musn’t have” cakes and bread. But there’s no need to miss out on these savoury and sweet treats, as many of London’s afternoon tea venues offer a gluten-free alternative. At Fortnum & Mason, for example, you can sample such delicacies as smoked salmon sandwiches with lemon dill butter, scones with Somerset clotted cream and rose-scented macarons; while The Athenaeum can serve gluten-free cakes, sandwiches and scones with a day’s notice.


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Top 5 Whisky Bars in London Mon, 24 Mar 2014 10:00:28 +0000 The Golden Arrow's whisky cabinet in Pullman London St Pancras

Do you prefer your whisky with or without water; do you spell whiskey with an ‘e’; or are you a Japanese-distilled whisky aficionado (try saying that after a few drinks)? There’s a great choice of whisky bars in London; Christian Rose-Day and Jonny Payne pick five of the best.

Golden Arrow at Pullman London St Pancras

With around 200 whiskies, Golden Arrow at Pullman London St Pancras is the perfect place for a wee dram. Try one of the organised monthly tastings or ask resident whisky expert, Sarah O’Donovan, for advice on the perfect bottle to match your tastes. We joined her masterclass in Scottish peaty whiskies, and learnt about how whisky is made, which factors make whiskies so different, and how smoked salmon or chocolate are the perfect accompaniments to Scotch.

This restaurant and bar has a chic and airy feel, with attention drawn to the fabulous glass display case of whiskies – some of which are limited editions. Fine wines are served by the glass here as well, making use of its Enomatic dispenser, while the kitchen dishes up European specialities.

The Whisky Lounge at Hilton London Metropole

The Whisky Lounge at Hilton London MetropoleThis lounge in Hilton London Metropole is so whisky-focused, it even features decanters as light fittings. The bar is flanked on either side by display cabinets showcasing more than 70 whiskies. “Whisky Flights” are available for novices to “tour” the best of Scotland, or the best picks from the rest of the world. There are more unusual bottles to sample, such as Indian whiskies, while arguably the pick of the bunch is a Johnnie Walker Odyssey Triple Malt served from a show-stopping swinging decanter.

Boisdale Canary Wharf

As we all know, the home of whisky is Scotland and there’s no more Scottish home-from-home in London than Boisdale Canary Wharf. This East London restaurant, jazz club and bar is loved for its meaty treats (including haggis) and live music, but it’s the 12m backlit back bar that’s possibly the most impressive aspect. More than 1,000 bottles of amber deliciousness adorn the shelves, representing 400 varieties of whisky – some of which were produced by distilleries that no longer exist. If you can’t find a whisky you like here, you’re not a fan of whisky.

The Whisky Bar at The Athenaeum

The Whisky Bar at The AthenaeumThis classy Piccadilly hotel’s whisky bar features more than 300 versions of the grain-based liquor. The aptly named and intimate Whisky Bar serves nibbles and cheese pairings with its whiskies, while connoisseur Ivo is on hand to help with your selection. Whisky-lovers of all sorts will be catered for at The Athenaeum, with a large menu of malted and blended Scottish whiskies, as well as Irish, North American and Japanese bottles – there’s also the chance to try Welsh and vintage tipples.

Red Bar at Bam-Bou

Fitzrovia is fast becoming one of the best areas in London for bars. Red Bar on the third floor of Bam-Bou restaurant is furnished with red leather seating and lit by candles, giving the secret cocktail bar a sexy lounge vibe. To match the Asian cuisine served below, Red Bar boasts 75 different Japanese whiskies, including bottles from the Yoichi, Hakushu, and Yamazaki distilleries.

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Hotel news: Treat the Parents, Live Film Screenings, New Shoreditch Hotel Announced Thu, 20 Feb 2014 11:00:36 +0000 Winter Cinema at The Berkely

With Valentine’s Day breaks behind us, it’s time to look forward to Mother’s Day. There are also some fantastic cultural attractions offered by London hotels this month, from film screenings to Shakespearean tours.

Foodie delights

Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, so get your treat organised early by booking brunch in the Chelsea Riverside Brasserie at Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour; the £45 menu for 30 March can be upgraded with unlimited champagne for an extra £10.

Hilton London Metropole's Chocolate CornerThe Athenaeum makes sure fathers are not forgotten. Its Gentleman’s Anytime Afternoon Tea features traditional savory selections such as wild boar sausage rolls and miniature steak and ale pies paired with whiskey or tea (available until 30 June).

Something sure to appeal to those with a sweet tooth, Hilton London Metropole has opened the Chocolate Corner; an intimate shop in its lobby stocked with indulgent truffles, ganaches and pralines.

Cultural curations

To mark the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth this year, Jumeirah Carlton Tower has launched a Midsummer Night’s Dream package. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted by Oberon and then whisked off on a tour around London’s Shakespearean landmarks, before returning to The Rib Room for cocktails named after the barb’s works.

As the official hotel partner for the BRIT Awards, ME London is hosting a photographic exhibition focusing on past winners in its Marconi Lounge Bar until 10 March. And don’t miss the man-sized replica of the award itself in the hotel’s atrium on the way.

ME London's BRIT Award sculptureEmbracing the big screen, The May Fair Hotel is mid-way through its season of live screenings in partnership with the Royal Opera House, with Sleeping Beauty, The Winter’s Tale and Manon Lescaut still to be shown in the hotel’s 201-seater theatre. Meanwhile, The Berkeley has turned the rooftop terrace of its health club and spa into a private six-seat cinema, with two screenings every weekday night of Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like it Hot.

For the little ones, the story of Barbar The Elephant is combined with afternoon tea at The Kensington Hotel this month. Part of the programme with the National Youth Theatre, kids can sample sweet treats while listening to the charming story recited by actors.

New openings

Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo became the brand’s first Central London property when it opened earlier this month. The 297-room property follows the recent addition of Hampton by Hilton London Gatwick Airport North Terminal.

See Shakespearean sights with Jumeirah Carlton TowerThere’s another new hotel to look forward to next year, with the announcement that CitizenM – which already owns London Bankside – will open another boutique hotel in Shoreditch.

Get connected

GLH Hotels now offers fast and free ‘one-click’ BT WiFi in all of its Thistle hotels. Introduced earlier this month, the internet service enables guests to make Skype calls, download films securely and stay connected in all 31 of its hotels.

 More London hotels

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Celebrate the Royal Baby in London Fri, 14 Jun 2013 15:54:19 +0000 Royal Baby Shower Afternoon Tea The Athenaeum Royal Summer - Afternoon Tea at Buckingham Palace with Helena and Ian The Athenaeum Royal Summer - Kate and William on their wedding day

With the royal baby due this summer all eyes are currently on Kate Middleton’s bump. With just under one month until her expected due date in mid-July, several packages are on offer around London to mark the arrival of this most eagerly anticipated baby. Whether you’re an expectant mother yourself or just want to celebrate his or her arrival in true British style, here are five of our favourites:

A Royal Summer at the Athenaeum

With the impending arrival of a new royal baby take a look back at previous royal babies, at “The Royal Child” photography exhibition, at the Athenaeum. The hotel, which sits within sight of Buckingham Palace, will offer private viewings of more than 40 rarely seen photos of royal children from Victorian times to the present day. Curator of the exhibition, Ian Pelham-Turner, who has worked with four generations of the royal family over the past 46 years, will be on hand. He will talk about his time working with the family as a royal photographer and the history behind the photographs on display. Plus the hotel, winner of the 2012 “Top London Afternoon Tea” from The Tea Guild, will serve guests their award-winning Royal Summer Afternoon Tea. Available 22 June to 31 August, £60 includes exhibition and tea.

The Royal Baby Shower Afternoon Tea St James’s Hotel and Club

Kate is reportedly the first ever royal to have a baby shower, so why not join her. Until 31 July fellow mothers to be will receive the royal treatment at this five star hotel, starting with a luxury baby gift to the value of £85, from a baby boutique. They will then receive a pregnancy treatment at Spa Illuminata, one of the finest spas in central London. This is followed by afternoon tea courtesy of award-winning executive chef, William Drabble. The package is £89 each, with a minimum of eight people, and for each one purchased, you can win a three-course meal for two at Michelin-starred Seven Park Place, including a glass of champagne if the mother-to-be delivers on the same day as Kate Middleton.

Due Date: The Cinnamon Club Delivers Royal Labour of Love Menu

For years it’s been said that eating curry induces labour, so kick-start yours so Kate doesn’t steal your thunder! From 17 June to 20 July, the £45 Royal Labour of Love menu at The Cinnamon Club will include ingredients that curb cravings, keep mum and baby healthy, potentially kick-start labour, and help recuperate and restore. Five courses mimic the stages of a nine month pregnancy; Expecting, 9 months, and breathe, overdue, special delivery. If this old wives tale is true and you go into labour in the restaurant, you will receive a free meal every year on the anniversary…just hope your child likes curry!

Baby-moon at The Lanesborough

Enjoy a last romantic break at The Lanesborough before the new addition to the family arrives and brings sleepless nights. Arrive to a welcome cocktail… non-alcoholic of course and enjoy spa treatments whilst your personal butler unpacks your bags. Then take a trip to Knightsbridge, where you will be guided to the best baby shops in town. After a restful night’s sleep enjoy a full English breakfast. This package is available at weekends and priced from £615 to £755.

“Mums only Sleepover” at The Bingham

If you need a night away from your big kid as well, why not check into The Bingham. Every Sunday until 31 December the hotel is offering sleep deprived mums the opportunity to check into one of their Queen Single Bedrooms for much needed rest and relaxation. Read a book or potter around boutique shop, have a hot bath with Abhana bath oils and scented candles, followed by room service or dinner in the river view bar (up to £25). After a night of uninterrupted sleep, enjoy a peaceful breakfast before you leave to head back to the madness (from £150).

More royal London

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show-Themed Events in London Wed, 08 May 2013 13:00:19 +0000 Didn’t manage to get a ticket to the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show? Not to worry, there’s a whole host of floral-themed events happening in London during May for everyone to enjoy. Some take place solely during the flower show itself (21-25 May), whilst others are timed to coincide with the Chelsea Fringe (18 May-9 June), and aims to spread the horticultural enthusiasm throughout London. Some of our favourites are below, but you can also visit the Chelsea Fringe website for lots more ideas.

The Belgraves Edible Garden

Between 21 and 25 May the Belgraves hotel, located in Knightsbridge, is transforming its terrace into an Edible Garden that features a wall of edible flowers and an interactive cocktail station. Not only will there be cocktail classes and ‘food and flower pairing’ tutorials, but guests can also take away seed packets so they can enjoy the same tastes at home. Those staying in the hotel can opt for the full Bed, Brunch and Botany’experience, which features delights such as brunch in bed, an edible flower recipe book and complimentary cocktails.

Chelsea in Bloom

For eight years Chelsea in Bloom has been extending the wonders of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show throughout the entire borough by encouraging local retailers to create their own floral displays. These creations, this year themed on ‘decades’ to mark the centenary of the prestigious flower show, are assessed for prize-worthiness by official RHS judges and can be viewed between 20 and 25 May. To see them all, join the regular tours, which take place every half hour.

A Guide to Green Scents at the Athenaeum Hotel

Not only is this 5 star hotel on Piccadilly offering a menu of delicious floral cocktails for the duration of the Chelsea Fringe, but it is also hosting ‘a guide to green scents’ on 21 May. This evening event is inspired by the hotel’s landmark Living Wall (right), and features a talk by perfume specialist Lila Das Gupta on perfumes that capture the fragrance of nature, plus a guide to the scented flowers that are grown on the Athenaeum’s wall. Tickets for the talk cost £15 per person and include the talk, canapés and a cocktail. Send an email to reserve your place.

Chelsea Flower Show Menu at LIMA

For the duration of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show LIMA, the Peruvian restaurant in Bloomsbury, is putting on a celebratory menu that puts a flowery twist on their national cuisine. Dishes include orange and pisco poached lobster salad and steamed fillet of halibut with rhubarb blue potato aji Amarillo. Guests can either opt for a three course menu which includes a Chelsea Cocktail of melon and pink Champagne (£60) or order from the a la carte. The menu is available from the 20 to 26 May.

Floral Afternoon Teas

Given the traditional nature of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it’s no wonder that many venues are serving special afternoon teas during the week to celebrate. Radission Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt, for example, is serving a Floral Afternoon Tea throughout May that includes rose fruit jellies and orange blossom and lavender scones (£29.50). Nearby, the Royal Garden Hotel offers elderflower posset, jasmine opera and rose marshmallow as part of its celebratory Afternoon Tea during Chelsea week, which is accompanied by tunes from the resident pianist (£24). Further east, The Dorchester has worked with the team behind Laurent-Perrier’s 2013 show garden to create a menu that includes delights such as a ‘lavender basket’; a dark chocolate tartlet infused with lavender scent and decorated with a spun sugar handle. This afternoon tea menu is available between 20 and 26 May for £56.

Rib Room Bar Floral cocktailsFloral Facials and Cocktails

The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is offering a range of excellent floral indulgence options; why not follow one of their new Rose Facials (£65) with a Chelsea Flower Show-themed cocktail in the hotel’s Rib Room Bar? Guests can choose between rose, camomile and elderflower martinis – yum!

The Avant Garden in Covent Garden

Head to the Covent Garden piazza to see Crabtree & Evelyn’s twist on the classic British herb garden. Created by garden designer and rising star Emma Coleman, ‘The Avant Garden’ will be a tranquil urban oasis that promises to be a highlight of the 2013 Chelsea Fringe Festival from 14 May to 9 June.

Floral Cocktails at Barts, South Kensington

Popular speakeasy Barts, situated close to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is offering a special cocktail in honour of the event. ‘The Chelsea Flower’ is a mix of home-made lavender-infused Grey Goose Vodka, peach liquor and jasmine essence, garnished with a molecular raviolo of lavender. Furthermore, guests can really get into the spirit of the occasion by availing themselves of the bar’s dressing-up box, which will feature a range of floral-themed items during the show week.

Floristry classes and lunch at Tom Aikens, Chelsea

Learn the delicate art of floristry at the Michelin-starred Tom Aikens restaurant in Chelsea, where you can create a stunning arrangement of freshly-cut blooms to take home, before tucking into a delicious three course lunch that contains edible flowers. The package also includes coffee and pastries and a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne. Classes run throughout the RHS Chelsea Flower Show week, as well as on selected other May dates, and cost £120.

Chelsea Fringe at Battersea Power Station

This free event takes place between 17 to 19 May and 21 to 26 May, and allows visitors to enjoy a variety of entertainment and activities in the newly-opened temporary riverside park at Battersea Power Station. The focus of the fringe hub at Battersea will be installations, including one that features 35 people planted knee-deep in soil to promote conversations on sustainability. See the website for opening times and full details.

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Evergreen Tea at The Athenaeum Hotel Thu, 10 Jun 2010 12:00:49 +0000 You might have noticed The Athenaeum hotel when walking past its unusual “living wall” on Piccadilly, filled with plants, flowers and greenery growing up the side of the building.

To celebrate the wall’s first birthday, the hotel has launched the Evergreen Tea, a botanic-inspired afternoon tea that I was lucky enough to try.

The afternoon tea began with a floral champagne cocktail while we browsed the tea menu, which included 13 different teas. Not only can you read about the tea, but the wooden menu includes a sample of tea leaves from each type so you can examine it too! I was tempted by Egyptian camomile but played it safe with a fragrant Earl Grey.

Next, we chose from a selection of sandwiches including salmon; cream cheese and cucumber; and guacamole and chive wraps.

The sandwiches were followed by scones – either plain or orange blossom, served with clotted cream and The Athenaeum’s own jam. Yum!

The piece de resistance was the huge cake trolley which was wheeled over after the scones. It was full of sweet treats, from a naughty-looking chocolate cake, to champagne jelly, to cupcakes. I opted for a slice of lemon-drizzle cake which was light and tasty.

What I particularly liked about this afternoon tea was that we could choose exactly what we wanted. It meant that nothing was wasted and no-one ended up with a sandwich or cake that they didn’t really like.

Evergreen Tea at The Athenaeum, £27.50 per person or £34 including floral cocktail. Available until September 2010.

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