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St James theatre. Reception“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life.” – Samuel Johnson.
Sounds a bit provincial in our era of constant innovation and cheap, planet-shrinking travel?
But something powerful does bring people back to London again and again, and it certainly isn't the weather.
Going on holiday to London? Want to see something memorable or something your friends haven’t seen yet?
Here are some places that are opening this year. Enjoy your time!
The Old Bengal Warehouse
Opens September 2012
New Street, London, EC2M 4HD
Tube: Liverpool Street Station
The Old Bengal Warehouse, built in 1771 by the East India Company to store spices, tea, cigars and port, will be re-launched by D & D London as a British grill restaurant, cocktail bar, a fish restaurant, and wine shop when it opens in September 2012. D & D London has a high class pedigree when it comes to restaurants and The Old Bengal Warehouse will no doubt be as impressive as established eateries in the same stable - well loved London restaurants like Launceston Place, Coq d'Argent and Le Pont de la Tour among the long list. The group are also launching their first hotel in 2012, look out for the South Place Hotel, an 80 bedroom luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the City due to open this summer.
St James Theatre
St James theatre
St James theatre. Reception
St James theatre. Stage
Opens September 2012
12 Palace Street, London, SW1E 5JA
Tube: Victoria Station
Billed by its operators as 'the first newly built central London theatre in 30 years', St James Theatre opens to the public in September 2012. Built on the site of the former Westminster Theatre in Victoria, the venue will include a state-of-the-art 312 seat theatre, a studio performance space, broadcast TV facilities and a bar and brasserie designed by architect Tim Foster (also responsible for redevelopment projects at the Polka Children's Theatre, Gate Theatre and Tricycle Theatre and cinema). Artistic directors David Gilmore and James Albrecht will announce their first season in April, with a programme of musicals, comedies and classic revivals expected in addition to touring productions. From September, the brand new theatre hopes to add something genuinely new to the London arts scene.
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Opens summer 2012
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, South Kensington, London, W2 3XA
Tube: Lancaster Gate Station
The Serpentine Gallery is making a significant expansion in the summer of 2012, restoring a former gunpowder depot not far from its original gallery in Kensington Gardens. The Magazine, a Palladian style villa built in 1805 to store arms, will be restored to a design by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid (also responsible for the London Olympics Aquatics Centre) into an exciting new 900 metre square gallery space. The new Serpentine Sackler Gallery will be open daily, showing a mix of contemporary art, architecture, dance, design, fashion, film, literature, music, performance and technology. Like the Serpentine this spin-off gallery is free to visit, and will be a significant addition to London's modern art scene.
Opens 9th July 2012
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY
Tube: Liverpool Street Station
Opening its first European location in London in the summer of 2012, SushiSamba serves Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food from its lofty location, 175 metres up, on the top three floors of one of the tallest buildings in The City, Heron Tower. Already a huge hit Stateside with restaurants in New York, Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas, SushiSamba offers sushi and sashimi along with taquitos and tiraditos, with a choice of sophisticated cocktails from their Samba signatures to Latin classics like mojito and calpirinha, muddled with fresh fruit. Cetra/Ruddy, a New York-based architecture firm is responsible for designing the restaurant's 1,247-square-metre space which includes two outdoor terraces and a Sex and the City style sky bar. Entry via elevator from a dedicated entrance on Bishopsgate brings you directly to the 39th floor restaurant. In addition to SushiSamba there will be a separate restaurant on the top (40th) floor.
Up At The O2
Opens 21st June 2012
The O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0DX
Tube: North Greenwich Station
Visitors to The O2 will soon be able to see the famous domed structure from an entirely new angle - from 53-metre high Rooftop Walkway suspended from The O2's distinctive yellow masts. Opening on 21st June, the skywalk over what one of London's most successful music and entertainment venues will give visitors amazing views over the great domed building, over Greenwich, the Thames and this corner of south-east London. During the Olympics, The O2 will host the basketball, wheelchair basketball, artistic gymnastic and trampoline events so visitors can enjoy the sport and a skywalk. To get to the walkway, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, visitors will be kitted up in climb suits, shoes and safety harnesses before making the ascent to the 190-metre walkway and to a central viewing platform on the rooftop. If you love heights, then this will be right up your street!
Opens June 2012
London, SE1 9SG
Tube: London Bridge Station
Opening in June 2012, The Shard will become the tallest building in the European Union and the 45th tallest building in the world when it is complete. Designed in 2000 by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect best known for creating Paris's Pompidou Centre in collaboration with Britain's Richard Rogers, the mixed use Shard building, visible from wherever you are in London, combines offices, three floors of restaurants and the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel (due to open in 2013) with residential apartments - Europe's highest homes; yours for 30 to 50 million pounds - and London's highest viewing gallery. Covered in 11,000 panes of glass, the 'vertical city' in the newly created London Bridge Quarter is well connected with London Bridge Tube and train stations ferrying people to and from the hard-to-miss London landmark. The public viewing galleries, way up on floors 68 to 72, open early February 2013 but you can pre-register now to be the first to know when tickets go on sale. In the meantime you can enjoy the virtual views 40 miles across the city online. Vertigo sufferers need not apply.
The Gate in Islington
|The Gate in Islington|
|The Gate in Islington. Inside|
|The Great Vegetarin Restaurant in Islington|
Opens 1st June 2012
370 St John Street, London, EC1V 4NN
Tube: Angel Station
Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Stella McCartney have all eaten at the original Gate Vegetarian Restaurant in Hammersmith and now Adrian and Michael Daniel, the Indo-Iraqi brothers who have been running The Gate since December 1989, have set up a second venture in Islington. (NOTE: The Gate in Hammersmith is closed for refurbishment until 1st October 2012). Just opposite Sadler's Wells Theatre and around the corner from Upper Street, The Gate in Islington offers the same fare as the original - food that takes 'vegetarian' to a whole new level, way above and beyond nut loaf. They forage for food on Hampstead Heath and take in-season ingredients (June brings a plethora of broad beans, peas, beetroot, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries and wild sorrel) to create surprising and intriguing flavour combinations. Something as simple as corn cake can be exotic when the corn and polenta are pan-fried and then seasoned with chilli, coriander and thyme, and served with roasted baby artichokes, aubergine and oven-dried tomatoes, sweet potato served with a chipotle chilli, red pepper and black bean salsa. Even the wines are vegan, organic, biodynamic and natural - made without animal fining agents like gelatine, chitosan or isinglass (made from fish bladders). The only shame of it would be to leave The Gate to the vegetarians.
Shrimpy's King's Cross restaurant
Opens 24th May 2012
Kings Cross Filling Station, Goods Way, London, N1C 4UR
Tube: King's Cross Station
The Bistrotheque crew brings a slice of Californian cool to a former King's Cross petrol station. Shrimpy's Chef Director Tom Collins has come up with a menu influenced from trips to California, Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Argentina. This translates into a menu of lobster, octopus and soft shell crab with sweetcorn chowder and salt cod croquets for starters, veal or chili monkfish for mains and poached quince to finish. If the original Bistrotheque is anything to go by, this second venture can't be anything but the height of cool. And even if you haven't been organised enough to book a table it's worth dropping in as the bar counter will always be available for drinks and walk-ins.
Leicester Square Re-opens
|Boris Johnson re-opens. Leicester Square|
Re-opens 24th May 2012
Leicester Square, Soho, London, WC2H 7BP
Tube: Leicester Square Station
London's Leicester Square, famous for its film premieres and red carpet appearances, re-opens on 24 May 2012 following a £15.3 million makeover. The very centre of the capital, Leicester Square has been revitalised as a place where you would want to linger - one of the best new features is an undulating bench made from granite which runs all around the square. Spanning 12,000 square metres, the square now includes a water feature that sends jets of recycled water two metres into the air around the Shakespeare statue and the trees have been lit with uplighters to make visitors feel safe at night. Mayor Boris Johnson will open the square, launching a five-day programme of free events from 24 - 27 May to celebrate the square's relaunch.