Everything you need to know for a culture-packed getaway in the British capital, from literary-themed nightlife to the biggest openings and shows.
The Trend: Bars Meet Books
Late Night Library Club
This roving party takes inspiration from such books as The Picture of Dorian Gray and historical novel Tipping the Velvet for evenings at venues including a Tudor mansion in Hackney (right). Guests—many of whom dress in period costumes—clink glasses with artists, poets, and performers—some of whom may take the stage late into the night.
An outpost of this Soho club and bookshop has opened in Shoreditch. Both have specialized book collections (Soho’s is 20th-century literature, Shoreditch’s focuses on music and the visual arts) and literary-inspired cocktails (the daiquiri recipe was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway). Nonmembers can attend talks and poetry events by calling ahead for a reservation.
This private members’ club in Covent Garden also operates as a restaurant, hotel, and lounge. Purchase a day pass for seminars, parties, and conversations with celebrities including Idris Elba, who recently recommended his three favorite books to attendees.
On View: Modern Blockbusters
An Anish Kapoor sculpture in any city is big news, but the striking red tangle he made for the 2012 Summer Olympics will add a slide twisting around the installation in May ($24). Take in the panoramic view at the top, then whiz down the 376-foot-tall structure. This month’s hottest ticket is “Exhibitionism,” a Rolling Stones retrospective that takes up nine galleries at the Saatchi. In up-and-coming Vauxhall, Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery showcases the artist’s own collection. It’s predictably avant-garde but surprisingly understated. Has the enfant terrible matured?
Check In: Artful Lodging
The 24-bedroom Zetter Townhouse in Marylebone (doubles from $335) is filled with antiques (ornate moldings, heavy four-posters, tasseled lampshades) that give the quirky property a Victorian feel. Maestro Tony Conigliaro oversees an inventive list of cocktails, served in the painting-filled parlor. Over in West London, the Laslett (doubles from $390) features the work of local Notting Hill personalities, including artist Toby Mott and fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki, in the library (above), bar, and 51 guest rooms.