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Plaza Premium Lounge Offers Ila Spa Treatments at Heathrow

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Between long security lines, delayed flights, and mind-numbing jet lag, it seems impossible to shake the anxiety that comes along with traveling. Thankfully, Plaza Premium Lounges offer a place to decompress before taking off—regardless of airline or traveler loyalty memberships. Their first European lounge recently opened at London Heathrow.

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5 London Cocktail Bars to Try Now

5 London Cocktail Bars to Try Now

Much like its patchwork of neighborhoods, the city’s drinking culture offers something for every taste. Here, five new haunts that define the nightlife scene right now.

The Whip, Mayfair

The Vibe: A Kentucky Derby theme sets a fanciful mood: racing-green-striped walls, equestrian knickknacks (riding crop; horse paintings), and vintage furniture upholstered with jockey silks.

Who Goes: Burberry-clad bankers and tony Mayfair residents; expat Triple Crown fans.

What to Order: A julep, of course. The Whip, made with rhubarb vodka and dry gin from the owner’s distillery, is served in a pewter tin.

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Chicken: So Hot Right Now in London

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Seems chicken is the muse of the moment for London restaurants. To wit:

In Kentish Town, Soho House recently opened Chicken Shop. The design was modeled after a 1950s American general store (think checked floors and a bar with stool seating).

After a food truck test drive, Canteen co-founder Cass Titcombe opened Roost as a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Soho, offering free-range British chicken—fried, grilled, or roasted.

At Tramshed, Mark Hix’s buzzy new chicken-and-steak restaurant in Shoreditch, a specially commissioned Damien Hirst featuring a cow and a cockerel in formaldehyde takes center stage (how appetizing); in the basement, Cock ‘n’ Bull gallery showcases works by local artists.

Wishbone, a fried chicken joint and cocktail bar from William Leigh and Scott Collins (also behind Meat Liquor), is now open at Brixton Market.

See more of London's best restaurants.

Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

The Goring Hotel Receives Royal Warrant

Goring Hotel

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Queen Elizabeth II broke with hundreds of years of protocol and agreed to rent out the lavish rooms—or so-called “state apartments”—inside St. James’s Palace to various companies during the Games. Only holders of the Royal Warrant—companies with long-standing ties to the royal family—were able to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer.

Holding a Royal Warrant signifies that Her Majesty prefers that company—or brand—over others. And the list grows.

Just this week, for the first time in history, The Queen granted a Royal Warrant to a hotel. The Goring, the 103-year-old Edwardian property near Buckingham Palace in London's Belgravia neighborhood where Kate Middleton slept the night before her wedding, was honored. “To be able to display Her Majesty’s coat of arms is something that the staff will be enormously proud of. Without doubt this is the most important recognition,” claims Jeremy Goring, great-grandson of the hotel’s founder.

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U.S. Embassy in London to Relocate

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The U.S. Embassy in London is moving to Vauxhall—which is interesting, considering the south-of-the-Thames location. Currently, the area is known for its gay bar scene as well as its scattered but strong food offerings, such as the excellent Brunswick House Café.

The Ballymore Group is heading up a surrounding residential/retail development, complete with a 100-room waterside hotel, called Embassy Gardens. It’s part of the mayor’s Nine Elms South Bank regeneration project, aka London’s “Third City” (after the Square Mile to the east and Westminster to the west). Sir Terry Farrell is the architect, and will incorporate elements of New York’s meatpacking district as well as London’s Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks. This is all pretty far off (dates pending), but in the meantime, this area is on the up.

Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Food Trucks Arrive in London

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The food truck movement has officially made its way across the pond. In fact, some of London's best new restaurants—Pitt Cue Co., for example—started on wheels, while a number of brick-and-mortar spots—like Wahaca—are going mobile. Meanwhile, this summer saw the launch of Street Feast, a super-popular Friday night market in Dalston with a range of global vendors (Mama’s Jerk Station; Pop Up Barbados; Kimchi Cult; Bhangra Burger). It began as a 12-week pop-up, but it’s still around; in late September, it moved into an indoor spot farther east in Hackney, with live entertainment to boot.

Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Cafe Royal Hotel to Open in London

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Café Royal, the 150-year-old Regent Street institution once frequented by the likes of Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, is on track to reopen in December—as a hotel. It’ll be the second member of The Set—a new collection from Alfred and Georgi Akirov, the guys behind Jerusalem’s Mamilla hotel—after Amsterdam’s new Conservatorium. The 159 rooms will have historic touches such as timber and bronze ceilings and fumed oak paneled walls. The property will also feature a revamped Grill Room and Domino Room, an Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre with a lap pool and a hammam, and a private members club. hotelcaferoyal.com

Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Costume Retrospective Opens at London's V&A

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Calling all (fashion-loving) cinaphiles: the most iconic outfits in film history are on display at The V&A’s autumn exhibition, “Hollywood Costume” (October 20, 2012 to January 27, 2013). Exploring the central role costume design plays in storytelling, the retrospective brings together clothes worn by unforgettable characters, from Indiana Jones and Jack Sparrow to Scarlett O’Hara and Holly Golightly.

Photo by 20th Century Fox / Paramount / The Kobal Collection

Frieze Art Fair Opens in London

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In London this weekend? Don't miss the 10th annual Frieze Art Fair (Oct. 11 - 14), in Regent’s Park. With 170 participating contemporary art galleries from 34 countries (not to mention the splashy May launch of a sister fair in New York), this is its most international year yet. One major highlight: the inaugural Frieze Masters, a sort of fair-within-a-fair exhibiting works that date back to ancient times—an unprecedented move for Frieze, which has to date focused solely on living artists. Set on Gloucester Green in a temporary structure designed by New York–based architect Annabelle Selldorf with transparent walls and silver birch trees, it's all about old meeting new.

—Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Credit: Gaetano Gandolfi (Bologna 1734 -1802 Bologna); Venus ordering armour for Aeneas at Vulcan's forge

Paris Cabaret Opens in London

Paris’s oldest cabaret is popping up in London this fall, performing Forever Crazy within a purpose-built venue on South Bank, behind the National Theatre, between September 18 (it kicks off during Fashion Week—the dancers’ shoes are custom-designed by Christian Louboutin) and December 16.

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