Since my first visit to London in 2014, I have been returning to this city for four times now and can proudly say that I am no longer a newbie. Nevertheless, like Jakarta, London continues to surprise me every time. During my last visit there in springtime, I decided to “go local”. This nonchalant way of traveling was actually quite relaxing and it’s now becoming a travel habit that I would like to embrace. Below are some points of interests in London that are definitely NFT!
NFT To See
Having taken off my tourist hat, I took a casual approach to the list of places that I wanted to see. It so happened that during my visit to London, the locals were raving about the “Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932” exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts as well as another exhibition that featured an extensive selection of the works of popular British artist David Hockney at Tate Britain.
As one of the best metropolitan cities in the world and to the benefits of its residents, London is full of various great exhibitions.
I went to check out both and walked away contented, having learned a lot about the artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia as well as the full body of works of David Hockney, which span across six decades. You might also want to check Tate Britain’s younger sister, Tate Modern, famous for its international and modern contemporary art. One of the exhibitions currently underway is “Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017”, which lasts until June 11, 2017.
Next thing on my list was exploring the Kensington High district, where I was staying. Within walking distance, you could find the new Design Museum – another masterpiece by interior architect John Pawson. Originally located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the museum moved to this area in November 2016, where it hosts interesting exhibitions and permanent collections of UK design products, not to mention a gorgeous café on the top floor with stunning views.
Just about a block away from the Design Museum, I found another great establishment called Leighton House Museum. It is the former home of famous painter Frederic, Lord Leighton that was turned into a public museum in 1929. Boasting a fascinating collection of paintings and sculpture by Leighton and his contemporaries in the Victorian era, Leighton House is definitely a marvel. Built between 1866 and 1895 by architect and designer George Aitchison, this house has a very eclectic feel thanks to the harmonious marriage of different elements as visible through the Middle Eastern-inspired carved wooden latticework windows, sixteenth-century Turkish tiles and Moroccan-style indoor fountain.
Here too we can see many paintings by Leighton, as well as original furniture, that are part of the permanent collection of the house.
My visit happened to coincide with an exhibition featuring Leighton’s last five paintings, including the iconic “Flaming June”. The experience was both surreal and overwhelming. After all, it’s not every day one gets to see the original painting of “Flaming June”, which now belongs to Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico.
Nevertheless, if museums are not your thing, you can always opt for something more dynamic, such as “The Book of Mormon” musical at Prince of Wales Theatre in West End. I must warn you, it’s extremely hilarious!
NFT To Taste
If you’re no longer a tourist in London, avoid places like Fortnum & Mason and instead head to Swans Bar at Maison Assouline. Also located in Piccadilly, Maison Assouline is a heaven for book lovers. Known for their successful publishing business – which produces beautiful books on hotels, fashion, art, design and architecture – owners Prosper and Martine Assouline went on to create this café-cum-cocktail spot for their well-heeled readers. Taking place in a former bank building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1922 and designed in a private library theme, the establishment boasts a chic Parisian style. Either you go for the books or just to be caught pretty with a glass of champagne, Maison Assouline is definitely not for tourists, but is certainly a must visit!
Another great find – and they don’t take bookings – is Granger & Co in Notting Hill, run by famous Australian restaurateur and food writer Bill Granger, whose restaurants span from Sydney to Japan. Granger & Co is an all-day dining restaurant focusing on comfort food made with fresh and organic products, and with an Asian accent. Using that Mod Oz food principle, Granger & Co really gives the ultimate satisfaction to your mouth with each dish. If you fail to get a table in Notting Hill, the restaurant also has outlets in King’s Cross and Clerkenwell.
NFT To Shop
Harrods, Liberty, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols are shopping heavens if you’re carrying an Amex Black Card. But if it’s a totally different experience you’re seeking, why not go vintage shopping? Located on 20 Pembridge Road within the vicinity of Notting Hill, Retro Woman and Retro Man (on the same road but different shops) offer various vintage branded items from clothing, shoes and bags to accessories. From Dior to Lanvin, you’ll be surprised how much fun you can get from going vintage and at a lesser price too!
So there you go, some activities for you to do that are definitely not for first-timers in London. Big thanks to Ita Yahya for hosting my stay and for giving me the local experience of living in London. It was really memorable!