So you’ve resolved to spend the weekend in London. Where to stay? Think central. And when I say “central” it doesn’t get better than staying in Strand where every tourist’s place of interest is accessible within comfortable commute distance.
The Strand used to be at the epicenter of Victorian theater, literature and nightlife. And even today it continues to offer the best in arts, culture and music. So if you’re that hip, artsy, fashionable young’un traversing through the United Kindgom, here’s creating for you a choice itinerary for that short jaunt. And I assure it won’t land you in the wrong spot.
Where to Stay in London?
Ah! You’ve arrived. So where must you hit the sacks–in style!? You’ve decided to stay in central London (sensibly), and if fashion, music, art, architecture, and design is a natural extension of your personality, then don’t think twice because nothing else comes close to ME by Melia.
Having opened a recent while ago it is strategically located in Strand on the southern tip of Covent Garden, a stone’s throw from the River Thames and Trafalgar Square, surrounded by the city’s best art galleries, museums, restaurants, shopping and nightlife.
ME for me?
Absolutely! A bespoke boutique hotel experience, its no-fuss atmosphere and understated attitude is perfect for the stylish urban traveller.
ME is as much about design and architecture, sharply apparent through its minimalist, cutting-edge approach in decor–the pyramid shaped reception situated on the first floor provides proof. The sides of the walls scaling endlessly with interesting video projections (think psychedelic jelly-fishes cruising about) with a lazy sprawling white coach and a mammoth fashion book placed idly in the corner for the rare passer who will be interested.
“Welcome to the pyramid,” said the smugly stylish greeter.
The hotel is also very serious about art. When I visited recently, it was hosting an urban, contemporary art exhibition with works lined around the ground floor entrance.
I booked myself into the “chic suite” located at the triangular edge of the hotel, revealing fantastic views of the city below from full glass-pane windows. My journey with fashion and music began the moment I stepped into my suite. Greeted with streams of lounge-y music which I couldn’t place and coffee-table books on the “History of Hermes” and “a guide on fashion photography” including latest copies of Wallpaper and Vogue strewn around was just the beginning of what the white-leather walls, back-lit onyx shelves and multiple mini-bars laid in store.
I was particularly thrilled with custom-built music playlists, mood lighting and other nifty services integrated superbly on the in-room iPad.
After touch-dialing Justin Timberlake’s recent “Mirror” billboard last chart-topper on the iPad, I was reminded that I could take the party a little higher to the Radio—the only rooftop lounge and terrace in the Strand and Aldwych area that is open throughout the day until late night with views scaling the heights of Shard London Bridge, Tower Bridge, St.Paul’s Cathedral, Tate modern, London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, located on the top floor of the hotel. I felt like one happy mad-hatter, ready to take on delights outside my newly found urban paradise.
Checked-in. What to Do?
Hello? You’ve stationed yourself at the most bespoke location in all of London, immediately putting you in the midst of all London city has to offer. ME is surrounded by places of cultural, theatrical, artistic, retail and musical interest, which is why I “checked-in” here at the very outset. Since I was stationed in Strand, most places were located at convenient distances. Check out some places you can visit while staying at ME.
Somerset House has been a location for many big budget Hollywood and Bollywood films. A choice venue for concerts and a major arts and culture center with contemporary art and design exhibitions, workshops, films screenings and guided tours running all days of the year, the London Fashion Week this year will continue to be hosted here. And the 55 fountains that adorn the courtyard make it an absolute delight to “soak in the culture.”
Twining’s tea room is a must go-to for anyone visiting London. You think you can leave without taking away a taste of the English High Tea? Twining’s was the world’s first dry tea house and continues the tradition until today selling a cacophony of choice teas from plain vanilla to a concoction of berries…Perhaps, you’d want to pick a bag or two for mum and dad.
Covent Garden Market is a prime destination for young people, slotted with trendy retail stores and entertainment outlets. Street entertainment in Covent Garden is galore with performances guaranteed almost everyday. Easy to spend some holiday moolah here.
Royal Opera House also situated in Covent Garden is the world’s leading opera companies staging both traditional and contemporary works of new and young composers. Book a ticket in advance for some distinguished cultural treat for the eyes and ears. Who mentioned You-Tube? Smack.
London Film Museum that opened its third location in Covent Garden has exhibitions related to film and photography running every day of the week. A permanent exhibition titled “Capturing the Shadows” celebrates elements of old-school cinematography in theatre, photography and kinetic animation.
Royal Academy of Arts is a must-visit for art enthusiasts if you’re not going to venture further than central London. View their collections of 18th century to present day artists that includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, architectural designs, archives, historical photographs and plaster casts.
Where to Eat?
In extremely close vicinity to ME are restaurants and bistros serving Mediterranean, French, Indian, Thai and Italian food. Take a stroll around to find cafes that will host you till-late while you watch the world go by. And if you’re feeling extremely lazy, hop downstairs into ME’s STK modern steak house cum chic-lounge.
How to Get By?
Public transportation is one of the most convenient ways to travel in London. The Temple tube is just a 5- minute walk away from ME. Hire a public bicycle or connect either by tube/buses by subscribing to a hassle-free 7 day visiting Oyster card to save on multiple-tickets. If you are down for a shorter time then simply purchase tube tickets at the station. Feeling lazy? Stand by and simply hail a black cab. But if you’re particularly feeling touristy, then simply walk around as most places of interest are situated within walking distance. As the saying goes, or not, the best way to discover a city is by walking its streets…