4 min read
Right now, I’m fascinated by the Thames. My son Charlie has just got into a film school in Islington and rather than letting him commute 3 and half hours a day, we decided to have an adventure, rented out our house in Sussex, and moved on to a canal boat in London. So right now I can’t get enough of the waterways of London. That’s why I jumped at the chance to stay and review the newly refurbished Strand Palace Hotel, a few steps away from the jetties of the Thames and took some time explore the Northbank of the Thames, the Strand and cultural riverside quarter. I’m back in the city after 15 years of living a quiet rural life and I’m loving it. It’s only for two years and I want to make the most of every moment in this beautiful vibrant city.
The Strand’s name comes from the Old English strond, meaning the edge of a river, as it historically ran alongside the north bank of the River Thames. There’s lots to explore - from uncovering the secrets of Somerset House (before the construction of Victoria Embankment began in 1865, boats were able to access Somerset House directly from the Thames through the Great arch. In the basement below Somerset House's Great Arch Hall lies the King's Barge House. It still houses a royal barge) to celebrating 20 years of The Lion King, at the Lyric theatre, you are only ever a few short strides to the river and watch the world flow by. This winter Somerset House also hosts Skate, in partnership with Fortnum & Mason, with skating lessons, late-night DJs series Skate Lates, and our first-ever Skate all-nighter on Saturday 07 December.
In the evening, we jumped on a river taxi to see the new play at the Turbine Theatre in Battersea, right on the river, at the foot of the Battersea Power Station to see High Fidelity, based on Nick Hornby’s best-selling 1995 novel about the relationship adventures of record-obsessed Rob. It was a show with so much energy and heart that you could almost forgive the self-obsessed hero for his neediness and narcissism. With music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Amanda Green competing a little with the trains rumbling overhead (the theatre is in the arches of the train bridge), I was transported to my student days of playing records, and music-obsessed men. All in all, a brilliant, fun, uplifting night out.
And just a swift boat ride away from the hotel, where you go back and can grab a late dinner at Joe Allen’s (the ‘West End’s Canteen’) now re-located in the hotel’s side entrance. You can finish your day off at The Gin Palace, the art-deco cocktail bar, which makes you feel as if you’ve been stepped on to the set of Peaky Blinders. With a newly refurbished lobby and smart rooms, it’s a perfect base to stay, steps away from the piers and the river but a short stroll to Covent Garden and the heart of the city.