The CW team on the best things to do in London after lockdown
We Culture Whisper editors get to enjoy the best of London life in normal times. Here’s where we’re most looking forward to going after lockdown
We, like you, have survived the last year on live-streamed entertainment, meal kits from our favourite restaurants, and a lot of walks in London’s gorgeous parks.
Now, with a return to normal life on the horizon and a road map for reopening the city put in place – beginning with outdoor dining and entertainment from Monday 12 April, with indoor venues following from Mondy 17 May – we’ve been excitedly discussing where we're most looking forward to going. If you’re wondering what to book in London this spring, let our bucket lists inspire you…
Eleonore Dresch, founder and editor-in-chief
'I am missing meeting new people and I am very much looking forward to going out in the evening, and parties! I think we desperately need to bring back some dancing into our lives.
'More specifically, I am looking forward to having dinner at the Palomar. I am also planning to attend a few exhibitions – including Idris Khan’s latest at Victoria Miro and Jessica Rankin at White Cube – as soon as private galleries reopen, and will be inviting a friend for a coffee en terrace afterwards.
'I am curious to see how we will all interact – I am hoping that there will be a special connivance among Londoners as we’ve all been in this together. A night at the Almeida theatre would be a treat. I hope it happens soon.'
Holly O’Mahony, acting editor
'Before the pandemic, I often overlooked the city's more revered destinations in favour of chasing tables at the newest restaurants or tickets to the latest West End play. But the lockdown has made me long to visit the long-standing institutions that make London so special. So, after Monday 17 May, you might find me sipping a martini at Duke’s Bar, splurging on dinner at The River Café, swimming in Serpentine Lido and, come summer, picnicking at Proms in the Park. In between, I’ll still be racing the crowds to experience all things new and shiny; I’m particularly looking forward to Jack Thorne’s stage adaptation of the gorgeous Japanese movie After Life, coming to the National Theatre in June.'
Rebecca Gonsalves, fashion director
'Apart from a much-needed trip to the hairdresser and a summer sandal-prep pedicure, I can't wait for cinemas to reopen. One of my favourite indulgences is seeing a film alone during the day, and while I'm hoping to catch theatrical releases for some of the Oscar contenders – I'm particularly keen to see Minari and Nomadland on the big screen – I would happily watch anything at this point. Sitting in the dark and sharing an experience with a room full of strangers sounds like the perfect way to ease back into post-lockdown life.'
Sarah Joan Ross, beauty director
'Firstly, I’ll be booking in for some serious pampering: a sumptuous spa retreat in London like the Bulgari Spa, where I can take a dip in the pool and indulge in one of their ‘Smooth and Glow from Head to Toe’ pampering sessions. Then, something in the form of a ‘tweakment' from the talented hands of Dr Sophie Shotter, who offers hi-tech radio-frequency, peels, and skin-resurfacing treatments along with Botox and fillers.'
Euan Franklin, TV and cinema editor
'Although there are countless options for cinemas in London – especially around Leicester Square with Picturehouse Central, Cineworld, Vue, the Odeon Luxe, and the Prince Charles – for me, the BFI Southbank is the holiest site. Films are often not treated with the same reverence as paintings or literature, but the BFI gives movies that respect without question. They promote the medium, this empathy machine, to the highest of all art forms. From the bounteous shop at the front, offering a wide selection of DVDs and books, to its comfortably intelligent screening rooms, the BFI is an open church for cinephiles.
'The pandemic also cancelled the wondrous pleasure of browsing bookshops. You could no longer gaze at the numerous, attractive and colourful titles, to realise, with some dread, that you’ll never read them all in your lifetime. The Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road expands that feeling to a palatial scale, with five floors in which to lose yourself. The peace of it, the freedom, the space to wander through a forest of literature is a unique magic – one that's been postponed by the realities of lockdown. Algorithms can hardly compare.'
Teresa Guerreiro, dance editor
'I'm greedily looking forward to gorging on everything that makes London London: a leisurely walk across the Millennium Bridge on the way to Tate Modern; visits to smaller galleries, and bigger museums; lunch or supper in my favourite restaurants including Bellanger and Yauatcha, a stroll around Soho or Covent Garden, a spot of shopping, maybe; but most of all, I'm looking forward to returning to the Royal Opera House for live ballet: the sheer anticipation of sitting on one of the plush red chairs, the excited buzz all around that dims into expectant silence as the house lights go down… the sense that some kind of normality has finally been restored and the dancers are back to doing what they do best – dance!'
Opera Holland Park
Claudia Pritchard, classical and opera editor
'I am looking forward to picnicking with fellow music-lovers until we pop. The country-house opera season is perfectly timed to take advantage of better weather and fewer rules. Opera Holland Park (pictured) has redesigned its open-sided auditorium to give everyone a safe space, while Glyndebourne, Grange Park and Garsington all have airy auditoriums and big gardens for safe mingling. Also heading for the fresh air is English National Opera, with its Tosca at Crystal Palace. And the BBC Proms, with nightly concerts, will be the place to make up for lost time in the concert hall.'
Adrienne Wyper, sub-editor and writer
'Feeling like the "pause" button has been pressed on life for far too long, what I’m eagerly anticipating is spontaneity: being able to just turn up, when you fancy, on a whim, not having to plan ahead or book a slot in advance. That little freedom will be priceless. I’ll also be attending the open-air concerts at the ‘rusty laptop’, aka the Crystal Palace Bowl. I grew up round the corner and seeing Dizzee Rascal, and Tosca, will take me back to the concerts I saw there in my teens. But simplest of all, I'll take pints in a pub, plus friends, whiling away summer evenings. Pubs were hit hard by the pandemic, so I’ll be happy to support some of my favourite haunts: the cosy Hermit’s Cave in Camberwell, the canalside Narrowboat in Islington, the tiny Cask & Glass in Victoria, the Cutty Sark by the Thames in Greenwich, the amazing selection of craft beer at the Cask Pub & Kitchen, Pimlico…'
Will Aves, head of partnerships
'The Hurlingham Club – it's a pretty special environment all year round, but the club really comes into its own in late spring and summer when the grounds are in full bloom, and the al fresco entertainment begins. I'm particularly looking forward to that first Friday rosé of the season: meeting up with friends and relatives, the sun on your face, the kids running amok in the grounds, and the hugely exciting prospect of reacquainting ourselves with London ahead of us.'
Janeá Minar, Senior Partnerships Manager
'I moved to Blackheath mid-lockdown so I haven’t felt like I’ve been able to properly explore my surroundings further than my daily stroll through Greenwich Park. I am most looking forward to seeing Royal Museums Greenwich open again as they are such a gift to have on my doorstep. I didn't manage to see their Exposure: Lives at Sea exhibition so hoping to get a peek once we are able to.
'I am also going to make an effort to try every restaurant in the area, because after this year, why not? The first on my list are the Hare & Billet Pub, Everest Inn and a special meal under the stars at The Queen’s House Dining Domes.'