Opera, gin and 18th Century buildings may conjure up images of the Regency-era misadventures of Nell Gwynn, but London has a habit of dismantling our most deeply held conventions. The gin served in Notting Hill is now the tipple of hipsters while opera has long burst out of the concert hall and can now be enjoyed by all. Groundbreaking architectural concepts in Hyde Park point to a future London capable of absorbing the best in order to make it even better.

Portobello Star – Notting Hill
This speakeasy style bar with its high stools and dimly lit booths is a favourite with the hip, young crowd of Notting Hill, even though it looks like it’s been around for ages. What draws the crowd is the extensive selection of gins and cocktails, gin being an old London institution that is trending quite fiercely at the moment.

A distillation of juniper berries, it used to be associated with lonely old ladies but there seems to be nothing in the capital that hipsters can’t make cool. Staff behind the bar are as trendy as the drinks that they make but they are knowledgable, friendly and open to suggestions concerning their methods.

Bel Canto Restaurant – Bayswater
Combining operatic arias with an exquisite culinary experience is a finely tuned balancing act that the people at Bel Canto have become famous for. The idea of waiters bursting into song as they bring your starter to the table may conjure up corny images of package holidays but Bel Canto use trained opera singers in exquisite surroundings and avoid such cheesy comparisons.

A £70 taster menu is available for those who wish to stretch the evening out and there are packages that include several staff singing a scene from La Traviata, complete with piano accompaniment and climatic toast. Bel Canto is ideal for those who like their celebrations to go off with a bang and is sure to be popular with the late summer Proms crowd.


Bad Moms – Cinemas Londonwide
After Bad Santa and Bad Teacher, along comes a film that attacks the most sacred cow of them all – Motherhood. Mila Kunis stars as a woman driven to despair by an immature husband, ungrateful kids and a cutthroat PTA culture. Making a bid for freedom, she becomes unreliable, moody and irresponsible, just like her new friend; outcast single mum played hilariously by Kathryn Hahn.

Collecting another friend on the way, they set off on a trail of binge drinking, partner baiting, child ignoring mayhem. This puts them at odds with the formidable alpha mom, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and in a strange way forces them to straighten things out as now they have a point to prove.


Summer Houses – Serpentine Gallery
The Serpentine Gallery has commissioned four adventurous architectural statements to be built in the surrounding parkland area. They all take inspiration from a nearby 18th Century pavilion and they are all open to the public. Intentionally, none of the architects have worked in the UK as the gallery want to catch an outsider’s perspective of what Hyde Park represents.

Kunle Adeyemi, Yoni Friedman, Asif Khan and the Barkow Liebinger group have all brought different visions to the task and the results are spectacular. Modular designs, inside out versions of historical building methods and imaginative use of light are all used.


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