London’s a whole different town when you’re a tourist after a bit of the high life
My little sister was getting married; I was nominated the maid of honour. I knew little of what this involved – except the responsibility of organising her hen do. What had she always wanted to do, ever since she was a little girl (and I was a slightly bigger one, pulling on her pigtails)? Stay on London’s Park Lane. So I blew the budget and prepared to step onto the real-life Monopoly board.
What does one do on a luxury hen do, in London?
If you’re intending to live the high life for a few days, London has plenty to offer. Obviously, you’ve got to see the imperial side of the city first – the towers, monuments and history of Westminster, so head to Whitehall. If your party has an attention span, you can always book a tour too; www.mytourcompany.co.uk offer trips all over town either walking or using public transport, and so may save a few quid for the evening ahead.
Alternatively, if you want to check out several spots at once without having to run around, head to the famous London Eye. In case your party has done this before – why not give it a new twist by booking either a champagne flight, a private capsule or a chocolate tasting experience? The Eye is happy to accommodate (www.londoneye.com).
Even better to get you into your new high rolling mood; get up to South Bank’s OXO Tower (www.harveynichols.com). Famed for its stunning views from both inside and outside on the terrace, superb fare and fine champagne, it makes a fantastic stop for both lunch and dinner – and your bride-to-be will no doubt spot a few proposals around her to get her in the mood.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Ladies who lunch have to hit the shops first. Our favourite spots for a little credit card bashing are either Bond Street (with the fantastic Selfridges), South Kensington or Portobello Road (Do not miss the cupcakes at Hummingbird Bakery – the original Sugar Daddies. www.hummingbirdbakery.com). Alternatively, those who are missing Dubai will no doubt want a peek at the brand new Westfield Mall in Shepherd’s Bush, supposedly rather like Festival City, with designer and boutique buys.
Once the girly squeals have reached fever point, head to the Piccadilly Theatre to watch theatreland’s equivalent of 1987 Hollywood musical, Dirty Dancing. The adaptation is inspired – and Leanne Rowe, the actress currently playing Baby, is totally Jennifer Grey pre-surgery.
Take a look at:
Kitsch Cabaret every Saturday at Madame JoJo's These nights are especially geared towards hen nights and birthdays. Expect over the top and fairly cheesy cabaret and burlesque with dressed-up waitresses and boylesque strippers. www.madamejojos.com
La Clique, London Hippodrome This is one of the best shows in London, full of sexy, surreal and breathtaking performers. But hurry – it’s only running until June 14. www.lacliquelondon.com
Burlesque classes Head to the Wam Bam Club, once a month at Cafe de Paris. You’ll start with a cheeky burlesque taster class, and then it's all dressed-up variety and burlesque by some of the country's finest. www.wambamclub.com
Where to stay
The Intercontinental, Park Lane Central, but quiet and overlooking the nearby park and in Buckingham Palace, London’s Intercon’ is one of the city’s original hotel heavy weights. It was even once a royal residence (so, in effect, you can play prince and princess for the time you stay there). The rooms are spacious, the beds luxurious and the service impeccable – help is always at hand, without being at all invasive. Ideal for a big group of gals is Elemis, the inhouse Spa – the tropical rain shower is especially good for two, providing ample opportunity to gossip while giving your skin a new glow. And after all that detoxing – you can indulge at the modish Cookbook Café. www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental
Dubai to London Emirates fly five times daily to Heathrow and three times daily to Gatwick. Fares to both currently go from Dhs2,240. See www.emirates.com.