The Malta Independent 7 February 2023, Tuesday
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When you tire of London…

Tuesday, 6 July 2021, 10:18 Last update: about 3 years ago

Jim Dunn's book ‘Very private and public relations’ is available now in paperback. It's a memoir of growing up gay in 1960s Scotland and his move to London to help create one of the most successful PR companies of its time in the leisure industry. The book tells of business, gay life, relationships and the emergence of the international travel scene

I tend to agree with Dr Johnson... and I never tire of London.

It is truly a wonderful city packed full of interest; no matter what your tastes. I have been devoted to London ever since I arrived as a young 20-odd-year-old into the then media capital, Fleet Street in the City of London, to begin a new life fresh from the wilds of the West Coast of Scotland.

I suspect many of us are panting at the prospect of boarding that aircraft and visiting there soon without quarantine.... and let's hope it is very soon!


There can't be many who haven't been to London for some reason or other and my advice would be, yes, by all means stay right bang in the middle of the action, in the West End but try and make sure you take time, to discover perhaps some of the lesser known experiences... a sail up or down the Thames from Westminster Pier; Greenwich with all its Navel history; eat in the East End of the city - that great area comprising an exotic pot mix of so many nationalities, many of them now third generation British-Asian and create world class cuisine and where some of the greatest ethnic menus, Indian, Pakistani, Italian and Chinese are waiting for you to taste; explore the villages on the Thames like Cookham, Sonning-on-Thames, Bucklebury, Hurley, Pangbourne and Littlewick Green, to name a few. Check what's on at the original East End of London theatre the world-famous Stratford Empire a delightful theatre outpost with its adventurist programmes or pop up to Hampstead Village and explore the cafes, art galleries and bookshops and spot the celebrities with their uncombed hair and sweatpants and then wander the famous Hampstead Heath and those distant views of the capital. Then there's always Highgate Village for some retail therapy.

When you visit London always rest your head, if you can and can afford it and believe me there are some great deals available these days, in central London hotels large and small. Stay in the centre where all the main action is. I have two superb hotels you should consider.

The Dilly in the heart of the West End and a walk away from theatres, restaurants, my favourites being The Wolseley and the original The Ivy in West Street dating back almost 100 years (the others in this now chain are but poor copies), nearby there's Soho with its Chinatown if your taste is for a genuine "Chinese"... you won't be bored with the choice of eateries in this area.

My second suggestion as your hotel base is steeped in Edwardian splendour and with very much a theatrical theme, The Draycott Hotel by Mantis, Chelsea where all 35 rooms and suites have high ceilings and some rooms overlook the wonderful garden bursting with cherry blossom at certain times of the year. Most of the suite rooms have a fireplace and their own fully fitted kitchens.

All bedrooms at the Draycott are individually designed and furnished with Edwardian antiques and relics including prints, antique posters and photographs of some of London's theatrical and artistic luminaries.

At The Draycott you are just a short walk to Harrods and if you want some local colour reading you won't do any better than read the classic Dirk Bogarde book, A Short Walk to Harrods, his memoir of living in the area where he spent his last days. Bogarde was a big UK and international film star of the 50s and 60s and latterly sold millions of copies of his books of memoir. No visit to this area is complete without a mooch around the famous John Sandoe Books in Blacklands Terrace nearby.  Also near is Sloane Square for more retail therapy and home to "the mother ship" as the Peter Jones store, an outpost of the John Lewis Group is known to locals who say if "PJ" doesn't have it .... we go without!  

The Dilly, right on Piccadilly itself and but a kiss away from the world -famous Piccadilly Circus and lover boy himself, Eros, there on his delicate perch, bow and arrow at the ready and surveying the crowds below. I have a great big smacking soft spot for this hotel. I used to use the restaurants and particularly the divine and world-famous Oak Room with its protected oak panelling, for business meetings in the early 80s. It was then called The Piccadilly Hotel and was one of the great Grand Hotels of London. The old girl has now had a huge makeover and she's looking very special indeed. She also has a bit of a ball gown on and now sports her own in-house dance studio. So, get those pumps out and learn, smooth, Latin or ballroom. Yes, she's bang on point. You are promised as a guest an avant-garde vibe "with interesting surprises for all". The refurbishment of all 28 suites and 255 rooms is ongoing, with 39 already completed, still retaining the grand architecture of the original.

The area around Piccadilly is saturated with art galleries, museums and shops many with world famous names and all to be found mainly in the nearby, chic, shopping street Jermyn Street. Floris, Pulbrook & Gould, Hatchards, Fortnum & Mason and shops with everything for that special man in your life.

London, in my humble opinion is the most wonderful city and destination in the world... there will be many who will disagree but one thing is for sure you will get tired as you tour the city, but you will never tire of London.

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