West is best: West London’s cultural offerings

Words by
Flora Drummond-Smith

13th April 2018

From art and design exhibitions in Kensington to theatre performances in Piccadilly, we seek out the best culture that west London has to offer this spring

The Tudor suite at the Gore Hotel
The Tudor suite at the Gore Hotel, Kensington

The Tudor suite at the Gore Hotel, Kensington

9am Wake up amid the jewel-hued splendour and plush drapery of the Tudor Suite at The Gore London in Kensington. Wind your way through the dark mahogany-panelled corridors lined with thick tapestries to an ample buffet-style breakfast complete with house-cured salmon and home-made compôtes.

10am Admire the hotel’s white stucco terraces before walking up bustling Kensington High Street to the Design Museum for Ferrari: Under the Skin (until 15 April), which features rare cars and memorabilia as it explores the glamour, passion and drive behind the iconic car brand. For those who prefer to keep an eye on the future, visit the Design Museum’s LOEWE Craft Prize 2018 exhibition (4 May-17 June), which celebrates artistic merit in modern craftsmanship.

11.30am Time for a quick coffee and a cupcake at the nearby, pastel-hued Primrose Bakery before wandering across to Leighton House Museum. As the former home and studio of Victorian artist Frederic Leighton, it is a treasure trove of Islamic tiles and intricate mosaics. Displayed in lavish surroundings, it is easy to while away many hours here.

1pm Head to Belgravia for lunch at The Alfred Tennyson. Tucked away on quiet Motcomb Street, it offers refined pub food in a laid-back yet modern space. Start with beef croquettes served with truffle mayonnaise, before tucking into a chestnut gnocchi, which is well balanced with celeriac purée and roasted quince.

3pm Fully restored, pick up the pace at the V&A with Ocean Liners: Speed & Style (until 17 June), which looks at the history, design and interiors of some of the world’s most glamorous ships, including the Titanic, Normandie and Queen Mary.

Titanic in dry dock V&A
Titanic in dry dock, part of the V&A's latest exhibition on the most stylish ocean liners

Titanic in dry dock, part of the V&A's latest exhibition on the most stylish ocean liners

4pm Stop for a restorative eau de nil cup of tea in The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason before making a beeline for the Royal Academy of Arts. On 19 May, the institution will unveil a transformed cultural campus with an expanded exhibition programme and free displays of art and architecture to coincide with its 250th birthday. And don’t miss Tacita Dean: Landscape (19 May-12 August), in which the artist explores the notion of landscape through natural-found objects, a mountainous blackboard drawing, cloudscapes on slate and an experimental 35mm film. The show will inaugurate the Academy’s new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries in Burlington Gardens.

Façade of the Royal Academy's Burlington Gardens in 2018
Façade of the Royal Academy's Burlington Gardens in 2018

Façade of the Royal Academy's Burlington Gardens in 2018

6pm For an early dinner, book ahead at the Galvin at The Athenaeum in Mayfair. The interiors — like the menu — balance tradition with modernity featuring parquet floors and swish furniture. Ingredients are sourced from farmers around the UK and dishes such as the Dorset crab lasagne and the braised venison with gnocchi offer a surprising take on the classics. 

Smoked salmon at Galvin at The Athenaeum
Smoked salmon at Galvin at The Athenaeum

Smoked salmon at Galvin at The Athenaeum

7.30pm Weaving mystery, comedy and menace, Harold Pinter’s second play, The Birthday Party (until 14 April), is fittingly revived at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Creativity, sexual passion and Englishness are explored in David Hare’s The Moderate Soprano (5 April- 30 June), about the founding of Glyndebourne opera house, at the Duke of York’s. If you fancy something a little more raw and energetic, English National Ballet’s Voices of America at Sadler’s Wells (12-21 April) offers a mixed bill of pieces featuring neo-classical ballet with an American attitude. The exciting programme includes a world premiere by William Forsythe created specially for the company, as well as work by Jerome Robbins and Aszure Barton. 

English National Ballet
Dancer' in Fantastic Beings, English National Ballet. Photo:Laurent Liotardo

Dancer' in Fantastic Beings, English National Ballet. Photo:Laurent Liotardo

 

 

THREE OF THE BEST

The silver box

Decorated with delicate silver latticework on the lid, this Stuart Devlin box is as much a treasure as those to be kept inside it. £4,400, hortonlondon.co.ukgraysantiques.com 

Caran d'Ache Machine
Caran d'Ache Machine à Tailler

Caran d'Ache Machine à Tailler

The sharpener

Giving this retro 1930s design a new lease of life, Caran d’Ache’s snazzy pencil sharpener is now availble in a stylish brut rose gold. 
£175, carandache.com 

The art book

Admire famous “selfies” through the ages in photography, painting, drawing and sculpture with Phaidon’s 500 Self Portraits. £19.95, phaidon.com