lbhblog

Mar 312014
 

Paul O’Pray is the Head Concierge of London Bridge Hotel, the independent, four star property located just steps away from London Bridge and The Shard London.   He has worked for the hotel for over 16 years this May and has become famous or perhaps infamous for his idiosyncratic musical choices shared via social media streams.  We caught up with him to ask him for his personal London favourites.

exterior

You obviously love the area – what hidden gems are there hereabouts?

There’s Borough Market of course – unbeatable but I think the biggest gem in the collection has to be the Old Operating Theatre museum – just around the corner from us.  It offers a glimpse into the Victorian age and is atmospheric and bursting with character – a very unique attraction.

The Old Operating Theatre by Sue Lowry

I also like Southwark Cathedral just a couple of minutes walk from us across the road.  It’s a very peaceful oasis in the heart of the city – they offer a daily prayer and sometimes, it’s a very soothing place to visit and be at peace.  There’s a monument to Shakespeare and the Marchioness memorial of course – I always stop for a moment there. Oh and I love the George Inn.  The food is very good – there’s a mix of tourists and city types – it has a wonderful atmosphere and you can really feel the history – the coaches which must have pulled in here for refreshment before travelling onto Dover.

the-george-inn

The George Inn by Sue Lowry

Oh and did you know, the captain of the Mayflower is buried in Bermondsey at the St Mary the Virgin Church in Rotherhide.  Christopher Jones was his name.  London has a wonderful maritime history – and I love its seafaring history.

st-jamess-park

St James Park by Sue Lowry

What else do you love about London?

I enjoy our parks – especially Hyde Park. Full of little gardens – you can really lose yourself in there and completely forget you are in the centre of the capital.  I’m a bit of a gardener too so I always visit Regent’s and St James’s Parks to see what’s going on.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

 

Mar 172014
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we bring you our twist on the classic Cuban cocktail, made with fresh kiwi, white rum and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

To make this fresh and fun cocktail you will need:

  • 1 ripe kiwi peeled and sliced
  • 50ml white rum
  • 50ml pressed apple juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup

In the bottom of a cocktail maker muddle the kiwi and add the rest of the ingredients and shake well over ice, then double strain and garnish with a slice of kiwi. Sit back and enjoy!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Mar 102014
 

There is so much to see in London but for newcomers, (and for Londoners like myself who have never done it),  my suggestion would be to visit the myriad of attractions that surround the Tower of London.  This suggested day out requires both stamina and good walking shoes!

Coming in via Tower Hill Underground and heading for the underpass, you might do a double take as I did when you notice a Roman statue staring at you.  This is not just any Roman centurion – it’s actually a statue of Emperor Trajan and he stands proudly in front of one of the largest parts of the Roman wall still in existence.  The London Wall (as its now known) used to surround the Roman city of Londinium.  (When you have time, a walk around the London Wall is another great “to do”, taking around two hours to complete and you can download a PDF of the route via the Museum of London.)

Anyway – keep heading onwards, following the crowds and in front of you, will loom the fortress of the Tower of London – a palace and a prison where many a terrified citizen has entered and never exited … alive.  It was built to awe and subjugate Londoners and the key building (and the one I headed to immediately) is the White Tower.  What really amazed me when I entered however was the pure scale of the site.  It really is enormous and there is so much to see and so many batiments to walk that you can spend a good few hours here.

Just inside the entrance, you come across a water gate.  This is the infamous Traitor’s Gate – trust me, you don’t want to enter the Tower of London this way – the clue is in the name.  Bad news.

Did you know the Tower of London used to house a Royal Menagerie (AKA zoo) around the time of King John too?  These rather good wire statues give an idea of the other “prisoner” inhabitants of the Tower.

What I really liked?  The costumed actors who inter-acted in perfect character with the public as you walked around.  These children are entranced.  I also liked all the cafes and restaurants scattered around the complex – all are good, well priced and ideal for quick re-fuelling.

Refreshed and revived, from here, it’s but a short walk to the nearby Tower Bridge.  I’ve always had a fascination with this particular London attraction as my god-father used to be Bridge Master here.

Shame he never did get to take me on a private tour but the friendly peeps here make everyone feel at home.  You ride up the lifts to see the walkways (little tip – take photos only from the tiny windows that open above the displays) – descending and walking across the bridge to go downstairs to see the engine rooms.  Just brilliant.

Now walking alongside the River Thames, my next suggested pit-stop is HMS Belfast – a tethered warship just steps from (and photographed from) Tower Bridge.  A World War II cruiser, she saw service from 1939 – 1963 when she retired.

HMS Belfast opened to the public on Trafalgar Day, 1971 under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum.  Today she is the last remaining vessel of her type – one of the largest and most powerful light cruisers ever built.

There’s lots to see on board so a good tip is to leave around 90 minutes for your visit – I highly recommend it and kiddies in particular adore it.

OK, onwards and upwards again just along from HMS Belfast and you come across these amazing public artworks along the footpath.  I couldn’t see the artist’s name for this one – as you can see, it was otherwise engaged – but they are certainly both thought-provoking or amusing – depending on your point of view.

Trundling along the path, I next suggest a quick visit to Shakespeare’s Globe – the recreation of one of London’s famous Elizabethan theatres just a few feet along from where it originally stood.

We have American political refugee, Sam Wanamaker, to thank for this amazing building – without him, it surely would never have happened.  Thanks Sam.

Enjoy one of the many plays enacted on this famous stage (did you see it in Shakespeare in Love?) or just come for a tour of the building.  Quick tip – bring a comfy cushion along or hire one at the Globe if you come to a play – they are wooden seats and the plays can be long in duration.  Enough said.

You will hear all about the South Bank of London and its history – renowned for frivolity and excesses of all kinds and kept at arm’s length from the more serious-minded citizens of The City of London who forbade the operation of such “palaces of debauchery” within its square mile.  Tsk, Tsk.

On for another culture boost and just in the shadow of the Globe lies Tate Modern.  One of the UK’s top three tourist attractions, Tate Modern is housed inside the former Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station.  Imaginatively converted by Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron, the views from the top floor restaurant are some of London’s best.  Reservations recommended.

After this day of heroic activity, crawl back home or head for the nearest bar ….. and relax.  Job well done.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

 

Mar 042014
 

Creative Head Barman Carlo Pallone at Quarter Bar & Lounge  is a cocktail-crafting genius – making everything from classic drinks such as the Old-Fashioned, to his masterpiece to celebrate  The Shard – The Shard-Ini.

Appropriately named, The Shard-Ini takes customers to new heights with its watermelon and passion fruit flavours. For full details on how to make the cocktal, read on…

Ingredients

  • Watermelon (middle part)
  • Passion Fruit
  • Lime Juice
  • Sugar Syrup
  • Passion Fruit Puree
  • Passion Fruit Liquor
  • Vanilla Infused Vodka

1)      Crush the middle part of some watermelon and passion fruit into a glass

2)      Add a dash of lime juice, passion fruit purée and sugar syrup

3)      Add passion fruit liquor and two shots of vanilla infused vodka (to make this insert a some vanilla pods into a                 bottle of vodka for 3-4 days)

4)      Shake and double strain in to a glass garnished with watermelon.

If all this seams like far too much effort, head down to Quarter Bar & Lounge and Carlo will conjure one up for you… you will not be disappointed! Located just three minutes walk away from London Bridge Station, Quarter Bar & Lounge, next  to London Bridge Hotel is the perfect stop off en-route from work (or to – on a bad day).

 

Feb 242014
 

Just a short walk from London Bridge Hotel, is the ever present reminder to the Great Fire of London – The Monument (built by Christopher WrenRobert Hooke). The 61 metre column stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London. It was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City.

Inside The Monument is a winding stair case with 311 carved stone steps – The Challenge – to reach the top – *interesting fact alert* the height of the building is the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began – the reward – panoramic views of London and a certificate to take home with a frame- worth every step up and back down – phew!

The Monument is open daily and can be found on Fish Street Hill, London EC3R 8AH.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Feb 172014
 

Having one of those mornings? You know the ones… you wake up on the wrong side of bed, use hairspray instead of deodorant, lose a shoe in the gap on the underground, find a leaking pen in your handbag… the list could go on!

Don’t panic – a two minute stroll from London Bridge Station your oasis awaits… Quarter Bar & Lounge, with its relaxed, chic styling and comfortable lounge chairs and booths, you can recover from any morning-mishaps with one of their delightful breakfasts. From poached eggs to fresh fruit salad, omelettes to a British favourite – smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, there is something for all tastes.

Eggs Benedict 6

Take the Eggs Benedict, perfectly poached eggs amongst a tower of thick, crispy bacon served on a toasted muffin with Hollandaise sauce – it is actually reminiscent of a ray of sunshine on your plate!

Sausage Sandwich 3

This two-tier sausage sandwich is a far cry from the builder’s favourite breakfast, with its luxury sausages and salad garnish. Enjoy with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, to replace that spring in your step.

Breakfasts are perfectly complemented by a range of tea and coffee, expertly crafted by the bars baristas, from a quick-pick-me-up espresso to indulgent hot chocolates, available in a variety of flavours.

So pop along to Quarter Bar & Lounge to start the morning in style, prices on their breakfast menu start at just GBP4!  Opening hours are from 8am weekdays, (9am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday), serving the breakfast menu till noon each day.  Oh and Wifi is complimentary of course.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Feb 132014
 

For this episode of Shaken not Stirred we bring Quarter Bar & Lounge twist on the classic Cuban cocktail, made with fresh kiwi, white rum and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

To make this fresh and fun cocktail you will need:

  • 1 ripe kiwi peeled and sliced
  • 50ml white rum
  • 50ml pressed apple juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup 

In the bottom of a cocktail maker muddle the kiwi and add the rest of the ingredients and shake well over ice, then double strain and garnish with a slice of kiwi. Sit back and enjoy!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Feb 102014
 

 

For this episode of Shaken not Stirred we bring you a classic that has been on the cocktail menu since 1870, the Whiskey Sour!

To make this classic you will need:

  • 50ml bourbon
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 25ml sugar syrup
  • 3 drops of bitters
  • 1 egg white

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice (add the egg last) and mix well. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lemon and a maraschino cherry. Sit back and watch the day go by!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Feb 052014
 

When you reach number 66 Tooley Street, take a look – and perhaps a double take – towards the sky – yes, your eyes are not deceiving you – that IS a rocket attached to the side of the building.  This V2 Rocket, looking to all intents and purposes as if it was sitting on a launch pad, ready for action, publicises one of London’s best kept secrets and is largely overlooked by the travelling populace rushing to work. Below this relic of the Second World War, a sign directs you to the “Air Raid Shelter” – and by following the arrow, to the Winston Churchill’s, Britain at War Experience.

Once inside, a lift transports you back in time to a London Underground air raid shelter as it might have looked in the 1940′s. Greeted by a young girl and her pet you walk past bunks of sleeping Londoners, taking safe haven from the bombing raids overhead.

The soft tones of Vera Lynn  and the inspirational voice of Winston Churchill draw you in to watch footage voiced by letters home.

To the right is a mock up of a canteen, paying true homage to the English stiff upper lip – “when in doubt brew up.”

Having watched the powerful and emotional footage, you stroll through to the museum with wax works and artefacts designed to give a true sense of what it must have been like in 1940′s Southwark – gas masks, ration books – it’s all here factually presented and realistically portrayed. Even this inspirational chap below makes an appearance…

Looks familiar?  It’s Winston of course.  Having had a feel for civilian life a scene from the mess hall completes the tour.

However, this is not the end.   Take the stairs from the mess hall to the blitz: a picture perfect scene from war torn Tooley Street. Rubble smoulders on the ground, wardens and firemen rescue women from burning buildings, sirens sound the alert and the bombers can be heard over head.

A truly inspiring way to spend an afternoon and a very evocative WW2 experience.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Feb 042014
 

It has been a long argued topic of how to create the perfect ‘Bloody Mary’.  There are many different preparations to suit people’s individual tastes and this one has been prepared by Italian barman, Nicola.  Quarter Bar and Lounge has created what they deem a “rouge masterpiece in a tall glass”, that will have any customer leaving with a new favourite!

Method and ingredients

  • Frost glass with a salt and crumble mix
  • In the bottom of the mixer:
  • Slice three cherry tomatoes
  • Add a handful of fresh basil
  • Give ‘a jolly good shake of salt and pepper’

Then:

  • Pour in a generous splash of tobasco and Worcester Sauce and  a tablespoon of lemon juice
  •  ”Muddle” extremely gently
  • Pour in 50ml of premium Vodka
  • Top with ice
  • Add 100ml of a Premium high end tomato juice
  • Shake GENTLY
  • Pour with ice into a tall glass (do not strain)
  • Garnish with more basil tomatoes and pepper
  • Finish with two drinking straws into the glass and enjoy immediately!

The staff at Quarter Bar and Lounge believe they have created the perfect ‘Bloody Mary’ – and their secret weapon?  The freshest of ingredients bought at nearby Borough Market on a daily basis.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.