My London: the hotel concierge


As told to Katie Gatens

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September 2017

Looking for a classic break in the capital? The Dorchester hotel’s Harry Deasy reveals his city secrets on London’s timeless treasures, from a hidden garden in The Barbican to Hampstead Heath’s cosiest pub.

Bunhill Fields

I’ve been a Londoner for 26 years but I’m always discovering new things. One such place is a beautiful graveyard in the City called Bunhill Fields, the final resting place of London luminaries such as Daniel Defoe and William Blake.

Search flights to London

Don’t miss popping into Daunt Books, a beautiful three-floor Edwardian bookshop that stocks travel guidebooks, maps, travelogues, plus history and politics books, organised by country.

Dennis Severs’ House

If you want an alternative to the big museums, visit Dennis Severs’ House in Shoreditch. Each of the Grade II-listed house’s 10 bedrooms is decorated with antique furniture. Sever, the house’s American owner, recreated the original smells, scents and background music for the period 1724 to 1914 – it’s like going back in time. There’s no electricity so you have to go round by candlelight.

  • The Monument is a London icon with a story behind it © Sung Kuk Kim/Alamy.

    High point

    Built to celebrate the rebuilding of the city after the Great Fire of London, it’s hard to imagine now that The Monument was once one of this city’s tallest structures.£811 pp

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Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican is a well-loved brutalist building renowned for its art exhibitions, theatre and concerts, but don’t miss the Barbican Conservatory. Only open on Sunday afternoons, it’s a hidden oasis of tropical plants, overhanging vines and trickling fountains.

The Ivy

For a classic London meal, you can’t beat Covent Garden’s The Ivy, which turns 100 this year. I love its old-world décor and charm – think stained-glass windows and wood panelling. The fish and chips with mushy peas is my go-to order – you can choose from five or six different fish, from sea bream and halibut to dover sole, but save room for the famous baked Alaska.

  • Step into master bedroom at Dennis Severs’ house © Roelof Bakker.

    Journey with the Huguenots

    In the heart of fashionable, foodie Spitalfields, you can also discover the perfectly preserved home of Huguenot silk-weavers.

  • Enjoy Shepherd’s Pie – and the social scene – at The Ivy © David Griffen.

    Appetite for style

    It was famously beloved the 1990s ‘cool Britannia’ celebrities, but The Ivy is far older – in 2017 it turned 100.

  • Things are heating up in the Barbican’s conservatory © Matt Richardson.

    Brutalist beauty

    There’s a whole world to discover behind the Barbican Centre’s imposing grey façade, including the surprise of a distinctly tropical-feeling conservatory, where afternoon tea is also served.

Hampstead Heath

I live in North London and I love walking on Hampstead Heath and then going to a beautiful 16th-century pub called The Spaniards Inn for a drink afterwards to warm up – it’s very cosy. Kenwood House also has a brilliant art collection and they have classical music there outside in the summer time.

Daunt Books

For off-the-beaten-track boutiques, head to Marylebone High Street. It’s a short walk from The Dorchester and you’ll definitely avoid the crowds. Don’t miss popping into Daunt Books, a beautiful three-floor Edwardian bookshop that stocks travel guidebooks, maps, travelogues, plus history and politics books, organised by country.

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  • Twinings Tea Museum will delight fans of a ‘cuppa’.

    Something’s brewing

    A combination of a museum and a smart flagship store, the venue includes a fun ‘pick-and-mix’ bar where customers can fill a wooden box with different teas.

The Monument

The lookout at The Monument, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is a great spot for a photo. When it was built, the idea was for people to enjoy the view from the top, because back then it was one of the highest spots in the city and there was little else around it, unlike today.

The crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Ronnie Scott’s is the city’s most iconic jazz bar, but a more unusual place to hear live music is the medieval crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields church on the corner of Trafalgar Square. The acoustics are superb.

Fleming Museum

You can visit Alexander Fleming’s old laboratory in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington where he invented penicillin – he discovered it by accident and it’s one of the biggest medical discoveries in history. It’s only open in the mornings from 10:00 to 13:00, Monday to Friday, but you can contact St Mary’s Hospital and arrange a tour outside of those hours.

Twinings

London is synonymous with tea – we’ve been serving afternoon tea at The Dorchester for 86 years – so a visit to the Twinings flagship store at 216 Strand is a must, not least because it’s the oldest tea shop in London. Guests can shop favourite blends to take back home, as well as sampling new flavours or joining a masterclass with an expert tea ambassador. Artist William Hogarth was a big fan, and the story goes that, as a struggling young artist, he racked up such a huge tea bill that he offered to paint a portrait of Richard Twining in lieu of payment – you can see it hanging in the shop.