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By Chere Di Boscio
In my own personal experience, Paris is officially the world’s most boring city at New Year’s Eve. There are no fireworks, no huge parties, and not much happening at all in the streets. On the other hand, New York is fabulous, with the dropping of the ball in Times Square, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Brazil, you’ll be dressing in white and dancing ecstatically on the beach to ring in the new year.
But one of the greatest places to be for New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly London. It’s one of the most eccentric, exciting, cosmopolitan cities in the world, with so much to do, and for free: many of the world’s best museums are here, and have no entry fee, and the New Year’s fireworks display is second to none.
There’s now a £10 charge to see the fireworks at Embankment, but never fear: the display is so spectacular, it’s easily seen from Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill or a high point in the city. Book your dinner at the Shard or the OXO Tower, or just hang out at South Bank and you’ll still be wowed….for free!
You could also end the year with a bang at one of London’s many infamous clubs, then detox at any of the multiple organic restaurants and spas that dot the city. Could there be any better destination for a wonderful New Year’s Eve stay?
Here are our suggestions of where to make the last days of the year truly unforgettable!
Eco-friendly Luxury Hotels
This luxury eco-hotel is the perfect place for those concerned about sustainability to unwind in during a hectic week.
The super-quiet hotel uses double glazing to keep out noise and chills; LED lighting wherever possible, and provides guests with organic bathroom amenities from Plantation. But some of the hotel’s greenest features involve water: the 18 metre long pool is completely chlorine free, using minerals to purify the water instead, and the EVAC drainage system is used in the toilets-it’s a system that uses a kind of vacuum rather than water to get rid of waste. The shower heads are also water-saving, whilst maintaining excellent water pressure. And of course, One Aldwych is kitted out with the plush decor and excellent service you’d expect from a top rated hotel in this city.
Without a question one of the hippest addresses in London, it’s great that the Qbic hotel is also eco-friendly!
The Qbic design hotel is based on a brilliantly simple concept: take an unused building, equip each room with a specially designed cubic pod containing everything you need from a hotel room, combine this with funky art made from upcycled materials and hey presto – you have a hotel with a winning idea.
The Qbic Hotel pods are a curious mix of arty and streamlined. The units themselves are white, the mattresses extremely comfortable and brightly coloured motifs are splashed across the headboard space. This sets off the white to create a space that is fresh, yet very cosy. Little touches from recycled objects decorate the rooms, like bedside lamps made of garden hoses and a clothes horse of dimensions rarely seen anywhere. Its creativity and quirkiness make staying in this hotel a truly unique experience.
All Natural Spas
There’s certainly no shortage of eco-friendly spas to choose from, but these are by far our faves.
Located throughout London including in trendy Primrose Hill, Cowshed offers very reasonably priced manicures and pedicures, all done while you watch your very own vintage TV. Downstairs in one of the seven treatment rooms, you can indulge in anything from an organic body polish to a deep tissue massage. And of course all the products used are from Cowshed’s own all natural range. Afterwards, the adjoining cafe beckons, with organic teas and homemade lunches.
The brand uses only the finest natural and organic ingredients in their products, which are then used in their spa to convey relaxing massages, facials and aromatherapy sessions. 100% vegetarian with vegan options available, both the spa treatments and products are reasonably priced. Neal’s Yard is also a CarbonNeutral company, and uses organic towels, cotton wool and natural cleaning products, always recycling as much they can to further reduce their impact on the planet.
Confession time: we’ve never been to this little spa, but because so many people have raved about it, we couldn’t leave it off the list. Priding themselves on using only organic materials for their beauty treatments and all-natural colouring products for their hair services, Little Jannah offers incredible value for money (for London). Their facials, for example, use only Avocado Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and Elemi oil to combat dry, exhausted skin, then lift the spirit with organic Jasmin Oil–all for only £40 for 50 minutes. Sounds like heaven!
Organic Restaurants in London
Located on a sunny street corner in trendy Notting Hill, Bumpkin offers up ‘a taste of seasonal Britain’. The menu changes with the seasons, and prides itself on featuring the very best of fresh British market fare with an emphasis on organic ingredients. Think pumpkin risotto with pine nuts in winter, or salad greens with seasonal herbs and edible flowers in summer.
Organic Pizza doesn’t get much better than this: thin, crispy and full of flavour, our fave is the goat’s cheese and spinach, topped with red peppers. An organic traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding is the perfect ending to this calorific feast–walk it off by strolling through Portobello Market, one of London’s best outdoor markets, held outdoors every Saturday.
With two branches in Holborn and Barbican, Amico Bio’s always-evolving menu is sourced from ingredients fresh from chef Pasquale Amico’s family farm in Capua, Italy, and offers a deliciously varied range of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan dishes, created from seasonal products with an authentic and traditional Italian spirit.
Retoxing: London After Hours
London is famous for its off-the-least nightlife and has plenty of hot spots to choose from. Here’s but a wee sample:
The Cuckoo Club
London’s finest regularly flock to The Cuckoo Club for a night of dancing, drinking, and socialising. In order to get in, though, be ready to arrive very early, as the line will get extremely long and you may end up wasting the night waiting to get inside. American and British celebrities, such as Eva Longoria, as well as British royalty like Prince Harry, have all been spotted here.
Cafe de Paris
We do miss Paris a bit when in London, so Cafe de Paris, which triples as a bar, restaurant, and club, reminds us a bit of home. Famous people have frequented this location since the 1920s. A few of the many celebs that have enjoyed some time here include George Michael, Robbie Williams, and Mick Jagger.
A favourite with Princes Harry and William (before he became a dad), Mahiki provides a dance floor to party the night away, no matter what day of the week it is. But don’t forget to check out the lounge, too, where you can purchase delicious exotic cocktails. Be on the lookout for celebrities like Rihanna, David Hasselhoff, Jay Z, Beyonce, and of course Prince Harry.
The creme of London’s creme hang out at this exclusive bar, which won in the ‘Best Nights’ category at the London Bar & Club Awards. Champagne on ice and huge bottles of vodka await those who can afford a table–think City bankers, European aristocrats and British celebrities.
Sanderson Hotel Bar
Penelope Cruz, Mariah Carey, and many others have been spotted here, which is also popular as a chilled-out after-party spot. Interesting interior decor by Phillipe Starck, amazing cocktails the opportunity to spot Hollywood royalty like Cameron Diaz are just a few of the many reasons why this place is so popular.