The Layover: London, UK

Take in the view at the highest bar in town, swim a few laps in a pool designed by a starchitect and taste the city's best salchichón.

Stay: South Place Hotel

South Place Hotel

Located in the City next to an old-school pub, this property features bedrooms furnished with modern pieces by the likes of Eero Saarinen and exhibits works from local galleries such as Jealous and Hoxton Art Projects. There’s a members’ club and a palm-festooned garden reserved for hotel guests – both of which rate higher than the boardroom for meetings. Make sure to stop by the Michelin-starred Angler restaurant, helmed by One Aldwych Hotel alum Tony Fleming, which true to its name features fresh-caught seafood from Cornwall and Orkney. The table you want is the 14-seat Chef’s View, where parties can peek into the kitchen and turn around for views of Norman Foster’s “Gherkin” office tower.

3 South Place,

Eat: Barrafina


The new location of this tapas bar launched by restaurateurs Sam and Eddie Hart, near the Savoy Hotel in Covent Garden, has the same chummy atmosphere and the same to-kill-for salchichón, grilled octopus and milk-fed lamb as the original. And there’s a bit more breathing space here: Apart from the private dining room downstairs, there are 29 seats at the bar, with elbow room for an intimate confab.

10 Adelaide St.,

Drink: Gong


Seemingly overnight, London has become a city of views. The Shard skyscraper, designed by Renzo Piano, is the tallest of the lot. The building’s Asian-themed cocktail bar, Gong, opened last spring on the 52nd floor – higher than any of the Shard’s three restaurants and any other bar in town. Accordingly, drinks are high-impact: craft gin, vintage Bolly and a custom old fashioned sweetened with a choice of local honey.

31 St. Thomas St., level 52,

Shop: Spitalfields


East Enders watched in awe as the neighbourhood of Spitalfields matured from hipster heartland to a serious alternative to Mayfair, with some of West London’s classiest clothiers opening outposts. First to land was Barbour, followed by Fred Perry and English label Albam, an originator of the “new London dandy” look. Bespoke tailors Eveleigh & Read set up shop in a historic Georgian terrace. And modern groomer Murdock London was so impressed with Hackett’s curated boutique, it opened a salon in a nook by the window.

Around Commercial and Brushfield Streets

Sweat: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

London got its first building by starchitect Zaha Hadid when it hosted the Olympic Games in 2012. In April, her Aquatics Centre finally opened to the public when the entire Olympic site was christened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and given over to the city. Book a swim in the competition pool any day of the week, from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., for just £4.50, or ride around the track at the dazzling VeloPark for £15 (including bicycle rental). Jogging routes wrap around acres of parkland, weaving through wildflower meadows and historic canals in view of the athletics stadium.