For more contemporary objects in a range of budgets, head to the Contemporary Ceramics Center across from The British Museum. With shelves of colorful mugs, plates, bowls and sculptures, this is a quiet, uncrowded place to discover Britons whose inspiration in clay and porcelain translates into usable artworks. A free exhibition of new works by the potter Jack Doherty of Northern Ireland begins on Thursday.
From Palette to Palate
The trend of chefs bringing international street food indoors (and charging accordingly) continues at the new outpost of Hoppers, bringing Sri Lankan dishes to the edge of the tony Marylebone district. Larger and airier than its Soho location, where lines begin to form by 5 p.m., this Hoppers accepts limited reservations for its less-dense dining room. Those unfamiliar with Sri Lanka’s savory curries, crispy breads and aromatic relishes will want to try the “Feast,” which at 28.5 pounds, or $38.76, includes at least six different small dishes with all the trimmings. There is also a “Vegetarian Feast” for the same price. Cocktails are fun and vary from the lighter cucumber-scented arrack and ginger beer creation “Arrack Attack No. 2” (£9.5) to the heavier “Master Blaster,” with whiskeylike notes and a frozen coconut ice ball that slowly melts to add sweetness to the smoky drink (£10).
Hitting the Books
Libraries are not always musty places of yore with treasures out of view for only the privileged few. At the British Library, you can see Magna Carta, the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and Jane Austen, and lyrics handwritten by the Beatles. And beginning on Friday, the free exhibition “Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound” invites you into booths to hear rare recordings.
Seeking the Peace
London is a city of squares, many of them once owned by royals but now open to the public. A favorite is Tavistock Square, named for Francis Russell, Marquess of Tavistock, but which has a sadder more recent history as the site of a terrorist bombing on a double-decker bus in 2005. The park is now a tribute to peace with a national memorial having been added to a tree-lined space of public sculpture including a statue of Gandhi, and a stone commemorating conscientious objectors.
Beyond the Pub
Gin is a quintessentially British tipple and you can indulge in small or large quantities. For small, try the City of London Distillery, whose bar has candle light, comfy wingback chairs and wooden tables next to a copper still. For large, book a Gin Journey through either Shoreditch, Bermondsey or Notting Hill — for a chauffeured tour that includes at least five cocktails in at least five venues like “hidden” bars or distilleries (from £63.30 to £73.85).
While The Vault bar — with its 3,000 original safe deposit boxes — inside The Ned in the financial district is a members-only affair, the hotel’s open-plan ground floor has several distinct bar-restaurant areas, and live music after 5 p.m. Head for The Nickel Bar for its twist on a classic Italian cocktail, The Nedgroni (£11) or the American-themed Root Beer Mule (£11.5).
Afternoon tea is a staple in London and everyone is scrambling to stand out from the clotted cream-and-scones crowd. The Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel has enlisted Candice Brown, the winner of the seventh season of “The Great British Bake Off,” to add her star-baker status to a tiered selection of sweets and savories, including her leek and smoked haddock tart with Gruyere cheese, feta-zucchini scones and peanut butter-and-jelly profiteroles (£35).
A Pod With a View, and a Flute
Before you discount the London Eye as an overcrowded, over-branded adventure, consider this: You can skirt the lines by booking the higher-end Champagne Experience. The online price of £36 includes a flute (or more) of chilled Pommery Brut Royal Champagne and fast-track entry to the head of the class. The best time to go is just before sunset, as the wash of blues and pinks gives the urban landscape a watercolor glow.
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