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Trip Ideas

10 Hottest Spots in London Now

From an urban swimming pond in King’s Cross to underground theater in Waterloo, we explore the hottest new openings in the Big Smoke this summer. Next up: San Francisco, Miami, Vegas, Paris, LA, Chicago, and New York

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1

King’s Cross Pond Club

In an unlikely spot behind King’s Cross Station, London’s biggest transport hub, this pop-up pond is part art installation, part urban swimming pool. It’s made from salvaged bricks, and the water is cleaned using wetland flora and submerged plants, for chemical-free bathing. Just imagine that the surrounding cranes are towering palm trees, and you can segue from the capital to the coast in the blink of an eye.

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2

Summer Tales Street Food Market

Snack-hop between food trucks every weekend until August 29, as the Summer Tales street food festival brings a (concrete) jungle theme to a parking lot in Shoreditch. Kick back on a hammock, shoot the breeze on a rope swing chair or work up an appetite on one of the elevated adventure trails. The food comes courtesy of London street food stalwarts Morty & Bob’s (grilled cheese), Nanny Bill’s (meatballs) and the Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack. On the drinks front, there’s a frozen punch bar and cold pressed juices for health-conscious hipsters.

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3

The Line Sculpture Trail

Make like Johnny Cash and walk the Line, a new three-mile sculpture trail that runs along east London’s waterways between the O2 and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. You’ll see striking works by Brit artists including Damien Hirst and Turner Prize winner Martin Creed. For a caffeine fix en route, swing by View Tube, an artsy, community-funded café in a recycled neon-green shipping container overlooking the Olympic stadium.

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4

The Ivy

This celeb-packed West End institution has attracted stars from stage and screen since it opened in a Covent Garden townhouse in 1917. After a five-month revamp in which the artworks, glassware and furniture were auctioned off, the Ivy reopens June 1. The famous stained glass windows remain, keeping the paparazzi at bay while diners get cozy in the intimate Art Deco–style booths. The menu of British comfort food classics is reasonably priced, but if you’re not on the A-list, expect to wait several months for a table.

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Photo by Jane Hobson

5

Alice’s Adventures Underground

Take a trip down the rabbit hole to mark the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s trippy tome with an immersive theater performance by Les Enfants Terribles. Alice’s Adventures Underground runs throughout the summer at the Vaults, a subterranean arts venue under Waterloo Station. Follow a cast of 30 through secret bookcases and along checkered corridors to a climatic Mad Hatter’s tea party in a wacky Victorian greenhouse. Afterward you’ll be ready for a stiff drink at the outdoor bar, where you can pair your cocktail with a round of croquet (using flamingo mallets, naturally).

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6

24-Hour London Underground

Mind the gap without watching the clock this summer as the London Underground launches 24-hour tube service. For the first time trains will run all night long on Friday and Saturday, from September 12. Cheers to that.

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7

Craft London

This three-tier food emporium is a collaboration between two Brit superstars, chef Stevie Parle and interior design guru Tom Dixon. Coffee is roasted on-site at the ground-floor café, meat is cured and smoked at the restaurant, and honey from the rooftop beehive sweetens the cocktails at the bar. Don’t miss the spacious terrace, which offers 360-degree views across the Thames to Canary Wharf.

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8

Netil 360 Rooftop Bar

Catering to the bearded creative crowd, this rooftop spot in Hackney is working space by day and fun-filled playground by night. If you’re on deadline, make a beeline for one of the wooden desks, then come evening unwind with a yoga session, film screening or croquet game, while live reggae is played in the background. Bonus: This summer expect to be served small batch beers and tapas dishes from Spain.

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9

South Bank Slides

One of the highlights of the Southbank Centre’s summer program is a retrospective exhibit celebrating contemporary Belgian artist Carsten Höller. A pair of giant spiraling tubes will descend from the Hayward Gallery’s glass pyramid roof to the sidewalk, and visitors can ride down them. Just don’t go head first.

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10

The Lawn Pop-Up Bar

Pair a great British cocktail (Pimm’s) with an iconic London view (Tower Bridge) at the Lawn, a pop-up riverfront bar close to St. Katharine Docks. The patriotic drink menu includes wines from English vineyards as well as London-brewed beer.