This will be a short post.
We booked a night at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs hipster hangout. Our stay was short as we were not allowed to check-in. Not only was I not wearing tight jeans, but a freak windstorm had taken down the power and the hotel was closing for the night. They refunded our non-refundable reservation.
The hotel IS supercool. Check out there website to imagine a weekend
We arrived in town after naively driving through a sandstorm that kicked up once we turned off the highway. We learned later the road had been closed.
Real ales were not on my radar until I begin researching my trip to London. Londoners refer to what we call cask beers in the states with the term “real ales”.
What stunned me in London pubs was the prevalence and number of taps dedicated to real ales… typically 4 taps per pub. Whereas in the U.S., you only occasionally will see a cask ale and those only appear at very specialized beer enthusiast bars.
The difference between a real ale/ cask al and your typical ale (or lager) is that we American’s almost always are drinking beer that have had additional carbonation added to them after the brewing process. This carbonization with carbon dioxide (CO2) not only makes the beer more fizzy, it also pressirizes the keg to make it easy to tap and dispense.
Real ales, by contrast, need to be drawn with a tap that works like a pneumatic pump.
To my American palate, the mouth-feel of most real ales is unnerving. It tastes like beer, but rather than tickling the tongue, it’s smooth, like water.
The London bartenders often had favorite real ales. It was hard for me to adjust.
My favorite beer, and a bartender recommended it, was not a real ale – instead it was a draught pale ale – Camden. Pale Ale from Camden Town Brewery. I had three and a half pints of that brew at the gastropub null & Last in Kentish Town.
Here are pubs I recall and recommend drinking at if you enjoy beer.
• Bull & Last (Kentish Town)
• The Harp (Soho)
• Ten Bells (East London)
• Exmouth Arms (Islington)
• Feathers (Westminster)
• Fitzroy (Fitzrovia)
• Windmill (Southwark$
Erin and I learned a bit about selecting a way to celebrate NYE in London as we sought to usher in 2012.
Here are tips on both FREE and expensive ways to spend the NYE.
The most enjoyable part of our NYE was FREE. Beat of all we both avoided crowds AND saw the London fireworks over the London Eye live.
We watched from a spot near the Lambeth North tube stop on the Bakerloo line. Here’s a 30 second video looks like from this point.
It was a memorable 11 minutes. We discovered an even better spot on our way over to Elephant & Castle. Our new secret spot is on Black Friar Road between Pocock and Webber. You can fully see half the London Eye from here!
We spent the time before the fireworks at the Windmill pub on The Cut. It was possible to get a seat, people were mellow, and we enjoyed a bottle of prosecco.
We also purchased tickets to Eastern Electrics. I’ve wanted to see the London Electronic music scene for like 10 years. We went to the club at 1:00am and were able to see part of Laurent Gaultier’s set.
Here are some other tips for New Year’s Eve revelry in London;
• Another FREE option that was recommended to us was watching the fireworks show up on the hill in the Hempstaead Heath or at Primrose Hill.
• Book party tickets well in advance of your trip to ensure availability for you top choice
• Consider booking a hotel room overlooking the Thames. You’ll have the choice of watching fireworks in private from your room or booking guests only tickets to a party with a view. I’d look into staying at the Marriott for my next NYE visit.
• Saw one intriguing party at the Savoy for £1.000 if you have an excessive budget.
We had a stand out lunch at the Bull & Last on New Year’s Eve. The restaurant was fully booked, but by going when the gastropub opened we were able to get a seat at the bar.
The food was so good!
We started with a Scotch egg which is a hard cooked egg encased in sausage. I enjoyed several round of Camden Pale Ale from the Cameen Town Brewery.
Erin started with a latte and a well mixed Bloody Mary.
We had a turnip soup and a brown crab macaroni as starters before moving to our main course of mutton (me) and fish plate Erin.
Warning: if the sole reason you’re visiting London is to have every meal at a different acclaimed gastropub, you should not plan to visit during the holiday between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many are owed. The Eagle and The Peasant were both closed for the holidays.
Erin and I stumbled upon a fantastic French Restaurant near the AdelphinTheatre after exiting a performance of One Man, Two Guvnors. The restaurant is Clos Maggiore.
A quick Google search will show many others have appreciated the intimate table settings, fireplace, and enclosed, boughed indoor courtyard for the ambience it sets. The food and most of the server’s are French. Highly recommend this French restaurant as a place to woo your date after a West End show.
We experienced several comedy shows in London – stand-up, improv, and theatrical comedy.
We saw Stewart Lee perform a 90 minute set at the Leicester Square . He performed his 2011 show Carpet Remnant World. If he’s on while you’re visiting and your into smart, liberal comedy – check him out,
We also saw Sam Simmoms perform his inappropriate sketch comedy Meanwhile and Thing’s at the be Soho Theatre. The opening wear he walks out in a NASA space suit to deliver a box of Old El paso to an audience member is unreal. Never have a comedian’s balls been so prevalent in a show. Sam spends most of the ahow wearing t-shirt and shorts pajamas. Sam’s ability to switch gears and inhabit different ridiculous characters back to back is impressive.
We were also lucky enough to James Corden as Frances in One Man, Two Guvnors. Do what you have to to get tickets to this hilarious show. The show is sold out through it’s current engagement, but every day there are day tickers available if you’re willing to wait in line at Adelphi Theatre. I recommend queueing up at 7am to guarantee you get tickets to the show the day of your choice. I arrived at 9:15 am and the matinee and evening shows sold out several people in front of me. For some reason none of them asked for tickets for the next day. I did and thankfully got the last two tix available as returns for the following evening. One Man, Two Guvnors was one of my favorite experiences in London.