Traditionally known for maintaining a stiff upper lip, London is enjoying its Cool Britannia status, as emerging neighborhoods develop their own Bohemian twists. The wave started several years ago with the popularity of Notting Hill, but now other formerly downtrodden sections of the city are blossoming into diverse locales for residents and visitors alike. The trendy East End neighborhood of Shoreditch has become the epicenter of the London arts scene. The White Cube2 gallery on Hoxton Square is where the artists create, and Shoreditch Electricity Showrooms and Real Greek is where they go to eat. The formerly derelict Canary Wharf, hard by the Thames River, has been given a dose of respectability now that Nobu Matsuhisa’s Ubon restaurant and a Four Seasons hotel have opened.
The design-conscious trend of minimal and sleek guest rooms is still going strong, led by the vaunted One Aldwych boutique hotel and the newly chic Berkeley in Knightsbridge with its popular Blue Bar. Even classic hotels such as Claridge’s are deemed cool, especially since Gordon Ramsay, the three-starred Michelin chef, opened his eponymous French restaurant there to much praise.