Under the bluest of skies with the sun shining, there’s no better place to be than London come summertime. And the best place to enjoy the city is undoubtedly outdoors! From open air opera to rooftop cocktails, here’s our pick of London’s loveliest summer experiences…
The Posh Picnic
Picnicking is all well and good, but once you’ve eaten al fresco with your own private butler on hand to oversee proceedings, it’s quite difficult to revert to homemade sandwiches and warm beer. Booking the DUKES’ traditional British picnic really means doing things in style. With a menu conceived by the five-star hotel’s Executive Head Chef, Nigel Mendham, the picnic can be served in any one of London’s Royal Parks, with DUKES expert butler service ensuring that the only thing you’ll need to worry about is finding enough tummy space for the generous spread. Washing up? No thanks!
On the menu are gourmet savouries such as delicious Scotch eggs with mustard and honey, summery courgette, basil and goats cheese muffins and delicate cured ham served with asparagus, soft-boiled eggs and zingy caper mayonnaise. There’s no doubt that a decent cheeseboard improves any occasion, and you should definitely pace yourself in order to enjoy the DUKES’ selection of British cheeses. Bring proceedings to a close with the platter of summer berries, served with homemade shortbread. And perhaps another glass of fizz. Butler!
The Open Air Theatre
Theatre in the magnificent surroundings of Regents Park – what could be more enjoyable of a balmy summer evening? The Globe may have a certain charm, but the Open Air Theatre at Regents Park is quite something else. A magical experience for culture-lovers of any age, the theatre is open from May until September, with a variety of productions on offer to please all audiences.
This year’s selection includes Peter Pan, The Seagull, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, spanning productions of cult classics to musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Era. Expect spectacular sets, creative costumes and accomplished casts – all in the fairytale surroundings of one of London’s best-loved parks. The theatre’s outdoor bar and enchanting garden provide a superbly summery space for interval and pre-show drinks or dining.
The Summery Afternoon Tea
British summertime is the perfect moment to enjoy one of our national treasures: the afternoon tea. Available at the Intercontinental Park Lane, the Scents of Summer Afternoon Tea takes proceedings one rather elegant step further… It’s a collaboration between the luxury hotel and Floris: an historic British perfume house which was established in 1730. The limited edition Afternoon Tea is designed to provide an experience which evokes the scents of the garden, celebrating the beauty of British summertime.
Cucumber sandwiches feature aromatic notes of rose, while their dainty salmon counterparts are accented with a delicate bergamot scent. A twist on scones and cream involves Earl Grey-infused butter and lemon curd with hints of pink peppercorn, but the best is yet to come! The spread of cakes is a truly spectacular finale to proceedings; edible flowers, chocolate stones and macarons, mousses and tarts all flavoured with subtle summer scents. Ah the glory of the garden!
The Al Fresco Opera
Give Glyndebourne a miss and opt for outdoor opera closer to home – in Holland Park. Each year Opera Holland Park stages a programme of well-known classics, alongside new and innovative productions – making it ideal for amateurs and opera buffs alike. The 2015 season includes Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida and Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico as well as the inaugural staging of Jonathan Dove’s Flight.
There are also anniversary performances of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – an excellent excuse to kidnap nieces, nephews or godchildren if you don’t own any yourself. Scrumptious Forman & Field picnic packages are available to book (with a bottle of Chapel Down fizz, if you like), or bring along your own victuals for a pre-performance feast…
The Rooftop Cocktails
Frank’s Cafe may be all about Campari and we’re always going to love Kensington Roof Garden’s flamingos, but when it comes to views, it’s the Radio Rooftop Bar at the ME London Hotel that wins hands down. Located on The Strand, it’s the bar’s 360-degree views that keep Londoners in the know coming back. The 10th floor wrap-around terrace’s vista takes in any London landmark you care to name – get ready to fall back in love with the city.
If you can grab a sofa, we recommend watching the sunset with a tipple or two; there’s an extensive G&T menu – think Hendricks with cucumber and rose or Tanqueray 10 with kaffir lime and grapefruit – perfect for a pre-dinner tipple. Otherwise the staff will be able to advise on the bar’s well-dosed signature cocktails – we’re big fans of the MExican (El Jimador with cucumber and mint, sweetened with a little agave). “As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise…”