Weekender: The Chicest Things To Do For 48 Hours Of Indulgence In Greenwich

Weekender: The Chicest Things To Do For 48 Hours Of Indulgence In Greenwich


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Travel columnist Lizzy Dening hunts out the chicest hidden gems for weekend breaks. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Greenwich...

The Soothing Spa

When I heard a new spa and café had opened up in North Greenwich (so new, in fact, that sat navs won’t find it – get your cabbie to follow the bus lane towards Lewisham from the O2 and it’s on your left after a few minutes) I felt it my journalistic duty to check it out. I’m selfless like that. Ayurveda Purais a very right-on, holistic-based spa, which also offers yoga classes and sells its own – delicious – herbal teas, designed to rebalance your body. It’s a very tiny spa with two small treatment rooms and some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever met. I tried a half-hour back massage which, to my delight, included lots of work on my tired arms, while my friend had a facial massage (Mukhabhyanga) which left her rosy-cheeked, and surprisingly shine-free. We then ate a wholesome chickpea curry and fruit salad in the café and felt super virtuous. My only complaint? It’s very cold in the waiting area, so bring an extra layer or two.

Shopping Heaven

Greenwich market is set in a World Heritage site but its offerings are anything but old fashioned. A new branch ofSticks n Sushihas just opened; Olivia Firth swears by vintage store 360 Degrees Vintage for the best in eveningwear and – best of all on a freezing day – you can buy the most delicious brandy and hot apple juice or mulled wine from Victus and Bibo - my cockles have never been warmer. Plus I saw a pug in a nifty jumper – always a sign of an up-and-coming shopping spot in my book.

The area’s about to undergo a complete make over in time for Christmas – but not until after Michael Caine visits to film scenes for Now You See Me 2.

The New Ivy

Can’t get a table at the Ivy? The next best thing is the Rivington Grill, which is owned by the same company and holds itself to the same impeccable standards. Gin fans can sample 100 varieties of the clear stuff (probably best not all at once) while foodies will love the seabass (a generous whole fish) and chocolate mousse – the most intensely rich pudding ever, I didn’t think I could possibly manage it. But somehow I did. Prices are reasonable, staff are kind and attentive, and the layout is surprisingly intimate.

Rivington Grill
Rivington Grill
The Rivington

Best Bars

Our evening was a tale of two bars (moderation was never my strong point). We began with a sophisticated glass (ok, more than one – what are you, my mother?) of Prosecco at the elegant Oasis bar at the Hotel Mercure, on Catherine Grove). It’s beautifully done up, and pleasantly peaceful – perfect for a lengthy catch up over wasabi peanuts. We also checked in for the night, and discovered the building was a former police section house from the 1940s – not that you’d know it from the modern décor.

Once the evening had descended into the realms of tequila (Why? Why?) we headed for a darker, grittier venue – Oliver’s Jazz Bar. Tucked down an alleyway, down a set of creaking stairs, this dingy bar promises little. It’s drinks are pricey, its toilets are grim – and yet I maintain that it’s one of the area’s best nights out. Why? Mostly the music, man. We saw former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Corrie Dick, who played a mean drum solo alongside a trumpet player, saxophonist and double bassist. The whole thing was charmingly low key – they sipped beer throughout, and one was late because he’d lost his keys – and the punters were loud and welcoming. I chatted to the musicians during the interval and they even offered to play one of my favourite songs, which they did – beautifully. (Ben Webster’s Tenderly, since you ask). It’s good value for money too, just £7 meant we could watch live music for over three hours – there aren’t many spots in London which can boast that.

The Morning After

Nurse a sore head with a soothing visit to the Planetarium by the Royal Observatory. Not only will the walk through Greenwich Park blow away the cobwebs, but you get to snuggle down in a darkened room to watch a show. Mind you, any thoughts we had of drifting off were dashed once the talk Dark Universe began – it was far too fascinating and, well, a little bit terrifying. It focused on the unknowable vastness of the universe, and explained some pretty heavy concepts (dark matter, anyone?) For a less existentially challenging show, I also recommend The Sky Tonight.

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