West End show of the month: Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots opens on The Strand

Theatres are everywhere in our neighbourhood, from the small and experimental to blockbuster shows like The Lion King (just around the corner at the Lyceum). But the Adelphi, whose art deco façade is one of the most recognisable on The Strand, is one of our favourites. Now it’s the London home of the musical Kinky Boots, a surprise Broadway smash that ended its first run in 2014 with six Tony awards.

Although it comes from Broadway – and boasts music and lyrics from US 80s icon Cyndi Lauper – Kinky Boots has thoroughly British roots. Based on a 2005 film that was inspired by a BB2 documentary (yes, really) it follows the unexpected friendship between Charlie, the reluctant boss of his family’s shoe business, and Lola, a drag queen who helps him… well, we don’t want to spoil it. But take it from us that it’s a heartwarming, frequently funny tale with some belting songs.

Previews are already underway, and the official run begins on September 15. With bookings already open for February 2016, it’s fairly clear that this is going to be a popular ticket – so if you like the sound of it, we recommend snapping those seats up now. Tickets for the main run start at £26.50.

 

Upcoming events: The Barclays ATP World Tour finals bring top-flight tennis to London’s O2

With Wimbledon a distant memory and the Rugby World Cup looming, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a gloomy time for tennis fans. But just a few months from now some of the sport’s biggest stars will be in action on British soil again – this time in the finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour.

The finals see the champions of this year’s men’s tennis season go head to head, with the top eight singles players and doubles teams competing over seven days. So far Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic and Britain’s own Andy Murray have qualified. They look likely to be joined by Nadal, Federer, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Berdych and Ferrer.

Based at the O2 Arena in London’s docklands, the tournament is easy to reach via the river bus from Embankment Pier, or the Jubilee Line from Waterloo (alighting at North Greenwich). You can expect a slightly less sedate atmosphere than Wimbledon, with the indoor arena brought to life by light shows and music before matches.

Even better, it’s easier to get yourself a prime ticket than it is at Wimbledon; in fact, you can still get tickets for all 15 sessions. There are two sessions per day (12pm and 6pm), each featuring one doubles and one singles match, with a single session at 3.30pm on finals day.

If you’re in any doubt, here are some more official highlights from last year’s tournament…

The Best Of London From Embankment Pier

We write regularly about attractions and events within walking distance of the hotel, or a short tube or bus ride away – but those aren’t the only forms of transport in our neighbourhood. With the Thames so nearby it’d be a crime not to get out on the river, and Embankment Pier, under 10 minutes’ walk away, offers a range of circular sightseeing cruises and point-to-point riverbuses. So whether you’re looking to relax and see London from a different angle, and want a different way of reaching Greenwich or the O2, it’s a brilliant option. Here’s a look at some of the attractions and area you can reach on the water:

Greenwich Pier

Time from Embankment: 40 minutes

Line: RB1

Historic Greenwich is home to the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark. With lively pubs, a colourful market and regular events in its parks and museum grounds, it’s a popular part of town with strong maritime links – so arriving by boat is perfect…

Tower Pier

Time from Embankment: 20 minutes

Line: RB1

No prizes for guessing what the main attractions are here: Tower Pier is alongside the Tower of London, with Tower Bridge in the background. On the other side of Tower Bridge is St Katherine’s Dock, and just over the bridge are the redeveloped warehouses of Shad Thames, packed with bars and restaurants and home to the Design Museum.

Bankside Pier

Time from Embankment: 10 minutes

Line: RB1, RB2

Bankside is the stop for the eastern end of the South Bank cultural complex – think Shakespeare’s Globe and Tate Modern, which looms over you as you disembark. There are places to eat and drink up and down the riverside, and a stroll across the iconic Millennium Bridge outside the Tate will bring you to St Paul’s Cathedral.

London Bridge Pier

Time from Embankment: 15 minutes

Line: RB1

A little way east of the bridge itself, London Bridge Pier is a stone’s throw from HMS Belfast, the London Dungeon and the shops of Hays Galleria. It’s also close to the riches of Borough Market, where you can pick up anything from fresh fruit and veg to obscure spices to charcuterie. If exploring gives you a thirst, stop in at the Market Porter for real ales, or the Rake Bar for craft beer.

London Eye Pier

Time from Embankment: 5 minutes

Line: RB1

Again, no prizes for guessing what you’ll see when you step off the boat. Right next to London’s famous big wheel, this is the pier for the western end of the South Bank – the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre and British Film Institute.

Millbank Pier

Time from Embankment: 5 minutes

Line: RB2

Millbank Pier isn’t quite in the thick of things, but it’s the stop for Tate Britain; and nearby Pimlico, an underexplored area south of Victoria station, is full of elegant town houses, hidden mews and quiet pubs. It’s worth a leisurely wander.

Putney Pier

Time from Embankment: 40 minutes

Line: RB6

This popular riverside suburb of west London has Bishop’s Park, a pleasant garden by the water, and a good mix of modern bars and traditional pubs. Barnes Common and the London Wetlands Centre are a little further west on the south bank of the river.

Rugby World Cup build-up: Our favourite Vines from the #RWC2015 hashtag

Can’t wait for the start of RWC 2015? Neither can we – we’re right in the thick of it, with a fanzone down the road, a clutch of sports pubs in the neighbourhood (including our own bar The Nook) and great transport links to all the London and southeast venues.

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be looking for anything to feed your excitement. There’s plenty to watch on the Rugby World Cup Youtube channel, but we’re also loving some of the short, sharp clips on Vine

  1. These girls doing the haka

(The haka is a traditional Maori war dance that New Zealand’s All Blacks perform before matches. Here’s how the real thing looks…)

    1. This England fan’s moves

  1. This superfan living room

…if you need to stock up on merchandise yourself, there’s an official Rugby World Cup 2015 pop-up shop in Covent Garden Market, just a few minutes from us.

    1. This important tip on ball care

  1. And finally, Alistair Cook dropping the ball

…the cricketer may have led England to Ashes victory, but there’s unlikely to be a rugby call-up anytime soon.

Crafts, powerboats and a floating quiz: our pick of the Totally Thames Festival 2015

We’re lucky enough to be a minutes’ walk from London’s riverside – and as well as putting us close to the cultural attractions of the South Bank, it means we’re well placed for the many events that go on up and down the river. Established in 1997, the Totally Thames Festival is one of the biggest and best, designed to celebrate the river’s history, location, landmarks and communities.

Bascule Chambers

  • Where: Tower Bridge
  • When: Saturday 26 September and Sunday 27 September

This is something you don’t get to do every day: listen to a specially-composed piece of electronic music in one of the huge chambers beneath Tower Bridge. The chambers house the weights that balance Tower Bridge’s movable road, and the music is based on the sound of the iconic bridge in action.

Totally Thames Blast!

  • Where: St Katherine’s Pier
  • When: Friday 4 – Sunday 6 September, Friday 11 – Sunday 13 September

Riverboat rides don’t have to be leisurely. Hop on board a bright red, super-powerful RIB vessel and tear down the Thames at speeds of 35mph. Rides are available Friday 4 to Sunday 6, and Friday 11 to Sunday 13 – call 0207 928 8933 to book. Go on the second weekend and you’ll also catch the Classic Boat Festival at St Katherine’s Dock.

Tidefest

  • Where: Strand-On-The-Green, Chiswick
  • When: Sunday 20 September

Watersports, nature walks, kids’ activities and live entertainment on a pleasant stretch of river in west London. It’s a little further out, but a 20-minute ride on the District line will get you there (westbound from Embankment, getting off at Gunnersbury). Enjoy a session of kayaking or paddleboarding, watch the local sailing club in action, or just sit back and soak up the atmosphere.

SAF Summer Arts Fair

  • Where: Hays Galleria
  • When: Saturday 12 – Sunday 13 September

The Hays Galleria centre, around the corner from London Bridge, will be hosting a full weekend devoted to arts and crafts. Take a workshop, watch a demonstration or browse the stalls in search of unique pieces.

Southbank Centre Architecture Tour

  • Where: Begins at Royal Festival Hall
  • When: Thursdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 2pm throughout September

Here’s your chance to go behind the scenes at one of London’s most iconic 20th century buildings, just across Waterloo Bridge from the hotel. Led by an expert guide, you’ll find out how the complex came to life and hear some of the stories from its six decades as a hub of London cultural life.

Totally Thames Quiz on a Boat

  • Where: Departs from Westminster Pier
  • When: Tuesday 29 September

After four weeks of Totally Thames, you’ll feel you know the river a whole lot better. Find out whether you’re right by facing 50 questions from the team at city blog Londonist. The quiz takes place on a three-hour river cruise with a licensed bar – so technically everyone’s a winner.

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