So the summer sun has started its slow descent into shorter days, and school is in and no longer out. Sad as it is to see those golden weeks lose their glow, there’s a sense of excitement too, with autumnal festivities aplenty ahead. London is full of that excitement and renewed energy as the days go from laid-back languid to lively action, as new plays and exhibitions open and the parks take on gorgeous hues perfect for long, leaf-crunching walks. Here are some of the treats that lie ahead and just around the corner from the Strand Palace Hotel.
This promises to be one of the most-talked-about shows of the season, with Harold Pinter’s short plays performed in a single season by the starriest of stage. Comedy and politics, guest stars, some of the most incisive and searing language brought to vivid life, it has all the ingredients to make a must-see. And it’s just a short stroll from the Strand Palace to Piccadilly Circus.
Pinter Theatre, Panton St, from 6 September to 20 February 2019
Back to school excitement for grown-ups is the new season collections now filling both high street and high-end stores. Covent Garden, literally seconds from Strand Palace, is saturated with some of London’s finest fashion boutiques, including Paul Smith, Mulberry, Michael Kors and The Shop at Bluebird. At this time of year, after weeks of floaty fabrics, there’s something incredibly luxurious about stepping back into more tactile, tweedy and comforting clothes. None are more cossetting than the cashmere offerings at Brora – perfect for those walks in crisp, cool air.
When the sky is a sharp blue and the air feels crystalline, walking through London’s parks is a special joy. The trees have turned russet and tawny, orange and ochre, their fallen leaves lining the pathways in tempting heaps. To make your way through them, complete with that crackling sound as crisp as the autumn climate, is heaps of fun. Head for St James Park, close to Strand Palace and make your way across Green Park into Hyde Park. All three are lined with magnificent trees, and at this time of year, glorious hues. From Hyde Park, it’s worth jumping into a cab and visiting Brompton Cemetery before the sun goes down. A romantic and atmospheric spot in any season, in autumn, it’s at its absolute melancholic and dreamy best. At this time of year, it’s also worth forging further, south of the river into Richmond Park, with delightful scenes of deer with dramatic antlers against equally dramatic foliage.
After long bracing walks, there’s nothing better than a traditional English afternoon tea. Head back to the Strand Palace Hotel and settle down with a sigh of satisfaction to the spoiling ritual of sandwiches, scones, dainty cakes and a pot of steaming tea. A glass of champagne adds to this very serious pleasure, or if the walk was especially frosty, indulge in the hotel’s special Gin and Afternoon Tea. Afternoon tea can be enjoyed at any time of year of course, but the darkening hours of autumn make it especially comforting.
Museums and galleries galore unveil new exhibitions in the autumn. A perennial favourite, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, is on at the Natural History Museum. Take the tube from nearby Embankment station and head west to soak up not just some seriously stunning photography, but the outstanding architecture – this is one of London’s most beautiful buildings. Or walk over Waterloo Bridge to the Hayward Gallery for a feast of futuristic works by the likes of Anish Kapoor, exploring the perception of the space around you through the use of glass, reflection and light.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natural History Museum, South Kensington, from 19 October.
Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery, from 26 September – 6 January 2019.