Being one of the leading cosmopolitan ‘world cities’, London attracts not just visitors from every corner of the globe but those from throughout the planet only too happy to make the UK capital their home. And, for this reason, the city’s a pleasure palace for those travellers coming from Russia for a short-break, many of whom today see the place as an enormously attractive city. Not least because it contains many a site bound to pique the interest of and delight Russian visitors (or just those interested in Russian culture). Here are just a few examples…
Pop into the Science Museum in ‘Albertopolis’ to learn how, in 1961, the world’s first man in space Yuri Gagarin’s 108-minute trip to the stars changed the course of history forever via a very special exhibit at this awesome museum that’s perfect for expanding the minds of kids of all ages. Alternatively, get your spiritual kicks by giving the Russian Orthodox Dormition Cathedral a go (Ennismore Gardens). Adorned with a plethora of icons and candles, the cathedral’s services are still being held despite it currently undergoing renovation.
All that’s bound to make you peckish, so next why not pay the Mari Vanna restaurant (116 Knightsbridge) a visit? Both the Olivier salad and the borsch are excellent (as is so much more, of course) at this charismatic, if a little pricey establishment. Finally, top things off by seeing how the ‘other half’ live – or at least where they live.
Check out the abodes of some of the richest UK-based oligarchs – the £200 million home of Britain’s richest man Leonard Blavatnik is located at 15 Kensington Palace Gardens, while across the street at No. 16 lives Roman Abramovich, notorious as the owner of London’s Chelsea football club. Meanwhile, you might want to seek out Rossotrudnichestvo (37 Kensington High Street), an address at which culturally resonant art exhibitions, poetry evenings and concerts are regularly held.
East London’s where to head not just for luxury hotels London, like The Montcalm Brewery hotel on Chiswell Street London, but also for a fascinating, eclectic little place that serves up fantastic Georgian cuisine in the shape of the wood-panelled Little Georgia café (87 Goldsmiths Row). Yes, fabulous freshly-baked khachapuri’s the order of the day here, while you’ll find you’re surrounded by intriguing artefacts that spruce up the décor, such as maps labelled in Cyrillic – and a great deal more besides.
Also, this dynamic district of East London has developed a name for itself for the latest in both quality street art and cutting-edge, displayed contemporary art. The latter, with a Russian twist, can be found at Calvert 22 gallery (22 Calvert Avenue), which is crammed full of works by the Moscow Conceptualists. Meanwhile, Ziferblat (388 Old Street) is that rare – and very Russian place – a communal work space, as well as one for rest and creativity. For a small charge, anyone’s welcome to take in the atmosphere and enjoy a tea or coffee.
Finally, for boutiques trading in timeless, exquisite Russian antiques and jewellery, make a beeline for Mayfair. Iconastas (5 Piccadilly Arcade) has been relied on for antiques from the ‘mother country’ for the best part of four decades; here you’ll find everything from gold-backed 17th Century icons to porcelain figurines of Gogol literary characters and filigree iron- and brass-work to icons created from all manner of precious materials.
Meanwhile, just as much a treasure trove is Wartski (14 Grafton Street). It’s brimming with glistening jewellery, not least incredibly beautiful trinkets by the legendary Carl Fabergé (including a silver anteater paperweight and a green nephrite elephant), as well as portraits of the controversial but fascinating Romanovs – fittingly enough as they were the aforementioned Fabergé’s major patrons.