Georgian estate in south London has been transformed with playgrounds and a wooded wetland
A 285m-long swimming and kayaking lake opens in south London on 20 July, creating a natural recreation area and putting the south-east suburb on the map for outdoor swimming enthusiasts.
Created in 1800 by the owner of Beckenham Place Mansion, John Cator, but filled in during the 20th century, Beckenham lake has been restored as part of a £4.9m project funded by the Heritage Lottery and the Mayor of London’s greener city fund to transform Beckenham Place Park.
Get quizzical and physical on a treasure hunt around a corner of Britain you didn’t know – there are more than 1,000 fun walks to choose from
Every parent who has tried to cajole children into going on a “nice walk” knows this is about the lamest thing you could ask them to do. Walking is booooooring, as are ancient buildings and beautiful scenery. But Treasure Trails – a series of more than 1,000 self-guided treasure hunt-style walks in cities, villages and countryside across the UK – can change a trudge into a fun activity as, depending on the theme, kids solve clues, hunt hidden treasure or complete secret agent missions. The trails come as an A5 booklet – by post, or downloadable – with route, facts, and spaces to fill in answers – which form a 10-digit number that can be sent in for the chance to win a £100 monthly prize. There are also some driving and cycling trails.
It has a good chef and a promising menu, but Gridiron on Park Lane never escapes its setting
Gridiron, Como Metropolitan Hotel, 19 Old Park Lane, London W1K 1LB (020 7447 1080). Snacks, starters £7-£25; mains £20-£40; desserts £8-£9; wines from £29
Standalone restaurants in hotels are an act of shared illusion. Both the people who run them and those who eat in them have to pretend it’s a real place with its own robust identity, not just that space to the right of reception which, in another life, could have been a function room booked out for presentations by moist-lipped salespeople with timeshares to flog.
A Spitalfields townhouse that immerses visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries is at its most magical at Christmas
The hubbub of Liverpool Street station and Spitalfields Market is only a few hundred metres away but on the doorstep of 18 Folgate Street not much is stirring. There is only intermittent noise: the roar of Christmas revellers as the doors to the Water Poet pub opposite open and close. It is 4.58pm and having rat-a-tatted a brass knocker on the door, I’m waiting to be granted entrance to Dennis Severs’ House for a 5pm tour. The Grade II-listed Georgian terrace is a wonderful curio, offering a perspective on family life in 18th- and 19th-century London. But more than that – it’s a work of art that seems to delight, challenge and perplex visitors in equal measure.
‘Throw a stone in any direction from this hotel and it’s likely to land in someone’s negroni’ ... a great new base for exploring Bethnal Green
Mother Kelly would be surprised at what’s been happening on her famous doorstep. The Georgian terraced houses of Paradise Row are still there but the railway arches at its northern end – once workshops and mechanics’ garages – have been taken over by chic restaurants and cool bars, one of them named after the early-20th-century pie shop owner herself.
From last week – on the other side of the narrow cobbled street – the site of the former Balls Brothers wine warehouse has been turned, after planning wrangles, into the East London Hotel. In this modernist grey box (with interesting geometric window designs) property developers Irfan Hussain and Marin Jakisic have decided to go for quantity as well as quality. They’ve squeezed 161 rooms on to this small plot between Paradise Row and the V&A Museum of Childhood.
‘The most anticipated game in the history of escape rooms’ is nearly here. We get immersed in Sherlock Holmes and round up the best of the rest in the UK
It’s a phenomenon that started in Japan and has spread rapidly around the world: the escape room, a physical game where participants solve puzzles and riddles against the clock to break out of virtual prisons, dungeons and other “locations”. The number of rooms across the UK has soared to around 1,200 this year, a growth of 40% since 2017, according to Ken Ferguson of Exit Games, and continues to grow. In 2013 there were just seven.
The new World Gallery raises the bar yet further for this free local institution, brimful of music, nature and dazzling displays from cultures the world over
This brilliant little museum in south-east London, dedicated to anthropology, natural history and musical instruments, feels as if it was created for kids, who love its opportunities for fun and play. An aquarium, steamy butterfly house, live animals, and instruments to bang bring lots of noisy excitement to a visit, while the main Natural History Gallery’s taxidermy animals include a Bengal tiger, and the famous over-stuffed walrus.