Cocomaya, London’s newest chocolatier and artisan bakery near Marble Arch, is the fruit of some very creative minds: Serena Rees, founder of Agent Provocateur, Joel Bernstein, former head of concept at Liberty, and fashion designer Walid Al Damirji. Bright, Walton Ford-like murals of pelicans and butterflies adorn the walls of the shop, which sells chocolates infused with exotic flavors such as cardamom, ginger and passion fruit from vintage cake-stands on a long marble table. Meanwhile, the bakery next store feels more like an English country kitchen with long wooden tables, jugs of wild flowers and the sounds of birds tweeting softly from speakers. The menu features treats like pistachio polenta or flourless chocolate cakes and fruit tartlets.
— Louise Bartlett
12 Connaught Street, London W2 2AF
Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Portraits of Christian Dior, Nicole Kidman, TS Eliot, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso are just a few of the images shot by Irving Penn that will be on display at The National Portrait Gallery, Feb. 18 to June 6. “Irving Penn Portraits” will showcase more than 120 works, spanning the late photographer’s seven-decade career, and includes portraits of Harold Pinter, Cecil Beaton and Lee Krasner, which have not been exhibited before now. “There’s so much about Irving Penn Portraits that excites me,” said curator Magdalene Keaney. “The fact his work hasn’t been seen so comprehensively in this country for so long, the breathtaking beauty of the prints, his precision and control of the medium, the warmth and sensitivity of his vision.”
“Irving Penn Portraits”
National Portrait Gallery
Feb. 18 to June 6
St. Martin’s Place, WC2H OHE
London’s spa scene just got a little more exotic. The Connaught in Mayfair recently opened the doors to an Aman Spa, which offers treatments inspired by far-flung locations, including India, Thailand and China. Two-and-a-half hour “experiences,” or combinations of massages, facials and other treatments, are available for 280 pounds, or about $440.
Meanwhile, at Sanderson’s Agua spa, spray-tanning maestro James Read offers a full menu of bronzing options, which compensate somewhat for London’s wet climate. The intensity of color can be tailored to each client’s desires. For the time-pressed, the menu also includes the “fashion tan,” which involves tanning product being sprayed only on parts of the body left uncovered by clothing. Prices start at 5 pounds, or about $8, for a pre-tan exfoliating treatment, to 60 pounds, or $94, for a dark tan.
— Brid Costello
Aman Spa at The Connaught
Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
James Read, Agua at Sanderson
50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG
Men who like their shopping with a shot of espresso should head to Present on Shoreditch High Street in east London. Owned by Eddie Prendergast and Steve Davies, founders of The Duffer of St. George clothing brand, it stocks labels ranging from Nom de Guerre, Mackintosh, Vans and Studio D’Artisan to the more fashion-forward Raf Simons and Rupert Sanderson. The store has a minimalist feel, with contemporary and industrial furnishings, and serves up homemade coffee.
— Laura Timson
140 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE
Morton’s, the private members’ club that first opened on London’s Berkeley Square in the late Sixties, has turned a new page after a $9.3 million makeover. Marlon Abela, the 33-year-old Beirut-born restaurateur whose portfolio includes A Voce in New York, Bistro du Midi in Boston, and Umu and The Greenhouse in London, has owned the club since 2004 and began refurbishing it in late 2008. The new Morton’s, which reopened in December, has details including a slick, hammered brass bar and artwork by Fiona Rae and Toby Ziegler in the first floor lounge, and a light-filled dining room run by Alfredo, the legendary former maitre d’ at Annabel’s. The dining room, which serves Italian fare, also showcases the Howard Hodgkin painting “As Time Goes By.”
“We have a lot of wall space here, and I would much rather cover it with wonderful art than with wallpaper,” said Abela, who has hung works by Matisse, Joan Miro and Frank Auerbach in the club’s third-floor lounge. The Grade I-listed building also houses a new basement nightclub that’s open until 3 a.m.
“To us, it’s a kind of rebirth,” said Abela. “It’s a focus on making this the social hub of Mayfair.”
— Nina Jones
28 Berkeley Square, London W1J 6EN