Magazine

Wimbledon: Tips for Your Trip to London


A personalized guide to London's swanky shops, hippest bars—and the world's most genteel sporting event

1. The Tennis Freak

For those eager to camp out overnight for day-of tickets and who will stay in their seats through wind, rain, and rare spates of blistering sunshine: Here is where to watch, celebrate, mourn, and step up your own tennis supplies.

Sleep: The new H10 Hotel has a handy Waterloo location (the tube to Wimbledon takes 20 minutes), a $240 per-night rate, and a contemporary look.

Eat: If you can drag yourself away from the grass, Bluebird in Chelsea serves Cornish mackerel and nettle risotto and shows matches on a big screen.

Shop: The West End's Wigmore Sports restrings rackets and sells wild neon tennis attire that would outrage Wimbledon's buttoned-up referees (players are required to wear white).

Drink: The Dog & Fox in Wimbledon Village is where players drown their sorrows when they're booted by a better opponent from the banana-and-Gatorade path.

See: What better than to putter around the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum? Delights include a recreation of the 1980s men's dressing room and Rafael Nadal's pirate-length trousers.

Wimbledon Tip: Prove your devotion by camping out in the (cash-only) ticket queue, or score a Centre Court seat by watching ticketmaster.co.uk with hawkeye diligence. Prices start at $37, and you can sign up at wimbledon.org to get an e-mail when they go on sale.

2. The Corporate Executive

Fueled by strawberries and tea instead of curry and ale, discerning Britons have brought clients to Wimbledon since the first championship was played in 1877. Follow their lead, then wine and dine at these choice summer spots.

Sleep: Get St. James luxury at the recently revamped Dukes Hotel, which has a courtyard cigar bar and rooms looking onto Green Park. If you can swing it, book the 700-square-foot penthouse for its balcony and glorious views.

Eat: The Wolseley is a Mitteleuropean bastion—the menu ranges from schnitzel to perfectly crisp crème brûlée—and a stomping ground of the city's elite.

Shop: The famed grocery store Fortnum & Mason peddles fancy teas, cheeses, and addictive house-brand fudge.

Drink: The Sanderson Hotel's courtyard has all the elements of the perfect summer refuge: pools of reflected water, fragrant overgrown flowers, and cocktails made with fresh ginger, cucumbers, and figs.

See: The Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts, where amateur artists' work hangs next to paintings by established British stars. It runs June 14-Aug. 22.

Wimbledon Tip: For $1,500 a day, the Gatsby Club smoothes your way onto Centre Court by way of champagne bars, three-course meals, afternoon tea, and shuttles from Southfields station.

3. The Twenty-Something

Join the hipsters and beatnik Brits who hang around new restaurants, bars, and hotels in London's edgy Shoreditch and Clerkenwell neighborhoods. Score a last-minute ticket for cheap or watch with the rowdies at a cool local pub.

Sleep: Town Hall Hotel just opened in rapidly gentrifying Bethnal Green. Its chef trained at Spain's renowned El Bulli, and ultramodern rooms are $250 a night.

Eat: Brave Polpo's net curtains and you'll find a wildly popular Venetian-style bacaro dishing up small plates like pork belly with hazelnuts and radicchio or pizzetta bianca. They don't take reservations, but you can wait for a table in one of many bars nearby.

Shop: Get to Shoreditch's Redchurch Street to buy reinventions of classic, logo-free '60s polos and T-shirts from the new Sunspel shop.

Drink: The area around Exmouth Market mixes alfresco drinking with moderate urban grit. Its Café Kick celebrates soccer before tennis (with vintage foosball tables to prove it) but still shows Wimbledon—and pours the city's finest mojitos.

See: Find bargains and fresh ideas at Free Range, a show of young fashion designers running June 4-July 22.

Wimbledon Tip: When corporate types leave by teatime, their courtside tickets are resold; fair-weather fans can buy them for $8 and see some choice sundowner tennis.

4. The Family

London is not known as an affordable family destination, but the dollar is worth 25 percent more against the British pound than it was in 2008. Bring the kids and make an example of how the Williams sisters settle sibling rivalry.

Sleep: A Place Like Home rents apartments near parks in tony South Kensington. Two-bedroom walkups start at $750 a week. Uniquely a Place Like Home, its sister site, offers fancier two-bedrooms on leafy squares for around $2,600 a week.

Eat: The Tuscan fare at La Famiglia goes over well with picky young eaters—and it tastes ambrosial to adults.

Shop: In the business of turning children into consumers since 1881, Hamleys toy store sells four-tube packs of self-descriptive Magic Plastic that cost $15 and keep kids entertained for hours.

Drink: In chic Bayswater, down oysters and swill prosecco at the plush Commander Bar, which features in-house day care and free sitters on weekend afternoons.

See: Head across the street to Kensington Gardens' fantastical pirate-ship playground, named after Diana, Princess of Wales.

Wimbledon Tip: The week before the tournament, watch qualifying rounds—for free—at The Bank of England's Sports Centre in Roehampton, six miles south of Central London.


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