The best urban gardens in Europe

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has sprung up once again in London, with a crop of globally inspired show gardens from Manchester, Zimbabwe, Dubai, Kyoto…

Retail therapy: the Sanderson, London

Start 2012 with a bang after a bunk-up in one of London’s original boutique hotels, the Sanderson. A shimmy from Oxford Street, she’s got all that you need for a glamorous intro or outro to the year. And well, it is the sales: this hotel’s neighbourhood is the beating heart of retail.

London – you’re looking mighty fine. The Christmas lights are still up and a-dazzling, everyone’s groomed and jolly from yuletide celebrations, and we haven’t even yet sung Auld Lang Syne. In the run-up to the Olympics, things can only get better, as cheeky Nineties’ band D:Ream put it so well. (It was certainly the case for keyboard player, Dr Brian Cox: but let’s not get sidetracked by popstars-turned-physicists.) And before we get in a froth about all that’s happening in East London in preparation for the August games, let’s talk West End Twixmassing…*

Rude as it would be not to roadtest a stay in this sexy boutique hotel 
first given its sparkle by the original designer digs duo Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck, here is our blueprint for a one-night stay here. After trawling shops from Regent Street to Covent Garden, refuel with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in the see-and-be-seen bar and covered courtyard. If it’s evening, hit the residents-only celebrity-beloved Purple Bar for canapés and cocktails before supper in Suka. There, feast on zingy Malaysian by sharing some small plates. Finally, after a round of billiards amid stained-glass gorgeousness, you should sleep like a baby. For a final round of relaxation, sneak in a spa treatment in celestial Agua in the morning. Who knew sales-shopping could be so calming?

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