What makes London a honeymooners’ hotspot, by Vivek Dahiya
Honeymoon stories from Indian TV’s popular couple, Vivek and Divyanka, show that an old destination can seem brand new when looked through the eyes of someone you lovebrunch Updated: Oct 23, 2017 12:56 IST
I had to move to London. I’d just spent four and half years in Cardiff, getting my bachelor’s degree in business administration, and the way I saw it, small Cardiff – on South Coast of Wales – was a bit like my hometown, Chandigarh. Lovely, but small. And I wanted to be in a big city. A metropolis. A vibrant, cosmopolitan city oozing culture and style. So I had to move to London.
I had a gap year to fill before I went back to college for my master’s degree, so I got myself a job in London, working as a cashier at North London’s Haringey Council, which administered a small county at the edge of the city. My work meant dealing with people, handling cashbooks and deliveries, registering new members, dealing with job seeker allowances etc., but it was a 9 to 5 job on weekdays only, which meant I had lots of time to explore and to party. That’s why, I was in the perfect place to introduce my wife, Divyanka, to the real London. The city only Londoners see.
Bar bar dekho
It was 2007 and I loved sports bars. Fortunately for me, there are quite a few of them in London, where football is almost a religion. One of my favourites was Belushi’s, which is still around, situated in the basement of a building at London Bridge. I remember going there quite a lot after work to play table football and grab a few drinks. Their cheese and nachos are the yummiest! It’s served with an amazing salsa and garlic dip, with jalapenos on the side. Their quesadillas are quite nice as well, but best of all were the Jack Daniel barbecue ribs.
If I wanted to play pool, I’d go to a sports bar called 1920 in Farringdon, which had some of the best pool tables in the city. It was quite affordable too, and still is. I booked this place for a friend’s birthday back then, and we honestly didn’t think there was a better place to hang out. It had an amazing relaxed vibe, and the best American burgers ever!
Since I am a fan of indoor games, I hung out at All Star Brick Lane, a bowling alley in Shoreditch that also had karaoke. The food was American and yummy. And, for a blast from the past, I took Divyanka to a
Brazilian bar called Cabana Brixton, in Brixton. It’s really cool and quirky, serving yummy mixed skewers and blended batidas and amazing
Divyanka is vegetarian, so she ordered their signature veggie burger. But I dived right back into my old favourite: the chilli lamb skewer, which is so hot that it makes me sweat. But I love it still, even though Divyanka thought I was crazy to eat it.
We also popped in at the UK’s only permanent ice bar, the Icebar London, where every single thing, from the walls to the bar to the tables and your glasses, is made of ice. To step inside, you need to put on the furry jackets they give you, because the inside temperature is -5˚!
This time round, Divyanka and I discovered a rather unusual restaurant in Walthamstow: The Underground Supper Club. As the name suggests, it’s a theme restaurant serving food in an old carriage from one of the underground trains and because it’s so entertaining and characterful, it’s perfect for a date night.
The food, unfortunately, is not quite as characterful as the place, though I must say that the bubble glass with pudding is a yummy experience!
Culture & sub-cultures
You can’t go to London and not do a theatre night, and there’s always something great to watch, such as Aladdin, The Lion King, The Great Gatsby and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. I recommend all these plays very highly!
I also suggest going to the Victoria & Albert Museum, whether or not you’re a museum buff. It displays cultures from all over the world, and shows how far we’ve come from where we started off.
And there’s no point being in London and not experiencing the famous British sense of humour. So head to the Covent Garden Comedy Club, which has never disappointed me. I once spent the whole day there, watching three shows back to back, and each was better than the one before it.
Honestly, this is a great place for a first date. The shows are so hilarious that laughing together would break the ice.
If you want to experience something different, scare yourself during a haunted tour at the Greenwich World Heritage site. It’s really creepy, and you’ll need a pint after it to make yourself feel better! I really wanted to take Divyanka on this tour, but we had to schedule it for next time. But I remember a trip with friends from university. We entered an abandoned building that had a lot of history. As we walked through the house, things moved around us, including a chair that never stopped in one place.
It was an epic experience, especially since my friends and I went on to visit a haunted pub, which had zombie bartenders and waiters who crawled as they served. Brrr! That was scary, even though we laughed.
Groom with a view
If you’re in London with a special occasion to celebrate, go straight to The Shard, a restaurant on the 32nd floor of a skyscraper. It has an amazing panoramic view of the city and great food, though the menu is limited. I took Divyanka there and experimented with a drink that mixed Blue Label with peanut butter fat and corn syrup! It sounds horrible, but it was awesome. And the place is so romantic. This is where you have to go with that special someone.
Actually, your special someone would be very happy at Kensington’s Roof Garden too. This is really elegant and definitely not cheap, but I guarantee it’ll be memorable. They hold silent disco nights, but you’d have to make an online booking for those. So I’d rather recommend what Divyanka and I did to bring in the new year: a party on the Golden Flame boat, where you can put on your headphones and choose between channels for your night soundtracks while sailing past Big Ben and under the Tower Bridge. It was beautiful.
- Visit Portobello Road in Notting Hill on a Saturday, for the famous Outdoor Market for Turkish towels, antiques and paella. (Source: Conde Nast Traveller)
- Get to know the East End’s burgeoning food scene and its fascinating history on a 3.5-hour London walking tour (Source: Lonely Planet)
- Try the Piccadilly London for a memorable stay. (Source: TripAdvisor)
(Vivek Dahiya is a TV actor who fell in love with his co-actor and now wife, Divyanka Tripathi, while they were working together in a serial. They couple tied the knot last year.)
From HT Brunch, October 15, 2017
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First Published: Oct 14, 2017 23:26 IST