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Winter Blues

Back to Itineries

Celebrate the end of the Winter Blues. Explore the blues of the London in a variety of shades. As 'The Blue Boy' makes a return to the National Gallery, explore the Blue Plaque tours of the West End and quench your thirst at Joshua's Tavern inside the blue-tiled facade of The Londoner.

Itinerary Info

Getting around

Green Park, Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Charing Cross

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The Blue Plaque Tour

Home to a variety of influential figures throughout history, from the artistically talented Sir Joshua Reynolds through to one of the most pivotal scientists of all time. Explore the West End's Blue Plaque tour and enrich yourself in the rich history of the West End.

Start on Jermyn Street and take in the home of Sir Isaac Newton, deemed to be one of the world's most notable mathematicians and physicists, arguably best known for his work on the theory of gravity. Stroll on down towards Haymarket and discover Richard Cobden, known as a radical and liberal English politician in the 1800’s. A few doors down from Richard Coben is another Richard, painter, Richard Dadd. Dadd was a Victorian-era painter, known for his ethereal style paintings depicting scenes of fairies and supernatural subjects.

Head back up towards Panton Street and stumble across the public house Tom Cribb, named after the bare-knuckle boxer that was a national treasure in the early 1800's and later became publican of the establishment that now bears his name. Make your way into Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of the plaque dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds, a leading portrait artist of his time, first president of The Royal Academy of Arts and a painter that had some very strong opinions on the colour blue. Mosey along to St Martins Lane and uncover the site that was once the home of Thomas Chippendale, creator of Chippendale furniture, the first style of English-made furniture named after its creator and not the monarch at the time.

Banish the Blues

Brighten up your mood with some key stop-offs en route. Perhaps source a blue cheese from Britain's leading cheesemonger, known for sourcing and maturing exceptional cheeses for over 200 years. The Jermyn Street based cheesemongers hold Royal Warrants of Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, and HRH The Prince of Wales. Further on Jermyn Street find the beautifully colourful Bulbous flower stall with a varied choice of flowers ranging from classic to the unusual. A perfect chance to pick up a beautiful bunch of blue hydrangeas or perhaps some bluebells.

The Nordic and quintessentially London collide at Aquavit London. Indulge in tases defined by clean flavours and elegant presentation. Try clean-living, flavoursome food served in interiors that epitomise cutting-edge Scandinavian design. Or perhaps a dash of spice is more to your taste, Farzi London is a modern Indian bistro serving cutting edge, avant-garde Indian cuisine with a twist. Inspired by the stars, Farzi has a menu of zodiac inspired cocktails why not try the Aquarius themed choice for January.

In homage to its former publican, bare-knuckle boxing champion Tom Cribb, the Panton Street establishment bears the name of Tom Cribb today. The Londoner's tavern has been inspired by former local and painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds. Sip on a Gin and Tonica, at Joshua's Tavern and take in the paintings that cover the wall inspired by the brushstroke of the artist that inspired the setting.

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The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough

In the winter of 1922, Thomas Gainsborough's 'The Blue Boy' hung at the National Gallery for a three weeks. After its three week stay at the gallery, the famously beloved painting then sailed across the Atlantic to its new home in California. A century later, to the day, Gainsborough's masterpiece makes a glorious return to Trafalgar Square where the striking painting will once again go on display at the National Gallery in London's West End.

Though the identity of the boy in blue has been much speculated about, his exact identity is uncertain. On a child-sized canvas, the youthful subject is dressed in an eye-catching blue costume and has come to be a symbol of boyish childhood. Through a series of high profile exhibitions, prints a countless copies by artists 'The Blue Boy' has become one of Britain's most beloved sons.

A nod in homage to his hero, Van Dyck, 'The Blue Boy' is an 18th century staple of British art, and one of Gainsborough's most notable paintings. Referenced widely in popular culture, including references by contemporary artists and nods in Hollywood films.

After exactly 100 years, this momentous exhibition reunites ‘The Blue Boy’ with the British public and with the paintings that inspired it. This year's exhibition of 'The Blue Boy' will be the first time the painting has been loaned by The Huntington, California making this a once-in-a-century opportunity to see this iconic work in the UK.

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Joshua's Tavern

Named after Leicester Square local, Sir Joshua Reynolds the interior is reminiscent of the watering holes that the 18th-century portrait artist and venue's namesake would have frequented in the area. Designed by En Viu, a humorous touch to Joshua’s Tavern is a striking vast mural of an intoxicated Sir Joshua, stretched across the walls of the tavern - a playful nod to the raucous history of Leicester Square. Joshua’s Tavern is a new hub for the creative communities around Leicester Square and a watering hole for like-minded professionals.

Considered to be one of the leading portrait artists of his time and the first president of The Royal Academy of Arts. Popular legend suggests that The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough may have been painted in order disprove one of Reynolds artistic theories. Reynolds once painted a similar portrait of a boy dressed in a brown and theorised that it would be impossible to make a great painting using blue as the dominant colour. Fellow Royal Academician, Gainsborough fell out with Reynolds for years before seeking reconciliation on his deathbed, writing that he had always “admired and sincerely loved Sir Joshua Reynolds”.

Joshua’s Tavern is a neighbourhood drinking spot specialising in terroir led gin and tonics, a beverage favoured by the venue’s namesake. Also offering a selection of copper tank beers, wines and a considered selection of other spirits. To complement, a selection of “Tavern Tid-Bits” including Roquefort-filled biscuits and ‘nduja and taleggio pastry bakes lend themselves to the food menu, to be shared amongst locals and visitors alike.

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The Londoner

For an extension to your stay, head over to the world’s first super-boutique hotel, The Londoner. The striking ultramarine blue-tiled hotel sits glistening in the corner at the southern end of Leicester Square. The Londoner empasses luxury and second-to-none service with 16 floors of luxury and 350 rooms, this urban resort is the perfect place for your January getaway.

Housing The Retreat, a sanctuary of escape from the outside world and offering a January Refresh, some much needed rest and relaxation to help you through the month. Rejuvenate and revitalise both body and mind with a two-day experience at The Retreat, curated to dispel January blues and bring you a blissful start to 2022.

Image credits:
The Londoner drinks imagery Joshua's Tavern: Lateef photography
Joshua's Tavern: Henry Bourne
Aquavit: Thomas Alexander
The Blue Boy: Thomas Gainsborough, 'The Blue Boy', 1770, Oil on canvas, 179.4 × 123.8 cm. Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California (21.1) © Courtesy of the Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California