(The view across the Serpentine, from The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen in London’s Hyde Park)
As a north Londoner, it’s easy to overlook the myriad attractions of Hyde Park for the more bucolic delights of Hampstead Heath, or the local pleasures of The Regent’s Park, where I walk the dog, and occasionally train. For, after all, if I am in the centre of town, then I am there to take a meeting, eat breakfast with a publicist, or, very occasionally shop.
Hanging about in parks during my working day is not usually on the agenda. Yet, when I lived in Manhattan and ventured north of 14th Street for work, I would take any opportunity to pop in Central Park with a coffee for a sit down and a quiet moment under the trees.
It’s far too easy to take one’s native city for granted.
My favourite Hyde Park fact, gleaned from Wikipedia, is that it covers 350 acres and, along with the adjacent Kensington Gardens, covers 625 acres, making the combined area larger than the Principality of Monaco at 480 acres. And yet I never go into this huge space, slap bang in the middle of London, other than to treat it as a north-south shortcut, allowing me to drive straight on through, past the Serpentine Gallery, to get to South Kensington, the museum quarter, and dinners with Brig.
Back at the end of July, I had been invited by Mulberry to Harrods take a look at their shiny new in-house boutique, and to celebrate the launch of their pop up monogramming service as part of the ongoing Harrods Made With Love campaign. It happened to coincide with the one morning that a dear friend from the West Coast was in town, family in tow. They were shopping in the West End, I was heading through it to get to Harrods – and, with only a few hours to spare each, a bit of frantic Google Map action suggested that brunch at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen in Hyde Park would be a perfect pit stop for us all.
I took the tube to Hyde Park Corner and, being a little late, jumped on a Boris Bike to freewheel some 150yards through the park, before docking it and continuing on foot to the Serpentine itself where the eponymous restaurant stands on its edge.
I ordered a skillet of baked eggs, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms & chickpeas, from a really good breakfast menu, and which made a very hearty meal. Later on in the day, there is a limited menu, revolving around the pizza oven, all sorts of main course salads, burgers, fish and chips, and a few daily specials. There is a wide variety of cakes and nibbly things for on the hoof snacking and, in the summer, pop-up burger and hot dog BBQ and the Gin Bar in the early evening.
Breakfast over, we strolled along the edge of the Serpentine, through the park and avoiding the swans, which can be quite aggressive when on dry land.
Inevitably, we found ourselves drawn towards the rowing boats. The more junior member of our party had never been on (or in for that matter) the Serpentine, and clearly it was out duty to rectify this with all due celerity.
No cop out pedalos for us. It was row or bust.
Dropped back off on the edge of the lake half an hour later, I headed to Harrods. (I’ve never been delivered towards a press appointment in a rowing boat before.) This summer’s Made With Love campaign celebrates the luxury craftsmanship available in-store, with some of their key luxury brands introducing unique personalisation services until the 28th August. Mulberry, in particular are offering an exclusive monogramming service on all new accessory purchases.
(And, when I visited, Mulberry had brought in the illustrator Harry Malt to personalise carrier bags for the attending editors.)
The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen www.serpentinebarandkitchen.com
Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH. Telephone: 020 7706 8114 (No reservations)
Opening hours are Mon–Fri: 8am-9.30pm. Sat: 8am-9.30pm. Sun: 8am-9.30pm
I paid an eye-watering £10.50 for my breakfast skillet of baked eggs, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms & chickpeas, and £2.60 for an excellent Americano. (You really are paying for the extraordinary location. No bargains here.)
Boating on the Serpentine is open from April until October 31. Times are from 10:00 am until sundown which is around 4:00 pm in the winter and 8:00 pm in the summer. Please ring on the day if you need more specific times. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7262 1330
Adults – £12 for 1 hour or £10 for 30 minutes. Child (under 15) – £5 for 1 hour or £4 for 30 minutes. Family (2 adults and 2 children) – £29 for 1 hour or £24 for 30 minutes. Sadly no furry friends are allowed in the rowing boats or pedalos.
The Harrods Made With Love campaign runs until August 28th. The Mulberry in-house boutique is situated on the lower ground floor. Thank you Mulberry for the lovely wallet.