Brilliant things to do in London in May 2021

Zoe Gunn

30 April 2021

Hospitality returns in full force this month – and there are plenty of ways to celebrate

30 April 2021 | Zoe Gunn

All being well, 17 May will see the return of indoor dining, the reopening of hotels and the opportunity to finally spend some time with loved ones without shivering under many, many layers in a pub garden. Accordingly, the capital’s restaurants, bars and hospitality experts have found innovative ways to mark this penultimate step towards the resumption of normal life. Here are the best events, exhibitions and things to do in London in May 2021.

The workshop: Blooming Haus Spring Masterclass

Nothing heralds the arrival of spring like glorious blooms and, if you’re determined to master the art of floral arranging for your next event, Battersea-based studio Blooming Haus is here to help. Throughout May and June, the uber-florist will be hosting a series of spring masterclasses taking participants behind the scenes of the capital’s flower industry and teaching the skills necessary to create stunning floral designs.

Led by master florist and Blooming Haus creative director Michal Kowalski, the masterclasses will include a tour of the famous New Covent Garden flower market to give participants a peek inside the UK’s wholesale flower industry. This will be followed by a workshop at the Blooming Haus studio, focusing on the do’s and dont’s of buying flowers and how to turn them into beautiful, sustainable floral arrangements for every occasion.

£150 per person, from 21 May,

The store: Dior Corner Shop at Selfridges

Dior celebrates the arrival of its SS21 menswear collection this month with a new pop-up at Selfridges Corner Shop. Fashion fans will know that the collection, designed by Kim Jones in collaboration with American artist Kenny Scharf, was a colourful and flamboyant one, inspired by Scharf's world of cartoon characters, surrealist aesthetics and sci-fi influences. The pop-up will, accordingly, be modelled in the same vein – with giant balloon animals in the windows and a cosmic decor the brand describes as 'in perpetual movement'. If that isn't enough to pique your interest, the Corner Shop will also be home to a number of exclusive products, including the much sought after b27 sneakers.

Open now,

The art: CoExistence

With galleries and museums closed until mid-May, public art has become a big hit this spring and this month will see one of the largest installations to date arrive in the city. Designed to help fund conservation projects and spark debate and awareness around the ability of humans and animals to live in harmony, CoExistence will see 50 life-size elephants make their way across London before settling in Duke of York Square, Chelsea. A project by wildlife conservation charity Elephant Family, the 50 elephant scultpures took indidgenous craftspeople in India five years to create, with each one inspired by a real elephant living in proximity to its creator.

Unitl 7 June,

The restaurant: Café Biltmore at The Biltmore Hotel

The return of indoor dining will also herald the opening of a host of new restaurants in the capital – and one of the most highly anticipated is Café Biltmore. Occupying a prime space in Mayfair's The Biltmore hotel, the restaurant will build on the success of The Betterment, which opened in 2009, and will also be helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. Offering a relaxed menu of modern takes on international classics, score yourself a spot on the terrace and order a Biltmore Spritz accompanied by Dorset crab on toast or homemade penne with nduja, mascarpone and lemon, and relax safe in the knowledge of an afternoon well spent.

Opens 17 May,

The exhibition: Street at Leica Gallery London

This month will also see museums and art galleries reopen their doors but, while the crowds will be heading to the V&A and Tate Modern, Londoners in the know should instead make a beeline for the Leica Gallery on Duke Street. This month it is hosting Street, a selling exhibition of 16 limited-edition photographs by Phil Penman. Taken from his book of the same name, the prints are highlights from his two-decade career documenting all manner of life on the streets of New York City. Capturing everything from the pinstripe suits and rain-dodging commuters of Manhattan to Brooklyn skateboarders to Harlem’s old guard, Penman’s vivid, black-and-white images are a visual feast not to be missed.

Open now,

The wellness concept: Masaj

A long-time favourite among East London’s wellness devotees, Masaj’s newly-opened bricks-and-mortar studio on Charlotte Road in Shoreditch promises to be a haven for all things rest and relaxation. The new space will build on Masaj’s existing philosophy, which offers six specialised treatments focusing on deep-tissue, sports and restorative massage, reflexology, pre- and post-natal needs and stretching, to offer clients a customised experience that hones in on their areas of concern. We promise you’ll leave positively floating.

Treatments from £45, open now,

The terrace: Dom Pérignon Terrace at the Four Seasons

Never one to do things by halves, when it came to creating that all-important summer terrace, the Four Seasons on Park Lane wasn’t simply going to put some tables outside and hope for the best. Instead, it’s teamed up with Dom Pérignon to offer an incredible three-course pairing menu served with vintage Dom Pérignon champagnes normally only available by the bottle. Dishes by executive chef Henry Brosi include parched lobster, spiced Balik salmon with oscietra scviar and strawberry tartlet. A full cocktail list created by the Four Season’s expert mixologists is also available, while a more extensive summer menu features wild sea bass tartare, asparagus lemon risotto, wagyu striploin and langoustine tempura.

From 17 May,

The spa day: Post-lockdown Pamper Recovery at The Lanesborough

If more than a year of sporadic lockdowns has left you feeling in need of a top-to-toe refresh, you’re not alone. Happily, the spa at The Lanesborough is on hand to help with its new Post-lockdown Pamper Recovery package. Start your truly spoiling day with an Ila Goldsilk Face Therapy facial before moving on to a Balmy Silk manicure and pedicure. Eyebrow shaping and a blow-dry are also included, as are full use of The Lanesborough’s spa facilities, including thermal and hydro-pools, sauna and steam room. At the end of the day, they’ll send you home with a Lanesborough scented candle so you can continue to rest and unwind long after the treatments are over.

From £390 per person, available now,

The pop-up: Solas at The Savoy

It’s been a historic year – and even London institutions like The Savoy aren't immune from needing to adapt to the new normal. For the first time in its history the Art Deco delight that is The Savoy Courtyard has been transformed into an outdoor dining pop-up. Created in collaboration with Scotch whisky distiller Bowmore, Solas (Gaelic for light, joy and comfort), is a temporary al fresco restaurant with a menu reflecting both The Savoy’s storied history and Bowmore’s heritage through refined cocktails and a seafood-focused menu featuring oysters, lobster rolls and Blue scallop ceviche. Rare Bowmore expressions, such as its much-lauded 27-year-old whisky, will also be available to order by the dram.

Until 21 June,

The show: Comedy Store at Skylight Rooftop

Bars and restaurants aside, one of the biggest holes left in many culture lovers’ lives by the pandemic is the absence of live shows. While the West End will slowly be reopening over the summer, the ever-popular Comedy Store is accelerating its return thanks to a new collaboration with Wapping’s Skylight Rooftop. One of the best (and biggest) rooftop bars in London, mixologist Sebastian Hollingworth’s cocktail menu and Skylight’s dual American and Asian food offerings will share top billing with acts including Ria Lina, Zoe Lyons and Hal Cruttenden. Book for the light relief we all sorely need right now.

£90 for a table of six, 19 May,

The collaboration: The Botanist x Carousel Foraging Series

What’s better than a great meal showcasing the best seasonal British produce? One that comes with a side of gin, of course. Premium gin brand The Botanist has teamed up with Marylebone creative hub Carousel to present a series of chef residencies, workshops and experiences centred around the grand culinary tradition of foraging. The season will be kicking off in fine form with the help of Alex Bond, chef-owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Alchemilla in Nottingham. His specially curated tasting menu will showcase hyper-seasonal and wild produce through dishes including hash brown, marrow and miso BBQ sauce, and spring truffle and acorn ice cream sandwich, all paired with expertly crafted The Botanist cocktails.

£65 per person, 18-22 May,

Read more: The best restaurants for outdoor dining in London