ONE of the best things about our new city – nevermind what the Queen calls us – is its central location.
Should you feel the need to delve beyond MK there are plenty of attractions right on its doorstep.
Not least old London Town and the myriad of opportunities that behemoth contains.
Among them is the chance to embrace your inner artist – and what better place to start than Tate Britain.
Situated on the banks of the Thames, the home of modern art in Britain is currently playing host to an exhibition on one of the most famous artists of them all: Pablo Picasso.
Described as ‘a towering genius who changed the face of modern art’, Picasso was the co-founder of Cubism and an inspiration to a huge number of his contemporaries.
Picasso and Modern Art, which opened at the gallery on February 15 and runs until July 15, concentrates not only on the work of the Spanish genius, but on that of seven British admirers: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney.
It brings together more than 150 spectacular artworks, with over 60 stunning Picassos including some of his most famous such as the Weeping Woman and The Three Dancers.
Connoisseurs of modern art will not need to be told about the significance of such an exhibition, but what about those – like myself – with less knowledge about the genre?
Modern Art has always reminded me of the Emperor’s New Clothes (everyone says it is great, but no-one is brave enough to say it isn’t), so I was intrigued to try and capture what made Picasso such a star of the art world.
Although I can’t say the Tate exhibition changed my world view, I hope it broadened some boundaries – if not in respect of Picasso’s work then certainly when viewing his life story.
During his 92 years, Picasso spent time in Europe’s finest cities including London, Paris and Barcelona, sired four children by three different women, married a ballerina, had numerous mistresses, wrote more than 300 poems, had a romantic relationship with a woman 40 years his junior, became a Communist and built a huge Gothic mansion in the south of France.
After an afternoon trying to find your inner artist, any London break needs a suitably upmarket hotel to complete the weekend.
And you won’t find many to equal the quality of the Park Plaza Victoria.
This four-star hotel, within walking distance of some of London’s main tourist attractions, including Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Hyde Park and Big Ben, holds 287 air-conditioned guestrooms, including 12 of the most fabulous studio apartments.
These one and two bedroom apartments provide guests with spacious living areas, luxurious bedrooms and fully equipped kitchenettes.
It’s enough to have you reaching for the phone for room service so you don’t have to leave.
But then it’s not far to go – just a short ride in the lift – to AA Rosette award winning restaurant JB’s where they’ll serve you up modern European cuisine accompanied by a comprehensive wine list.
Don’t forget to visit the plush Executive Suite (entry comes free with the room, darling) first though, where drinks and nibbles are on offer from 6-8pm.
If you’re not relaxed by then, you never will be.
As one famous Spanish artist said on his deathbed: ‘Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.’
Review by Craig Lewis
Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG
Tel: 020 7887 8888; Web: www.tate.org.uk
Park Plaza Victoria London, 239 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 1EQ
Tel: 020 7769 9999; Web: www.ParkPlaza.com/Victorialondon; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org