Looking for a great reason to start planning your next adventure? We have a new reason for you to book a trip to London this spring (and no, it’s not the coronation).
If you’ve ever booked a ticket just to… book a ticket, a new immersive art exhibition in London is worth hopping on a plane just to experience.
David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) has just opened at Lightroom, a new arts venue inside Coal Drops Yard, a canal-side, Thomas Heatherwick-designed development located in the heart of King’s Cross in London.
Born in 1937 in Bradford, England, Hockney is a world-famous artist who has produced visual masterworks for decades — with some pieces selling for tens of millions of dollars. His 1972 painting, Portrait Of An Artist (Pool With Two Figures), sold at auction in 2018 for more than US$90 million.
The show, which runs now through June 4, took Hockney three years to create. The exhibit is an immersive, multimedia experience documenting Hockney’s career as an artist through projections that appear on all four walls and the floor, with Hockney himself providing pre-recorded narration. For 50 minutes, visitors can get to know Hockney – not only through his process, but by being physically centered in a space surrounded by his work.
Tickets should be booked in advance and range in price between £25–33, depending on the date and time you select. And while the show lasts 50 minutes, you can stay longer if you choose.
King’s Cross is a vibrant, historic crossroads, teeming with creativity and excitement. From its earliest days it’s been a central, vital transportation hub, connecting London to the north via road, railway and waterway with Regent’s canal. Its rebirth as a contemporary destination hub is relatively recent development — but the past remains present everywhere you look, making it an ideal homebase for a London sojourn.
What to eat near King’s Cross
Some delicious and well-loved options are near Lighthouse: an outpost of Dishoom, London’s beloved high-end cafes that pay homage to the Irani cafes of Bombay (go for breakfast) and another high-end chain, Barrafina is also here, with its signature modern take on Spanish tapas.
Hicce (pronounced ee-chay which translates to ‘of the moment’ in Latin) is an ideal lunch choice, with its gorgeous outdoor terrace and small wood-fired plates. Closer to St Pancras, Magenta is a funky Northern Italian spot inside the Megaro Hotel, and if you’re craving some of the best homemade pasta in town, well, you’re in luck.
Where to drink near King’s Cross
Nothing goes together with art like wine, so wander on over to Porte Noire for a glass of their house rosé after the show. (British actor and musician Idris Elba is one of the owners.) If you want to fuel up beforehand, order a flat white from Notes Coffee Roasters. Both are in Coal Drops Yard within a stone’s throw of Lightroom.
On the other side of the canal in St Pancras, Searcy’s Brasserie & Champagne bar is a dramatic spot for a glass of bubbly and is hailed as the longest champagne bar in Europe. Also stunning is Booking Office 1869, the beautifully-designed bar inside The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which also does a top-notch afternoon tea service at The Hansom. For a more relaxed pint, try the classic-yet-quirky King Charles I on Northdown Street.
Where to stay near King’s Cross
The Lightroom lists The Standard, London as its preferred hotel stay, and it is one of the capital’s most iconic and trendy new spots, with brightly-colored interiors and a chic rooftop bar. The building is a sight to behold, a shining example of 1970s brutalist architecture.
If you want to lean into the Victorian legacy of King’s Cross and train travel, the aforementioned St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is pretty fancy and fabulous. So is the slightly less grand, but also gorgeous, old railway hotel: the Great Northern Hotel. Built in 1854 to support the Great Northern Railway scheme, this property is housed in a landmark Grade II listed building designed by Lewis Cubitt, who was also the architect of King’s Cross Station. (The address for Lightroom, by the way, is 12 Lewis Cubitt Square, bringing the entire experience full circle.)