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Guide to London’s urban beaches in summer 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Enjoy one of the capital’s urban beaches, such as this one on the South Bank

London may be 40 miles from the nearest seaside resort, but in the summer a surprising amount of sandy spots seem to crop up around the capital. During the warmer months, a host of bars, hotels, parks and outdoor spaces are hosting their own mini beaches with plenty of opportunity for fun and frolics for both young and old.

  • 1 June – 24 September : Beach Bar @ The Montague Hotel

Pop-up beach bar returns to the gardens of The Montague Hotel. Featuring real sand, beach hut, tropical cocktails, palm trees and BBQ. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10pm. The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ. Nearest station: Russell Square or Holborn. For more information, visit The Montague Hotel website.

  • 23 June – 10 September : The Beach @ Brent Cross

A pop-up beach featuring entertainment, rides and street vendors, including 2,500 square metres of imported sandy beach. Open Mon-Fri: 12-10pm. Sat-Sun: 11am-10pm. Entry: £3. Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, NW4 3FP. Nearest station: Hendon Central or Brent Cross. For more information, visit The Beach Brent Cross website.

  • 2 July – 3 September : Hampstead Beach

The Jewish Community Centre is hosting a two month long pop-up beach, featuring lots of sand, cocktails, food and special events. Open Sun-Thu 9am-10.30pm, Fri 9am-5pm. Sat closed. Free entry. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, Hampstead, NW3 6ET. Nearest station: Finchley Road and Frognal or West Hampstead. To book, visit the JW3 website.

  • 15 July – 28 August : Big Screen On The Beach

Camden’s Roundhouse is hosting alfresco film screenings on its summer beach pop-up. Films include The Goonies, Mean Girls, Moana, Frozen, Titanic, Beauty And The Beast and many more. Times vary. Tickets: Adults £13.50, Children £5. Camden Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1 8EH. Nearest station: Chalk Farm. For booking, visit The Roundhouse website. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to London’s urban beaches (yes, beaches!) this summer 2016

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Enjoy one of the capital’s urban beaches, such as this one on the South Bank

So London is famously an inland city… around 40 miles away from the nearest seaside resort. However, did you know there’s many urban beaches that pop-up around the capital over the summer? If you can’t manage to get fly to more exotic climes or can’t face the traffic on the motorway, a few hours on one of London’s sandy retreats may just help you imagine you’re elsewhere.

Here’s a guide to London’s urban beaches:

  • 27 May – 28 August : Brixton Beach Boulevard

Be transported to 1980s Miami beach with food, drinks, music and a live outdoor screen screening sporting events. Open Thur 6-11pm, Fri 6pm-12am, Sat 1pm-12am and Sun 1-10pm. Entry price varies depending on event. Popes Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Beach Boulevard website.

  • 4 June – TBCBeach 338

Beach club at the Studio 338 venue, featuring 180-tons of imported sand, wooden decking, cabanas, 2 beach bars, BBQs, sunbathing decks and hammocks. Hours vary. Beach 338 @ Studio 338, 338 Boord Street, Greenwich, SE10 0PF. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Studio 338 website. NB: Following a fire at Studio 338 on 8 August 2016, this is unlikely to be open until further notice. Please check their website.

  • 6 June – 30 September : CopaCabana Beach @ South Bank

Pop-up beach returns to the South Bank for daytime frolics with the children and night-time fun for the adults. Right by the sand is a pop-up bar serving Brazilian-inspired food and drink, such as Spicy Malagueta Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries and Caipirinha cocktails. 11am-late Free. South Bank (near the skateboard park), SE1 8XX . Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Copacabana Beach website.

  • 1 July – 4 September : The Beach @ Brent Cross

A pop-up beach featuring entertainment, rides and street vendors, including 2,500 square metres of imported sandy beach. Open Mon-Fri: 12-10pm. Sat-Sun: 11am-10pm. Entry: £3. Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, NW4 3FP. Nearest station: Hendon Central or Brent Cross. For more information, visit The Beach Brent Cross website.

  • 11 July – TBC : Urban London Beach @ Royal Docks

Temporary beach with sands feature views of the City and of the Emirates Cable Car crossing the Thames. Open 10am-8pm. Free entry. 1 Siemens Brothers Way, E1 1GB. Nearest station: Royal Victoria (DLR). For more information, visit the Royal Docks website.

  • 23 July – 4 September : BeachEast @ Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The UK’s largest urban beach opens this summer in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Featuring a sandy ‘beach’, huge kid’s paddling pool, funfair rides, two beach bars and a host of sporting events and activities, such as volleyball, cricket, football, boccia and  fitness classes. Open daily from 10am. Free entry. BeachEast, Stratford Waterfront (near former Olympic Stadium & Pool), Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E15 2DU. Nearest stations: Stratford and Hackney Wick. For more information, visit the BeachEast website.

  • 29 July – 29 August : Camden Beach

The ‘beach’ returns to Camden again this year, with 150 tonnes of sand, deckchairs, ping pong, bars and restaurants. You can also book VIP beach huts. Located in the grounds of the Roundhouse. Open Mon 5-11pm, Tues-Sun 12-11pm. Free. Camden Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1 8EH. Nearest station: Chalk Farm. For more information, visit the Roundhouse website.

  • 30 July – 29 August : The Beach @ Watford

The pop-up beach will also feature plenty of sand, family activities, movie and Olympics screenings and more. 10am-10pm daily. Free entry. The Parade, High Street, Watford, WD17. Nearest station: Watford Junction. For more information, visit the website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.

Find out where to watch the Rio Olympics on the big screen this summer.

To find out about London’s pop-up cinemas this summer, click here or for all that latest summer music festivals in London, click here.

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Do the Cannes-Cannes: Living it up on the French Riviera

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Sun-worshipping: The busy beaches along the Croisette

As much as I adore my beloved London, I’m also a huge travel junkie and aim to see the world as much as possible. After managing to get a week off work on the week of my birthday, I decided to sneak in a three night mini break to the French Riviera. Initially booking a cheap Easyjet flight to Nice, my friend and I only settled on Cannes as our resort of choice about a week before departure.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Hollywood is here all year round: Marilyn Monroe mural on the side of the Cannes Riviera Hotel

Surprisingly in August, there was a wealth of choice of hotels, self-catering apartments and B&Bs available. After finding a relatively cheap rate on a holiday search engine, we ended up visiting the actual website for the hotel and managed to get a deal for €105 per night for a double ensuite room with buffet breakfast included at the four-star Best Western Riviera. There are several Best Westerns in Cannes, but this one was near to the train station (good insulation so noise is not a problem) and only a five minute walk to the beach. A 24 hour bar and rooftop pool was part of the appeal I must confess…

Having spent many holidays on the French Riviera and inland Provence as a child, I was looking forward to seeing it as an adult and it would also be my first trip to Cannes. The one thing that appealed to us to choose Cannes over Nice was the fact it is a smaller resort, whereas Nice is a city. Arriving at Nice airport, we got the bus to Cannes which only took about 30 minutes and dropped us off at the Hotel De Ville (City Hall), which was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel. The receptionist Arnaud was very helpful and gave us a map and what to do in Cannes and our room was clean, contemporary with good amenities.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

High life: People waiting for their red carpet moment at the Palais Des Festivals (left) and shopping at designer boutiques on the Croisette (right)

A few hours after being in Cannes, one of the main things which struck me was how compact it was. Every night, we ended up walking along the Croisette (the seaside avenue), taking in the many movie references dotted around, the designer boutiques, palace hotels and the famous Palais Des Festivals, where all the main premieres take place during the Cannes Film Festival every May. Like many others, we waited our turn to have our own red carpet moment, posing on the same stairs where A-listers including Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, etc have worked their magic over the years.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Charming: Lots of bars and restaurants on the winding alleys of Cannes’ old town Le Suquet

Given the history with the festival and wealth of designer boutiques, unsurprisingly a lot of the restaurants are quite expensive. However, for something with a bit more charm and better value, I would recommend going up to Le Suquet (Cannes’ old town). On Rue Du Suquet, a winding pedestrianised alley, there are lots of charming restaurants and bars. For our first dinner we had a €25 three course menu at L’Enoteca. The service was friendly and efficient and we got to sit outside on a balmy summer evening. I opted for a fish soup to start with, then Moules farcies au beurre persillé (stuffed mussels) and a pannacotta for dessert. All three dishes were delicious and was a perfect start to our mini break. Had I been staying in Cannes a bit longer, I would have certainly gone back. On our second night, we went to Le Marais – a few doors down from L’Enoteca on Rue Du Suquet. Again we were treated to an outside table with equally good service. We opted for the €27 menu with tomato and mozzarella to start (an old favourite of mine), seabass on seabream for main (gorgeous, the fish literally melted in my mouth) and ice cream to finish.

When it comes to beaches, a lot of Cannes’ sands are owned by the palace hotels, with entry restricted to hotel guests or you can pay roughly €20 per person. However, even during busy August, we managed to find places on the free beaches just across the road from the Louis Vuitton store on the Croisette and on the west side of the harbour in front of the Radisson Blu Hotel. Alongside all the seafront are plenty of food and drink stands selling crepes, sandwiches, cold drinks and ice cream should you need some refreshment. For those with children, if the beach isn’t entertaining enough, there’s rides, including several carousels, along the waterfront.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Glamour: The water feature at the entrance to Le Bâoli nightclub

Cannes has a lot to offer for the shopaholic. For those with no credit limits, there’s every big fashion house in existence – Marc Jacobs, Chanel, D&G, etc, but for those with more humble budgets, there are plenty of French high street stores too. I was particularly humoured to see La Boutique Du Chien (dog store!) on the Rue Hoche. Besides the obvious daytime activities of the beach and shopping, there are also a few museums in town. We went to the Picasso exhibition at La Maimaison – what’s left of the Grand Hotel which was demolished in the 1950s.

When it came the nightlife, there’s also plenty of choice. There’s lots of bars dotted around Cannes town centre and in Le Suquet, but for some late night action on a grand scale, head to Le Bâoli and Gotha nightclubs, both situated at the far Eastern end of La Croisette. I would highly recommend getting a taxi there, as turned out to be quite a long walk in high-heels from the centre of Cannes! Both were free to get in, but the drinks are very expensive. In both clubs, the cheapest drink tended to be a glass of champagne at €18 a pop so bring a wad of notes with you! At Le Bâoli, the music was a mix of hip-hop and house, with a large seating area outside. As with Gotha, if you want a booth or table inside, be prepared to pay a lot. Gotha was on a much larger scale and has attracted some big names over the summer, including Chris Brown, Pharrell Williams, Jamie Foxx, Beth Ditto from The Gossip and Ne-Yo. On the night I attended, U.S. rapper Fabolous was playing, attracting a big crowd to the T-shaped dancefloor.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Only the fabulous allowed at Gotha: Rapper Fabolous performs

Before we hit Gotha, we popped into the Black Pearl bar – on Rue Mace, just off the Croisette. Although there was a large, sleek, dark bar inside with a DJ playing, I opted for seating outside again and enjoyed a Porn Star Martini – one of their extensive cocktail list. For those who prefer their nightlife more casual, a popular spot is Morrison’s Bar and Lounge on Rue Tesseire, which is more laid back and has a wide selection of beers. As well as clubbing and bars, I also had a flutter on the roulette table at the Casino Barrière Les Princes, one of several casinos in the town. Sadly I didn’t win anything and decided to be sensible and leave before I lost any more money!

When I left Cannes after three nights, I felt like I needed more time there, but have to say I was totally charmed by the town. Everyone I met in hotels and restaurants were so friendly. I attempted to utilise my rusty French GCSE, but was always replied to in English. While I’m definitely not in the same spending leagues as many of the holidaymakers, even those on a budget can’t help but feel glamorous. I can’t wait to come back…

For Metro Girl’s blog review of Paris, read Le week-end à Paris: Disney, landmarks and laughs in the City of Lights.

For Metro Girl’s other travel posts, check out the You Can Take The Girl Out Of London section.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Sunset from the rooftop of the Cannes Riviera Hotel