Under The Doormat Blog

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LGBT Events in London

While London thankfully has a reputation for producing and promoting the work of gay artists, this year there have been a wide range of events across London for the first time to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.


Art exhibitions

Hockney Tate

Tate Modern introduces the comprehensive exhibition Queer British Art, with works from 1861 to 1967 that cover a range of LGBT subjects. Establishment figures dominate, from the flowing painting of the Pre-Raphaelites to British titans such as David Hockney. Another highlight is the portraits of John Singer Sargent, currently the subject of his own retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Tate: until 1st October

Dulwich Picture Gallery: until 8th October



BFI Film Festival

The primary event on the LGBT film calendar is the BFI Flare Film Festival, an annual celebration of original works for the big screen showing tens of feature-length movies and shorts. Some of the world’s best filmmakers have been involved, with highlights this year including the BBC’s Against the Law, the animation Torrey Pines and After Louie, starring Alan Cumming. The 2018 programme will be announced in February next year, while the festival itself takes place in March.



Yank! Charing Cross Theatre

London has a thriving theatre scene, with a rolling selection of original works and revivals. Plays such as Under the Skin (Camden), And the Rest of Me Floats (Shoreditch) and Yank! (Covent Garden) are the highlights of this summer, while the National Theatre at the Southbank is featuring a discussion and exhibition of events over the past 25 years since its 1992 première of Angels in America. Although there are relatively few dedicated venues, there is a shift and expansion in the industry: the King’s Head in Islington, for example, should be moving into a larger dedicated venue from 2018.



British Museum LGBT

The British Museum has put together the exhibition Desire, Love, Identity, examining LGBT histories through its extensive collection, ranging from ancient perspectives to the present day. This is accompanied by a similar display at the British Library in King’s Cross, which explores the legal, personal and cultural circumstances around gay lives in 20th-century Britain, as well as campaigns continuing today.

British Museum: until 15th October

British Library: until 19th September


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Edinburgh festival?

Edinburgh Fringe is a beautiful and mesmerising collection of everything that… shouldn’t really be a thing. From improvised Jane Austen to men dressing as gorillas, there’s weird, wacky and brilliant theatre, comedy and performance art. While the UK’s focus is firmly in Scotland, London is certainly not sitting quietly, with plays and gigs and exhibitions continuing apace for the month.


The Camden Fringe

 Camden Fringe

This north London alternative is a direct substitute for the Edinburgh Fringe, launched in 2006 to allow emerging comedians and acts to have the space to perform without the expense of setting up in Edinburgh. The venues vary each year within Camden, but the intimate and unusual feel of the festival has not changed, with a multitude of improvised and small-scale performances on each night throughout August. With tickets between £5-£10 for each gig, it’s also remarkable affordable for London.


London’s brightest comedy

 Comedy Grotto

A number of shows have their previews in London before heading north across the border, as well as finishing off the month in the capital. With an army of comedians descending on the Scottish capital, however, there’s also a great deal of space on the London circuit – with an especially international flavour to the comedy. Stand-ups such as the Norwegian Daniel Simonsen and French Gad Elmaleh come highly recommended with quirky and hilariously hesitant performances. London of course has a rich circuit of dedicated venues, but for something a little different pay a visit to the Comedy Grotto in Soho – or don’t pay, as it operates a pay-what-you-feel policy.


LGBT shows

 Yank! Charing Cross Theatre

Throughout 2017 in London there are a range of LGBT-focused events, particularly on the stage and screen. This summer plays include Under the Skin (Camden), And the Rest of Me Floats (Shoreditch) and Yank! (Covent Garden) while the National Theatre at the Southbank is featuring a discussion and exhibition of events over the past 25 years since its 1992 première of Angels in America. For more on London’s LGBT events this year, we’ve made a guide here.


Fringe theatre

Open air theatre regents park

It’s a well-trodden path for plays in Britain: they begin life in the baptism of fire that is the Edinburgh theatre scene and then make their way to the glorious stages of London’s West End. From this season we should see in the capital such hits as DollyWould and the less well-known Out of Love making their runs. London fringe theatre is, however, a more permanent fixture, with off-the-wall and more experimental shows away from the glitz of the West End running throughout the year. Venues such as the Open Air Theatre in the heart of Regent’s Park offer electrifying alternatives, including what should be an enthralling interpretation of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw next year.


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Yes, you’re also an elite athlete

The IAAF World Athletics Championships are coming to London this week! So if you also consider yourself an elite athlete, we’ve pulled together some tough training routes, intense races and high-end events for a variety of sports in London.


Jogging routes

East London jogging, Olympic Park

With the Championships taking place across the Olympic Park, we’ve found a couple of jogging routes in East London, both around 10km. Strava’s East London towpaths route starts in Limehouse and sweeps up to the stadium itself, before cutting back down along the River Lea.


East London jogging, Docklands

The Runner’s Guide to London have also found a spectacularly scenic route through the Docklands, encompassing Canary Wharf, Jubilee Park and the Greenwich museums.


Long-distance running

Royal Parks Half Marathon

The city is well-served for long-distance events, with the action extending well beyond April’s London Marathon. One of the largest events is the annual Ealing half marathon in September, taking in a swathe of tranquil West London parks. Further south the Richmond Running Festival is a weekend of events covering 10k, the half and full marathons also in September, while the stunning Royal Parks Half Marathon sees racers travel through the Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.


Olympic swimming pools

Elite swimming pool

For a capital city London is pretty poorly served when it comes to its pools, with only three venues meeting the 50m Olympic length. There’s the Olympic pool used in 2012 in Stratford, while the National Sports Centre in Crystal Palace has long had a range of impressive facilities. More recently opened is Gurnell Leisure Centre’s 50m pool in Ealing.


Cycling events

Cycling events offer a great chance to enjoy a serious ride while also visiting some of the beautiful towns surrounding London. Going beyond the famous Ride London, races take place each year heading from the capital to Reading (40 miles) and Canterbury (65-80 miles), while the 54-mile London to Brighton route means you can finish with a dive in the (very) brisk ocean.

Click here for more of our recommended cycle routes.


And for a great selection of clubs and groups organising sports ranging from sailing to table tennis, have a look at our guide here.

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UnderTheDoormat partners with BridgeStreet


UnderTheDoormat has recently partnered with BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, opening up new opportunities for business travellers to stay in some of the nicest homes in London.

BridgeStreet is one of the leading corporate travel in the world. They only work with businesses, so individuals aren’t able to list their home with them or book a stay with them.

Consistent high standards is a must for business travellers but until recently it has been hard for BridgeStreet to guarantee this for guests staying in homes.

UnderTheDoormat’s fully managed service means that we can offer the professional service and high quality homes that business travellers need. We are one of the first companies in our sector to partner with BridgeStreet and we’re delighted our homeowners will now have the opportunity to welcome business travellers through them.

Our CEO Merilee said “We are excited to partner with one of the leading corporate travel providers to welcome guests from some of the top companies around the world. We’re sure they will love the quality and comfort of the homes we offer along with our professional service”.

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THE 5 best desserts in London right now

If you’re a savoury person, then turn away now.

If you’re anything like me, and have a disgustingly unrelenting sweet-tooth and frequent cravings for gluttonous treats, then you can continue reading as this one’s for you. It’s taken me two weeks, but I have finally managed to compile a list of the most luscious desserts, which I feel, hit the spot aptly.

As UnderTheDoormat’s resident sugar lover, I hope that I’ve managed to include something on this list for dessert lovers across the country.


5  SAID café: Sauce-doused Brownie with Hot Chocolate or (very convincing) Chocolate Tea

Usually for most, waiting in line for half an hour in the dead of winter for a drink would not be an appeasing thought – even for hot chocolate. Then again, most people have not tried the hot chocolate served at Said Café, which is undoubtedly a distinct exception to this rule. Served in a SAID Special Sauce-doused cup, it would be enough to satiate any sweet craving. For serous chocophiles out there, there is also an option of having the hot chocolate served in a chocolate cup, complete with a chocolate spoon. If hot chocolate isn’t your thing, then I would highly recommend the chocolate tea – it has everything you love about chocolate, but leaves you without the sickly feeling afterwards.


4  Maxwell’s Bar and Grill: Salted Caramel Freakshake

If your sugar cravings are voracious, then this is a dessert which will not fail to satiate you for a good month after having consumed it. Served in over 20 different flavours, and estimated at 3000 calories per shake, this dairy overload is lavishly topped with everything from pretzels, donuts, whole chocolate brownies and Pokémon figurines. Easily the most gluttonous selection on our list, this is guaranteed to be a milkshake nothing like anything you have tried before.

3  The Manor: Blackberries, Soya Milk Sorbet and Yoghurt Snow

At Clapham’s The Manor, cultured yoghurt and seasonal botanicals – shiso, blackberry leaf, sorrel, fennel, anise hyssop and whatnot – are given the nitro treatment, freeze-dried into sharp little nobbles and fragrant shards. The painterly plate is completed with blackberry mousse, soya milk sorbet and plumes of chilly smoke. Just take care with your tongue: the threat of ice burn is real.


2  Som Saa: Grilled Banana

Like us, Som Saa were launched by a crowd-funding campaign, and exceeded their target in less than three days. Why? Because this is North-Eastern Thai restaurant serves food in its most culturally-unadulterated state. If you’re tired of seeing the same dessert items everywhere and enjoy trying new things, then this one is for you. Their silky palm sugar ice cream (think burnt toffee and salt), matched with grilled unripe banana is an unequivocal match for anyone’s taste buds.


1  Flesh & Buns: Green Tea S’mores

Nestled in the trendy snickets of Soho, it would be safe to say that Flesh & Buns is a restaurant which knows how to do food well. So when I heard that they serve their own Japanese rendition of a classic American staple, I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about, and what I found did not disappoint. The green tea flavoured white chocolate sandwiched between marshmallows and crackers, is an ideal way to finish a heavy meal – not too sickly, but just enough to satisfy. Probably the most sophisticated dessert on our list, it’s a must-try.

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UnderTheDoormat: fit for rising Wimbledon stars

We are delighted to announce that rising tennis star, Yulia Putintseva, has exclusively chosen UnderTheDoormat as her accommodation provider during the 2017 Wimbledon championships.

Putintseva, found the beautiful four-bedroom townhouse for £290 per night in the trendy area of Fulham. The 22 year old Florida native, is used to soaking up the rays on the silver shorelines of Boca Raton, but also loves the leafy green, city escape that Fulham has to offer. “It’s easy to fall in love with London. Everything is so green. There are so many things to enjoy about Fulham, too, including the coffee shops and Italian and sushi restaurants.”

When asked about what she likes best about staying in a rented home as opposed to a hotel, she told us: “When you’re playing tennis every week you get tired of staying in hotels… It’s so much better to stay in a home than in a hotel. You have so much more privacy – I can come home after a day in the tournament and close the door behind me.”

In the 2017 WTA final, Kazakhstan’s rising tennis star Yulia Putintseva, may have made an early Wimbledon exit, but her campaign in St. Petesburg ensured a career-high ranking of World no.27. Her highest WTA singles ranking was 31, which she reached on 16 January 2017.

“Wimbledon is huge for everyone in tennis. It’s every tennis player’s childhood dream to play here. For me it’s a dream to compete here, it’s a dream to win here. It’s a beautiful tournament,” She tells us.

Chinese Wimbledon star, Han Xinyun is also staying with us in our East Putney home.

We wish them both the best of luck for the rest of the season and cannot wait to have them stay with us again next year.

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A Perfect Weekend in London!

On her last day with UnderTheDoormat and in London, Lisa gives us her view on what would make a perfect weekend in the city.

Fancy a little walk outside on Friday night ?

I would recommend you to go to The Queens’ Walk to enjoy its party atmosphere. Surrounded by food-trucks and bars, overlooking the Thames, this is the place to be with your friends.

If you are looking for music, you can swing by the Underbelly Festival SouthBank it offers a nice open space bar and fun concerts by night, Free entrance. (Waterloo station)



Saturday – the day of endless possibilities!

Why not go shopping ?   I would encourage you to go to Harrods – even if no one can really afford anything from there – because it is an amazing experience. Harrods is the quintessential place to go if you want to experience British eccentricity.   (Knightsbridge station)


After all this shopping, you might want to take a rest and have some lunch,   I am sure you will enjoy South Kensington’s treasures: from Lebanese restaurant to Patisseries, the London French area is full of nice shops to swing by. (South Kensington station)


Sunny Sunday !


You need to keep your strength up, go out for BRUNCH !

Try the new food trend: Bread bowls. Those tasty bun are filled in with cheese, and everything you can imagine from the traditional bacon and egg to salmon and spinach. It sounds like the perfect alternative to a boring breakfast! The Barge House (Haggerston station)

If you missed the shopping session from Saturday, you can always go to Oxford  Street and Regents Streets.

If you want to stay in the neighbourhood and if the weather is good(!) I would urge you to take a walk in St James Park.

This is not only the perfect place to be if you want to see squirrels and feed ducks, it’s also a charming park surrounded by benches so you won’t miss a good spot to get some sun. (Westminster station)

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What a load of rubbish

The city’s full of second-hand and upcycled gems

Waste not, want not: it’s a fine mantra to live by, encouraging us not to throw away unnecessarily what we’re finished with – be it food, clothing or furniture. London does quite a lot of that, with only around a third of our household waste being recycled.

We’ve had a look at some ingenious examples of how we can make use of pretty much anything, finding the best flea markets, art installations and upcycling workshops where you can purchase that throne (or unwanted chair, depending on how you see it).


London’s flea markets

Hackney Flea Market

The Big London Flea is a great example to look out for, involving over 50 stalls selling second-hand and recycled wares covering just about everything. Hackney Flea Market itself is on every month, and features a delightful bi-monthly DIY art fair where some of London’s best self-published and independent artists exhibit their latest works. We brought it to you last Christmas in our blog, but Camden Passage remains a fantastic market to spot some hidden gems, all within tiny shops that cluster together in a magical setting 


Art at the Bridge

Art at the Bridge

The theme of ‘change’ runs through this year’s Art at the Bridge, with a focus on the construction and destruction of London through in various forms: architectural, cultural, emotional. Now in its eighth year, Tower Bridge once again features a series of local artists for a salient glimpse at life in the capital.

Until 31st December at Tower Bridge.



Petit Miracles

To some this remains a buzzword, and a pretentious spin on the more simple ‘second-hand goods’. But the trend does have its merits, transforming otherwise well-worn pieces of furniture and clothing into chic, simple and beautifully crafted products with a new lease of life. Upcycling shops can be found across the city, including in Shepherd’s Bush where a hub filled with independent traders is operated by Petit Miracles. On the first and second Saturday of each month they also run upcycling workshops, helping you make the most of what some consider waste.



A post shared by Recover Team (@recoverteamwgc) on

There are a number of excellent charities providing the opportunity for homeowners to remove and donate their unwanted goods. At Emmaus, those experiencing homelessness can then refashion the furniture and keep the proceeds from sales, while Recover is another British example of a charity supporting vulnerable adults by giving them a new lease of life in their workshops (and shop floors).

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Welcome back, Borough Market. This is why we love you #LOVEBOROUGH

London’s Borough Market re-opened its historic doors to the public today following the tragic London terror on June 3rd. The re-opening was commemorated with a minute’s silence and a ringing bell to remember the victims.

In recognition of the wonderful things Borough Market has brought to London, the team here at UnderTheDoormat offer their top tips & favourite places for you to visit, enjoy, and show your support. 

  • El Pastor

Erskine recommends El Pastor both for the food and the music. El Pastor is a taqueria, serving vibrant South-American inspired food and drinks served in colourful digs. From the Hart Brothers, and Crispin Somerville the restaurant is easily a Saturday night spot to hang out with friends.

  • Katzenjammers

Next on our list, Hannah’s favourite London Bierkeller. The interior is  a stunning modernist take on the traditional Bavarian kind. If you are looking for convivial atmosphere, lederhosen-clad staff and great beer, pop downstairs into the beer cellar to find traditional long tables with a live oompah band. Authenticity at its finest.

  • The Market Porter

If a traditional alehouse is more your thing, then The Market Porter is one to visit on a Friday evening says Walt. With changing beers on tap, a daytime food menu and cheerful staff, all of your needs will be met here. Fun fact: the Market Porter was turned into the Third Hand Book Emporium in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, so don’t be surprised to see Potter fans also making the pilgrimage.

  • Rabot 1745

This little gem located on 2-4 Bedale Street, serves unusual contemporary dishes with a cocoa theme in a stylish colonial-inspired place. Alongside the quirky foods, the bar serves delectable cocoa cocktails that are not to be missed – taking the finest culinary inspiration from Caribbean, West Indies and Britain. Richard personally recommends the hot chocolate.

  • Tapas Brindisa

Arguably one of the best tapas places in London. They say that the true measure of a restaurant’s gastronomic credibility is when the locals eat there, and at this place, you will often find a line of locals often extending beyond the restaurant during peak hours. Run by Spanish produce suppliers, the restaurant’s authenticity holds up, as do its Iberian ingredients. If you find yourself craving some delicious meats laced with fats which melt on the tongue, Kate recommends the Jamon Iberico Croqueta.

  • Monmouth Coffee Company

This one is for the coffee lovers. If you like your coffee based on taste, then read on. With a roasting site a stone’s throw away in Bermondsey, they receive beans from around the world and roast them all differently to bring the best out of each one. Their produce is all fair trade too, so you can be sure that the coffee you are drinking has been ethically sourced. Rated very highly by the likes of Trip Advisor and Gerwin, this place is a must-visit.

  • Kappacasein

No list about Borough Market would be complete without mention of this cheese lovers galore. A cult favourite among Londoners (and my personal favourite), the stall offers world-famous raclette toasties made using raw milk from Commonwork Organic Farm in Sevenoaks, Kent, and is then lovingly made in Bermondsey. Located on 1 Stoney Street, it is also a short walk away from Southwark Cathedral Gardens where you can enjoy your snack with a beautiful view.

Our CEO Merilee Karr shares some of her memories of the market:

‘While the trauma experienced at the market will be felt for a very long time, I’ve always loved borough market, I often used to go there for Friday lunches, it’s great to see that local market has become such a focal point for London foodies, and I feel as though its re-opening captures the London spirit. ’

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