Starring in a new production of Happy Days, Juliet Stevenson shares her favourite things in London
What is your perfect breakfast?
It would be with my friend, the writer Michael Morpurgo, who has a flat in Fulham with a view of the Thames. His wife is a great cook, so we’d all have breakfast on the balcony.
What are your favourite buildings?
I’m a big fan of the architect Richard Rogers, who has contributed brilliantly to the London skyline. I don’t have a lot of time for The Shard if it’s trying to be the biggest building in the world—shut up and get along with everyone else. Although I do fancy going up to the top of it! I love St. Paul’s Cathedral, and I also adore Georgian architecture with its exquisite squares.
What museums and galleries do you like?
I love Tate Modern. My favourite places are usually ones that have been converted from something else [Tate Modern is housed in a former power station]. It has weird and wonderful dimensions. The British Museum is great too—I get a complete thrill when I see it.
And favourite green spaces?
Waterlow Park is one of my favourites. It was bequeathed to the public by Sir Sidney Waterlow as a ‘garden for the gardenless’. And I love Hampstead Heath, which is like a chunk of the country in the city. You see birds and packs of animals. My kids have climbed and made dens in the bushes there. I also love Kenwood House, which is close by.
Where do you like to shop?
If I’m feeling extravagant, I go to Marylebone High Street. I’m addicted to kitchen shops. There are some great charity shops there too, and the Sunday market is fabulous. Brick Lane and Columbia Road Flower Market are brilliant.
Where would you have tea?
I would go to the Savoy Hotel—it’s like being back in another era. I would also love to have tea on a houseboat bobbing up and down on the river. My fantasy is to live on a boat!
What would you do for entertainment?
I’d go to the theatre! I’m a fan of the Young Vic—I’ve seen almost everything there. I am starring in Happy Days there. It’s a play about surviving—it’s funny, dark and a little crazy.
How do you prefer to travel?
If I have time, I would walk. I just never get tired of looking around me. Every time I look up, London takes me to a different place: at eye level, I see contemporary London, then I look up and see all its history. I often find my characters on the Tube (above) when I’m starting to think about a new part I’m playing.
Where do you like to eat out?
I’d have lunch at the River Café. It has a great atmosphere and is on the river. To celebrate a big birthday for my husband recently, I booked a whole room in L’Escargot. It’s like a house—where you expect to find a bedroom, you find another room to eat in. The room we were in was lined with incredible Picassos.
What makes London stand out?
People come here to redefine themselves—whether they’re the only gay in the village, or Asian in a small town, they have chosen to be here, and that gives the city an amazing energy. You can escape bits of your country you are not happy with, and can escape everything English if you want to here. You can escape everything to do with France in Paris, or everything to do with the United States in New York. You also feel that you’re in a place that has offered you a life that you can make your own choices in.