There are many reasons to make the arduous trek across London to the 02 arena. Kylie, Shania, Enrique…Mariah. Or how about an overnight stay in the Royal Docks with wake-boarding, paddle-boarding, a champagne fuelled cable-car followed by a VIP experience with the princess of pop? Chloe prepares herself for the ultimate adrenaline rush…
The last time I saw Britney Spears perform was as an overly excited 10 year old, in this exact same arena – although back then it was called the Millennium Dome.
To make the most the show, I checked in to the Aloft Hotel Excel in the Royal Docks. Designed for today’s savvy global traveller, it has an indoor pool and gym, and a water sports centre on its doorstop offering wake-boarding, paddle-boarding, rowing, sailing and canoeing.
It’s also the only hotel directly connected to the ExCeL International Convention Centre and close to London City Airport, Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena. The decor inside is modern and vibrant – the rooms, spacious with large ceilings mirroring the style of a loft.
I began my day paddle-boarding along the River Thames at WakeUp Docklands. London’s inner city sports oasis. The staff were cool and relaxed, and their ‘shack’ style bar took me back to my days of traveling through Asia; sipping on a cold beer whilst relaxing on one of their deck chairs overlooking the water. If you manage to stay on your paddle-board and fancy a refreshing dip, there’s even a small outdoor swimming pool next door.
It was only when I built up the confidence to take my eyes off the board beneath me, that I realised we were gliding through the middle of the bustling city! The instructors are informative and reassuring for those who are new to Paddleboarding and based on the sheltered waters of Royal Victoria Dock, there’s no need to worry about falling into the water.
If you enjoy more of an adrenaline rush, WakeUp Docklands also specialise in cable Wakeboarding. As someone who’s intrinsically anxious, I was reluctant to try it but after a short pep talk with myself, I remembered to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Whilst on my first go I could barely stand for 5 seconds, I soon got the hang of it and the achievement I felt afterwards of facing my fear and trying something new was exhilarating! I was hooked, and I am already planning my next visit back. If you’re looking to try something new, have tons of fun and get in a great workout these water sports are definitely for you; my core was burning by the end as I desperately tried not to fall off. WakeUp Docklands also specialise in SUP yoga if the adrenaline rush isn’t your cup of tea…
After showering off the Thames water, we treated ourselves to a beautiful meal at Craft London, located a stone’s throw away from the 02 arena. Focusing on quality in production, the restaurant dishes are created using almost exclusively British produce bought from farmers they know well. Vegetarian and meat options alike were delicious and the presentation was definitely worthy of an Instagram post! The vibe was warm and welcoming and the interior is filled with the best of Britain from Scottish tweed, to British limestone and London designed furniture and lighting.
Their a la carte menu offers a selection of seasonal plates, including the Chichester aubergine, topped with yogurt, hazelnut and treacle and a leek dish, with smoked potato, pickled shallot, peas and garlic. Not forgetting my favourite meal, dessert was a summery meringue dish with strawberries, vanilla cream and rosemary..absolutely divine.
If you’re visiting the 02, the restaurant serve pre-show menus from 5pm, with the bar opening from 5pm-late. Perfect for those pre- and post-show drinks the healthy hedonist way.
The next day we explored the backstreets of East London with an alternative cycling tour. The Alternative London Bike Tours take you through the hidden gems of East London.
I was lucky enough to experience the Street Art Bike Tour; to be perfectly honest, I had never paid too much attention to street art in the past, but this tour gave me a whole new appreciation and perspective on it.
Our tour guide’s passion for street art was infectious, and we heard the stories and motivations behind some of the world’s finest street art from the likes of Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
After the two-hour cycle, it was time to refuel at Leroy in Shoreditch. Leroy is the perfect place for a glass of wine with several plates of simple yet delicious food to share.
The lively atmosphere and cosy environment made it a great place to unwind and enjoy a glass..or two. Their single-sheet menu comprised of delicious plates perfect for sharing, ranging from £8 to £42 for a larger plate of duck breast for two. Particularly delicious dishes include the smoked mackerel and horseradish, along with the marinated aubergine and yogurt. Whilst we tucked into our food, I started to get excited for the evening ahead, it was time for the main event…
My expectations of the show were pretty high. I was eager to hear Britney’s classics which would bring me back to being that excited 10 year old at her concert 17 years ago. It certainly didn’t disappoint; Pitbull started off the show with an energetic performance of some of his hits- think Timber and Give me Everything, which got the crowd hyped for what was to come. Britney and her dancers put on an incredible performance, and had the whole crowd dancing and singing along to all her hits, proving that she really has still got it.
I left feeling more in love with her music, and spent the whole taxi ride back to the hotel listening to ‘Gimme more’ and ‘Baby One More Time’ on full blast (much to the taxi driver’s delight!..)
The Aloft Hotel is a fantastic place to base yourself around the O2. You don’t have to worry about getting to or from the venue, and with plenty to explore in the Docklands area, a healthy hedonist doesn’t have to wonder far for an adventure fix combined with some amazing food.. Upcoming shows to look out for include Kylie Minogue on the 26th-28th September, and Michael McIntyre from the 5th-14th October. Click here to book.