Nearby, the new Hilton London Bankside on Great Suffolk Street has made an effort to inculcate itself into the neighborhood by bridging past and present. While its lobby and facade are standard contemporary faux-chic, its Victorian steampunk bar, the Distillery, is named after the old Stevenson & Howell fragrance factory that occupied the site in the 1800s. I ordered one of its fragrance-inspired cocktails, “Thus With a Kiss I Die,” a delicious amalgamation of mezcal, amaro, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters combined by the bartender in front of me with a great flourish. The problem was drinking the thing. I sipped my potation in one section of the bar, only to be told that it was reserved for a corporate party. When I moved to another part of the bar I was informed that it was also reserved for a corporate party.
“Where can I sit?” I asked. The waiter sheepishly pointed to a lone chair in the corner. “There, I think, is O.K.,” he said. Next to me, I could feel the ghost of Jane Jacobs cringing.
The Tate Modern and the Battle for London’s Soul
I was standing on the 10th-floor viewing terrace of the Tate Modern’s new wing, a twisting ziggurat of perforated brick and mortar that rises above the museum’s home in the old Bankside Power Station.