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Interview: Fleur Britten, Editor of Hg2 London talks all things Hedonism!

Hg2 what? That's A Hedonists Guide to... London! That's what! Some may scoff at the notion of hedonism in these taut times, but only those of a somewhat pale existence, wouldn't you say? Infact, there's no better time, nor place for it than now in London. The desire - and need - to indulge has no shame, all is to be gained, and little to be lost. With the 3rd Edition of Hg2 London being published, its editor Fleur Britten (pictured above in her Halloween finery) tells us of the new Hedonisim, it's places and people.

The 3rd Edition will be available from the 15th October 2010 at all good book shops, or via their website To win a copy of the book and gain free access to their site, read to the bottom of this page.

RR: New book, new blood. Who and what are London’s new Hedonists?
FB: If only I kept more riotous company. But if London’s new wave of places to eat and drink is anything to go by, those who are enjoying them are more grounded, thoughtful and modest than the status-obsessed dick-swingers of the early Noughties.

The backlash against the mainlining of alcopops has seen the rise of connoisseurship. For beer, try The Rake in Borough and The Old Brewery in Greenwich; for sherry, Bar Pepito in King’s Cross; for wine, Vinoteca in Clerkenwell, and the feted Terroirs in Covent Garden for natural wine (ie, produced not only without additives, but without machinery, since it is believed to damage the wine). Ditto a thirst for real ale – traditionally brewed, non-carbonated, unpasteurized ‘live’ beer, which, unlike the mass-produced stuff, continues to ferment and improve right up until you drink it (at Charles Lamb in Islington, the Wenlock Arms in Haggerston, The Carpenter’s Arms in Bethnal Green, and The Draft House in Battersea and Clapham). Meanwhile, what can be remembered of partying in East Berlin and Brooklyn has been imported here – think a lo-fi, DIY mentality, bare concrete, honesty bars, and, umm, bohemian loos (Dalston Superstore, Vogue Fabrics, Visions Video).

RR: The new Hedonism isn’t just booze and pills – but pleasure for the belly and mind. Would Howard Marks and Marie Antoinette approve?
They ought to approve, otherwise they’d look very silly and uncultured indeed. In a time when many are seeking more meaningful memories than weekends lost to benders, academic amusements are flourishing. The post-materialist set has replaced ‘stuff’ with cerebral pursuits – Alain de Botton’s School of Life in Bloomsbury is equally focused on fun and thought, with conversation dinners, Sunday sermons and regular classes. The Book Club in Shoreditch peddles the idea of think while you drink, while Intelligence Squared and its lectures and debates on like, every important issue ever, is adored by the chattering classes.

Food, meanwhile is less about posing in stuffy and starchy fine-dining gastrodomes, more about getting messy and sharing small plates and wholesome roasts with friends (at HIX Soho, Polpo and Polpetto, The Anchor & Hope etc), robust peasant food (Arbutus) and simple bistro cooking (albeit a polished version, at Bar Boulud, Bistrot Bruno Loubet, and the Galvin brothers’ ever growing empire). It’s about fine cooking over fine-dining.

RR: Is the new edition of Hg2 London the perfect stocking filler, as in gift, dear – for ones London pal or visiting lover?
It’s hard even for the Londoner to keep up when the capital’s landscape changes so fast, not least when the recession has accelerated the separating of the wheat from the chaff. With hundreds of new entries written by Sunday Times journalists past and present, plus ‘best of the rest’ edited highlights for each section – hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, clubs, culture and leisure – it’s a comprehensive guide for all that is worth knowing about, and intended for anyone within London’s orbit.

RR: It feels like we’re all suffering from a god almighty hang over as we grapple with the blues of the times we’re in (think recession, war, climate change – sore head). Can Hedonism be austere and altruistic?
FB: In London, hedonism can be anything (cream teas in pavilions, robotic dancing to electronic body music, whips and chains). So it can definitely be austere and altruistic. Take the ‘unhotel’ revolution – which sees certain individuals finally getting real about the true value of a hotel room. Unfortunately that’s not the hoteliers themselves (the cheapest room at Claridge’s, for example, is £490, which doesn’t include a 5% discretionary service charge). No, this revolution comes from home-owners, offering something a little more personal – a (much cheaper) place to stay in their own home. and are both online noticeboards that list rooms, or even entire apartments, to rent from £20 a night; this ‘Ebay for space’ includes user-generated reviews which lend an honest impartiality. The free, altruistic version is – there are some 10,000 Londoners happy to host a stranger in their own home for nothing more than a good conversation.

RR: What makes you a hedonist?
Throwing a fancy breast party. Struggling to go to bed at night. Possessing a full head bandage complete with fake blood stains for whenever the urge to dress ghoulishly strikes. Understanding why it’s necessary to put an entire Tunnock’s Tea Cake into my mouth at once, rather than in any more civil sized portions.

Fleur is also the author of Debrett’s Etiquette for Girls, On the Couch: Tales of Couchsurfing a Continent, and A Hedonist’s guide to Life and Milan. She is also Senior Commissioning Editor at the Sunday Times Style magazine.

Read the Run Riot exclusive Hedonists Guide to Halloween here, written by Fleur Britten, Kate Spicer, Mary Meyer and Simon Kurs, including a special selection of events chosen by a few of the the RR team; Jamie, Katie, Vienna, Clare, Charlotte and Becky.

Simply click on the link and enjoy yourself:

Hg2 London is a luxury city guide coveted by travellers and residents who value both style and substance when it comes to soaking up a city.


To enter the competition, send an email to with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ box. The winner will be randomly selected.
Q: Hg2 London is available from 15 Oct. Is that a coincidence or wot?! On that very same day back in 1903 a classic adventure novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy first opened as a theatrical production. Now, the story features the daring exploits of what we might refer to as the ultimate Hedonistic dandy! Of course, the story about a brilliant Englishman (who naturally resides mostly in London) rescuing aristocratic French ladies from the chop. The question is what is the novel called?
A: 1) L'Homme au Masque de Fer. .2) The Scarlet Pimpernel .3) The Misfortunes of Virtue .4) Mr Nice

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