Charging Ahead: 48 hours in London with Jaguar

Lifestyle

Pulling off the M25 into the heart of London, there is no shortage of ultra-luxury high-end cars lining the streets – but amongst the Bentleys, Range Rovers and Mercedes’, there’s arguably one badge that looks most at home as we make our way past Westminster Abbey – with the utmost respect to the Aston Martin DB5 parked next to us at the lights – I am referring to Jaguar.

A jam-packed 48-hour itinerary awaits featuring the best London has to offer and a race between the world’s fastest electric cars races. Here’s how it all played out.

Race to the finish line

The often overlooked relative of Formula One, the recent rise of the environmentally-friendly Formula E has admittedly been somewhat eclipsed in the wake of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series – but when you can put on a race in the heart of a city like London, rest assured the masses will come.

We arrive at the ExCel in a fleet of Jaguar I-Paces and Range Rovers ahead of the most important race of the 2023 season. One of the first things you notice is the level of accessibility. Media passes aside, hundreds are allowed to freely make their way over to the team garages where the engineers are all too happy to have a chat about the cars.

Even rich-lister Twiggy Forrest was spotted inspecting the latest from the Jaguar’s TCS Racing Team.  

But let’s be honest, there’s only one way to truly appreciate what these engines can do. Unfortunately, the team at JLR weren’t going to throw me the keys to Mitch Evans’ Formula E car, so I had to settle for the passenger seat in the eTrophy as a professional driver well and truly erased any lingering jetlag symptoms in a hot lap to end all hot laps.

No words, these things are absolute lightning.

STREETS OF LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 29: Jaguar TCS Racing, i-Pace hot lap, guests during the London ePrix I at Streets of London on Saturday July 29, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Andrew Ferraro / LAT Images)

Keen to get the 14,000-strong-crowd involved as much as possible, a combination of media, spectators and of course, influencers, make their way down for the famous pit lane walk just moments before the race begins. A spectacle not to be missed.

For Racing Director James Barclay and Jaguar, this race had particular significance. In addition to it being their home event, star driver Mitch Evans was in with a chance to take home the 2023 season championship. Despite taking out the win in race 15 of the season, it wasn’t enough to get the New Zealand native over the line for the top prize.

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Peak London

After a day at the racetrack, we jump behind the wheel of a Jaguar I-Pace and make our way back to the hotel, admittedly at a glacial pace in peak hour traffic – a far cry from the 180km/h speeds we hit in the same car while fanging around a racetrack in Sydney earlier in the year. That said, still an enjoyable drive.

Wedged in between Hyde Park and high-end retail, we pull into The Berkeley in Knightsbridge. It doesn’t flaunt its heritage; rather, it prefers a more restrained elegance that reflects its 1970s roots while embracing a distinctly modern design ethos.

While it might make sense to jump into what the rooms offer at this point, we must start with the food. My god. The food. Culinary offerings at The Berkeley far exceeded any expectations albeit with an atmosphere that sometimes feels more hushed than one might expect of a place with such acclaim. I strongly recommend starting your morning off with a classic full English at the Collins Room before making your way across the lobby floor to grab one of Cédric Grolet’s famous Parisian pastries. The queue for non-hotel guests tells you everything you need to know about their popularity.  

And no matter what time of the year it is, do yourself a favour, head upstairs to grab a negroni by the rooftop pool and take in the breathtaking views of London’s bustling streets.

Trash to treasure

Staying on the theme of sustainability, we head into the extremely trendy studio of Helen Kirkum to turn piles of discarded designer footwear into our custom pair of sneakers – an absolute dream for any sneakerhead.

Helen’s journey began with an eye-opening realisation of the vast waste generated by fast fashion. It ultimately led to using old, discarded shoes, which would otherwise end up in landfills, as raw materials for new, fashionable sneakers. Her approach isn’t just about recycling; it’s about reimagining waste as a valuable resource, challenging the traditional perceptions of fashion, design, and sustainability.

The scratches, scuffs, and marks on the repurposed materials add a layer of depth and personality to each pair, making them not just shoes but wearable pieces of art.

And don’t worry, the team on hand in the studio is capable of turning even the least creative concept into your own perfectly fitted masterpiece.

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