February may be the shortest month of the year, but in London that only means there's more to pack in, making it a perfect time for an urban escape. For ideas of what to do, here are three of this month's best exhibitions and theatrical events, plus a chance to step back 150 years in time.
The concierge team at The Beaumont know London inside out, and they are here to help guests look beyond the obvious tourist clichés.
Just a short walk from The Beaumont in Manchester Square, the Wallace Collection is always worth a visit, and its latest exhibition offers an added draw. Called Forgotten Masters of Indian Painting, it focuses on the jewel-like pictures commissioned from Indian artists by officials of the East India Company in the late 18th century. This is the first exhibition dedicated to these so-called Company Paintings, gathered from collections around the world, and it's a revelation - the show runs until 19 April.
Step back into the 16th century at the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, modelled on theatres of that time, for a lively performance of one of Shakespeare's most argued-over plays, The Taming of the Shrew. A rollicking comedy based on the battle of the sexes, it was first performed in the 1590s, and has been adapted many times since, most famously in Cole Porter's 1948 musical, Kiss Me Kate. This new production opens on 1 February and runs until 18 April.
For anyone who loves automobiles, the new show at the Victoria & Albert Museum is a must-see. Cars: Accelerating the Modern World looks at our love-hate relationship with the things, and explores how their 130-year history has revolutionised manufacturing as well as transforming our cities, economies and the environment. This wide-ranging exhibition includes everything from car-inspired fashions to the world's first production car, the 1888 Benz Patent Motorwagen 3, as well as futuristic concept models, and runs till 19 April.
On a quiet street in Kensington stands one of the rarest houses in London: 18 Stafford Terrace, whose interiors have somehow survived almost completely untouched since the 1870s, when it was lived in by a successful cartoonist called Edward Linley Sambourne and his family. Open just three afternoons a week (on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday), it's off the main tourist trail and gives a fascinating insight into how a well-off Victorians lived, and the cluttered, claustrophobic homes they lived in.