WHAT: "Art Deco 1910-1939," billed as the most comprehensive exhibit ever dedicated to the sleek, linear, futuristic design movement.
WHERE: London's Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Road), through July 20.
WHY: Because a trip to this London exhibition is simultaneously a trip into the era of the Great Gatsby, Josephine Baker and Fritz Lang. Surrounded by the 300-plus objects and artworks amassed by the V&A, you'll be transported back to the age of flappers, the Charleston, the Chrysler Building, modernist Paris, "Metropolis," the Cotton Club and enormous radios. Some of the marquee attractions are jewelry by Cartier, fashions by Coco Chanel, paintings by Fernand Leger, sculpture by Constantin Brancusi and a stellar reconstruction of the lobby of London's Strand Palace Hotel circa 1930.
Though the movement is most associated with the United States and Europe, this exhibition reveals art deco as a global phenomenon, stretching as far as Russia, India and China.
ADMISSION: Tickets are about $12.50 for adults, $7.75 for seniors and students. Some 30,000 folks pushed through the exhibition in the first week alone, so the museum is recommending that visitors purchase tickets in advance. This can be done via First Call Tickets (011-44-870-906-3883, www.firstcalltickets .com), which adds a service charge of $2 per ticket. Guided tours can be arranged by calling 011-44-20-7942-2529.
DECO DIGS: A number of London hotels boast classic deco decor. A multimillion- dollar renovation has restored the deco interior of the Hilton London Paddington (146 Praed St., phone 011-44-20-7850- 0500, www.hilton.com; doubles from $185), though the ultraswank front hall and restaurant at Claridge's (55 Brook St., 011-44-20-7629-8860, www.claridgeshotel .com; doubles from around $315) are perhaps even more impressive.
The original deco monolith, the Strand Palace (372 Strand, 011-44-20-7836-8080, www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk; doubles from $225), has been upgraded into a modern luxury hotel, though some period touches remain.
DECO DESTINATIONS: Devotees of deco can find excellent architectural specimens scattered throughout London and environs. The neon and black granite exterior of the Odeon Cinema (22-24 Leicester Sq.) and the slim, ribbed facade of the Apollo Victoria Theater (17 Wilton Rd.) announce two of the city's enduring deco pleasure palaces, which continue to host films and plays, respectively. For the full experience of a deco landmark, head to Eltham Palace (Court Road, Eltham, 011-44-20-8294- 2548), about 30 minutes by train from the city center. Tickets are about $10.
DECO DINING: Housed in the restored Michelin House (81 Fulham Rd., South Kensington, $120 for two), a 1910 deco landmark, is the stylish Terrance Conran eatery Bibendum. Seafood and hearty meat dishes provide the backbone of the French-tinged menu. The stained-glass and smooth wood interior of the Ivy (1 West St., $100 for two) is popular with theatergoers and celebs. The food runs the gamut, from unpretentious English faves to exotic takes on sea bass. The extensive wine list and sophisticated French dishes at Mirabelle (56 Curzon St., $100 for two) attract crowds to its streamlined confines.
DECO SHOPPING: Club chairs, cocktail cabinets and other period pieces can be found at Gallery 1930 (18 Church St.). All manner of things sleek and chic from the mid-20th century are for sale at Fandango (50 Cross St., Islington). To shop for more contemporary items in a bona fide 1930s deco department store, head to Barker's (63 High St., Kensington).
DECO IN D.C.: Washingtonians can once again luxuriate in the classic deco confines of the Silver Theater in Silver Spring (8633 Colesville Rd., 301-495-6700, www.afi.com/silver). The 400-seat cinema, built in 1938, reopened to the public earlier this month, culminating a nearly 20-year preservation campaign.
The Art Deco Society of Washington (202-298-1100, www.adsw.org), which helped spearhead the renovation, offers regular lectures and outings dedicated to deco architecture and design.
INFO: Victoria and Albert Museum, 011-44-20-7942-2000, www.vam.ac.uk. London Tourist Board, 800-462-2748 (British Tourist Authority), www.london tourist board.com.
-- Seth Sherwood