TRAVEL | London City Guide

by Grace Gordon March 26, 2017

GRACE GORDON / DESIGNER

Here’s my London city guide.

I've been meaning to write a London guide for a while and now that I've officially moved far enough out to be classified as a commuter, I thought it was high time to prove my credentials as a fully fledged insider. I always take recommendations above selecting the newest or most well-known places so I thought you’d like to have a little insight into my own favourite spots. All of the questions have been compiled lovingly over the last few months; as requested by friends, family and you!

 

How would you describe London to someone who has never been?

Diverse, fast paced and iconic. It has all the trappings of a modern and restless city punctuated with magical moments of history.

What are your favourite areas and why?

Marylebone and Angel. I’m a North of the river kind of girl and these two places hold a special place in my heart. I lived in Angel for five years and know every little bit of it, the sense of community I felt there was like nothing else I’d experienced in London before. Marylebone I love for its boutique shops and wine bars, me and my mum always hide out in one of it’s gorgeous restaurants when she comes to visit. Le Vieux Comptoir is my absolute favourite.

This city is huge! how do you get around?

Tube! Unless I’m laden with bags in which case Black Cab all the way.  

Shopping is big in London, which shops are your favourite and how often do you go?

That’s a tough one, there are tons of options dependent on your mood. Utter Couture in Boxpark, Shoreditch is great for contemporary, urban pieces. Victoria Beau in Camden Passage has the most beautiful selection of chic basics and Couverture and the Garbstore in Notting Hill is a treasure trove of  selections from independent designers. In terms of how often I go, I should probably keep that a secret.

And how about the department stores?

I don’t actually visit department stores all that often as I’m a bit of a wanderer and like chatting to shop owners and locals but if I had to pick then Liberty. I used to work directly behind it and spent more time than was healthy in the beauty section, their Egyptian Magic cream is a must have.

Your favourite spot to buy vintage?

Definitely Cloud Cuckoo Land in Angel. I have a collection of stunning 50s cocktail dresses from there and they’re just about the most precious things I own. We had a flood once in my flat and the wardrobe became horribly damp so I had to send the entire lot to a specialist to restore. Let’s just say it wasn’t cheap.

Where can you always spot the fashion crowd?

London is a really progressive city when it comes to fashion and trend so you’ll probably spot them everywhere, just not Oxford Street!

What’s your favourite pub?

Such a tough one but for a secret hideaway the Nags Head on Hyde Park Corner. With friends, The Fox & Anchor in Farringdon and for romance, The Ladbroke Arms, Notting Hill.

The best club?

I don’t do clubs these days I’m afraid. I’m much more of a bar & late night restaurant kind of girl, speaking of which Sketch Mayfair is well-worth a visit. (event just for the decor)

What is the one touristy place you still love to visit?

Borough Market. It contains life-threatening amounts of cheese and the most potent Cider this side of Somerset.

The best way to spend a summer’s day?

I’d wake up early and go for a run along Regent’s Canal followed up with breakfast in The Pavilion on the water at Victoria park (they do lovely avocado on toast and super strong coffee.) Then I’d freshen up at home, haul my boyfriend out of bed and head to bottomless brunch with friends. After that, who knows, but more often than not we end up in Shoreditch, maybe on the rooftop bar at Golden Bee.

What should people buy in London? The one thing you can’t get anywhere else?

A ticket to the Royal Opera House, it’s magical.

What’s a big faux pas in the company of Londoners?

Standing on the wrong side of the escalators.

What’s the best way to have a full London experience? A beer in the streets after work?

Yes, absolutely. There’s so much to see and do that it’ll inevitably lead to trying out a new restaurant, heading to a bar or meeting up with colleagues’ friends. It’s a really sociable place.

Where can you find the best pub grub? And what if you want to eat healthy?

I’d recommend The Drapers Arms in Barnsbury, Islington. Their Sunday roasts are to die for and they get booked up most weekends so make sure you phone ahead. For the health conscious Ottolenghi do the most stunning seasonal salads, and if you do fall off the wagon they’ve got an amazing array of desserts too.

Do you have a favourite place outside of the city centre, a break from the busy streets?

That’d have to be Greenwich. You can head over by boat from the northside at Embankment and once you land go through the market then up to the Observatory where you can see for miles on a sunny day. There’s a lovely little cafe on the top of the hill too with delicious scones and tea.

What is your favourite restaurant?

Saponara, Islington. It’s a little Italian place hidden away on Prebend Street and it’s pizzas are to die for.

Where is the best spot for lunch with girlfriends?

The Bluebird, Chelsea. As long as there’s lots of wine involved we’re a happy bunch to be honest.

A place for high tea?

So this is a little way out but worth the visit, Petersham Nurseries, Richmond. It's full of beautiful flowers and plants with a gorgeous view and the tea and cake is to-die-for. There’s a great excuse to explore the town then too.

Where do you get you hair cut?

The Lounge, Soho.

Where do you go for the best beauty treatments?

If you’re feeling super flush, The Mandarin Oriental for one of their Aromatherapy facials, for lunchtime pits stops, Cucumba Soho and for massages, Kobkun, Angel.

Where’s your favourite cultural hangout?

The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square. It has the most beautiful restaurant in it’s centre and I could spend weeks on end looking through the artwork. I’m also a huge fan of the talks and exhibitions at the V&A, if you’re not a member it’s worth signing up.

Is there a hotel you recommend to your friends?

The Ace Hotel, Shoreditch. It’s got a great atmosphere and ideal location for work and play.

Where did you have your best night out & why?

I have a friend who performs burlesque and she asked me to help host a show she was running in Madame Jojos, Soho. The night went down a storm and the crowds were amazing. It was an incredible experience to have played a part in such an iconic venue, I loved every minute of it.

One word to sum up the city…

Unforgettable

 

Photography | Tec Petaja Notting Hill, London
Words | Grace Gordon




Grace Gordon
Grace Gordon

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