House Beautiful

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How To Spend a Day In… London


Hello, Mates.  I’m currently in London for the first of a three-pronged European tour for the ol’ jobby job, and as with every trip I make here, I’ve once again fallen in love with this city.

It reminds me of the Big Apple; it has the familiar hustle and bustle, but with a dash more dignity due to the ol’ monarchy pervading the city. The people are polite (and I swear it’s not just the the accents), the shopping is varied – at times sophisticated, at times totally funky – and it’s incredibly easy to find your way around.  If one day is all you had in London, here’s how I’d recommend spending it:

Breakfast at Princi: Inside this chic Italian bakery (other location: Milan), which is open 24-7, are two rooms: one in which a group of bakers are kneading dough day-and-night into delightful treats such as chocolate croissants and “four season ham and cheese pizza”; the other, an open dining area with high chairs for diners to taste the fresh breads and sip a cappucino.  Tip: try the dark hot chocolate.

After the cappucino and pain au chocolat, a little retail therapy.  You’ll need a soundtrack to the day, of course!  And it’s a good thing you’ve uploaded the new album by Plan B.  A British rapper/singer who reminds me a bit of Mark Ronson, the upbeat sounds will guide you to your first stop: Furniture store Habitat.  Not yet available in the US for some reason, it’s chock full of fun, modern, well-made furniture and as my Brit colleague puts it, “is a cross between Crate and Barrel and CB2, but it’s not up its own ass.”

Then, well, it’s just not a trip to jolly ol’ LDN without some time spent scouring the racks at the mothership otherwise known as Top Shop.

I myself tend to think of it as the British H&M, but it’s still fun to see what the sassy trends are and scour through the racks in hopes of finding that one perfect purchase.

Then it’d be time to duck into my favorite, favorite pub, The Crown and Two Chairmen.  God bless the London corner pubs that overflow with rowdy Brits come happy hour time.

This particular pub oozes with charm and serves up beef bourguigon that’d rival the Barefoot Contessa’s (yeah, I said it).   Its cozy atmosphere brings to mind the scene in The Holiday when Cameron Diaz walks in and surprises Jude Law at his local pub.  *Sigh*

After lunch it’d be time to mosey through the Borough Market, one of the largest food markets in the world that sells everything from seafood to cheeses to veggies. It’s kinda like walking into a different world, and is oddly peaceful.

Speaking of fresh seafood, I’d make a reservation for dinner at Pescatori for mouthwatering fresh seafood.  Wait, fresh seafood in London?  In the UK, any mention of ‘fish…’ is usually the precursor to ‘and chips’.  But at this restaurant, seafood arrives daily from family farms by the sea, and their pasta is dee-lish as well.  What to order: Pasta filled with pear, amaretti, beef and pork, smoked butter & sage sauce.

After dinner, it’d be time to head back to my hotel, the Soho Hotel, to tuck myself in for a cozy night inside one of its luxurious yet homey rooms.  All the rooms were designed by the owner’s wife and every one is unique.

I’d nestle into the down beds, turn on the telly, and say a prayer that my new favorite UK show was on: Pineapple Dance Studios. A docu-soap series set in one of the top dance studios in the UK, my newest obsession is in Louie Spence, the Artistic Director.  He needs no further explanation – just watch this link:

Next up on the tour is Munich.  Just so happens a little festivity called Oktoberfest is coinciding with the work trip.  Oh, this should be fun.

Mind the Gap,