London Mayfair • our vow renewal

My husband and I eloped to Iceland last year, for a number of reasons – but we did so knowing that we wanted to have a vow renewal with friends and family.  We chose to hold our vow renewal at Dartmouth House because of its stunning interiors, unique courtyard space, and great location. The lovely French-inspired Georgian townhouse in the heart of London Mayfair felt glamourous, spacious, and yet intimate. It was so special to celebrate with the people we love the most from all over Britain, Europe, and the United States.

I’m so lucky to have enjoyed the best of both worlds: a romantic, intimate elopement abroad, as well as a proper English wedding surrounded by some of my favourite people.

Photos – Anna Macmorland
Venue – Dartmouth House
Accommodation – Chesterfield Mayfair
Hair and makeup – Sinead at Amanda White
Flowers – Liz at Blue Sky Flowers
Dress – Pronovias Atelier

Read More

London espresso: Kensington

Part of a series highlighting one area of London.

Kensington is part of the Royal Burough of Kensington & Chelsea. Despite being absurdly affluent, this district of West London actually offers a bit of something for everyone. If travelling in a group, I recommend starting at South Kensington Station (30 minutes from Liverpool Street by tube) and then everyone can fan out to their areas of interest accordingly.

Kensington is notably home to “Albertopolis,” an area centred on Exhibition Road and named after Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.  Here you can find cultural sites including the Natural History Museum, the Royal College of Art, the Royal Geographical Society, the Science Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Whilst you’re out and about in this area, in addition to the museums and shops, be sure to take note of the architecture. The average house price in Kensington & Chelsea is about 40 times greater than average annual earnings, at a cool £1.4m. How many Chelsea Tractors (Land Rovers) can you spot parked on the street?!

Day Planner
Distance: for a sense of scale, the walk from Diana Memorial Playground (top left corner of the map below) to Sloane Square (bottom right corner) is a little over two miles.
Stops: Sloane Square, Harrods, V&A, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Albert Memorial, Kensington Palace.

k1.PNG

Read More

London espresso: the Southbank

Part of a series highlighting one area of London.

The South Bank. This itinerary is designed to take the better part of a day, and is best for fair weather. Ideally, aim to go between Wednesday and Saturday, as this is when Borough Market runs its full trade. A limited market is in operation on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Day Planner
Distance: The route itself is 3.2 miles (5.1km) and would take about an hour to walk. However, this does not consider the time you’re going to want to spend at museums, on the London Eye, or at Borough Market!
Stops: Imperial War Museum, The London Eye, Southbank Centre, OXO shops, Bankside, Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe.

Screenshot 2017-04-25 at 8.07.16 PM

If you’re starting in the east end, make your way to Bank Station and catch the Waterloo & City Line. This is an often-forgotten-about line as it only goes between two stops: Waterloo and Bank (which is in the City)! The journey takes only five minutes.

Read More

London espresso: Vibrant Central

Part of a series highlighting one area of London.

Central London. Get your walking shoes on and your wallets out, because this walking guide will have you traipsing around some of the busiest, most vibrant shopping areas of London. This was written with my Mother and Sister-in-law specifically in mind!

Day Planner
Distance: The route itself is 2 miles (3.2km) and would take about 40 minutes to walk. However, you will want to allow plenty of time for shopping!
Stops: Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, Liberty of London, Canaby Street, Regent Street, Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square (and an optional detour to M&Ms World), Trafalgar Square, and Charing Cross.

vibrant central 2

  • Make your way to Selfridges, a luxury department store near Bond Street Station (easy to get to from Liverpool Street on the Central Line). This is second largest shop in the UK (after Harrods) and opened in 1909. Originally from America himself, Mr Selfridge attempted to dismantle the idea that consumerism was strictly an American phenomenon – he is said to have coined the phrase “the customer is always right.”
  • After Selfridges, walk east along Oxford Street which is Europe’s busiest shopping street. On average, half a million people visit Oxford Street every day, and foot traffic is in severe competition with buses and taxis – watch out! The first department stores in Britain opened on Oxford Street in the early 1900s, including Selfridges (above) and John Lewis. However, be alive to the fact that there are many “downmarket” stores trading alongside more prestigious stores. My advice is to avoid the trashy tourist shops.

 

Read More

Museum Exhibits, London 2017

Here are just some of the museum exhibits I’m keen to see this year, listed in chronological order of exhibit closing date. What are your cultural must-sees of 2017?

screenshot-2017-02-26-at-5-59-56-pm
Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932 
Royal Academy, 11 February through 17 April

I saw this and recommend it unreservedly. I’ll write a review soon!

  • One hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, this powerful exhibition explores one of the most momentous periods in modern world history through the lens of its groundbreaking art. Taking inspiration from a remarkable exhibition shown in Russia just before Stalin’s clampdown, the RA marks the historic centenary by focusing on the 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when possibilities initially seemed limitless and Russian art flourished across every medium.

Read More

Lunchtime in London

You’ll see cafe and restaurant chains all over the city, but how do you choose where to grab a quick bite to eat?

The UK lunch market is worth £16 billion to the economy. “Which lunch market? Greenwich, Spitalfields, Borough?” I hear you ask. Actually, I’m taking about the sector of the food industry. And as fewer and fewer people in Britain bring homemade lunches to work, the lunch market is growing by about 3% each year.

According to the BBC, we are more likely to dash to the nearest takeaway to grab something quick and then bring it back to their desk. On average, we spend £670 a year on takeaway lunches, with those of us in London spending at least £830 each year.

I first noticed this when I tried to explain chains like Pret a Manger, Itsu, and Vital Ingredient to my family back in the United States. Now, I will be the first to admit that cities like New York, Chicago, Austin and my hometown of Seattle have plenty of great takeaway lunch options. However, I’m unaware of any widespread chains that aren’t blatantly in the “fast food” category. While Americans have plenty of burger and chicken places, I wouldn’t consider Pret to be like MacDonalds (despite the latter being the parent company).

Londoners especially have mercurial food tastes: we move seamlessly between cuisines and formats. So what do I recommend for lunch when you’re in the Big Smoke? If I’m in need of something cheap and cheerful, usually head for one of the following chains.

article-2720629-135aa82f000005dc-591_634x425

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best for Soups and Sandwiches – Pret
Pret offers Sandwiches, baguettes, desserts, fruit cups, crisps and bakery items, as well as sushi, salads, soups, and cakes. They also have hot and cold drinks, including smoothies. There really is something for everyone at Pret. The company emphasises the use of natural ingredients and advertises all sandwiches are made on the day of purchase.
Budget £5 for a sandwich or salad with a can of fizzy drink or bottled water.

Runner up – EAT.
EAT offers a really good rotation of weekly hot food, like chicken pot pie and macaroni and cheese. They also have sandwiches that you can toast – toasties!
Budget £5 for a sandwich or salad with a can of fizzy drink or bottled water.

Read More

London espresso: East End Trend

Part of a series highlighting one area of London.

Shoreditch is the inner city district in the historic East End of London and modern Central London. It lies within the London Borough of Hackney, lying immediately to the north of the financial district, known as the City of London. The districts of Hoxton and Haggerston are part of Shoreditch. As such, when you hear about Shoreditch, Hoxton, and Haggerston, know that those places are generally “the East End.”

Shoreditch was once described as ‘desolate and rough’ by the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, but now the area is evolving into what’s been described as the ‘new Prime Shoreditch’ with one bedroom flats averaging around £565,464.
– from 20 Facts about Shoreditch

Indeed, the East End used to be synonymous with grime and poverty. Before experiencing what the area is like today, I highly recommend viewing photos of Victorian East London, so that you can appreciate just how much has changed – and what hasn’t.

Although still a poor part of town when compared to the absurd wealth of the West End, I  consider the East End to be London’s best neighbourhood for art, fashion and food – it’s an important part of my London story. The East End was where I first lived in London, and I now work in the nearby City. Read on for my suggested tour of the area which I recommend for the afternoon, as it can be pretty sleepy in the mornings.

Read More