Queen E’s hometown has got serious gloss and style game. Exhibit A: her main digs The Buck (or Buckingham Palace if we’re going semi-formal), gold coloured gates, guards, turrets, this Disney dream house has it all. Exhibit B: Mossy calls this chill metropole home as do fashionistas Alexa Chung and The Delevingne duo (sidebar: have you seen Miss Chung’s new collab with AG denim? Drool worthy). I could keep going through the entire A-Z but since my name is not Daniel Radcliffe and this isn’t the Tonight Show I’ll stop right now thank you very much (Spice Girls reference!).
Read on for the ultimate style guide to staying, beautifying, and fashioning-it-up in Rule Britannia:
CHECK IN. To The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge. Décor and clientele so-chic-it-hurts. Prime location within skipping distance of x2 shoe heaven Harvey Nicks and Harrods. It’s a classy beauty similar to bedding down inside a Chanel handbag if that were a ‘thing’ (please make it a thing). The fashion doesn’t end there. Kauffmans (the see and be seen restaurant) serves up Pret a Portea, translation? Afternoon tea shaped in on-trend fashion silhouettes. Also, completely amazing rooftop gym and pool. http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk
FIGHT JET LAG FACE. The Berkeley does do spa but for supersonic skin repair after a visibly-ageing flight quick step it down the road to The Bulgari Spa at the hotel of the same name. Book in for a customized facial from spa specific beauty brand ESPA. On exiting, your next insta feed will read #iwokeuplikethis… http://www.espaskincare.com, http://www.bulgarihotels.com/en-us/london/spa-and-fitness/day-spa-treatments
CHELSEA SET. Do like the Chelsea-ite’s and nip into Duck and Dry, King’s Road’s answer to blowdry bar nirvana. Select from the menu of super cute water-like names (high tide, low tide, beach locks), sit back, relax, and in a few short minutes you’ll be back on shopping track frizz free, glossed up and ready to join the Sloaney Pony ranks. http://www.duckanddry.com
SLOANE RANGER. You’re already on King’s Road so… Set your shoes towards Sloane Ranger central (Sloane Square) pit stopping along the way to collect a fragrant lovely from pretty perfumery Penhaglions, en pointe ballet flats from French Sole, anything denim or shirt-like from Trilogy (stockist of international beauties Rails, Zoe Karssen, Velvet, Splendid), skincare clock stoppers at beauty junkie fix Space.NK.apothecary, brit gal tights from Woolford, homewares trinkets from The White Company, super stylish stationary from Smythson, and sparkly shoes from Emma Hope. Many more on the block, I’ll stop there, but feel free to keep going if your credit card can.
HIGH STREET. Either hop the tube, walk the line through Hyde Park, or grab a cab and hit the high street – aka Oxford St. Start at standout super department store Selfridges in the beauty hall – UK beauty queen Charlotte Tilbury has a large deck here stock up or sub in for a make-over. Get your mani done at The Paint Shop by Nails Inc, then recreate Cara D’s luscious brows courtesy of the brow whisperers at Blink Brow Bar. Once you’re beautified, head up the escalator to level 3. Stop. Drink it all in. That luscious scent you smell? Miles upon miles of drop dead gorgeous denim. It’s the cornucopia of denim. Brands represented here include but not limited to: Current Elliott, Frame, Stella McCartney, Paige Denim, Calvin Klein, 7 for all Mankind. http://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/
ROLL THE DICE. Still got some juice left in the tank/bank? Roll the real life Monopoly dice and hit Oxford choosing your own adventure as you go – take New Bond St if you’re digging a trench via quintessential Brit designer Burberry, or keep on walking to Regent Street veering right into Liberty. Free up some of their famous fabric or anything from any floor, good things come in small packages for this department storette, their edit is small and lustworthy. Hamley’s toy store is a hop skip and jump away if you need to guilt gift up for large and small kids left at home. http://www.liberty.co.uk, http://www.hamleys.com
TEA TIME. High time to get involved with the Brit’s answer to the meaning of life: a cup of tea. Hone in on posh noshery The Wolseley in Mayfair. Settle in for silver service, finger sandwiches, and celeb spotting. Insider tip for new players, selfies are banned here due to high frequency fame voltage. Good thing too – no one shares the selfie of cream filled delish scones being stuffed in their face. https://www.thewolseley.com
SUPPER CLUB. Still hungry? The Chiltern Firehouse attracts a cool clientele and a lengthy waitlist. When I asked The Berkeley’s super spivvy concierge for walking directions to the Firehouse he looked shocked (that I would walk that far in heels) and also asked me if I ‘knew someone on the inside to get a table’. Er no, I know people but not, you know, “people”. Don’t worry, non A-listers welcome too. Although the table next to us hadn’t got the memo – they kept their dark shades firmly on face for their entire meal. The food seemed fine – but let’s be real here, that’s not what you go for… http://www.chilternfirehouse.com
STRONG NOT SKINNY. Extreme shopping usually leaves me energized. Go figure. Also the cream and scones combo at The Wolseley is no slouch when it comes to adding the Heathrow 10 (extra KGs). Luckily a panoply of options exist to shift any extra baggage. The Berkeley does standout one-on-one boxing training. I was put through my paces until I had no more pace to give. Boxing not your thing? The Berkeley also offer hoola hooping classes. True story. I also hit the barre at Barrecore on King’s Road to tone up from way-too-many tea cakes. If you’re not staying in town, bootcamps abound in the ‘burbs – I took the One Element challenge in Wandsworth, it was impossible to tell the sweat from the tears. I also hear Barry from famed New York Barry’s Bootcamp is in town, guessing it’s same ‘hardest workout in the world’ but with a cockney accent. http://www.barrecore.co.uk/chelsea, http://www.one-element.co.uk, http://www.barrysbootcamp.com/london/
Top travel tip: don’t convert the pound to your home currency, tear-stained cheeks and panda eyes are firmly out.
Also sending big thanks and blowing kisses to the gorgeous London-based beauties (SW, VL, LB) who made my stay so fab and for my Swiss gal pals (AKL, YR) who hit the brit with me. Return tour 2016?