I distinctly remember the hassle of needing to renew my passport a few months ago, and not having a future travel date set. Despite this, I decided to proceed, and though it was like pushing an empty pram upwind, I was determined to keep my window to the world officially open. When the chance of a spontaneous trip London did come up, I was prepared.
Once I convinced Mum to travel interstate and care for the boys, I was free to board the plane. Honestly, true spontaneity is lost once kids are on the scene, so really, it took some hard slog to actually board the plane. I’d rarely had a chance to spend a week sans children at all, let alone travel with my husband Rich to London. He was working, so I saw him twice during that week, but the thing is, I was deliciously, completely alone for most of my adventure. Happily so. There were so many things I’d banked for my distant next trip to London. So naturally, the millisecond after my air fare was booked, a high tea reservation was made for one at Claridge’s. I wanted to sit where Joan Collins had taken tea, so many times. And, I did. The theme for the week was very loosely: indulgence, exploration, solitude, walking freely, lovely friends and beautiful London lights.
Given I had only three full days, it took some very precise planning, but I also wanted to leave enough slack to let the days flow, if they needed to, which they did. It was perfect, and I will remember the trip for all time.
St. Martin’s Lane Hotel
When we checked in to St. Martin’s Lane Hotel, I was instantly obsessed with the leopard print carpet in our room. My brother Kristian had flown over from Dubai for the night, mainly to laugh at me over cocktails at the hotel’s Blind Spot, and we shared dinner at an incredible Italian restaurant called San Carlo Cicchetti in Covent Garden. The decor was divine – with powder blue leather chairs, calacutta marble and brass accents. The food was authentic and simple. If you can’t really understand the waiter, it merely adds to the experience, right? As long as the food arrives, we’re happy. In the meantime, another chianti? On Monday, Rich and Kristian joined me for brunch in-house at Asia De Cuba, a place that became the perfect launch pad for each day. For the first time in forever, I felt like a quasi normale adult, attentive and free to experience the morning silence, papers and pastry with two of my favourite men. We soon divided to conquer the London living, and I was back in the race. St. Martins Lane was a sweet spot to return to each day, and the location was ripe for being on the scene, at once. Here’s my diary.
Dover Street Market
After wondering aimlessly down the crowded streets in a confusing cloud of jet lag, we sunk a pint at Bear & Staff, and while looking out the window at the people, I caught myself considering an aimless, below average existence (only for that night), but decided instead to get cracking on my impossible list of things to do.
Dover Street Market is floor to ceiling COMME des GARÇONS genius. Unsurprising since it was started by Rei Kawakubo and her husband Adrian Joffe. A select few brands are also shown in the space, among them GUCCI, Balenciaga, Vetements, Céline, Erdem, Thom Browne, Molly Goddard, and esteemed others. I got completely lost in seeing the objects of divine beauty in a gallery setting, within a heritage building. Once you experience shopping (*cough* browsing) this way, you hanker less to return to huge, fluoro lit department stores. Ordinarily I can be found in palatial pleasure chests of the cloth like Dover Street Market, or vintage shops. The in-between has been eliminated. I had preordained to boycott the high street chains and go instead for experiential. Though, this shopping style did usually leave me breathless and empty handed, but inspired beyond my wildest dreams.