London is a fast-moving city, packed with history but at the same time cutting-edge and able to anticipate new trends. It would be difficult to write a complete guide with the classic tourist itineraries in just a few lines, so I have chosen another point of view, that of fashion and style. I have used photos and this little diary to document a weekend spent in the company of my girlfriends Laura, Marella, Chiara, Claudia and Ezia (from left to right in the photo) and I want to share this journey to the coolest of places with you Pinelle and with the readers of “Chi”!
You cannot start without a visit to the Topshop clothes store in Oxford Circus: a four-floor mecca for fashion victims! Not expensive and the best thing about it is that there is no way anyone will be wearing your same outfit. Coming out of Topshop, continue along Regent Street and you will find another recently opened shop full of fabulous “stuff for her”: Other Stories. Further along you will find yourself in front of the world’s biggest toy shop, Hamleys: almost too much choice, but you’ll definitely find something for the little ones at home or nephews and nieces. Still on Regent Street, you’ll come to Liberty, the most eclectic innovative department store in London (it has existed since 1875 but, despite its historic appearance, it sells cutting-edge products).
Followed by a stroll down Carnaby Street, just a stone’s throw from Regent Street and lots of fun. Then my girlfriends and I took the Tube as far as Mansion House, where we had a nice walk over Southwark Bridge and, after about twenty minutes along Bankside, we arrived at the Tate Modern, the world’s most esteemed modern art gallery. Almost all its exhibitions are free of charge and it is worth spending some time there. Until 27 May there is a retrospective show of Roy Lichtenstein’s works, one of my favourite artists. You can even take your kids, they will love his pictures – they look like strip cartoons.
If you prefer to stop in the centre for lunch, you have two options: Bonnie Gull (a tiny fish restaurant) or The Riding House, again very British but large and with a style that is more unusual than its menu. Otherwise we recommend a visit to the northern part of London, starting from the City, with a light lunch in a lovely Italian restaurant where the food is really good, L’Anima, and then continue up Old Street (full of cute shops). We also paid a visit to Mo Coppoletta, London’s most famous tattoo artist and a dear friend of mine: his The Family Business is a real experience… and you might even fancy a tattoo!
You have two options again on Saturday: lunch at Itsu (Japanese cuisine), opposite are Andrew Martin and Bazar. For kids there is Diana’s Park (galleons, Indian wigwams, sand and fountains, all outside) and you can only go in if you are accompanied by a child, a very civilised idea in my opinion.
For dinner I recommend Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea, a modern brasserie with an English touch, fantastic hamburgers cooked right under your nose. Saturday, a quick breakfast at Muriel’s, in the heart of South Kensington, and then you can visit the David Bowie exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum: you will be blown away by all you see and hear. You are already in Knightsbridge so, via Harrods, I recommend a trip to the third floor of Harvey Nichols: there you will find my favourite English and American designers. Prices are not exactly purse-friendly, but you can find bargains in the sales. As I come out I always stop at Link on the ground floor to get my eyelashes dyed. Mine are blonder than blonde and in 10 minutes they sort your life out – bye bye mascara!!!
If you want to buy shoes, my favourite low-cost store is Office. Or LK Bennett for the most English of all, Princess Kate’s go-to shop. If you are mad about shoes, visit the second floor of the Selfridges department store in Oxford Street. Want somewhere very on-trend and cosmopolitan for dining and dancing in the evening? Novikov, in Berkley Street, with both Asian and Italian food but by no means low cost:-(((. Or would you rather try a very easy Indian? I always go to the one near Gloucester Road called Noor Jahan: good, cheap food.
And Sunday? I recommend two alternatives: classic Portobello Road and a stroll through the market and then a light brunch in Notting Hill: you can take a seat at the Organic Cafè or enjoy a classic English breakfast at 202. In this neighbourhood you will find lots of really fab shops, including Joseph, Maison Scotch, Agent Provocateur for super sexy lingerie and a little shop for our dogs with an adjacent fun bar just for them!!!
Otherwise take the tube, get off at Liverpool Street and go to Spitalfields market, a bit less touristy and more trendy, precisely for the same reason. The little vintage shops in and around Brick Lane (Rock It and Blitz) are wonderful. At this point brunch is a must-have at Duck and Waffle on the 40th floor of a skyscraper. Let me add a third option, my favourite: take the tube to Richmond (20 minutes) and visit this magnificent area, go and see the park, take a walk on the banks of the river and look out for Petersham Nurseries: this is a nursery gardens but the café inside serves a fantastic brunch. I have never seen such a beautiful location so rich in energy in my life!
To finish this little diary, I also want to tell you that I met our blogger friend Lisa (with me on the steps of a museum), a really special girl. A few days later she gave birth to a little boy called Noah… congratulations!!!!!!!!!