city guides & travel

{take me away № 29 | city guides № 03 : london, england}

by

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From all around the world, millions of visitors long to take a trip to this incredible city — one that many lovingly call the greatest city in the world. The capital of England and the United Kingdom, the city of London is located on the famous River Thames, with a history dating far, far back in time to the days of the Romans. And interestingly, London’s most ancient core, the City of London, even retains its square-mile medieval boundaries — certainly a site to see!

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Indeed, London is a grand, global and boundless city. In fact, The Greater London Urban Area consists of 8,278,251 people, with over 300 languages spoken within the city, and counting. It is a vast city of compelling culture, arts, education, entertainment, media, development, and, of course, tourism.

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Speak or dream of London, and a multitude of words, descriptions and images may fall in a flurry, but at the city’s very essence are its astonishing views and limitless points of history — a rich history that lives on today, proudly celebrated within day to day living . . .

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. . . amoungst the modern buildings and latest technologies, amoungst fast-paced media and ever-evolving, new design.

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You will find it whispered into ears of loved ones, and in gestures of welcome and pageantry, in a delicious tea prepared and served, and within uniforms and parades, roses and roads — for it is the history itself that casts the most beautiful backdrop for life . . .

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. . . and one may find it impossible not to be taken aback and fall completely in love with London, a place were actors and poets have joined their minds for centuries, where painters learned and developed their hands, eyes and hearts for their craft, where writers’ minds were opened and where their pens explored new territories and imaginative journeys . . .

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Indeed, the site of a gently gliding curvature of a building may inspire a sonnet, or the signature, shiny red buses, zipping here & there may remind you of a favorite song and bring about a smile, or take a walk by Westminster Abbey, its exterior dripping in detailed architectural elements, and it may certainly induce an impending tear or two, from the beautiful melodies sung from within its core, spilling out . . .

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. . . or by Buckingham Palace, with images of monarchy, lace, crowns & tiaras, and gentle customs coming to mind. Or one may take a peak into a fortuitous, fruitful garden, bursting in greenery and color and snap a picture or two, or gaze up at the tall, stately town homes, grounded with sturdy pillars, yet softened with decorative ironwork and potted flowers about . . .

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. . . or become enchanted for a moment or two, and forget of our modern word, with the sound of the spoken word — how they sound, how they join, what they create — traces of words by Shakespeare and Milton, Browning and Bronte, relived, nonchalantly.

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For one may never know what may spring to the imagination, what may move a person, or how one may be inspired — like a song, a familiar song with parts that never fail to surprise and delight, so is London.

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Perhaps that is indeed where the magic of London lies: within a beautiful mixture of yesterday, today, and the future — composed somewhat like a recipe — for centuries celebrated, for centuries brought together by millions. And so, we invite you to prepare a cup of tea, and join us as we explore excitingly beautiful London . . .

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where-to-stay

01 | Claridge’s

An award-winning 5-star Art Deco hotel located in the Mayfair area of London, this elegant hotel is truly a reflection of English style. Here, gleaming marble floors set the tone, and a striking foyer and reading room, with its suede walls and leather banquettes, create a luxurious feel throughout — yet the hotel is entirely welcoming. Perhaps it is the combination of rich blacks and creams, or the regal iron staircase? Or perhaps it is thanks to numerous stellar reviews on service, or the details that they take care of to ensure a guest’s stay is most pleasant, but one thing for certain, their reputation boasts a well-rounded hotel. Guests can select from 203 rooms in total, with a selection of suites and penthouses, [with spectacular views] and some designed by royal designer Linley as well as fashion designer, Diane von Furstenburg. And with state-of-the-art fitness and beauty facilities, and their exquisite afternoon tea, guests might want to linger a little within the hotel, before setting out for a day of exploration.

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02 | 40 Winks

Located in East London, 40 Winks offers just two beautiful bedrooms for guests to stay in, within an historic and elegant four-storey Queen Anne townhouse. Originally built in 1717, the townhouse was used for many years as a location house — offering a playful, yet luxurious ambiance — for a number of fashion and high profile celebrity photo shoots. But it was in 2009 that 40 Winks was launched, as a place for creatives — designers, artists, photographers, etc. — to come and stay; a home away from home, if you will. The look is entirely romantic, with a curious mix of new and older pieces, and plenty of surprise and charm, designed by David Carter. Some say a stay here seems as though one is walking into a dream, or perhaps the theatre — for it holds a mysterious charm that is so alluring. Indeed, a television has purposefully been omitted from the spaces, [though can be provided] and what is left is a relaxing haven. It is no wonder that since its opening, favorable reviews and countless press has followed . . .

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St. Paul’s Cathedral

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It’s a super chic design hotel, but comfortable and sexy. Perfect for a romantic trip.

—Gwyneth Paltrow

 

03 | Blakes

A boutique hotel that is sure to impress even the most particular of world travelers, according to In Style magazine, it is “pure luxury”. This five-star hotel [located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea] was indeed one of the first two boutique hotels in the world, offering 41 incredible guest spaces, designed by world renowned designer, Anouska Hempel. Guests such as Princess Margaret, Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York, actress Gywyneth Paltrow, and supermodel Kate Moss find comfort at Blakes, as privacy and respect is key to their service — and a reputation for upholding excellence in service. Respectfully and wonderfully converted from a collection of period Victorian town homes, each space was individually designed, with immaculate attention to details. Daring and dramatic, the rooms are dressed in shades of theatrical black and mustard, warm, moody reds, lavender, soothing vanilla, tea rose, and there is even a room that is decorated entirely in white upon white. Guests can also take afternoon tea in the tranquil Japanese garden, or enjoy drinks in the evening [apparently, their martinis are the best in all of London!] or maybe enjoy a workout and lovely breakfast within the courtyard to start your day. Truly, Blakes is quite the gem, and an unforgettable experience.

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Vintage Emporium, 14 Bacon Street, Brick Lane

where-to-eat

01 | Pearl Restaurant

Perhaps one of the most glamorous restaurants in all of London, the moment guests walk in they are often taken — completely taken — by the opulence of trailing pearls of the hand-strung pearl chandeliers, decorative ceilings, and warm walnut finish of Pearl Restaurant. Indeed, Jun Tanaka’s award-winning restaurant is famed for not only its experience, visually, but also for the taste buds. The exquisite modern French menu [which changes fairly regularly] is a delight for the senses. He believes that it is vital to use the best ingredients, in season, and so, tastes are not over-complicated but are enhanced to bring out the natural flavours. Additionally, Pearl’s wine list, featuring over 200 wines stored in the expertly crafted wine cellar, is also award-winning, and a site to see. And with dishes such as Les Landes, white asparagus with green asparagus custard pickled shitake, wild garlic and shitake dressing, and Roast Scottish Langoustines with purple sprouting broccoli ginger and black sesame, it seems that Pearl Restaurant certainly lives up to its name.

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02 | Le Chandelier

Like a cozy welcome from a hectic day, or visiting your favorite Aunt & Uncle’s home, so Le Chandelier offers just the same to its guests. And why the name? Le Chandelier simply drips in elegant and glistening French and Italian chandeliers, [also available for purchase if you cannot leave without!] filling each and every little corner with warmth and charm. There are cozy corners with inviting chairs, perfect for two, communal spots, open for lively conversation, and even a little atelier if you wish to purchase pieces similar to those seen within the restaurant. Gorgeous antique doors, gilded mirrors, mirrored tables, velvet flocked chairs, flowers, artwork and light, combine to make a perfectly pretty place to spend an hour or two, or the better part of the afternoon. Freshly baked pastries are offered for breakfast, an eclectic selection of wines, delectable lunch and dinner specials, as well as a large and wonderful selection of special teas imported from family-owned farms in China, India, Taiwan, and Japan, grace the menu.

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03 | Daylesford Organic

A must-visit in London, Daylesford is a concept in and of itself, with three floors of chic, quality, organic foods straight from the owners’ farms and [trusted] artisan suppliers, plus many wonderful and well-curated things to pick up as well. The restaurant, farm shop, garden and spa are all located on the Bamford estate is owned by Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford. Truly a destination, enveloped in creamy hues and marble, sturdy minimal tables, benches made from limed white wood, and great use of lighting, create a wonderful mood throughout. Inside, [or out, weather permitting] one can stop on the main floor for a delicious lunch or snack and a coffee — each dish so beautifully presented, using only the freshest ingredients, combined with simple techniques to bring out the natural flavours of their seasonal, organic produce. Indeed, the wafting scent of freshly baked breads and pastries, home-made gazpacho or Asian beef salad may be far too delicious to resist. Beautiful paper-thin pottery, bath products, a wine cellar, and much more awaits . . .

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[* with many more recommendations to see on the city guide . . . ]

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{for tea} traditional tea may be taken at many wonderful spots throughout the city [with additional recommendations on the London city guide] the following are a few classic, well-regarded spots : Claridge’s /// The Ritz /// Fortnum & Mason /// Winter Garden at the Landmark Hotel /// The Langham /// The Dorchester

{p.s.} this is fun

what-to-pack

You may wish to bring a chic pair of rain boots and a lovely trench for daily excursions, as you never know when a drizzle may occur. Additionally, some lovely dresses, skirts and tops are key for layering and evenings out at the theatre and dinner. However, you may want to leave a little room within your suitcase for a new hat perhaps, or a classic plaid scarf, a vintage teacup, maybe some new tea?

Sarah

*** EDITOR’S NOTE : a few places previously featured on {this is glamorous} :
champagne afternoon tea at the dorchester | ladurée | peggy porschen cakes

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Vintage Emporium, 14 Bacon Street, Brick Lane


[images: {this is glamorous} on tumblr /// pinkbow /// pinkbow /// pinkbow /// wishwishwish /// pinkbow /// life as i know it /// princi via wishwishwish /// i heart london /// palm house / kew gardens via wishwishwish /// a previous post /// sommerset house via wishwishwish /// pinkbow /// i heart london /// jeremytxh /// the unattended flame /// tower /// pinkbow /// loose tea leaves /// sway22 ///grayzine /// olivianotter /// grayzine /// grayzine /// in my mind's eye /// vintage emporium via wishwishwish /// you shine so bright /// grayzine /// lake of laughter /// pinkbow /// was in a dream /// grayzine /// shirlss /// wishwishwish]

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Sarah Klassen
Contributor, Vancouver

Even as a girl, Sarah spent hours curled up in her home library, exploring enchanting tales, lands to be discovered and explored, intriguing stories, and timeless beauty. What resulted is a lifelong passion for love and authenticity, delightful simplicity and beautiful moments. Educated in design, marketing and English, Sarah’s keen eye and aesthetic allow her to immerse beauty and heartfelt passion into both her personal and professional projects.
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23 Notes
  • Love, Love, Love……I live in London and this was a wonderful, perfectly written, post. Gorgeous photos too….Sarah is fabulous!!!! These guides are such a joy to read – they should be one big beautiful coffee table book!!

    Great work!! Xx

  • Fabulous post, so glad you mentioned Claridges, the afternoon tea is superb.

    Your gorgeous photographs really capture a slice of London.

    Paul

  • ekk! take me there!

  • Oh, you do make me realise that London isn’t all high prices, rain and commuting! Nice to see it from the romance of someone else’s eyes x

  • london is my absolute favourite city in the world — this is another beautiful post xx

  • This is one beauty packed post!
    Happy Wednesday.
    Teresa
    xoxo

  • One of my favourite cities in Europe. Every time I visited I fell in love with it a little bit more. xo
    Ada

  • I went to London and Rome last year expecting Rome to be my absolute favorite place in the world and London stole my heart first and kept it. It was a magical experience. This post transported me back there – thank you!

  • I always feel so at home whenever I visit London. I keep saying I will move there. Maybe one day I will….

    There are also so many great literary places in London. Bookshops, publishing houses, theatres where writing comes to life, author homes.

  • Beautiful! London is one of my fave cities in the world and will be visiting again this summer!

  • Luci Sereno said...

    Beautiful pictures, good tips, as always. Love your blog!!

  • *Sigh* what a beautiful post! Since moving here three years ago (and long before then), I have been in a love affair with London and the words and images so beautifully capture my adoring relationship with this city.

    Briony xx

  • the photos blow me away!

  • Wow. That is a whole lot of pretty in London. :)

    xoxo
    ~Natasha Fatah~

  • Awww, this post made me homesick for London! I’m almost about to cry. Beautifully written and love the pictures! xx

  • I can never go enough to London! It’s pure bliss and magical! E-ve-ry time!!

  • Lovely to read, even though I live in London it makes me see it though new eyes and to remember to appreciate it!

  • this is at the top of my lists for places to visit. I can’t believe I haven’t been soon, enough! Thanks for all the tips, I’ll be sure to keep these!

  • Kate said...

    Got some great tips for my own city here!

    BUT I really think you should have included The Wolsey in your list of restaurants! http://www.thewolseley.com/

    One of the beautiful restaurants in London, amazing high ceiling & marble floors, just down the Ritz & well priced & quite relaxed so like a ‘home from home’ restaurant serving proper English food like Shepherd’s pie. Go for Breakfast , it’s perfect for a lazy brunch! It’s also brilliant for people watching & celeb spotting. I go all the time, I adore it. A guide to glamorous London without it is unthinkable in my opinion…xx

  • simone — that, she is :)

    happy to hear you’re enjoying the series and a coffee table book sounds wonderful x

  • I love London, even more than Paris! London is beautiful and immediately makes you feel at home.

  • Lola Jones said...

    Beautiful words about beautiful London!!!

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