So my husband and I had a last minute four day work trip to London. It was the first time leaving my toddler ( another post for another time) and after two days of on and off crying, I decided to embrace everything London had to offer. I lived in London a decade ago and have frequently visited after I moved to the USA, so I decided this time, to forgo any tourist traps. I can honestly say it was one of my most favorite trips of all time. Below are some of the standout stars of our mini European getaway…
LIMA FLORAL – EAT
London is having a food renaissance. I’ve never experienced this level of culinary delight in London before. Not only has London birthed a gastronomic explosion but so to has Peru. Lima Floral is a representation of the kind of food now seen in South America during the last few years . Decadent, rich in flavor and accessible.
Lima Floral is the sister restaurant to Lima. It’s definitely not a duplication, more like an evolution and is run by Virgilio Martinez who is ranked #1 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. We sat at the Pisco bar and savored a hand crafted famous Pisco Sour. It will go down as one of my favorite restaurants of all time.
INSIDER TIP – If you sit at the bar ask for Javier. Not only is he incredibly informative, he’s a riot. I spent a good 20 minutes behind the bar as he taught me all his tricks to making a mind-blowing cocktail.
14 Garrick St, London WC2E 9BJ, United Kingdom
Bar food service has always been my favorite.
SKETCH – EXPERIENCE
Located in Mayfair, Sketch is a destination. A place for food, art and music that covers over two expansive floors of an 18th Century building. It is where colorful dreams come to life. Never before have I entered a place that gave me so much inspiration. An almost Alice In Wonderland-eque experience as you are drawn through a web of sensory experiences. With five rooms, you can linger for breakfast, pass though for drinks or stay for the taste bud explosion for dinner.
INSIDER TIP – Go to the bathroom. The experience is so intense you will question your own existence.
9 conduit street London WIS 2XG
The Gallery open for afternoon tea and dinner.
NOTTING HILL- DISCOVER
“I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Yes, I admit this movie has a sweet spot in my soul. But the movie isn’t the only thing you should remember when you think of this colorful suburb. Well- formed streets, lined with one-off stores, delicate modern eateries and fine kids clothing. It is a superb place to visit when you want to get lost and savor a beautiful afternoon. Make sure you walk down Portobello Road. A treasure trove of nick nacks, not only for tourists, but also for collectors alike. Everything from 18 century fine china, fit for a queen, to a medical kit from the 1700’s called “the frankenstein” where nightmares come to life.
INSIDER TIP- The most incredible shop to visit is called Coverture and the Garbstore. It is a store where art, fashion and haute living intertwine. From luxury handmade Danish homewares to kids clothes imported from Spain, you will fall in lust with something in every corner.
colorful, symmetric houses line the streets of Notting Hill.
My favorite store in London.
TOP SHOP- DO
When one thinks of Top Shop, I don’t think it conjures up the feelings of trailblazing or innovation. Well, maybe you haven’t been to the flagship shop on Oxford street where the three level store includes a hair salon, a restaurant, a brow bar, a nail bar and a tattoo and piercing studio. You heard me. You can shop for Beyonces Ivy Park lifestyle brand plus get your hubby’s initials etched on your wrist. This store is a representation of where London is positioning itself in the world. It is thinking outside the box and the rest of the world is watching.
INSIDER TIP- go to the coffee and salad bar and pick up a quick bite. Everything is fresh and delectable.
214 Oxford Street, Fitzrovia, London W1C 1DA
161 HARRIS ARCADE- SHOP
At first, you’ll think stepping in to Harris’s Arcade in Notting Hill on the famous Portobello Road is like stepping in to a Turkish carpet shop. You’ll expect to haggle with the owner over one of hundreds of antique trinkets, from a World War Two era camera to a seventies Mickey Mouse push-button phone. But what could be an overwhelming and even tense experience, instantly presents a reality of information, pleasure and distinct bargain. You truly feel like you’ll not only find that one-of-a-kind piece, but that you’ll get it for a steal. Leading the warm experience, an absolutely adorable husband and wife team – he from Greece, she from Trinidad – both of whom make you feel as if you’ve walked in to their home and are welcome to “leave” with anything your heart desires. They care so much about your experience that when I thought I lost my phone (it was in my bag the whole time) they both personally walked me up and down the street to each previous kiosk to enquire as to its whereabouts. Back to my antiquing with them, not only were they knowledgeable but I truly felt they wanted me to walk away happy. Not only have I already found a number of this years holiday presents for the family at Harris’s – but the entertainment value of stepping back in time and discovering that super special one-off item is beyond priceless.
INSIDER TIP- ask about the 19th century railroad signal. It’s not only super-cool to play with, but it’s a reminder of a bi-gone area and is the perfect representation of what this store can be – a gift-giving mecca where one can find that special something for the person who has everything.
The wonderful owner of the store
The famous Leica from WW11
RONNIE SCOTT’S JAZZ BAR-LISTEN
When you converse with your waitress and she lets you know that you are sitting in the very booth Prince was two years ago, you know you are in the right place. Not everyone gets jazz. Rhythmically clumsy and seemingly accidental, it can alienate its listeners. But when you close your eyes and let jazz music wash over you, you are led down interesting roads that much like life, surprises and challenges you.
INSIDER TIP- ask for their specialty Rum drink. A beautifully crafted cocktail that will keep you buzzing until the early morning.
VIRGIN AIRLINES UPPER CLASS LOUNGE- TRAVEL
Look, now there are many ways to score that coveted first class seat. Gone are the days that you have to save your whole life to experience its devine beauty. From point upgrades, to loyalty programs to flight deals to buying your booking so far out, your first class seat isn’t that far from reach. I scored a first class seat from LAX to London last year for a 6th of the price!! One of the most incredible experiences about flying Virgin Airlines Upper Class is the ability to experience the Lounge. With everything from a full service hair salon, to a spa with complimentary massages to a sit down menu from the most coveted chefs – It is a travel experience unlike no other. Come a few hours early so you can really experience all it has to offer. You’ll walk on the plane in a relaxation cloud- now that’s worth it!
INSIDER TIP– Go to the viewing deck and dream of your next vacation.
Get your hair done before you board.
Salad looks like a masterpiece!
So there we go! Let me know anymore exciting spots for us to try next time we visit London!!!!!!!