48 hrs in London – UK

A recent visit to London reminded me of just how much I love the place. The architecture, the heteroclite fashion, the loud pubs, the manicured parks and gardens, the black cabs (in which a stroller fits without fold), the accent, the three-seasons within a day weather, the buzz…

I’d heard about the vibe in Covent Garden, which I had not been to in a decade, so I got on good walking shoes and tried it for myself.

Balthazar LondonBalthazar: a replica of the needs-no-description NY SoHo brasserie and boulangerie opened this past March in the previous home to the Theater Museum. Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, Drinks… anytime is a good time to hit a Balthazar! Directly across the street is one of my favorite UK brands, Molton Brown. 4-6 Russel Street, London WC2B 5HZ.

Shake Shack ®: my New York (and perhaps all time) favorite roadside burger – I admit Le Camion qui Fume in Paris is tied – is opening this summer right in the heart of North Market. No need to wait for the next transatlantic flight to indulge in a natural and juicy burger. Apparently exclusively London and locally inspired goodies will also be showcased. 24, Market Building, The Piazza. London WC2E 8RD.

Covent Garden LondonPoste Mistress: walking past the bonbon pink boudoir, I had to have a peek. And shoe addict that I am, what a find. Chie Mihara, Lola Cruz, Fabio Rusconi, Mina, Paprikka… a handful of designers that caught my eye amongst fashion-week type British or American labels. 61-63 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9EP.

Yumi: in the middle of this shoe street (reminds me of 8th Street in NYC) sits a little shop with colorful retro prints and vintage street wear at “why not” prices. Loved their Gatsby-inspired dresses, shoes and colorful scarves. A quick look at their website showed me I was on to a big business. Bravo for the “independent” feel of the boutique. 62 Neal Street, London WC2H 9PA.

Brora: Scottish cashmere is one of the world’s best, say experts. And when I shop in GB, I like to bring home local labels. Brora immediately spells quality, and not only in the welcome and service. The cardigans, accessories and jumpers create a vintage, classic, colorful, romantic and unique atmosphere. And the range has expanded to dresses, shirts, blouses and skirts. In a jiffy, you are transported to the British countryside and imagining your next summer outing. 42 The Market, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8RF.

P1030039Sass and Belle: interiors, crafts, cushions, gifts, frames, pins, garden, lamps, boxes, tins… 30 Shorts Garden, London WC2H 9PX.

Bloomsbury Flowers: one cannot help but stop in front of this flower shop, which I stumbled upon walking down Great Queen Street. Apparently opened by two previous London Ballet dancers, the atmosphere and floral arrangements immediately make you wish you had an event to host. 29 Great Queen Street London WC2B 5BB.

Cath Kidston: another UK designer. Flowers, hearts, stripes, pastels galore. A good place for gifts and small pleasures. Beyond clothes and accessories, it’s a whole lifestyle. Check out the website and initiatives all around. 28-32 Shelton Street, London WC2H 9JE.

Happie loves it Londonhappie loves it: this girly boutique reminded me of independent businesses one can seek in East London. A South Korean designer with fantasy and an eye for quality fabrics brings romance, art, rock, fun to everyday wear and accessories. Super cute. What started as two talented partners making clothes for friends, flourished into a boutique-business. Love it.

Bonus:

If you’re in the Hammersmith area, stop for brunch or lunch at Brook’s counter & table. Hearty, fresh, local, seasonal, guest table atmosphere in this delicatessen of world cuisine. Very kids friendly as well. 140 Shepherd’s Bush Road London W6 7PB.

When in South Kensington, Muriel’s Kitchen is a great place for brunch or lunch again with locally grown vegees and fruits, made in Britain. Think eggs Benedict, cappuccino, patisseries, crispy breads. Around the corner is Nailberry salon (19 Bute Street, London SW7 3EY), a must for girly pampering. White boudoir interior, black & white prints on the wall, comfortable chairs, friendly and quick staff on call… and her manicures are über-professional. Despite dishes, laundry, babies, etc., the color lasts a solid week or more. Her Japanese manicure is new on the menu – all natural detox based on a process used for over 400 years. And closer to Harrod’s, Chisou restaurant (31 Beauchamp Pl, London SW3 1NU) opened in November 2010 its Knightsbridge location. A very good address for authentic and traditional Japanese food – and a Sake bar awaits upstairs.

V&A museum shop: if you don’t feel like queuing for the Bowie exhibit, stroll through the museum store – an original jewelry showcase awaits. And if you like “local”, ask the sales person to direct you to V&A inspired designers only. Exclusive and wearable pieces you won’t find on the SS13 runways.

And if you haven’t discovered Northern London, you might enjoy taking a peek here, or type London is the search bar for more ideas.

Tried it. Loved it. Shared it.

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