HiP Paris friend, contributor and wonderful illustrator Badaude is coming out with a gorgeous book, London Walks, chock-full of witty drawings and snapshots into the lives of Londoners. In honor of the book launch happening next Monday at Shakespeare & Co, we asked Badaude to give us her top spots to hit up in London for a weekend getaway… Check out her list below for the places to stay, eat, drink, shop and stroll. PS: And if you’re in Paris, feel free to stop by Shakespeare & Co next Monday night to celebrate the launch of London Walks and more! -Geneviève
Stay at The Zetter Townhouse:London’s newest and hottest hotel is a clutter-chic bijou Georgian townhouse in the quiet square behind the original Zetter Hotel. Bedrooms are a riot of eclectic 19th century fun. Mine had a bedhead and wall panel taken from a French 3rd Republic carousel, an ipod dock housed in a red retro radio and, most stunningly, as well as the state-of-the-art drench shower in the bathroom, a mahogany-pillared bath set into an alcove in the bedroom.
Downstairs mixologist Tony Conigliaro’s hot cocktail bar looks like a London pub (busy Victorian paintings and pleasingly eccentric taxidermy) only more comfortable. Kick back on one of the cozy sofas and let staff serve you tapas-style snacks as you study the innovative drinks menu. With so many clever inventions it was a tough choice, but I wasn’t disappointed when I ordered a Somerset sour (apple brandy, cider, gomme and lemon) – a heavenly ice-cold balance of sweet and sour. My date went for a sharp Richmond (Chivas Regal, apple honey & Lillet blanc ). Both arrived in cute retro glasses — the perfect finishing touch. We picked at a platter of delicious pates and Parma ham, fresh buttery radishes, English cheeses and sardines on toast pimped with a pimento puree, accompanied by a carafe of aromatic Jurancon sec (£30 for 50cl). We felt too full to make use of the bar’s table tennis room afterwards.
Rooms from £185. The Zetter Townhouse Website.
Eat at: St John.This is hardly news to residents, but if you only eat out once in London, you won’t find an experience more British than Fergus Henderson’s legendary ‘nose to tail eating’. If the whitewashed restaurant pushes the abbatoir look a little beyond your comfort zone, the meaty menu lives up to the ‘everything but the squeak’ premise. The last time I was there I had a roasted marrow bones with parsley salad (£7.10) followed by Calf’s liver and shallots (£18.40) . Was there a part of the menu that wasn’t offal? The British cheeses and Eccles cakes (£6.80) were sublime.
Drink at: Experimental Cocktail Club: If you’ve come over from Paris for the weekend you’ll recognize the newly-opened sister to Paris trio of trendy cocktail dens (the Experimental, the Curio Parlor and the new-ish Prescription). Anyone who’s visited the Paris originals will recognize the experience: dark cave-y bars lit with chandeliers and a louche, bohemian, speakeasy vibe. Most cocktails are around £10 – on the pricey side but then you won’t be drinking any happy hour Sex on the Beach. Open until 3.30am, drop in anytime for an inventive Havana, made with cigar-infused bourbon or a St Germain combining gin, elderflower, cucumber juice and chili. If you’re feeling really flush, choose from a selection of 1950s-70s spirits at around £100 a pop. Oh yes and, just like at the Curio Parlor, you might encounter slight difficulty in finding and getting through the battered, discreetly signed front door. But I guess that’s half the fun.
Visit The John Soane museum: English eccentricity at its best. Sir John Soane, architect of some of Georgian London’s most famous buildings, designed his own residence to show off his collection of antiquities. Every room is crammed with curiosities from Roman busts to Egyptian mummy cases and rooms of paintings by Hogarth (one of my favourite artists) installed on clever foldaway panels.
Take a walk along Regent’s canal, the disused waterway that has become the way for hip Londoners to get from their homes in bohemian Hackney to their jobs (which are, so far as I can tell, mostly at the liberal Guardian newspaper or creative businesses near York Way where the canal ends).
Regent’s Canal (C. G. P. Grey)
Have a nose round Saint Pancras – one of the most interesting areas of London right now – where you’ll find the bustling station of the same name (which conveniently houses the Eurostar and the restored glory of the Saint Pancras Renaissance hotel), the new British Library, the Gagosian Gallery and the soon-to-be-finished centre for London Art Colleges.
Shop at: Liberty. Not as flashy as Selfridges, as fashionable as Dover Street Market or as posh as Fortnums, Liberty is still my favourite London department store. I’d always thought the shop, so entwined with 60s hippie chic, was named after the concept (freedom).
Liberty (Canon Snapper)
It turns out it was actually named after its founder, Arthur Lazenby Liberty, and that its famous Arts and Crafts ‘cottage’ exterior was built half a century after the pioneering boutique of its day had started selling fabrics by the late 19th century’s edgiest designers (including William Morris). The iconic department store stocks an eclectic and intelligent mix of British and international designers and a quirky selection of beauty products – the perfumery is particularly good. You can still buy the original fabrics by the metre as well as just about anything you can imagine covered with one or another famous ‘Liberty print’.
- Camille from Paris in Pink shares some sweet shots from her latest trip to London
- For more updates from Badaude, check out her blog