London, how I love you. We get on really well but I still feel as if you’re keeping a few things from me. When you live in a city as vast as the capital, it’s easy to stick to the same places and stay within your comfort zone. As part of the Hertz Big Travel List, I’ve decided to share a few of my favourite discoveries and haunts from the past year. It’s also a pay-it-forward kind of thing, I pretty much rely on recommendations when it comes to doing anything and it’s about time I had a dedicated post doing more of the same.
There’s branches all over London but I’ve only been to the Soho location
I feel like I was probably the last social-media savvy person to visit Yumchaa and one who doesn’t drink tea at that. However this place has managed to convert me to the more unusual blends and the fact that they can make it into a tasty smoothie has tempted me away from the coffee beans. Sometimes if you just need a moment’s peace in the capital, away from the mannequins of Topshop Oxford Circus (I’ve been known to go in waiting for a friend and come out with a dress), it’s nice to come and ponder in here with a slice of cake for a bit. I now have zero qualms about sitting in places by myself in full view of the window but equally downstairs is good if you fancy a bloggy get together or just a catch up.
Camden Lock Market, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1 8AF (Near Camden Town Tube)
I’m finding myself in Camden Lock a lot more often these days and although it’s very rare I buy things that aren’t pinned and premeditated, I did manage to break my habits after a chance visit to Forms. They stock unknown brands from all over the world and this led me to discover Feat, a South African sock powerhouse with patterns you’d be proud to show off. It’s hard to beat finding something in real life and being able to go home with it that day, the scallop detail socks were pretty reasonable at £8 and it felt good to support a small business. Other shops of note include We Make London, a pop-up boutique full of bits from various creatives and the Life and Chocolate stall, which prompted me to try a chilli flavour for the first time. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be!
The Chelsea Day Spa Boutique, 53 Hollywood Road, London SW10 9HX (A short bus ride away from South Kensington Tube)
I can probably count the amount of pedicures I’ve had on one hand and I tend to subscribe to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ school of thought until the sandals come out and I recoil in horror. A trip to The Chelsea Day Spa got me thinking a little differently last year, feet need to be happy and not ignored for most of the year but scrubbed and cared for. Luckily the beauty therapist didn’t laugh me out of town when the socks came off and I managed to preserve my tootsies for as long as possible thanks to her careful work. Since then I’ve invested I’m a few products to keep myself ticking over between visits and it’s worth checking their site for any promotions they have on.
Baozi Inn, 25 Newport Court, London, WC2H 7JS (Nearest Tube: Leicester Square)
Now Chinatown can be a little overwhelming at first glance and I avoided it entirely after a few ropey experiences, but the trick is to get recommendations from those in the know. Ever since I visited Hong Kong in 2007, I’ve been obsessed with finding the most authentic Chinese food possible that still fits into my safe zones (ie no chicken feet) and I discovered Baozi Inn through Stella, a recent convert to this Sichuan cuisine. The prices are pretty reasonable, I went for a spicy pork dish that tasted fresh and flavoursome plus one of the ‘Baozi’ buns to see what all of the fuss was about. I wasn’t expecting the biggest steamed creation known to man, but finished it anyway and vowed to pick one up at their takeaway outlet whenever I’m in next in the area.
The London Cocktail Club, 61 Goodge St, London, W1T 1TL (Nearest Tube: Goodge Street)
If you feel like giving up on dry January, The London Cocktail Club is the place to go. Although cosy, (I feel like it’s home to the world’s smallest loo) there’s a good atmosphere here and some pretty inventive cocktails. Bacon may even be involved. Carnivorous urges aside, this is the perfect place to head to when in the area that will make you seem extremely knowledgable when with a clueless friend. You’ll find it hidden down some stairs on Goodge Street.