24 hours in london
posted: March 31, 2014
We truly believe the old saying: if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. London is a city of unrivalled culture and history. Sure, on your last visit you may have checked off a visit to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, shopped on Portobello Road Market and at Harrod’s and then taken a spin around the London Eye, but there is always another hidden treasure to be discovered or explored there. Sometimes it’s a quirky boutique or market in East London or an underground wine bar in the west end, or maybe it’s our first-ever store in Europe (at 19/20 Long Acre, Covent Garden). We asked born-and-bred Londoner Ruby Warrington to walk us around her hometown. Over to Ruby….
I feel so lucky to have this beautiful, diverse city woven into my DNA. Having lived away from London for a couple of years now, whenever I visit I’m reminded just how cool it is, and I love to check out the hip places that seem to open every week, as well as my old haunts. Join me on a 24-hour tour of my all-time favourite things to see and do.
7am – A walk through Columbia Road Flower Market
I used to live just around the corner from this buzzing Sunday-only flower market, which takes over the quaint little street of Columbia Road every week. Weaving among the colourful stalls, where you can find every kind of bloom from British classics to the most exotic houseplants, is a truly one-off London experience. Columbia Road itself is also worth the visit. Lined with tiny Victorian houses and cute little boutiques, it’s like stepping back in time to the 1950s.
8:30am – green juice at Roots and Bulbs
This newly-opened café and juice bar in Marylebone is one of the first places in London to offer cold pressed juices—hooray! Having lived in New York for two years now I’ve become addicted to my daily dose of liquid green, so it makes me very happy that now I can get it in London too. You can book a full-on juice cleanse, but they also do delicious smoothies and organic food, so it’s a perfect pre-picnic stop off if you’re planning a day in nearby Regents Park.
9am – class at Frame
Undoubtedly one of the coolest fitness studios in London, when Frame first opened in a renovated warehouse in Shoreditch a few years ago I feel for its DIY vibe. It’s been brilliant to watch them grow–—they’ve since added two new studios to the original space and opened a second location in North West London. My pick of the classes on offer would be one of the four Frame Signature workouts, which have been formulated to combine elements of everything that makes this place great. Choose from Method, Camp, Work or Barre.
11am – blowout at Foster London
Absolutely my favourite salon in London, with its cool, vintage vibe, lovely staff and cute salon dog, Mabel who belongs to owner Nadia (who also does the best colour by the way), and will come sit in your lap while you get your hair done. The staff here are all friendly and super skilled. They also have a treatment room where you can see their hot wax specialist, get a gel manicure or a facial with lovely organic REN products.
12pm – love injection at the Ace Hotel
Just like its sister hotel in New York, the lobby at the new Ace Hotel in Shoreditch has become quite a ‘scene’ since it opened last October, with local cool kids showing up with their laptops to work and just hang. I’m in love with one of the art installations here, where you can slip on a pair of headphones suspended by heart shaped balloons and listen to people saying the word “love” for as long as you like. You also have to try the delicious banana and soy shake by local juice bar Lovage. Banana, soya bean, almond milk, date, tahini, lucuma, wildflower honey and a pinch of pink rock salt is serious yum!
1pm – lunch at Leon
Spitalfields Leon was the first place to introduce me to the word ‘superfood’ when it launched its first outpost on Carnaby Street back in 2004, and I’m still addicted to their Original Superfood Salad (quinoa, cucumber, broccoli, avocado, feta, parsley and sunflower seeds), which has remained on the menu after all that time. Selling “healthy fast food,” they’ve since spread all over London, but the Spitalfields location is by far my favourite with it’s sprawling, laid-back vibe, free WiFi and pool tables on the terrace outside. I also love the ‘Better Brownie’ made with almond flour and 70 per cent cocoa chocolate.
3pm – shopping at Celestine Eleven
This new boutique is my idea of absolute heaven, fusing cutting edge high fashion (think: Damir Doma, BLK DNM, Marios Schwab) with a modern take on new age spirituality (crystal jewellery, incredible organic apothecary, tarot decks and books on shamanism). Owner Tena Strok has created the most deliciously decadent vibe, and with an on-site yoga studio run by the Secret Yoga Club and a treatment room for holistic face and body sessions. I could happily spend a whole day here just hanging out.
4pm – juice at Joe and the Juice
Dip into Soho for another dose of energy at this cool juice and smoothie bar where, legend has it, the cute waiters are actually instructed to flirt with all the customers. This chain juice bar is found all over Europe, but my favourite has a prime location just off Carnaby Street, with free WiFi and cosy sofas and beanbags for lounging on, making it the perfect pit stop for when you need to recharge your batteries mid-shop. The menu is basic but functional, and they are known for their killer Ginger Shot, which is a real pick-me-up.
5pm – a visit to the Topshop flagship
Yes, you can get Topshop in the North America and online now, but nothing beats a visit to the original flagship store in London’s Oxford Circus. Not only is it vast, but I swear the prices are better! A lot of my very first fashion memories revolve around this place, which attracts swarms of the London equivalent of “mall rats” at the weekend. I come here to stock on up skinny jeans (I like the high-waisted “Jamie” style), sweaters and cool accessories, and always leave with way more bags than I bargained for. There’s also a super cool nail bar by East London’s WAH Nails, specializing in out there nail art.
7pm – cocktail at the W London
Kick your evening off in style with a cocktail at London’s W hotel, which opened a couple of years back and is still one of the most glamorous spots in town. Located in bustling Leicester Square it’s right in the centre of all the nighttime action. The huge and decadent lounge bar is worth getting dressed up for and you watch all the action swirling in the square downstairs from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Note to all fake tan fans – James Harknett, one of the best spray tanning artists in London, also operates out of the Away Spa here.
8pm – dinner in Rosa’s Thai
I love this unpretentious, modern Thai café, which does the best green papaya salad I’ve had outside of Bangkok. Located down a little side street off the main drag of Chinatown, you’ll probably end up waiting in line to share one of their bench-like communal tables, but it makes a nice contrast after the luxury of the W, and contrast is what London’s all about! The food really is excellent though. I always have the salmon red curry, which comes with a side of wholegrain rice. The chargrilled jumbo prawns served with cool steamed vegetables are also delicious.
10pm – piano sing-a-long at Coach and Horses
This old school Soho pub was a regular for my now husband and I when we started dating 15 years ago. It’s an absolute classic with no frills—just a brilliant, authentic vibe. They used to do sandwiches at the bar for £1, but on my last visit I was happy to see they’ve rebranded themselves as “London’s First Vegetarian Pub”, and do a complete bar menu of 100 per cent veggie comfort food. Best of all, they host a piano sing-a-long, which used to be an impromptu thing and seems to have become a regular attraction. So much fun.
midnight – walk across the Millennium Bridge
Weather permitting, this is absolutely one of my favourite ways to see London at night. The Millennium Bridge is a footbridge crossing the Thames from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern, and a late night stroll across gives you the most outstanding view of London all lit up and looking fabulous.
1am – dancing at Fabric
This is London’s original super club, and as more and more dance venues around the capital close their doors, this place is still going strong. Known for their seriously cool DJ booking policy and booty-shaking “bodysonic” dance floor (special speakers mean you can literally feel the bass going through you in the main room) make this a music aficionados paradise. Three rooms of music are connected by warehouse-style walkways and chill out areas, and the unisex loos have always kept things interesting.
4am – bed down at Qbic Hotel London City
This boutique hotel is the coolest new place in London to bed down on a budget, offering rooms from just £69 a night—and right next to Shoreditch (my old hood and therefore, in my opinion, by far the coolest area to be staying). With cool design touches, free WiFi, organic king size beds, and a locally-sourced, organic breakfast included in the price, they’re ticking a whole lot of boxes right there. Oh, and the rooms are all soundproofed too. Goodnight!
Images by Cameron McNee; W London courtesy of W; Qbic Hotel courtesy Qbic
Whether it’s interviewing Lady Gaga, unveiling the latest trends in fashion, or getting under the skin of our most neurotic social trends, Ruby Warrington is at the forefront of it all. She’s a British lifestyle writer, the celebrated creator of the blog The Numinous, and a regular contributor to the lululemon blog.