London – Jan 2019

Banksy

Kev and I spent a long weekend over MLK weekend in London this year. We flew to London after work on Thursday and got there on Friday morning. I knew we were going to be tired so I intentionally planned a day light on activities, so we just had a relaxing afternoon tea at The Wolseley. The Wolseley was recommended to us by a few people so I was really looking forward to it, but I actually wasn’t very impressed. We’ve been to a lot of afternoon teas that I’ve really enjoyed but I can’t say I’ll go back to The Wolseley. The afternoon tea there wasn’t particularly good–there weren’t many tea selections and the pastries and sandwiches weren’t anything special, and the ambiance was noisy and not particularly inviting.

Afternoon tea at The Wolseley

We stayed at Le Méridien in Piccadilly which was a great location fairly central to all the activities we had planned throughout the weekend. After afternoon tea we headed back to the hotel but stopped in Waterstones Book Store first which is across the street from the hotel. I LOVE Waterstones. It’s seriously the best book store ever because it’s spacious, has a huge selection, and it’s well organized. We had fun browsing and even picked up a few books.

Afternoon tea in Hotel Cafe Royal’s Oscar Wilde Lounge

On Saturday morning we went to find coffee and ended up finding a good doughnut spot called Crosstown in Piccadilly that had tasty vegan doughnuts! We spent the rest of the morning having a blast shopping. I got a nice outfit from Max Mara and a beautiful scarf and corset belt from Alexander McQueen. After our little shopping trip we walked to Hotel Cafe Royal for afternoon tea in the Oscar Wilde Lounge. I originally picked this spot because they’re all about pairing the scents with food but it ended up being my favorite spot because not only was the ambiance amazing with the gold ceiling and mirrored walls and a feeling of regaleness and intimacy, but the tea selection was amazing and the food was good. I even got a little Diptyque candle to take home 🙂 The Celestine was some of the best tea I’ve ever tasted. It’s made of Madagascan vanilla pods and roasted cocoa nibs in a velvety Chinese black tea. I still dream about this tea! It was so good that Kev got a pot as well.

On Saturday night we saw True West on West End starring Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) and Johnny Flyn (Beast). The play was okay. I think the acting was good but the story line wasn’t that exciting, and frankly, I was confused about the ending. I actually heard during intermission that a few people were nodding off because of the slow start. Johnny Flyn surprisingly stole the show in my opinion but that may have been due to the character he played. Kit Harington redeemed himself more in the second half.

One of my fav social commentary artists, Kai

On Sunday morning we took a spin class at Another Space via Classpass which was a nice way to feel like a true Londener while also getting a good workout in. After our workout we sprinted back to the hotel to shower before heading to Shoreditch for a walking street art tour. The street tour was awesome and I liked our guide. London has a lot of street art and it was interesting learning more about the key players and how in certain areas the artists have to pay the property owners to put art on the wall of their buildings (some of the art is so good I feel like it should be the other way around!) Kev and I saw one of Banksy’s more recent street art pieces when we were in Paris last year, but it was still really cool to see some more of his stuff in London. We got to see two of his pieces of work which was exciting.

Afternoon tea at Rosewood London’s Mirror Room

After our street art tour we booked it to afternoon tea at Mirror Room in Rosewood London. I intentionally booked afternoon tea at Mirror Room after the street art tour because their pastries are inspired by famous works of art. As their site says, the “Retro-inspired afternoon tea includes a selection of mouth-watering finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and loose leaf teas accompanied by the creative pastries. Be prepared to discover a sense of nostalgia inspired by Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup can, Malika Favre’s retro twister, and special retro wall art. In addition to the iconic cakes, enjoy a modern take on the classics, such as Ferrero Rocher and Jaffa cakes.”

The pastries at Mirror Room were creative indeed but they weren’t the best tasting. However, their finger sandwiches were the best I’ve ever had–so much so that we ordered seconds which I’ve never done. We also had a special tea pairing option which was fun. After afternoon tea we met up with one of my girlfriends and her husband at Soho House to catch up which was a nice way to end the trip.

Monday morning Kev and I took another class at Another Space but this time a yoga class. It wasn’t as good or challenging as the spin class we took the day before, but it was still good to stretch before our flight back to NYC.

Overall it was an amazing trip. London is one of my favorite places in the world, so I always have a blast there. To me it’s like a more laid-back version of NYC. One of my fav parts of London is the afternoon tea. Of the three new spots we tried on this trip, I would rank Hotel Cafe Royal first for its ambiance and tea, then Mirror Room second for it’s sandwiches, and then far behind The Wolseley. I can’t wait for our next trip back already to try some other spots!