I've got three cities in the world at the moment that I'd move to in a heartbeat. Istanbul (the food is really a winning trait for me), Austin, and London. I have an utter love for London in my blood, probably because my mom is from there, so the UK is just in ma blood.
I didn't have a huge amount of free time this past season at LFW. Every minute was jam packed with meetings, shows, and afternoon tea. Dinner was usually the only free minute I had to destress, even though I was reviewing the meal majority of the time!
I've rounded up where you need to go in London, where you need to stay, eat, and party.
Where to Stay:
During Fashion Week, almost all of the hotels in vicinity of Somerset House are sold out. Stay away from the Strand hotels (ME London and the Savoy) and venture out to Westminster for properties that are a 5 pound cab ride away, and escape the FW madness.
Looking for afternoon tea with a celeb sighting? The Corinthia is your place. I saw Adam Lambert and David Hasselhoff within 24 hours of me being at the property. Now, that's award winning.
Grab a glass of champagne in one of their trendy bars or restaurants (there's multiple) or stay for afternoon tea in the lobby after a day at the spa. Don't even get me started on the spa...
Budget: pricey. Start saving early. You want to indulge here.
Tune Hotels (on a budget)
I stayed at Tune on the first two nights of my stay. Tune is located right across from the tube station, which is perfect when you can't walk in your heels easily. 75 pounds a night will get you a room, which is cheap for the area. Don't expect maid service daily, or room service. If you're traveling with a friend, get 2 rooms. There is barely enough room for one person, unless you're backpacking.
Park Plaza Hotels
I had the chance to stay at the Westminster + County Hall locations, both directly across from each other. I was lucky enough to get to stay in suites both times, with insane views overlooking all of London. After a long day of shows, we ordered pizza + burgers, and sat in bed while looking at Big Ben and the London Eye. I HIGHLY recommend Park Plaza.
Budget: a little on the higher side. Go for a basic guest room and you'll be set.
To those who say London cuisine is bland, every time I'm in town, I always disagree. Ok, so fish and chips and bread might get boring after a while, which is why you have to venture out of that zone and really embrace the food options London has.
Sunday Brunch: Coya
I've never had Peruvian food before. I was missing out. Coya is located right next to the beautiful palace, so after a brunch stuffed with lots of fish, you can head over and say hello to the Queen. Go for the pre-fixe brunch menu, and expect to spend about 2-3 hours at Coya, drinking some of their delicious drinks (fresh coconut and lychee, anyone?) and eating lots of fish and meats.
Meeting Lunch: Hakkasan Hanway Place
You may remember me featuring Hakkasan on my London guide when I was in town last season. I always make a goal of getting to Hakkasan at least once while I'm in town, that's how delicious the food is. A mix between a club and a crazy upscale restaurant, this place is a necessary venture for a weekday meeting, or a mini lunch getaway with the girls on a weekend.
Cheap Eats: Opso
You've never had Greek food like you'll have at Opso. Located on a corner side street in Marylebone, Opso changed my life. Creamy feta cheese like you're on the real island, fruity drinks with fresh pineapple, and the lightest and richest dessert I've had in probably 7 months, Opso tops my list for meals in London. It's tapas style, so you can easily keep your budget down, as long as you manage to keep your drink order to one each, and don't succumb to ordering every small plate off the huge menu.
Date Night: Quagliano's
Located in the heart of Mayfair, Quagliano's is the first (and last place) you'll ever see me trying pork cheek. With a HUGE dining area and first level bar, take your date here for live music and an unusual crowd. Mostly everyone is older, so dress for the occasion. Girls, wear heels. Guys, throw on your tux. It's expensive, but the fish and meats are worth it.
On my last evening in London, Hari's invited me in for a haircut at their Chelsea location. My stylist was the sweetest ever, and the prices are quite reasonable for the area. I'm contemplating flying to London every time I want a haircut now!
This salon attracts so many celebrities that the first floor is a trap, so the paparazzi think the celebs are on the first floor and they are actually on the third! Every time I'm in London, I always stop by LM salon for a facial by their renowned stylists. I leave feeling refreshed, sleepy, and like I want a green juice instead of my morning cup o' joe.
I managed to make it into Blo Covent Garden prior to a busy day of shows, and I absolutely fell in love with the underground location. My hair felt refreshed and soft, for the first time in days!
Shopping + Sightseeing
Skip all the regular tourist traps. Plan one day (if you have the time) to go to the London Eye, and walk across the Westminster Bridge to view Big Ben closeup.
Take a day and go to Kensington. Walk up and down the high street, have lunch at Ffiona's, and spend hours walking around the Kensington Whole Foods (as recommended by Gwyneth Paltrow) to pick up unusual and organic goodies.
Kensington has some amazing shops too, like Primark and Topshop on the main street. I had my new Madewell jacket that kept me warm the majority of the time, though I did almost pick up this jacket from DKNY (at Simons) that I saw online after my trip! A gal can never have enough jackets....