November 1st, 2012
Just an easy 90-minute train ride from London, the charming, compact and walkable city of Bath – former home to Jane Austen, among others – offers a perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
We adored boutique B&B Villa Magdala, across from lovely Henrietta Park (opened to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee) and just steps from Bath's downtown. You'll want to stay more than one night – or bring a big appetite – to sample the delightful breakfast menu, with fruit, yogurt and pastries plus to-order picks like the full English and our favourite, the lemon-ricotta-pistachio pancakes. www.villamagdala.co.uk
Book ahead and bring a group to sample Tilleys Bistro's tasty tapas menu, complete with clearly labelled veg and gluten-free selections. Our French Farmers Salad, Baked Avocado Tower and Butterbean and Root Ginger Firepot went down so well (accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc) that we tragically left no room for dessert. http://www.tilleysbistro.co.uk
Bath is home to the UK's only natural hot springs, put on the map by the Romans, who erected a full bathing complex complete with temple. A visit to the Roman Baths Museum is a must while in town. Wander the site with the audio guide and turn up your imagination to visualize the lives of the people who millennia ago bathed in these same waters. If you have time, pick up a combo ticket to save on a trip to the Fashion Museum, too.
You can't enter the original Roman baths, unfortunately, but there is a consolation prize across the street: Thermae Bath Spa, which taps into those same natural springs. Sample the selection of scented steam rooms, then soak in the rooftop pool and enjoy the views of Bath Abbey and the rest of the city. www.thermaebathspa.com
Photo: visitbath.co.uk Copyright: Bath Tourism Plus / Colin Hawkins
Bath has no shortage of boutiques and other shopping pleasures. Make sure to visit historic Pulteney Bridge, a late-18th-century stone bridge complete with built-in shops. One highlight for us was the Antique Map Shop, with its very giftable collection of printed maps from all over the world.
October 18th, 2012
The wonders of la ville d'amour are endless, but you have to start somewhere. Here are a few highlights from our latest jaunt across the pond.
For free vistas of the city and its landmarks, stroll up Paris's steepest hill to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre, a neighbourhood once home to artists such as Picasso and Modigliani. Come at sunset to see the Eiffel Tower light up, hawkers ply their wares and local youth crowd the stairs in this popular hangout spot. http://sacre-coeur-montmartre.com
Our three-hour walking tour with Urban Adventures took us along stylish streets and through secret passages to see glorious architecture and real Parisian life, with a well-deserved break for cheese and baguette in-between. Bring a map so you can return to the adorable and easy-to-lose shops you see along the way. www.urbanadventures.com/destination
The Saturday-morning lineup of locals at bakery Arnaud Delmontel convinced us the goods were worth it even before we tasted the pastries, tarts and macarons. Ladurée gets all the hype when it comes to the petite sweets, but our favourite was the prettily pink-and-white marbled rose flavour here. www.arnaud-delmontel.com
Ballet flat addicts might want to set a budget in advance to a visit to one of the city's several Repetto boutiques, with the iconic shoes spread in a rainbow of colours and styles, including kitten heels, T-straps and even boots, plus ballet-inspired streetwear. www.repetto.com
Europe's so wee from a Canadian perspective: London and Paris are closer than Toronto and Montreal. Hit both cities on one trip while avoiding excess airport visits via the comfortable and just 2 1/2-hour-long train ride on Eurostar. www.eurostar.com
August 2nd, 2012
Between the Queen’s 60th anniversary and the Olympic Games, London is positively jubilant right now. Pack your best umbrella and head for Heathrow.
On a sleepy street in Kensington, (in spitting distance of shops, museums and great gastro-pubs) the hotel brims with British charm. Rooms are small, and elegantly appointed with pretty rooftop views quite like those in Mary Poppins.
Stock up on Penhaligon's toiletries, and don’t miss the champagne and canapés served every evening in the lounge. Bring your glad rags. This is London; you never know who might pop in for a Pimms. —Athena Tsavliris
June 14th, 2012
For all you lucky ducks off to London this summer, we’ve rounded up a few (non Olympian) highlights worth the trip:
If temperatures peak (much like here, the weather has been erratic) cool off in the Serpentine Lido. Just don’t be surprised if you’re splashing about with a local swan or two.
For a little peace and quiet, head to the heavenly Chelsea Physic Garden – one of London’s oldest botanic garden. Lunch at the Tangerine Dream is always a treat. www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
Let your imagination soar at Flights of Fancy. Large-scale installations inspired by the theme of flight are on display at the Tatton Park Biennial (ends September 30). www.tattonparkbiennial.org
Mad Hatters should head to Selfridges for the Big British Tea party on the rooftop of the venerable department store. There will be music, mini golf and tomfoolery galore (ends September 2) http://style.selfridges.com
Hotfoot it to Lamb's Conduit Street for some of the best independent shops in central London. With its eclectic mix of textiles, ceramics, baubles and accessories, Darkroom is not to be missed. —Athena Tsavliris
September 29th, 2011
A little while ago, one of Toronto’s most beloved fashion bloggers/illustrators bid us adieu to set up in shop in Blighty. We asked Final Fashion’s Danielle Meder to share some insider tips and treasures from London town.
There's a stretch on Kingsland Road in Dalston where there are about half a dozen charity shops, and although you're competing against some very savvy shoppers, a keen eye will uncover the odd treasure.
On Brick Lane you’ll pay a bit more for vintage but you won't have to look as hard. Rokit and Beyond Retro both have large selections, fast turnover and decent prices. There are tons of street stalls on the weekend that are worth a look. I've even had some luck bartering. Ask for a better price, you might get it.
For beauty stuff, this super-pharmacy Boots is pretty decent. The flagship on Oxford Street is massive. I buy my Clinique stuff there.
eat + drink
There’s nothing I love more than a fresh sausage or bacon and egg sandwich (or bap) – italian caffs all over the city serve these. I recently had one at Diana's Diner in Covent Garden which totally hit the spot. Foodie stuff galore at Borough Market is worth a whole weekday morning. Get the best coffee at Monmouth and nibble samples of everything. Weekends, hit up Broadway Market to see and be seen, it's like a fashion show with food.
Friday evenings at the V&A have lots of fun activities and are a great way to meet people. The National Portrait Gallery does something similar called the Late Shift. I always go for a live drawing class whenever I have the chance – they're available all over the city all the time, from serious art school sessions to drink & draw pub style. Every Thursday on Vynor Road, art galleries open their doors & serve cheap (or sometimes free) beers. The Book Club in Shoreditch offers tons of diversions & a lively atmosphere.
November 11th, 2010
If you’re London bound, or just like to keep abreast on what’s happening in UK’s booming metropolis, trust two in-the-know style editors to beeline you to the best in art, music, fashion and food.
A little bird is the brainchild of Daisy Garnett (British Vogue) and Francesca Martin (Harper's Bazaar) and is filled with delightful suggestions for Londoners and travellers alike.
Listen to barrelhouse blues at the famous HIX Oyster and Chop House, rummage through the city’s hidden markets and fairs or get insider tips on coveted designer sample sales.
Guest editors include master milliner Stephen Jones and the highly acclaimed writer David Nicholls.
Indeed, this is one little bird you’ll want to know.
August 5th, 2010
“You can take the girl out of Chelsea, but you can’t take Chelsea out of the girl.”
It’s been a while since our Toronto editor, Athena Tsavliris, ventured home. Here, she shares some favourite haunts from her old London neighbourhood.
The Shop at Bluebird
This fashion/lifestyle store keeps getting better and better. You’ll find big labels like Moschino and Marni, as well as lesser-known gems like Peter Jensen and Osman. John Derian plates, Isabel Marant shoes, Cire Trudon candles and Vanessa Bruno bags all hang out in this super cool space. 350 King’s Rd., London, www.theshopatbluebird.com
This is the only ballet flat we wear. (They’re quite spendy, but worth every penny.) The newest store is packed with every colour, finish and print imaginable. Look for the Harriet in cherry red leather or metallic sparkles. 323 King's Rd., London, 0207-351-1634, www.frenchsole.com
The Chelsea Physic Garden
One of Chelsea’s best kept secrets, this beautiful garden is lovely for lazy lunches and sweet scented strolls. Lunch is served in what feels like a school hall and is quintessentially English. Think bangers followed by treacle tart and cream. 66 Royal Hospital Rd., London, 0207-352-5646, www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
We raided this place as teenagers, and it’s still a go-to if we're ever in need of a tutu, lace stockings, a neon wig or some fun faux baubles. 153 King's Rd., London, 0207-376-8829, www.adhoclondon.co.uk
This Chelsea mainstay is our secret hangover spot. Bob Geldof and Eric Clapton were regulars, and even though the waitresses are moody and the food mediocre, there’s something about Picasso that has lasting appeal. 127 King's Rd., London, 0207-352-4921.
The Pig’s Ear
This pub has a great atmosphere and the food is pretty good too. In warmer months, punters spill out on to the street, it’s so popular. Try the steak tartare or one of the lovely seasonal risottos. 35 Old Church St., London, 0207-352 2908, http://www.thepigsear.info
The store is like a little shoe museum, with some of the most daring styles Blahnik designs. Many amazing pairs have been scored at its annual mega sale. Manolo Blahnik, 49-51 Old Church St., London, 0207-352-3863, www.manoloblahnik.com
January 14th, 2010
With the humble postcard making a comeback after years of being stamped out, we’ve discovered an original way to send one.
A London company, Postcard Teas, will send your postcard affixed to a lovely bag of loose teas.
Simply choose your tea from the wide selection, fill out the virtual postcard, and they will print it out and post your tea anywhere around the world.
It’s such a charming way to say ‘Thank you,’ ‘I miss you’ or ‘Let’s meet for a cuppa’ – and far more personal than a speedy tweet or text could ever be.
November 19th, 2009
109 Mile End Road is possibly the most fashionable address in London.
The locale for dozens of glamorous fashion and décor shoots, this 300-year-old townhouse has housed plenty a celebrity from Helen Mirren to Orlando Bloom.
It’s also a gorgeous guesthouse for visiting models, photographers, actors and other creative types.
Homeowner David Carter (an interior designer) has allocated two rooms for guests, both chicly appointed with vintage trunks, mannequins and whimsical furnishings.
Consider it a home away from home (no check-in, no staff etc.) in a great location with your own parking spot and use of a washer/dryer and a kitchen.
Now, if only home were this grand.
40 Winks, from $100-$130 per night. 011 44 020-7790 0259, www.40winks.org
July 31st, 2008
Just back from a sojourn to her hometown of London, Toronto Editor Athena Tsavliris reveals a few of her favourite destinations.
Nestled in the heart of SoHo, The Hazlitt’s (named after William Hazlitt, the writer who died here in 1830) is one of London’s most discreet hotels. Oozing with old-school charm, all 23 rooms feature grand Victorian mahogany furnishings, generous floor-sweeping drapes, and wonderfully soft sheets and pillows. Don’t miss out on the cozy living room boasting a library of signed books donated by the hotel's famous guests such as JK Rowling and Michael Ondaatje. From £390 for a double room, breakfast is optional ($18). http://www.hazlittshotel.com/
Owned by London restaurateur Tom Conran (son of famous restaurateur Terence Conran), Crazy Homies serves up tasty Tex-Mex fare and Micheladas (a mix of Sol beer and lime juice in a salt-rimmed glass with a hint of chilli) out of a super kitsch two-floor bar/restaurant in Notting Hill.
With more than 370 stalls, showrooms, and workshops, it’s worth leaving plenty of time to trawl your way through Alfie’s Market. Expect to find anything from ’50s silver ice cream spoons to antique lace collars to Vincenzo Caffarella lighting. Don’s miss Joel and Son Fabrics up the street for the most amazing materials (Pucci silks, Ungaro damasks) in the world.