I went through my photos that I took on my camera, and there are perhaps only two or three that aren’t having to do with my work during London Fashion Week. As some of you may have figured, I spent last weekend in the UK, but it took me some time to catch up on all other things in my life before I could write up a post.
The Eurostar makes traveling between France and England incredibly easy and affordable. I only paid 92,50€; 35€ to London and 57,50€ to travel back to Paris. And while you think you could score a better deal with cheap flights, think again – the train takes you directly into the city and removes the obstacle of traveling to and from airports. The wait time is considerably less, as well; you’ll still have to go through security and passport control, but it is a matter of only arriving about half an hour to forty-five minutes before your train arrives (it is merely UK border control that is cause for long waits, returning back to Paris is much faster since it is just a passport check).
With everyone in the industry more likely than not staying in a hotel for London Fashion Week, I am perhaps one of the relatively few that opt for a hostel. Opting for a hostel that is nearby Somerset House, I only had one real choice that had an excellent rating – The Walrus Social. Note that when you first walk by, you’ll probably not notice it since the more noticeable part of the business is the bar, and not the hostel. To check in, you have to head on into the bar and let the bartender know that you’re here for the hostel instead of a beer. For those that are looking to explore the city, this hostel may be a good option for its cost (January sale price was 16£ for a bed in a 6 person dorm room, includes wifi and breakfast) since its staff is not only great and accommodating, but the hostel itself is near many of the landmarks, such as the London Eye and Big Ben, and minutes away from the tube.
Anyway, as I noted in my trip to Berlin, going to a city for work presents everything in a very different frame. The moments in which I could enjoy and experience the city were few, and were often spent remotely close to the venues before my next show.
When I visited London two years ago with my friends, there was no set schedule or anything of the sort. It was winter break, and we were there for a week, and were at liberty to explore the neighborhoods and markets. Not to mention we were traveling with our friend Sam who used to live in London, and could therefore show us her favorite spots.
What I did realize, however, is that my work events do allow me to see some pretty things and visit venues that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, such as the Freemasons’ Hall and the Gazelli Art House. There are also the perks: free coffee and breakfast/lunch from the press lounge and a free haircut courtesy of Toni & Guy at the BFC show space. Anyway, I suppose in that sense, I do gain some perspective into London, just one that is far removed from a tourist and a local, and more attaching to a particular niche, which has its merit seeing as I’ve already done the “tourist thing.”
In any case, here are two of my suggestions for anyone heading on over the pond any time soon:
Nando’s: I first discovered Nando’s two years ago when Sam insisted that we must try it to fulfill our London experience. The allure of the grilled chicken (of varying degrees of spiciness) and delicious sides is indescribable. From the way I describe it, one would think I’m talking about a Michelin star restaurant, when in fact, I’m simply raving about a chain. Nando’s is comfort food at its best. It is worthy to note that the chain restaurant does indeed have locations in Toronto and in Washington DC. I’ve noted below the Covent Garden location, which is where I sought refuge for some of my meals.
Nando’s Covent Garden
66-68 Chandos Place
London WC2N 4HG
Tel: +4420 7836 4719
The Tintin Shop: If you know me, you’ll find out at one point or another that I am a big fan of the Belgian series Tintin. I was wandering around in the Covent Garden area and stumbled across the store. I couldn’t resist popping my head into the small store, and was amazed to find a pretty vast collection of memorabilia, which is also available on the store’s website. Instead of picking up a figurine or book, I walked out of the store with Mats Lidstrom’s musical homage to the series (“Suite Tintin”).
The Tintin Shop
34 Floral Street
London WC2E 9DJ
Tel: +4420 7836 1131