We were there for eight days, but it went by in a blur, as great vacations are wont to do.
(Photos by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti)
After landing at Heathrow, we jumped into a taxicab and headed into the heart of the city.
Hotel-wise, we had decided to switch things up. Usually, we stay at The Gore, but this time we opted for the Dean Street Townhouse, part of the Soho House group of hotels. It's small, just 39 rooms, and occupies two Georgian townhouses built in the 18th century. Design-wise, I call it "Modern Hogarthian."
We loved it.
It was so thoughtfully designed with such a keen attention to detail (the massive bed with impeccably crisp white sheets, the braided rush matting, the vintage silver DIY tea service with fresh-baked daily treats, the artfully hidden electric tea kettle inside the cabinet, a complete range of full-size Cowshed products in the bathroom) that the size of the room didn't matter (we stayed in Number 13, one of the biggest "small" rooms).
I even loved the hallways: isn't this combination of gray-green paint and rust and orange striped carpet so lively and fun?
And oh, the lobby. Nick Jones certainly knows how to create a sexy elegant space. (The gentleman on the left is Damian, the uber-concierge who made our stay so memorable.)
Here's an element-by-element breakdown to create this look:
1. Ancient floorboards
2. Salmon-colored walls
3. Turquoise velvet fringed furniture (super low and super comfortable)
4. Vintage Persian carpet
5. Antique hammered brass front desk
6. Dark floor-to-ceiling bookshelves
7. Golden wall lighting
8. Old gilt mirrors
9. Dark rattan fishing baskets
10. Glass beaded chandelier
If you're a regular to this blog, you know I love looking at the world through a dark frame, so this glassed vestibule of the hotel was a wonderful sexy way to greet each day.
The big news story in London the week we were there was the sunny warm weather. I've never seen the streets so crowded with happy people. It was almost like everyone in the city had decided to live outside. The air was thick with exhilaration.
And the flowers. Everywhere. And the flower sellers. This lovely fellow was so "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" I couldn't not ask him for a photo.
Walking through Hyde Park, the world became a 3-D stripe of green, white and blue.
London is filled with countless vistas that make it easy to forget that the 21st century has arrived.
English wit abounded. Would you have guessed this was an art gallery?
This museum headline must have been written to appeal specifically to 10 year old boys because Luca wanted to visit straightaway.
And this sign kills me. Only in the land of Charles Dickens would you find a posh Mayfair dental practice with a sign that gives you the impression they pull teeth with 100-proof anaesthetic.
Want an easy way to reinvigorate your front door? Stud it with brass knobs. I can think of a house in Hollywood that might have them very soon.
This owner painted over the studs for a look that's still visually textured but slightly more subtle.
That night, we had a quick dinner at Antonio Carluccio's in Spitalfields, a historic neighborhood in London's East End. (For a fascinating blog about Spitalfields, click HERE.)
Our meal was quick because we had a very very important 7:15 pm appointment around the corner at a private home I've been dying to visit ever since one of you fabulous people mentioned it on this blog four years ago.
We were going to Dennis Severs' House, a living time capsule of ancient London. (Read my previous post about it HERE.) The guide met us outside to give us the rules for our solo candlelit journey.
Guide: No photos. No talking. Only in silence will you be able to properly hear, see and smell what life was like centuries ago.
Luca: Is the house haunted?
Guide: (lengthy pause) Some people would say yes.
I swear to God at this very moment (when I snapped a photo of the front door) my camera started acting strangely. Everything went blurry.
I checked my settings to see if they had changed, but no. I snapped a photo of the pub across the street. Another myopic mess.
We went into the house.
And the next 45 minutes were some of the most magical of my life so far.
I won't give too much away because part of the thrill is discovering the rooms for yourself, but there is no question that the house is alive. As our guide told us, "In this house, you can walk through the painting."
What I will tell you is that I have officially travelled back in time -- and I can't wait to go back.
Even back at the hotel, I couldn't take a clear photo of the ground floor restaurant. (That's Luca perusing the menu.) I ordered fish pie. After three months of eating super healthy, it was high time. And it was creamy and rich and sinfully delicious.
It wasn't until I had a glass of champagne that the world was restored to rights again. That's Flo and Tom down there in the corner, the most darling staff ever. (Aren't Flo's eyebrows amazing?)
That night I couldn't sleep I was so excited. (The jet lag didn't help.)
P. S. Settle something for Piero and me. What does this hardware store sign say? (I say "Posh London", Piero says "Gosh London.")