Ladies for a weekend – a visit to London
The light shines golden through the high Edwardian windows. Outside, I watch business men rushing home, girls carrying bags full of brand new clothes, exhausted from a day’s worth of shopping, tourists carefully crossing the street, confused by the unfamiliar left-hand driving.
It’s the typical chaotic London rush hour scenario. Happening right in front of me, but still seeming like miles away. The inside of the lobby is ruled by a cozy but sophisticated ambiance. Well- dressed people gather around delicate low-standing tables and chatting animated chats in muffled voices, enjoying a good cup of tea, or sipping on after-work cocktails.
I lean back in this early 20th century style- setting and breathe in the tangy aroma coming out of the porcelain cup filled with amber-colored Darjeeling, nestled tightly in between my two hands. Next to me, Luise lets out a languorous cat-like sigh, and finishes the rest of the delicious apple trifle.
“Would you like more champagne?”
In a novel, this would be the turning point. The protagonist would wake up, and find herself in her dingy stove-heated studio apartment in Berlin Neukölln. Fortunately this is not a novel.
“Yes, I would love another glass of champagne!”
Luise and I are sitting in the lobby of the One Aldwych in London, enjoying probably the most British tradition of all times: Afternoon Tea.
Teatime is deep-seated in British culture. It started to shape in the mid 17th century, when Great Britain first imported tea from China. Back in the days it was a luxury good, which only the upper class could afford. It soon turned into a status symbol and was especially celebrated by the ladies of the British society.
Today, Great Britain is the third largest ‘tea- drinker’ nation in the world. The tasty leaves are not as exclusive as they were back in the days, but they are still celebrated all over the country.
The afternoon tea is traditionally served in the salon and comes with scones, clotted cream and savouries. If you want to spice it up and turn it royal, enjoy it with either champagne or sherry.
Naturally we went for the royal version, after all we are on our: “luxury girls weekend” in London! For just one weekend, we wanted to feel like two ladies visiting London.
Friday night, after dropping off our luggage and a quick – not very lady-like – dance on the bed, triggered by all the luxury and comfort the One Aldwych hotel in Covent Garden provides, we started our British weekend with some drinks in Soho. Soho is only a short walk away from Covent Garden. The weather is splendid and big crowds are gathering in front of the pubs enjoying an after work drink.
Just go with the flow or check out:
Thirst – friendly and relaxed corner bar with good drinks. Downstairs on the dance floor a mixed crowd flounders to the 80ies, 90ies and the 21st century hits.
Located at: 53 Greek Street, W1D 3DR London
St. Martin’s Lane Hotel: hip bar inside the design hotel.
Located at: 45 St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N London
Theodore Bullfrog – a nice mix of modern bar and traditional British pub.
Located at: 28 John Adam Street, WC2N London
How many times did I wake up after a fun night out, just hoping that breakfast would come magically to my bed?! It never happened, until now. As requested, right at ten o’clock, room -service knocked on our door and breakfast comes rolling in.
A hearty British breakfast is just what I need to regain my strength and to get prepared for the day.
On our itinerary for Saturday morning is to discover Covent Garden. Apparently, in the past few years, big chains have been replaced by smaller, more individual stores, attracting not anymore only tourists, but more and more locals.
Nevertheless, the area directly around Covent Square is still crowed by tourists and not all that much fun to walk through. Then again, only a few steps further, we got to Seven Dials – a junction, where seven small streets come together. I am not saying, that it is a secret spot, but all of a sudden things got a lot more relaxed. Only a few people strolled along the cobbled streets, lined with cute little designer stores.
These are our top five:
Beautiful French jewelry and accessory store. The glittering good can be yours from 30 Pounds upwards.
Located at: 75 Monmouth Street
Shoe boutique with an amazing collection, selling brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Chloé, H by Hudson.
Located at: 61- 63 Monmouth Street
Neal’s Yard Remedies:
Do your skin something good – organic cosmetics!
Located at: Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard Dairy Farm:
British Cheese is not that famous internationally. Inside this little store, selling farm cheese from the British Islands seriously has you wondering why. If you are not a cheesy person, try out the spiced plum chutney – it is divine!
Located at: 17 Shorts Gardens
The Tea House:
Bring the British Tea Time tradition home. In this shop, you’ll find everything you need for it!
Located at: 15A Neal Street
Several hours later and quite a few pounds poorer, we headed home. Shopping is exhausting, big cities are exhausting. Time for a refreshing dip into the hotel spa, before it is time for our tea!
And here I am in the lobby, enjoying my tea and watching the Londoners rushing by. Half of our ladies weekend is already over. In my mind I go through it, it would not be lady-like to miss out on something. So let’s take stock:
Girls’ night out: check
Breakfast in bed: check
Fancy dinner: up next (we reserved a table at the Axis, tonight at 9pm)
Walk along the Themes: good idea for after the dinner
Culture: Sunday morning – Somerset House!
And after visiting the impressionist/ post-impressionist collecting exhibited at Somerset House … maybe a stroll through Hyde Park? Or best case – scenario… it is already tea- time again and we could come back here and get some more deliciousness?! But than it hit me – next day at the same time, I would be landing at Berlin-Schönefeld airport, I would shoulder my backpack and jump on the subway. The British lady of today will turn back into her alter ego – a regular ol’ gal from Berlin Kreuzberg.
Text: Karolin Langfeldt
Fotos: Luise Müller-Hofstede