London Fashion Week: Where to sleep, dine and shop
For afternoon tea: Cocomaya Situated in the heart of the elegant Connaught Village is chic cafe and artisan bakery, Cocomaya. Home of London’s first cronuts (the almost unbearably delicious lovechild of a croissant and a doughnut; it’s already conquered New York), Cocomaya’s bakery stems from a chocolate shop whose wall colours are as bold as the take-me-home-immediately-or-you’ll-regret-it flavours it produces. Think an ‘Around the World’ selection including milk chocolate Mumbai curry and Amsterdam liquorish and hemp bars, or classic delights like chocolate almonds. For the price of a coffee, you can luxuriate in the heady scents of freshly baked bread and pastries, just as enticing whether you’re sitting on the outside terrace or in the shop itself. That, or, for £25 you can indulge in the full afternoon tea experience, so long as you remember to book the day before. There are options for every dietary stipulation (vegans rejoice!), but get there early as several of the pastries unique to this bakery sell by lunchtime; no one working within a 20-mile radius can resist a morning pilgrimage to this gem.
For a luxe dinner: Hakkasan There’s a reason this restaurant has featured on so many fashion blogs (including this one!); it’s well and truly on the radar of anyone and everyone who cares about what’s exciting in the hottest cities around the world. Reaching from Beverly Hills to Abu Dhabi, Hakkasan has served food to individuals such as the exquisitely tasteful Karl Lagerfeld and classic American designer Calvin Klein. Hakkasan’s Chef Tong prides himself on regaling diners with the tales of China; not through words, but through impeccably created Cantonese dishes. With two locations in London, you’ll never be too far from its Michelin starred creations, including black truffle roast duck or steamed mini lobster (I can vouch for both there deliciousness). That’s certainly no bad thing and besides, if Lagerfeld’s into it, you know you’ve found a winner.
For dinner: Bocca di Lupo Translated from Italian as ‘the Lone Wolf’, this restaurant certainly stands out from the crowd in delivering exceptional food in the heart of Soho. With a bar separate from the dining room, pre-prandial drinks are a must and with the variety of cocktails and wines on offer, you’d do well to order some of the delightful Regional small plates to prevent you falling off your chair too early in the evening. With main courses priced between £7 and £32, there’s nothing you won’t want to try and the delicately assembled dishes will absolutely live up to expectations.
For luxe shopping: MatchesFashion
Any fashion maestro worth their salt knows Matches Fashion is the place to explore your sartorial independence. Offering a well-edited selection of both new and established brands, what Matches Fashion brings by way of shopping experience is unlike any other. The store collaborates with some of the most lusted-after designers (think Burberry Prorsum and Diane Von Furstenberg to name but a few) to present its clients with exclusive pieces, almost directly from the catwalk. On arrival, you’re made to feel like the only person in the world who matters as the sales associates gear up to find you the perfect piece; be it from exciting new designers like Joanna Sykes, or classic items to the tune of YSL. Catering for both women and men, even the packaging is achingly stylish; it’s worth a visit even if all you really want is a fabulous marble box to store your new Jimmy Choos.
For Shopping: Oxford Street The only place in the world where you can buy a £4 Primark dress and a £20,000 Hermes bag within minutes of each other, Oxford Street is renowned for possessing some of the greatest shopping the world has ever seen. Don’t just stick to the main street though (despite how enticing its longer-than-a-mile length may be); wander away from the crowds and down a few of the back alleys, where you’re sure to find a one-off gem from one of the smaller boutiques. If you do start to flag, the Street isn’t only a sartorial powerhouse – or power-street as the case may be – there are also a selection of both chain and independent restaurants and coffee houses for you to recharge and refuel before returning to the world of London shopping.
For a dreamy stay: Dorchester hotel The Dorchester is luxury epitomized, right in the centre of London. Not only does the hotel have a spa, a restaurant and a bar (all of which maintain the ultimate standards), there is an in-house florist, theatre advice, film showings and, at times, Asprey’s exquisite Private Collection to stimulate your aesthetic fancies. For the utmost in pampering, you can stay in one of the three butler-serviced Roof Suites, which encapsulate Old Hollywood glamour with touches such as bespoke crystal chandaliers and Elizabeth Taylor’s commissioned pink marble bathroom. Essentially, if you want it all, the Dorchester is well equipped to provide to your every whim and it does a phenomenal job doing so. It is, after all, among the best hotels in the world for a reason.
To stay: Dean Street Townhouse Boasting a range of Cowshed products, the luxurious Dean Street Townhouse is surprisingly versatile given its sought-after Soho location. With room sizes of Tiny (a slight stretch; it’s actually bigger than most bedrooms you’ll find in a London flat) through Small, Medium and Bigger, this hotel caters to a variety of budgets. Soft lighting and gorgeous décor are the perfect antidote to a frantic day crammed full of shows and meetings. A great meal in the hotel’s British-menu dining room later and falling into a comfortable sleep will certainly be no hardship.
For something extra to do: The Victoria and Albert Museum No matter your budget, the V&A will be sure to dazzle, in part due to the convenient fact its fabulous exhibitions are completely free to browse for as long as you can stand (until closing time, of course, or there will be some major security impeachment). With LFW exhibitions ranging from explorations of the iconic Beatrix Potter collections, the museum also hosts a remarkable array of textiles and fashion from assorted periods and countries. There are talks and guided tours to enrich your experience, as well as various activites for children such as ‘how to make an origami paper house’. If you happen to be around a little longer, the last Friday of every month sees the museum come alive with live performances, fashion, late-night openings and debates; whatever takes your fancy. The V&A is, without a doubt, an absolute must-visit for any visitor to London.