A couple of weeks ago, I decided to surprise my husband and book a staycation in our own city for the August bank holiday. It may have been a little bit indulgent, but it's been exactly one year since we moved to London (and we love it here!) and that's definitely something worth celebrating. This city has so much to experience and it was so fun to stay in and experience a different neighborhood, if only for twenty-four hours. We had such an amazing time, so I thought I'd share our itinerary for a perfect central London staycation!
2:00 PM - Check in to The Hoxton, Holborn
This hotel is cool and knows it. The lobby is a big cozy sitting area and restaurant by day and bar by night. It's hip, but relaxed. The rooms are roomy and I can't say enough about the decor. A hashtag pillow, toile wallpaper depicting Dickens scenes, subway-tiled rain shower and a very-oversized circular mirror are just a few of the things I love.
Another great thing about this hotel? It's a five minute walk to the tube station, a short stroll to The British Museum and it has a nail salon on the ground floor. Speaking of the latter...
3:00 PM - Manicure at Cheeky Salon
Once settled in our room, I saw the salon menu and decided that my nails could use a little help. What is a staycation without a little indulgence? I called up the salon and was fitted right in for a file and paint, essentially an expedited (and inexpensive) manicure. I loved the color so much that I even bought a bottle of the polish to take home!
3:30 PM - Wine Time
Again, a staycation is all about indulgence, so we decided to treat ourselves to a couple glasses of wine - white for me, red for him. We don't usually get room service, but given that we were in a celebratory mood, it felt appropriate. We enjoyed our wine, the air-conditioning (something we don't have at home) and relaxed in the room until it was time to get ready for dinner.
6:00 PM - Get Dressed for Dinner
I love a good opportunity to dress up, so we decided to go all out. My husband brought along a suit and I finally wore a Sandro dress that's been hanging in my closet since last year. All dressed, up we had someplace to go - and it was Fortnum's.
7:00 PM - The Wine Bar at Fortnum's
I made a dinner reservations at 45 Jermyn Street (a restaurant at the back of Fortnum and Mason, months ago), but only realized last week that Fortnum's has a new wine bar on the ground floor of their department store. Intrigued, I decided that we ought to get to dinner early enough to have a glass of wine there first. We were immediately impressed - the wine list was extensive and the atmosphere was upscale, but unfussy. We already have plans to go back.
7:30 PM - Dinner at 45 Jermyn Street
Upon walking in, we were immediately greeted by the friendliest host and servers (not always the case in London) and seated at a curved booth. The restaurant feels like an updated elegant soda fountain crossed with a stylish sixties restaurant and the drinks menu reflects that vibe. My husband ordered a spiked float, while I went with their take on the Negroni (they add a splash of champagne, I approve) served in a gilded tumbler.
For dinner, we split a couple of vegetarian mains - mint and pea risotto and ricotta tortellini. Both were excellent, but dessert was even more impressive. I ordered the truffles, which were handmade and delicious. My husband decided upon the crepes, which were cooked up on a trolley table side, making for quite the show and a another fun nod to the sixties.
8:45 PM - Biscuits and Chocolates at Fortnum's
We were informed that Fortnum and Mason closes at 9:00 and I felt that it would be a shame to leave without picking up some of their delicious biscuits, so we hurried over once paying our bill. It was a fun treat to be there just before closing - it was almost as though we had the store to ourselves. I quickly picked up some rose biscuits and chocolate frogs.
On the walk back, passing under the glittery awnings of the Ritz and past the magnificent buildings in Mayfair, we reflected upon our time in London and how lucky we are to call this city home.
9:00 PM - Bed Time
I love a good hotel bed and the one at the Hoxton didn't disappoint. After such an indulgent dinner, we were both ready to catch some zzz's.
7:30 AM - Breakfast in Bed
An early bedtime means an early wake up. The Hoxton provides a light breakfast - a banana, orange juice and yogurt pot - served up in a paper bag, and hangs it on the door at the time of your choosing. I wouldn't say that it's enough for breakfast, but a good treat to tide you over until the coffee shops open up on a Sunday morning.
9:00 AM - Coffee at Holborn Grind
How convenient that there's also a really good coffee shop on the ground floor of the hotel. I ordered a fresh squeezed orange juice and a slice of the banana bread. Freshly toasted and served with cream and berries, it was heavenly. My husband went with coffee and toast. I stole a bite of his and it was like something you'd get in Paris. Toast done right!
10:00 AM - Dutch Flowers Exhibition at The National Gallery
While having our in-room bananas, my husband and I pondered what to do that morning. With it being Sunday, most shops were closed, but we saw that both the British Museum and National Gallery opened at 10:00. Noticing that it was the second to last day of the Dutch Flower Exhibit at the National Gallery swayed us to go there.
The paintings were nothing short of incredible. Dutch style floral arranging is back in a big way, so it was amazing to see 17th century paintings of arrangements that would be in place at a nice dinner party today. The details - how the artists captured the delicate petals, small little insects and the light flowing though the blooms - was so special.
We found that the museum was unusually empty (perks of being up early on a Sunday), so I squeezed in seeing a few of my favorite paintings - Venus and Mars, Sunflowers, Surprised! - and then headed out as the crowds started rolling in.
11:15 AM - Swing by The National Portrait Gallery
Since it was on the way back to the tube station, I wanted to swing by and browse the gift shop. I was looking for a particular book that they didn't end up having any longer, but it was fun to look through rows and rows of postcards featuring some of the portraits in the museum (without needing to pay an entry fee!).
11:45 AM - Pack Up and Check Out
All staycations must come to an end, so we packed up (taking the adorable toiletries with us!) and checked out. But we weren't quite ready to leave just yet.
12:00 PM - Sunday Feast at Hubbard and Bell
I said that the lobby was a restaurant by day, so we decided to try out their Sunday Feast before heading back home. We started with a couple coupes of bubbly, then got started! It's a buffet, with all the typical Sunday fixings and more. I stuck to their healthy grain and vegetable salads, roast carrots and potatoes, rustic bread, hummus and avocado. My husband went for their cheeses and meats. We both loved the food and only had positives to say!
2:00 PM - Arrive Home
After an indulgent twenty four hours, it felt good to be home, but I think we'll have to make a tradition of a London staycation each year.
Until next time,