To London and Back

Did you know that London was originally founded by the Romans and was originally called Londinium?  Well, this swanky city, capital of both England and the United Kingdom, is also home to my favorite resident…Kate Maloney.  I just took a quick trip across the pond to visit her combining a little bit of work  (in my role as Founder & President of The Well Appointed House) with a lot of shopping, browsing and buying pleasure!  Kate was an incredible hostess for the four days I was there.  On arrival, we hit Harrod’s for a little sushi and shopping, then we were off down Walton Street where we stopped in to say hello to our friends, Lucinda Croft (the Creative Director) and others at the famed children’s store, Dragons of Walton Street.  We have done business with them for over five years now.

Here I am in the Dragons showroom with Lucinda.  She is the daughter of Rosie Fisher, whose imagination dreamed up the store that supplied baby goods to Princess Diana.  Stepping into their showroom is like being Alice in Wonderland – you suddenly feel very big when surrounded by beautifully handpainted furniture and casegoods made for the little people of the world.

From Dragons we walked down to The Nursery Window, where I bought toy soldier pajamas for my 11-month old son.  They have been in business for more than 25 years and it shows.  If you are looking for a beautiful, heirloom quality baby’s hand-knit sweater made of the finest quality Scottish cashmere and lambswool…this is the place for you.

We continued perusing the shops of Knightsbridge and then made our way to Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial, which is a stunning statue placed at the center of the Queen’s Gardens in front of Buckingham Palace.  After snapping a few stills there (the Harrod’s bag is filled with gifts for my three little ones), it was time for 4PM tea at the Lanesborough Hotel (life could be worse).

If you are in London and are searching for the ultimate tea experience, you have found your spot.  Afternoon tea at the Lanesborough was given the Award of Excellence by the UK tea council 2009 and received the Best Afternoon Tea in London by the UK tea council 2008.  I recommend it as a must-see.  Leave it to Kate to think of everyting…(she really does and always has)

Following afternoon tea, we made our way over to the Theatre Royal Haymarket to see Anna Friel and Joseph Cross in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Then we made our way across the street to Cipriani.  The scene there was great…perhaps too good…we didn’t get our dinner until 12:10 a.m.!

After Cipriani, we left and went with another friend of hers to a few bars and then hit the sack.  We needed to rest up for a day of shopping on Saturday.  I was a bit jet-lagged, so we made it to brunch at the Belvedere Restaurant in Holland Park and met up with some old New York City friends who are living in London. The Belvedere dates back to the 17th Century and is surrounded by one of London’s most beautiful parks, Holland Park, filled with stunning flower gardens and a beautiful fountain.  It is just around the corner from High Street Kensington.  Following brunch, it was off to Notting Hill.  Here is Katie in the Belvedere’s gardens:

Then we walked over to Portobello Road in Knotting Hill.  I spent about 45 minutes in Alice’s, which was definitely my favorite ‘find’ on the strip.  I bought a charming old hand painted oversized tin canister, which I will use as a lamp table in my little boy’s nursery.  I am having it shipped back and am anxiously awaiting its arrival!  Here I am mulling through arts, antiques and novelties at Alice’s.
The crowds were intense on this beautiful early Fall day and we slowly creeped along, hitting the Hummingbird Bakery, Art Deco Decorative Antiques, The Old Haberdasher hat shop, the celebrity hotspot fur shop Hilary Proctor, passed by the drinking crowd at the Duke of Wellington bar, and then went inside to take a peek at the store Graham and Green where bright colors and fun accessories dominated.  We couldn’t resist making a stop at The Travel Bookshop, made famous by Hugh Grant and Julie Roberts, where I bought the most delightful book on London for my children.  Katie purchased the most charming book set for my three little ones, called the Musgrove Boxed Set…children can follow four enchanting stories of Musgrove the Nanny rat and her adventures around London’s Notting Hill. I highly recommend it and my two girls like the books so much, they have brought them in the car with them to nursery school the past two days.
Then it was off to Brissi where I saw the most beautiful silver-wrapped furniture all over the store. 

We sat and chatted at a sidewalk cafe for an hour or so and then it was back home to shower and change and off to Amaya Bar & Grill for Indian food.  We were back to Walton Street in Knightsbridge that evening for cocktails after dinner.  Sunday morning we were in Hyde Park perusing the gardens and enjoying the day and then it was back to hitting the shops in St. James and seeing the trends at Liberty of London, Fortnum & Mason and others.  If you are heading to Liberty, check out the new Hermes store.  Photos below.

The new Hermes store at Liberty of London…and I just had to snap a photo of this zebra with silk scarf.  Adorable!

We then popped in quickly to the LAPADA The Association of Art & Antique Dealers…then it was off to some drinks at the exclusive Lansdowne Club to visit a quite interesting friend of Kate’s (he has requested anonymity, though he is pictured below).
There were many more adventures on this trip and yes one of them included me climbing out from a very large tree in Hyde Park…and yes, that brings me back to my Alice in Wonderland analogy…

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