A Girl’s Guide to Surviving a Solo Trip to London in January
“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” -Omar Khayyám
I was alone in London in January, and for the rest of the week, you could find me holed up in The Kensington Hotel. Maybe it was my sob story or the fact that I’ve stayed there many times, but they so kindly upgraded me to a beautiful studio suite on the top floor with a huge bathroom and bathtub, which I have to say, did put a Band-Aid on the loneliness for a bit.
The days were easy to fill—there are surprisingly a lot of things to do in winter in London—but the nights got increasingly more difficult to enjoy. I actually like spending time alone. I need time alone. But, it’s funny when you get what you think you need, you often find you don’t need it anymore. Ever aware of that fact, and trying to be all Eckhart Tolle about it, I made the choice to enjoy each minute instead of wishing I was back in my usual routine.
Each night, I’d hop on the computer around 10pm to start my work day, and the late nights mixed with the jetlag made it difficult to start my days before noon. Ever try to find eggs after noon? It’s not impossible, but let’s just say I practically ran to Le Pain Quotidien every day as to arrive before 12:30pm (the cut off for breakfast).
Speaking of eggs, the Kensington High Street Whole Foods is the most insane store ever. You can buy individual eggs from the Cotswolds. Isn’t that the coolest thing ever? They also sell Fenella Smith pottery that I discovered a while ago, and if I could have fit one more thing in my already over packed suitcase, I would have come home with one of her adorable pitchers.
When I was a kid, whenever I need to be cheered up, my mom took me shopping. It really is the best medicine. So, I spent one entire day going from store to store, mostly window shopping. Harvey Nichols has always been a favorite, but it was the first time I’d made it to Liberty. It can be summed up in two words: Massive trouble.
I’ve started buying a teacup each time I’m in London to remind me of my time there. Liberty has the best selection…like this one from The Vintage Teapot. I bought one in a different pattern and a few other gifts—all breakable. Not the smartest idea ever.
The reason I stumbled upon Liberty in the first place was that I was in search of the Charlotte Street Hotel, a Firmdale Hotel. My friend Ann raves about this place and knowing my obsession with Kit Kemp, I knew I had to visit. It’s located just off Oxford Street nestled in the most adorable neighborhood with upscale bars, restaurants and boutiques.
One step inside, and I decided to stay for tea. It is served in the bustling Oscar Bar, where even though I was by myself, I never felt alone.
After downing two rounds of tea sandwiches and several scones heaped with clotted cream and jam, I gathered my winter gear and headed out as the sun was setting.
But, not before a detour to Knightsbridge & Belgravia for my favorite takeout in the world, Ottolenghi.
With a growling tummy, I loaded up the mélange of salads that would be my dinner and started walking back “home.” My mindset had already started to shift and maybe it was my understanding of the “power of now” or my being forced to look at what is around me instead of the screen on my phone. Either way…
The night was electric.