Valentine’s Day in London

Happy early Valentine’s Day, internet friends! In honor of the much better Galentine’s Day holiday (if you didn’t watch Parks & Rec, you can learn more about the holy day here), I decided to take myself around London on a festive little date. As Tom Haverford says, treat yourself. Lucky for me, the city is adorned with its best red and pink glitz and is almost as charming as when it’s decked out for Christmas.

To start the day, I made a pilgrimage to a famously pink palace in Belgravia that was looking even more whimsical than usual (and a bit like Cupid threw up on it – in the best way possible)….

Right around the corner from Victoria Station in swanky Belgravia, Peggy Porschen is a cake and tea shop known for its insta-famous cotton candy facade. Wrapped in flowers and balloons, the shop looked St. Valentine-approved.

The selection of sweets was just as mouth-watering as the decorations.

Since Galentine’s Day only comes once a year, I settled on a strawberry champagne cupcake for breakfast. Leslie Knope would approve.

Pink Sunglasses

Sidenote: the roses on top are not edible. I may have given them a try, since I have no restraint with food. The rest of the cupcake, however, was entirely edible and entirely delicious. After literally licking my fingers clean, I strolled around Belgravia to discover any other decorated shops. They weren’t as over the top and candy pink as Peggy Porschen, but Neill Strain Florist and Jo Malone also impressed.

Leave it to a florist to nail extravagant romance.

Belgravia is pretty residential and full of quintessential London row houses that I can’t afford.  Sadly, I did not bump into any future first husband potentials while stalking the mansions. Before I could get too depressed by all the fabulous, over-priced real estate, I headed to Mayfair to scout out more of the V-Day spirit.

While there were plenty of chic storefronts that ALMOST made me want a boyfriend, Fenwick on Bond Street was the showstopper.

How fantastic are those balloons? Can I have them for my next birthday party? They also reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Up, which honestly tells one of the best cinematic love stories in its first 10 minutes.  It was the perfect fanciful stunner to cap off Galentine’s Day.

While it’s no Galentine’s Day, tomorrow I’ll likely be spending Valentine’s Day again with my two great loves: food and London. Hope yours is filled with lots of love!

Shop my Valentine’s Day favorites:

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DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle & AirBnB links are affiliate links.

How to Have London’s Best Afternoon Tea at Sketch

So you’ve seen the notorious pink velvet awash on every fashion blogger’s London posts, or maybe you read this article of London’s most Instagrammed restaurants. No matter how you found it, your heart is set on visiting  the glorious pink halls of Sketch during your next trip to London.

I made my first pilgrimage to this basic betch holy site back in December, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to the social media hype. Yes, it’s really that beautiful and pink, and it really was worth the 50 pound price tag.

In case you decide to make the chic visit to Mayfair during an upcoming London trip, I wanted to share my top tips for having the best afternoon tea at Sketch, so you get your money’s worth and take full advantage of the insta opportunity.

Book Well In Advance
Trust me, you aren’t the only tourist or Londoner to see Sketch on Instagram and want to high tail it to its candy-colored halls. This place is packed, especially on weekends and especially in the pink room (more on that soon), so be sure to book ahead, particularly if you’re in London for a limited amount of time. Reservations open one month in advance for tea on their site, so set a reminder to reserve your table on that date.

Book the Correct Room & Time
While the cotton candy velvet dreamland is Sketch’s most famous room, there are actually several different dining options in the restaurant, and all have very specific themes including The Glade, The Lecture Room and the Parlour. If you’re looking for the quintessential experience, book afternoon tea in The Gallery. Dinner is served there as well, if there are no tea reservations available. Afternoon tea service ends around 5:30PM, so book a late reservation from 3:30PM onward. You’re less likely to be asked to give up your table after two hours (there won’t be any more tea reservations to take your spot), and you’ll have a better chance of taking photos without random strangers crowding your pics.

Get Super Bougie
Oh you fancy huh? London is a fashion-conscious, dressy city to begin with, but you can embrace your inner diva even more during your trip to Sketch. Every patron seemed to don their bougie best (even on a Wednesday afternoon), so have some fun, channel your inner Caroline Stanbury or Princess Kate, and get a bit extra. I guarantee someone will be dressed more outrageously than you. Faux fur coat and Celine sunglasses indoors ? Don’t mind if I do! Don’t worry, they were removed post photo op.

Sunglasses // Faux Fur Coat (mine’s old, so I linked a similar style)

Don’t Miss Your Grand Entrance
Located right near busy Regent Street, the entrance to Sketch can be easy to miss to the untrained eye. Mysterious sculptures don the nondescript entry, and if you’re too caught up in the London people-watching you could easily walk right by. I love the whimsical “Alice in Wonderland” esque arrival, just be sure you don’t miss it!

The intriguing, non-labelled entrance, a bit more festive for Christmas.

Find Out What You Like And Order More
Yes, afternoon tea is expensive (starts at 45 pounds, depending on time of year), but luckily refills are included! The waitress kept offering my friend Riley and I more tea, sandwiches and cake, and we feared a massive bill at the end of our meal. When we found out that ordering more food and tea was included, you better believe I (a little too enthusiastically) asked for more coronation chicken, chai tea and glorified grilled cheese. You also can sub out food you don’t like (I’m not a huge smoked salmon fan) for preferred options, so don’t be afraid to make the request. The staff were very helpful and accommodating, and you should feel that you are getting your money’s worth.

I could drink gallons of their chai tea, especially out of the playful cups and pot.

Lose Any Photo Shame
Don’t pretend you booked this tea without Instagram in mind. You came to get some stylish grams, so you better embrace your inner Mario Testino and take advantage of the opportunity. I sometimes can get a bit camera-shy when I’m in public spaces, but at Sketch everyone is hoping to get those absolutely necessary pink photos to bombard social media, so you have nothing to fear. Plus, every detail is so damn photogenic! Snap away, lose any shame, and you’ll be the envy of Instagram.

Take A Bathroom Break
No, I’m not being a weirdo and reminding you to use the toilet. The bathrooms at Sketch are just a work of art that should be appreciated as much as the dining rooms. Men’s on the left and women’s on the right (it’s not labelled, and you don’t want to wander around the men’s side like I did). There are spaceship like pods, trippy lighting and even a selfie-mirror. Definitely take a tour. And said selfie.

Snoop Around
While you can easily spend hours poring over every piece of pink velvet or rose gold in The Gallery, make sure you enjoy a wander around the entire property. Each room is expertly themed and has its own cavalcade of fantastic details to enjoy. I felt like I could have spent hours more there taking in all of the delights.

 

Let me know if you make the journey to the pink palace – I can’t wait to see your photos! 

DISCLAIMER:
This is not a sponsored post and all products were purchased with my money. Affiliate links are occasionally used when linking products. This gives me a small percentage of of a purchase total through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for items through these links. All ShopStyle links are affiliate links.

London Brunch: The Henry Root, Chelsea

After a successful first outing of the London Brunch Queens, we decided to extend our reign another weekend and sample further brunch delights throughout our kingdom. Our brunch-loving clique gained another esteemed member, my friend Eleanor, and we decided to make our way south of last week’s Notting Hill adventure to the equally chic and too-expensive-for-me-to-live-in, Chelsea. Of course, I filed away street names for when I can afford my beautiful west London flat.

Beautiful Home in Chelsea, London

We chose our destination, The Henry Root, as you choose most great restaurants, after seeing someone post a very cute photo on instagram.  As we all had a group project meeting for school later in the day,  we definitely wanted to begin the day with a decadent meal in an insta-approved setting.

Brunch in Chelsea at The Henry Root in London

The Tiffany-blue painted entrance remained steadfastly cute in the grey London rain, and the interior was equally lovely and crowned in the same bright blue. I love how more and more restaurants seem to be considering “instagram readiness” in their design, and it honestly does affect my likelihood in trying somewhere new to eat.

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Basic betches, including myself, will love the vintage Breakfast at Tiffany’s artwork.

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We arrived to an entirely empty restaurant, and while it did fill up more as our meal went on, I wouldn’t recommend this spot if you’re looking for a bustling, buzzy brunch vibe. It is perfect for a long, leisurely meal filled with conversation, as you won’t feel rushed or like you have to scream over your neighbors.

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We started with Americanos to power us through the lazy Sunday haze and quickly studied the menu. I LOVE that they serve both brunch and roast, as it’s rare to find a London restaurant that serves both at the same time. Brunch hours can also be a little strange here, as breakfast is usually stopped around noon. The Henry Root, however, appeared to have both brunch and roast all day, so they earned extra Brunch Queen points. While choosing between brunch and roast is my Sophie’s Choice, Riley quickly shamed me out of ordering meat, potatoes and gravy before 11AM, so I settled on trying my first ever shakshuka.

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The shakshuka was yummy and served piping hot (the English sometimes seem to like things lukewarm), but I did long for a bit of roast beef and a Yorkshire pudding. Maybe next time. Eleanor also had shakshuka, and Riley had fluffy scrambled eggs with toast, as he is a toast addict. We all treated ourselves and ordered extra toast with preserves because apparently we’re hobbits who eat multiple breakfasts.

After polishing our plates and ordering roughly seven Americanos a piece, we decided we’d avoided the group project work as long as possible and made our way out of The Henry Root. If you’re in Chelsea and want something more quiet, I highly recommend it for a relaxing brunch or Sunday roast. It was quite far, so I don’t know if I’ll be back super soon, unless I can be tempted with roast and massive amounts of gravy. We wandered around Chelsea for a bit, taking in the posh Christmas decorations and stopping for yet another snack, pastries and more coffee. If you want to see the rest of our Sunday adventures around London, be sure to check out my weekend vlog.

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If you want to check out The Henry Root, you can book here.

 

London Weekend Vlog – Covent Garden, Abbey Road and London Christmas

Happy Sunday, internet friends! How were your weekends? Mine was packed with schoolwork, getting festive, brunching, and as usual, eating my way through London. Since my weekends tend to be fairly busy and full of actually seeing different neighborhoods around London instead of just studying on campus, I thought I’d start vlogging more frequently and take you along with me. Twinkling with holiday lights and holly, the city is so beautiful right now with all of the Christmas decorations, so I can’t get enough of it! This vlog is literally from this very weekend (I’m procrastinating and edited it instead of doing my theory reading – oops!), so I hope you enjoy! Let me know if there are any other types of videos you’d like to see or places I should check out here in Londontown. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

London Brunch: Granger & Co, Notting Hill

Today I miraculously managed to wake before noon all in the name of schlepping to West London for brunch. My new school friend Riley and I have bonded over our mutual love of the meal and have made a habit of trying a new place every weekend. What better excuse to explore London’s many neighborhoods than in the name of eggs, hotcakes, coffee, and sometimes (if we’re feeling frisky) a mimosa?

This morning we set our sights on Notting Hill, as we were both eager to find a reprieve from our many student nights out in hip, yet grimy East London.

Walking up from the bowels of the Underground, you’re immediately greeted by Notting Hill’s quirky and very chic charm. It isn’t quite Mayfair loud money vibes, but more of a granola, aging hippies with wealth atmosphere. You don’t get streets this pristine in Shoreditch, yet they still try to maintain the neighborhood’s bohemian character.

Notting Hill Street Facades Quirky Notting Hill Storefronts

I’d love to return soon for a drink at the iconic Beach Blanket Babylon or peruse the famous Portobello Market on a less tourist-heavy weekday.

Beach Blanket Babylon Notting Hill

It’s already freezing here, so I snuggled into this over-sized sweater from Asos. Warm enough so I don’t need to wear a coat yet, it’s my attempt at inserting more color into my almost all-black wardrobe. I attempted one of those blogger-favorite “stylishly stepping off the stairs of a townhome in London” shots, but I’m awkward and stuck to the selfies.

Notting Hill Street Style in Oversized Pink Sweater
Sweater (similar) // Jeans – super inexpensive  // Black booties – very comfortable // Bag

After spending way too much time taking photos of the temptingly photogenic shops and houses, I finally made my way to Westbourne Grove and Granger & Co, our chosen brunch haven for the morning. The queue builds up as early as 10AM, so make sure to go early or be prepared to wait!

Granger & Co, Notting Hill

Since I was running late, I luckily didn’t have to wait too long (sorry, Riley!), and we were quickly seated for feasting. Service was quick but not rushed, but also not overly warm. The menu is quite healthy (it’s founded by health-conscious Aussies), and they’re known for their whipped scrambled eggs and decidedly unhealthy ricotta hotcakes. Riley and I settled in and studiously browsed the menu.

Menu at Granger & Co, Notting Hill

We decided to order the iconic dishes (we’re timeless like that) and had eggs and toast for him and ricotta hotcakes for moi. I’m normally not huge on sweets for breakfast, but oh Lord this was worth it.

Brunch at Granger & Co Notting Hill

Have to shoot from above for that perfect #onthetable shot! Riley loved the toast and artfully whipped eggs. They were almost too pretty eat.

Breakfast at Granger & Co Notting Hill

The hotcakes were fluffy and came with banana, a touch of honeycomb and perfectly portioned syrup. I was a bit nervous they’d be too much like dessert, but the sweetness was spot-on, and oh did I savour every bite. If you make the pilgrimage to Granger, you cannot go wrong with the hotcakes. Feeling guilty, I also had a green juice on the side; it was refreshing and not too liquid salad tasting.

Ricotta Hotcakes at Granger & Co, Notting Hill

While Granger is becoming a tourist-favorite London brunch spot, I still recommend making a trip if you’re in town. Go early to avoid the queue, or visit one of their other locations, as you cannot book ahead. I’d still try the original Notting Hill outpost, as you can easily spend the whole day exploring the surrounding area. You know it’s worth the 40 minute tube ride if I’m satisfied enough to take a smug photo outside afterwards. Hours later, I’m still in a content hotcakes coma.

London Brunch at Granger & Co Notting Hill