For the past couple of days I've been trying to figure out why London is such a charming city. Sure, the sites are beautiful, the British accent is enviable, and the entire city exudes a sense of quaintness thru and thru. But there's more to it than meets the exterior. I think part of London's charm comes from its open embrace of modernity and innovation while still respecting and staying true to the historical richness of its traditions.
My stay at The Hoxton Hotel is the perfect marriage of new and old London. A modern hotel in the heart of hip Shoreditch area, it is equipped with all the modern luxuries an urbanite would seek home away from home-wifi, lobby photo booth and iMacs, contemporary furnishings, a sleek lobby, and a fabulous restaurant/bar that's packed all hours of the night. But they're traditional when it comes to respecting and taking care of their guests, making sure their comforts are meet in proper British fashion. Yes, the rooms are modern, but they're also incredibly comfortable and cozy (the mattress is heavenly). And even though their restaurant was loud and filled with boisterous Friday night partiers, I couldn't hear a thing once I got to my room.
The hotel's decor itself is the perfect visionalization of the juxtaposition that makes London so charming. The sprawling openness of the lobby and lounge is accented by sleek and modern furniture but the pillar of the space is the brick fireplace that extends to the walls, a throwback to England's medieval times. Brilliant and absolutely charming!
Another fitting example of old meets new is YO! Sushi, a chain of sushi restaurants that first brought "kaiten' (aka conveyor belt) sushi bars into the UK in 1997. I find its Piccadilly Circus location to be quite the dichotomy. It's a modern and innovative sushi restaurant that sits in the middle of one of the most historic locations in Westminster.
After eating there on my second day in London, I now understand why it has over 70 locations all over the UK, Portugal, the Middle East, and Norway. The salmon by way of Nova Scotia is super fresh and super good. Try it sashimi style or as a hand roll. I also loved the gyoza and the tempura (battered and fried in front of you). But my happy ending came in the form of one perfectly round chocolate mochi, a soft Japanese rice cake ball filled with dark chocolate ganache. I need to wipe off my drool just thinking about it.
charming table setting
charming "fill your own" water station built into each table
I opted to wear something cheery to match the bright and sunny weather on my second day in London. I packed quite strategically as I'm constantly packing and unpacking while travelling from one destination to the next. This means I'm repeating shoes and accessories, something I've begrudgingly come to terms with. Believe me, if it was up to me, I'd be dragging a U-Haul as my suitcase!
backdrop: Oxford Street
backdrop: St. Paul Cathedral
backdrop: Millennium Bridge
backdrop: Thames River
Dress: random boutique in LA
Shoes: Cole Haan
Necklace: c/o Flirt Catalog
Watch: c/o Guess