We recently wrote about our experience at the UK Blog Awards and our very special stay at Orchid Way. We thought we’d share a little photo journey of our time in London too all in the safe hands of a Wallpaper LONDON guide who provide a tightly edited list of the best that London has to offer. How could you not relinquish control to a guide which states it’s ‘a precise, informative insider’s checklist of all you need to know about the world’s most intoxicating cities’. So here’s a quick snapshot of our trip with many more to be found on our Instagram feed.
As we got off the train from Waterloo we got to tick off the first from the ArchiTour section of the guide; The National Theatre. An iconic building which they rightly describe as ‘the most visible example of heroic modernism in London’. Even on a mixed weather day its bold angular forms jut out against the skyline with shadows cascading down the sides of the shuttered concrete walls.
In the Art & Design tab of the guide it reveals so many gems to visit and amongst them is the Isokon Building and Gallery. An incredible block of flats first built in 1934 and renovated by Avanti Architects in the noughties. There is a small gallery you can visit which is a treasure trove of fascinating facts and prototypes. It features Isokon’s pioneering plywood furniture and highlights those creatives who embraced this experimental urban living scheme to include Agatha Christie, Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius.
Whilst it’s not in the guide we would also add that a 15 minute walk takes you to the stunning 2 Willow Road which is now maintained by The National Trust. Guided tours explain the creative experimentation of its builder and owner; Erno Goldfinger. He built this home in 1939 and it’s a true modernist gem and houses much of his art collection to include work by Henry Moore. We’re writing an article about this home for our blog takeover of Small Space People in a few weeks so watch out for that!
Wallpaper guides fit in the palm of your hand and what we’ve always enjoyed about them (having used them for other design trips – see Barcelona and Rome) is that you can pop them in your bag and read them whilst out and about sat at cafés which is a favourite activity of ours when on holiday!
The guides have 50+ colour photographs and tabs cut into the paper for each section meaning it’s so easy to navigate you rarely need to use the resources section at the back. The sections include Landmarks, Hotels, 24 Hours, Urban Life, Art & Design, Architour, Shops and Escapes. For those who want to go even more lightweight you can actually download the books as an App for your tablet or mobile but we love the lightweight paperbacks for travelling and handily they also have grid and plain paper pages in the back for sketches, notes and planning which we’ve used countless times whilst out and about to record details of the places we’ve visited.
The guide entices you to places you might otherwise not go to. An example for us was walking along the Thames as the guide quite rightly highlights the incredible nature of South Bank and walking further along the river at night. The view of the London Eye under trees lit with thousands of fairy lights was nothing short of magical.
For this stay in London we stayed at a private mews residence just off Russell Square through Merino Hospitality. Whilst it’s not in the Wallpaper Guide we reckon it should be! See our House Tour here.
And lastly, in terms of shopping experiences there are so many amazing design stores to enjoy such as Liberty, The Conran Shop and Heals. The wallpaper guide highlights O’Dell’s and Mint which will be top of our list for our next visit later in the year…
As always a mini-break always feels too short but we’ve got plenty on our list for our next visit. The Barbican is top of our list as it’s been a while since we last visited and as Wallpaper rightly say ‘Although the plans were drawn up in 1955, work was not completed until the arts centre opened in 1982. By then, the complex looked out of date, today it looks like a dream’. Having a handy little guide like this in your pocket means you’ll always feel satisfaction of having seen the design not only on the walls but on the streets too.
Please note that we were provided with a complimentary copy of the Wallpaper London city guide by Phaidon for the purposes of this review. Previously (and independently) we have used these guides for Rome and Barcelona though so are genuinely fans of these mini but hardworking design guides!