ELLEUK

Holiday Inspiration

London Guide

By Susan Ward Davies

Where to Stay in London

For a top London Fashion Week hotel, there are a couple of obvious contenders: while The May Fair revels in its ‘official London Fashion Week Hotel’ status and the wave of celebrities and fashion editors that sort of cachet pulls in, and The Connaught and the Sanderson are both LFW hubs, it’s Claridge’s that’s the definitive fash pack favourite. And if the price of a night is just a little off-putting, you can always slip in for a cheeky whiskey sour at the David Collins-designed bar and watch the beautiful people assemble.

Outside of London Fashion Week, over in the East End, Shoreditch Rooms is still one of the coolest places to stay in town, with its 26 gorgeous bedrooms giving you access to the club and rooftop pool next door. Further east, for something a little more intimate, but definitely no less cool, 40 Winks, has two beautifully put-together rooms to choose from, while back in the West End again, the Soho Hotel is always a-buzz, having put up the likes of Heidi Klum, Seal, Lily Cole and Naomi Campbell at one time or another.

Where to Eat in London

Another year, another small-plate opening from Russell Norman… Coming hot on the heels of Polpetto and Polpo, Spuntino (61 Rupert Street; no telephone) is perfect for Fashion Week – or indeed any week, really – fill-ups on the fly. It’s more about the pre-night out buzz than the bites, but it’s a lot of fun all the same. Just round the corner at Pollen Street Social (Pollen Street; 020 7920 7600) Ramsay protege Jason Atherton has moved from Maze to serve up wonderfully inventive food in stylish surroundings.

Over on the other side of Oxford Street, the Riding House Café is set to be a popular choice for any editors perusing the showrooms of Fitzrovia or fresh from a show at the Old Sorting Office, while another couple of small-plate wonders, Brawn, and Jose Pizarro’s newest venture, Jose (104 Bermondsey Street; 020 7403 4902), are both worth making a break east and south for. For a formal but fun, fashion-flavoured afternoon bite in Knightsbridge The Berkeley are still running their lovely Pret-a-Portea afternoon tea (with cakes and biscuits inspired by ever-changing seasonal collections from designers like Tom Ford, Miu Miu and Victoria Beckham).

Where to Go Out in London

With its scruffy, blink-and-you-miss-it Chinatown frontage and its frankly fabulous cocktails, secret drinking den du jour the Experimental Cocktail Club (13A Gerrard Street; 020 7434 3559) has stolen some of the thunder of neighbouring West End speakeasy Purl (50/54 Blandford Street; 020 7935 0835) and Callooh Callay (65 Rivington Street, 02077394781) out in Shoreditch.

Our pick of the best bars for London Fashion Week has more than its fair share of hotel bars in it (basement bars and towering high heels rarely mix well, after all), but guestlist-only newcomer the Wyld Bar at the W Leicester Square (10 Wardour Street; 0207 758 1060) stands out for its sultry vibe and sensational cocktails. Oh, and a huge glitter ball. For something altogether more risqué, 2011’s most talked about opening was burlesque club, The Box (11 Walker’s Court; 020 7434 4374), which has attracted everyone from Kirsten Dunst to Elle Macpherson, and even a couple of royal visitors.

Where to Shop in London

Louis Vuitton's Maison (17-18 New Bond Street; 020 3214 9300) is a must-visit, if only to check out the impressive art collection and limited edition books. Selfridges (400 Oxford Street; 0800 123 400) recently unveiled its shoe galleries, home to everything from Kurt Geiger to Givenchy and perfect for a spot of retail therapy. When it comes to finding the newest names, head straight for the legendary Browns (23-27 South Molton Street; 020 7514 0000) or East London's Start Boutique (42-44 Rivington Street; 020 7033 3951). And, of course, don't forget a trip to Topshop's Oxford Street mecca.

What to Wear in London

The London look may have altered under the sway of Middleton emulators, but the authentic article is less glossy artifice, more thrown-together appeal. It’s knobbly cardigans over vintage Vivienne Westwood dresses and Dr Martens for day, gowns with messy hair and leather biker jackets for evening. Tans, fake or otherwise, are verboten. Oh, and pack a compact umbrella. It will only rain if you don’t.

Don’t Leave London Without...

...everything from Emma Cook bed linen to Michael Van Der Ham scarves from Topshop's Collective range and a pair of Liberty print Manolo Blahnik shoes (available exclusively at the London department store).

Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in London

The interiors at Percy & Read (Great Portland Street; 020 7637 4634) are retro-chic at its best, with old-school barbers chairs, Cole & Son wallpaper and even a cuckoo clock. Headed up by Paul Percival and Adam Reed, the team are friendly and the salon is always buzzing. Book in for a Breakfast Blow-dry (from 8am) and the team will have your granola, croissant or bagel, along with your newspaper of choice, delivered from Villandry across the road.

ELLEuk’s new favourite nail bar MW Nails (3 Chichester Rents; 020 7242 4555) is just around the corner from Holborn tube off Chancery Lane. The salon is like none you’ll have ever visited before: the inside has been replaced with the shell of an old 1988 Boeing. From a treatment list fashioned into what looks like a departures board, to reconditioned first class airline seats at the pedi-station, and miniature, inflight-sized drinks, it’s a pretty surreal – but seriously fun – experience from start to finish.

To keep on top of what's happening at every fashion week show - from the latest reviews to the front row scenes - check out ELLEuk's catwalk section.

Or check out our full collection of travel guides.

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