Sunday, April 30, 2017

London in the Spring - Weekend Part I: Dinner at Barrafina, Shopping Galore, and a Play

Okay, we're on a consecutive posting streak!  Very good.  I'm going to switch immediately from our Taiwan trip over Easter to my trip to London for work/client development, because not two days after I came back to Hong Kong after departing Taiwan, I found myself on a very late red eye flight to London.

I love being in London in the spring - two years ago, Michael and I were in London over Easter and, while it was much chillier that time, the same sense of renewal and freshness was in the air, in a way that just isn't possible in the more tropical climes of Asia.  This time, I thought the weather was even more incredible.  I went braced for rain and cold, packing a down jacket liner, my trusty Burberry trench and wool sweaters, and instead found gloomy mornings that morphed into days of radiant, endless sunshine.  It was beautiful.

This time, I stayed at the Marriott London Hotel Park Lane, located on Park Lane in Mayfair, overlooking Hyde Park.
Upon check in I was given the choice to upgrade to a junior suite (which I did because I was so tired and just wanted something, anything, to lie down on).  The suite was really big and felt like an apartment, which was nice.  Overall though I'm not sure it was really all that special - the light switches in the room confused me to no end!
Foyer and closet

View from my room
Looking into the bathroom from the bedroom
Bathtub, smart toilet, shower (not shown) and marble sink
One of two TVs, this one in the living room
The room also gave me access to the executive lounge, which was a nice place to work and have breakfast.  I liked the comfortable leather chairs and tables.
The surroundings were nice too.  The hotel was right next to the Marble Arch, and Buckingham Palace was around the corner.  And of course Hyde Park was at our feet.
I went into the office in the City, which felt very much like the business and commercial center.

I mostly took Ubers and taxis, but I couldn't resist doing one trek on the tube.  It's so much more efficient given the godforsaken traffic in the city.  I will always be a public transport devotee!
 As I mentioned before, I was lucky that my travel dates coincided perfectly with my friend's, so that we could enjoy a wonderful girl's weekend in London together.  On Friday evening, we kicked off our weekend with a toast sitting at the tapas bar, barrafina.
 The restaurant was bustling and cheerful and had a great vibe going on.
 We sampled their squid ink croquettas, which were piping hot and delicious.  We also tried their monkfish tempura, served on a stick like lollipops.

the most amazing tomato bread

Gem salad with pancetta
Shrimp with garlic
Grilled octopus
A tender lamb shoulder that was very flavorful
On Saturday, my friend and I woke up, had breakfast, and set out for "a little shopping."  Six hours later, we had lunch at the rooftop cafe in Selfridge's after a marathon, and I mean marathon, shopping spree.  Selfridge's is amazing - not the bargain basement kind of thrill (which I love in a whole other way) but in the, "everything is beautifully laid out and the brands are nice and trendy but still wearable, and you can actually find stuff that you like" kind of way.
The shoe department, swoon.
 And it's just so convenient, with all of London's best brands housed under one gigantic roof, and all of the luxury brand bags as well.  Further proof of the corporate machine that this department store is?  Their in-store VAT (tax refund) processing counter.  Oh, sure, they take a huge chunk out for processing fees, but it's still really convenient.

The point of this is, by the time we had browsed through shoes, dresses (I bought two), shirts (my friend bought one), bags (we bought a Celine bag at the request of a friend), pajamas (I introduced my friend to the amazing world of Eberjey - the softest and best pajamas EVER!), my friend and I were famished.  Shopping is exercise, my friends, and don't you ever doubt it.
The cafe was bright and warm and welcoming - the perfect place for a refresh.


You guys, it was such a beautiful day in London.  I couldn't get over how vividly, brightly blue the skies were.  I hadn't even packed sunglasses because I thought it would be doom and gloom every day, and boy was I sorry!  After Selfridges, we headed to Balenciaga and Saint Laurent, in search of some purse arm candy.  Along the way we passed beautiful little parks, and strolled down street after street of perfect little houses and old streets.  THIS is a city!

Ohhhh so delicious.  I bought a black calfskin tote bag.
 Here I am, dragged down by the best kind of bags - shopping bags!  Squee. This was before I acquired yet one more bag (my last of the day) - a very well made suit dress from L.K. Bennett.
 I'll lay out my pretty purchases and acquisitions in another post, I promise!  I also bought a bunch of facial products, which are fun too.

As if all of that weren't enough for an action packed Saturday, my friend and I raced back to our hotel to drop off all of our bags, before rushing back out to the theater district in Piccadilly to watch the critically acclaimed play, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night."  I thought it was very well done - the lead actor was fantastic and deserves all of the kudos.  He was so seamless in the role that not once would you think he was acting - it was completely believable that he was the teenage boy in the story trying to figure out the mystery of the dog and also simultaneously trying to learn how to navigate the world around him.  He was such a highlight.  The other amazing, wonderful thing about the play was the set design.  It was incredible!  So innovative and at times breathtakingly clever.

The theater itself was very old and very pretty - though not big, which lent the whole theater a fitting atmosphere of intimacy.  I snuck a picture of the chandelier from our seats in the center upper balcony , and a not-very good selfie.

No comments:

Post a Comment