Fall In Love With London Again: A Staycation In Carnaby
By Layla Turner
London is undoubtedly one of the greatest cities in the world (northerners, argue with yourselves). The breadth of world famous attractions right on our doorstep, alongside the vast green spaces and abundance of restaurants and cafes mean that those fortunate enough to live in the City will never be short of things to do. There’s no denying, however, that life in London can also be hectic. Early morning tube commutes combined with the fact that the City does indeed never sleep can sometimes be exhausting – and maybe even leave you questioning why you thought it was a good idea to live in a zone two apartment in the first place. When you are suffering from ‘London fatigue’, a staycation is the perfect cure – and Carnaby is the perfect location.
The mix of attractions Carnaby has to offer, including the mix of independent and flagship stores, galleries (The new Sophie Tea gallery is a must visit during your stay) and international cuisines on offer make it worth the visit – the 40 million tourists per year would have to agree.
Unfortunately the strict rules in regards to travel means that many of us won’t be escaping to sandy white beaches this Summer, however the array of hotels across London can act as the perfect base to your weekend getaway. There are a number of five star and boutique hotels in Carnaby and surrounding areas, including the decadent Karma Sanctum Soho. Dubbed as London’s original rock n roll hotel, the extravagant decor and the fact that the hotel is co-owned by Iron Maiden contribute to the lavish rocker vibe that runs throughout the hotel.
The hotel offers a variety of different rooms. The ‘Compact room’ makes for a great base for staycationers at an affordable price, equipped with a four poster bed, New York style wet room and, most importantly, a fully stocked mini bar. Those seeking the real rock star experience should opt for the Junior Suite, an ode to art deco design with mosaic columns, mirrored wardrobes and a freestanding bath – garish, but in the best way.
When guests have dropped their overnight bags off at their chosen hotel, they should head to Carnaby street for lunch at one of the many eateries on offer. Many will be familiar with Kingly Court – a mecca for foodies with the three story alfresco dining destination home to 21 of London’s best restaurants. For a light lunch, opt for a visit to Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, an all day eatery with menu highlights including the delicious Shish Tawook and Za’atar Salad. Those looking to indulge should treat themselves to a dessert of Syrian ice cream with pistachio and candyfloss.
After having refuelled with a delicious lunch, guests should take time to really explore all that Carnaby has to offer, including the vast array of boutiques and independent retailers as well as flagship stores. Start at The Newburgh Quarter and head to the world famous Liberty’s before browsing famous fashion brands such as Levi’s and Diesel.
Fashion lovers should surely pay a visit to Ganni, the Scandinavian brand that basically dictates every trend you see on Instagram (see #GanniGirls for all the fashion inspo you will ever need) and in real life. The Carnaby store is home to popular pieces from their SS21 collection, including the ever popular smock dress – a piece perfect for both everyday and day to night wear. Of course, no outfit would be complete without the perfect accessories to match, and for that, guests should head down to Annie’s Ibiza to browse their eclectic mix of fashion and jewelry pieces, all hand picked from an array of designers. A must have pick from the boutique is the Germanier Krystal bag, the finishing touch to any outfit that will make you stand out in any crowd.
Afterwards, head down to the world’s first Rolling Stones flagship store created in collaboration with Bravado – the ultimate experience for fans of the band. The store has been designed as an immersive experience for Rolling Stones fans; the audio of 1966 song Paint It Black has been visualised as a sound wave and reinterpreted into a striking sculpture that sits in the window display, whilst album art covers the fitting room walls. Here, fans will find exclusive merchandise as well as exclusive fashion label RS No.9 Carnaby.
Whilst exploring the stores that Carnaby has to offer (top tip – make sure to explore every side street as not to miss anything!), take time to marvel at the spectacular art installations that sit across Carnaby – they make for an aesthetic Instagram post. Bookending both ends of Carnaby street are the iconic Carnaby street arches, made up of hundreds of pink shimmer disks. Further up towards Ganton Street, guests will be dazzled by 51 oversized light bulbs suspended in the sky. At night, the bulbs light up in an array of colours, creating a light show effect that plunges Carnaby into colour.
On the way back to the hotel, guests should stop for a coffee and a pastry at Bread Ahead, the brains behind the famous bakers of Borough Market. Their famous New York style 20 inch pizzas bring a touch of Soho New York to Soho London. Their range of delicious doughnuts will bring out the inner child, whilst their extensive coffee offering will recharge guests for the night ahead of them.
After a power nap and an outfit change, guests should head to Kingly Court for dinner. Inspired by LA’s Koreatown, Korean Dinner Party is a restaurant that combines a mix of Korean dishes with a party atmosphere – here, the lights are dim and the music is loud.
Cocktail lovers have a vast menu to choose from, including the Hello Kitty, a super sweet blend of lychee, aloe vera and strawberry vodka. A range of Sake is also available from Kanpai Brewery – brewed, bottled and packaged by hand in Peckham. Post dinner, head to one of the many bars Carnaby has to offer, including Absolutely London favourite Bar Crispin. The 150 strong wine list has something for everyone, with a focus on small, indie producers.
After dinner, visitors of Carnaby are free to explore the area as they please or enjoy the infamous nightlife scene of nearby Soho. Bar hop up and down its famous streets or opt for a night in Freedom – an Absolutely London top pick. Guests of Karma Sanctum can benefit from 24 hour access to the rooftop hot tub and bar – perfect for party animals.
After either a night of debauchery or a relaxing sleep (the choice is yours), head to Skin Laundry to minimise the effects of last night. The revolutionary brand from California has recently hit the cobbled streets of Carnaby, bringing with them their ultra high tech equipment behind the ever popular laser facials. Bridging the gap between medical cosmetics and beauty therapy, their signature laser facial unclogs pores, calms inflammation and reduces redness – yes please.
Guests will leave Carnaby with their love for London reignited. Whilst initial thoughts may be that Carnaby is an area reserved for tourists with not much to see, the area is steeped in culture with much to see and do. On the way back home after a weekend in Carnaby, walk through neighbouring Green Park to reflect on our amazing city and all it has to offer.
Featured image credit: Photo Credit_ Dave Parry_Carnaby – Carnaby Rainbow arch