Saturday, February 01, 2014

London Retail and a Hotel NON-Recommendation

Hi, my petals. I am feeling semi-human again and my cough is not quite as fierce as it was the past few days when I was this close to Googling "symptoms of pneumonia". Enough of being sick, old and decrepit, let's move on to London where I spent last Wed. - Sat. I would have stayed until Sunday night had it not been for the fact that I had an early flight to Sofia to catch (from Vienna) on Monday morning. Unlike Vienna, London was warm and sunny most of the time I was there. Here's a view towards the river from right outside the Tate Modern, my #1 must-visit place every time I'm in London. 
Even though I squeezed in quite a bit of "station shopping" on the short way across Victoria Station between my hotel for the first 2 nights and the office, such as tidbits from Paperchase, on of my favourite UK chains and a Sleek palette from Superdrug, I did most of my (bargain) shopping on Friday night. Before I show you said bargains, let me introduce my new trusty travel companion to you: a Lipault carry-on bag that came in very handy for my LHR airport shopping:
It opens up like a doctor's bag and you can stuff a lot into it. It's one of those bags that are designed to fit onto your suitcase as well. I ordered it online shortly after Christmas and it was 30% off if I remember correctly. Now for the bargains. I popped into Banana Republic, one of my favourite highstreet chains for clothes ever and didn't even look at the full-prized range, focusing on the sales racks only. They had a great offer of an extra 30% off all already discounted items so it would have been rude not to. I managed to score a lovely navy jersey blazer and super bright (the flash washes it out in the picture) stretchy trousers that would originally have been GBP 134 for an amazing GBP 24. Yes, this is the total I paid for both of these:
I also found incredible bargains at GAP and Uniqlo, picking up a striped lightweight cotton jumper at GAP for 5.90 and LE shirts at Uniqlo for less than 10 GBP for both:
I mentioned airport shopping. I was at LHR extremely early and therefore had plenty of time to check out the shops at Terminal 1. While this definitely isn't the most exciting terminal, I can't complain and found these two gems:
Let's just step back to admire this cool t-shirt that is SO me! It is from French Connection, a brand that I used to adore when I was younger. Lately, I haven't been paying it too much attention, but they are instantly back in my good books with the #selfie t-shirt that I already wore to work last Friday. With it, I bought a pair of blue suede shoes (hah! song!) from Clarks that are really comfortable with a bit of a heel. I had been looking for a pair like these for quite some time.
While the Tate Modern is my cultural must-see in London, Liberty is the highlight of my shopping pilgrimage. I was very excited indeed when I discovered that &Other Stories was practically next to it and practically jumped in before I made it to Liberty. They also had a sale going on and since there were long queues in front of the changing rooms, I didn't feel like trying on anything and focused on the "instant gratification" range, i.e. accessories and nailpolish:
I have worn the bracelet (also featured in the previous post) several times already and also tested the nailpolish. It's a pity you need to destroy the paper banderole round the bottle when opening it. The quality was good, but I'm not a massive fan of the brush. I also bought another colour that was planning to give away and then decided I wanted it for myself as it will be a great summer colour:
At Liberty's, I bought some small gifts and a cute patchwork pear made out of their signature patterned material that is pretty decorative on itself, but actually intended for sticking needles in:
Pretty successful on the shopping front, all in all. I spent the last night in London in a hotel near Paddington for strategic reasons (proximity to the Heathrow Express) and since I paid for it out of my own money, did put thought into it and, knowing that London hotels can be pretty shitty, decided not to be too stingy. Well, for EUR 150 a night my "deluxe room" at the Park Grand Paddington turned out everything but "grand" and one of those claustrophobic prison cells that London hotels are "famous" for. I shall give them the benefit of the doubt that there are bigger rooms in the place, but my "deluxe" abode was on the basement floor and really felt like some slave's quarters. I opened the door and saw a room that basically only consisted of a queen-sized bed, with a narrow "walkway" around it. So narrow, my suitcase just about fit into the gap: 
I was wondering where the wardrobe was and others obviously had before me as there was a little plate on the panelling above the bed saying "wardrobe and hairdryer" and lo and behold, when you open it, there is a hairdryer and a tiny space with hangers and a mirror. Fancy. Not. Needless to say, there was no desk or chair in that cell.
The bathroom was generously stocked with toiletries, but that was the only thing nice and "deluxe" about it. Apart from the loo-roll-holder at ankle height, it was one of those "water-park" experiences where the shower is not physically partitioned off and you end up setting the whole room plus half the bedroom under water. Sigh:
It was raining and I was tired when I checked in so I couldn't be bothered going back to reception and demanding a better room. It was only for one night, but it really was NOT value for money. You guessed right, I will not be a returning customer there...

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