12hrs in London


So much to see, so little time: Let’s waste no time and spend 12hrs in London!

3pm // Serpentine Gallery

In Kensington Gardens, right in the middle of Hyde Park, lies Serpentine Gallery. One of London’s most loved galleries, it attracts up to 800 000 visitors each year. On display are works by different contemporary artists, and conveniently, admission is free (although they suggest that you donate 1 Pound to them).

While the exhibition inside is well worth a visit, we are really here for the pavilion. Each year, the gallery commissions a different architect or artist to build a temporary structure in front of the gallery. In past years, these pavilions have been designed by icons of the design world like Ai Wei Wei, Frank Gehry, Oscar Niemeyer, Daniel Libeskind or Rem Koolhaas.

In 2013, Japanese master architect Sou Fujimoto was responsible for the pavilion. His airy structure is beautiful and fascinating, and invites visitors to climb around on it. Go ahead, climb a bit!

Serpentine Gallery // Kensington Gardens // Mon-Sun 10am-6pm // website

4pm // Liberty London

After finishing your visit to Serpentine Gallery, walk across to the other side of Hyde Park and find the Tube station Lancaster Gate. Take the Central Line to Oxford Circus for our next stop.

Oxford Circus being Oxford Circus, you can easily drown in a never ending stream of shoppers and tourists here. The ‘Great British High Street’ is alive and well, and you can easily spend a couple of hours here perusing shops full of more or less affordable clothes. If you feel for exploring this side of London shopping, just skip ahead to the 6pm mark of our guide and join in again there.

If you prefer to follow our suggestions, leave Oxford Street as fast as you can and head over to Regent Street.

If you have only time to visit one of the famous department stores London has to offer, definitely make it Liberty! This shopping temple in the West End is one of our very favorite stores, and one of the most famous shopping destinations in London.

In their beautiful building, they stock everything that’s something in the design world, from big brand names to still unknown local designers. Then there’s an amazing collection of skincare and make-up, a flower shop, the best perfume selection we can think of, and a giant selection of hats and scarves. Liberty started out as a seller of fabrics and carpets, and to this day, their selection of home goods and rugs is overwhelming.

Liberty London // Regent Street, main entrance at Great Marlborough Street // Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website

4.30pm // Lazy Oaf

Some streets down from Liberty is a very different shopping destination, but one we love just as much. Lazy Oaf is a young brand from London that is known for their crazy prints. You could say their clothes are quintessential London design. Think watermelon booty shorts for girls, oversized T-Shirts with Minnie Mouse hands all over them and Batman shirts for the boys.

Their designs are very young, but you’ll always find something in the brand’s small flagship store that you can wear even if you’re not 17 anymore. Also, have a look at their great greeting cards. We always stock up on them for the rest of the year.

Lazy Oaf // 2 Ganton Street // Mon-Wed & Fri-Sat 10.30am-7pm, Thu 10.30am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website

4.45pm // Supreme

You either love or hate the hype that surrounds this skate wear brand from New York. Famous for their collaborations with super hip musicians and skaters, guys (and girls that are into oversized clothes) find caps, clothes and boards in their two-level London store.

Supreme // 2/3 Peter Street // Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website
Picture // Supreme

5pm // Opening Ceremony

Another New York City transplant. A ten-minute walk from Supreme, this American cult brand opened their shop in London in 2012 to much fanfare. They stock their own line, which boasts designs from playful to cutsy, plus a good selection of labels like Acne, Proenza Schouler and Patrik Ervell.

Each year, the founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (now also famous as the designers that made Kenzo cool again) pick a featured country whose designers they present to a bigger audience. Last year, it was Korea, and now they just announced that Belgium gets the honor this year. So keep your eyes out for some avant-garde pieces on the shelves.

On our tour, you made it to Covent Garden now. This area of London is slowly turning into a veritable shopping destination. Walking to the Tube, you’ll spot some fancy shops and interesting boutiques, from Ladurée macarons to Chanel make-up. Explore a bit, then find the entrance to the tube. Warning: This stop takes you downstairs in elevators…

Opening Ceremony // 35 King Street // Mon-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website
Pictures // Opening Ceremony

5.40pm // Margaret Howell

Take the Piccadilly Line from Covent Garden to Bond Street and change to the Jubilee Line. After just one stop, you’ll be at Green Park, your next destination.

We have one more store on our to-do list. If you prefer to take it a bit more easy, head over to the cafe we feature at 6pm directly and take some more time there. But if you’re into shopping, take this last pit stop with us.

Margaret Howell is famous for her classic and authentic pieces of clothing for both women and men. The quality of the garments is amazing, a fact that is sadly reflected in the price tags of the pieces. Still, you won’t find better everyday clothes with an artistic twist anywhere. Her items are well worth investing in. There’s beautiful home ware on display, as well. And if you’re lucky, you can spot the designer herself in her office in the store.

Margaret Howell // 34 Wigmore Street, Mon-Wed & Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Thu 10am-7pm, Sun 12pm-7pm // website

6pm // Monocle Cafe

MonocleCafe01.jpg

We know, it’s early evening already, but there’s always room for one more good coffee. For that, find your way to Monocle Cafe on Chiltern Street.

Monocle Cafe is a lot like the magazine of the same name – a bit posh, aspirational, and very well thought through. The interior and the menu seem to be inspired by a beautiful mix of Scandinavia and Japan. Every napkin, every coffee cup, and every tray here fit together, and we wouldn’t mind stealing the cozy couches from the small area in the back and put them right in our living room.

On the walls, the latest issues of Monocle are proudly displayed, and Monocle24, the magazine’s radio station, supplies the cafe with music and news.

Hang out a bit, release your inner Tyler Brûlé (the magazine’s editor), and then get ready for some serious food shopping.

Monocle Cafe // 18 Chiltern Street // Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm // website

6.30pm // La Fromagerie + The Ginger Pig

A short, five-minute walk takes you to Moxon Street. Marylbone, the area we are in right now, is much calmer and also posher than the shopping streets around Oxford Street. Here, you still find small, specialized shops that pay attention to all the important but often forgotten details.

La Fromagerie and The Ginger Pig are two of those. The former is any cheese-lovers smelly paradise. There is a walk-in cheese room, closed with a sliding glass door to keep the smell at bay. The staff is extremely helpful and ready to answer every question you might have ever had about cheese. In the front of the shop, they sell vegetables and delicatessen, in the back, you’ll see a nice cafe.

Next door, at the Ginger Pig, meat is the way to go. This old-school butcher shop sells high quality cured meats and freshly prepared dishes over the counter, and they offer butchery classes for curious visitors, as well. Even if the shop should be closed already, take a peek through the window.

La Fromagerie // 2-6 Moxon Street // Mon-Fri 8am-7.30pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm // website
The Ginger Pig // 8-10 Moxon Street, Mon-Wed 9am-5.30pm, Thu-Sat 9am-6.30pm, Sun 10am-3pm // website