My Secret London with Martina McHowat – part II
In part two of "My Secret London", Urban Junkies Style Editor Martina McHowat tells us her favourite London destinations for gifts, stationery, beauty and food. It will make you dream of Icelandic mud and stationery with tiny beefeaters…
Best for interiors and gifts?
Lifestyle Bazaar on Newburgh Street always has a cool selection of lifestyle bits. Urban Outfitters and Muji are good for knick-knacky gifts, and the Magma product shop next to the book store is great for unusual finds. And I’m looking forward to seeing what H&M does with its homeware offering, slated to arrive in February.
Best for stationery?
I do love Liberty’s stationery department, as much for their own line of note cards, diaries and address books, as well as the range of designers they stock. Smythson do great correspondence cards and stationery which you can have personalised, and their current Giles collaboration is a fashion-lover’s dream, with design sketches on the front and neon pink and green tissue-lined envelopes.
Best for beauty?
I get facials at Elemis off Bond Street, which is like a little sanctuary in the middle of potentially the busiest shopping district – not that you'd know it! It’s all quite South-East Asian feeling which I love, and Amanda gives the best tri-enzyme resurfacing facials – sounds hardcore but is really gentle.
And if you’re ever in Iceland, try out the hot springs at Blue Lagoon which have pots of this amazing silica clay mask dotted around – you just slather it on and float about. They’re doing it in tubes now for us poor souls who can’t be there in person.
I’ve just come back from Compton Hair in Covent Garden where I tried out their Brazilian Keratin Hair treatment, and it may well change my GHD-dependent life – after leaving it in for three days, my usually wavy, frizz-prone hair is down to a quick morning blow dry and it still looks straight and soft. I didn’t think it was possible!
Other London favourites?
I’m a bit obsessed with Columbia Flower Market on Sundays. The prices are just silly compared to what you’d pay in town, and the street is just stunning filled with every imaginable kind of tree, bush, shrub and stem.
Even better though, is that one side of the street is choc-full of some of the coolest little boutiques in the city; Cerise for jewellery, Suck & Chew for vintage-style sweets in jars and pocket money bits and Treacle for cupcakes and cool kitchen/homewares. I also love Far Global and Nom for the collections of Far Eastern antiques and bits & bobs. They have that lovely incense-y smell and everything inside is authentic and comes with a story.
Best London souvenir?
I try and stay as far away from the tacky souvenir shops you tend to find down the dodgy end of Oxford Street; nobody needs a Union Jack G-String. Instead, try Muji’s ‘London in a bag’ full of wooden London landmarks like the London Eye and St Paul's, and now they’re doing rather fabulous little ‘London transport in a bag’ containing little painted wooden buses, black cabs and tubes.
I also like Julie Bell’s stationery, which come in beautiful boxes and have London icons embossed on them – beefeaters, buses or phone boxes.
Best for food?
Sophie’s Steak House on the Fulham Road – it’s a lovely, homey but chic feeling place with no reservation policy, so you turn up, get given a number which flashes up on a board above the bar, and wait over delicious cocktails. Lots of exposed brickwork, lightbulbs hanging loose from the ceiling and old train carriage luggage racks above the tables. And it’s not unusual to see Sophie herself wandering around serving steak, which by the way, is divine. They’re just opened in Covent Garden too. Go!
For all addresses and a Wee Birdy map of Martina's secret London, click here.
Check out Martina's London Fashion Week coverage at Urban Junkies, which includes designer interviews, backstage images and a competition to win the Ultimate Swag Bag.