Bloomsbury and Marylebone – June 2017

Back in central London, a mere 15-minute walk from St. Pancras train station, I checked into Goodenough College which opens up their student residences to the general public through the summer period. It’s located on Mecklenburgh Square beside a large leafy park.


This student room cost me £85 per night (with en-suite bathroom.) A full English breakfast and dinner is served in the Great Hall (in another building on the other side of the square) for as little as £3. Mere steps from the college is the beautiful Brunswick Square Gardens (photo below) and an interesting museum.


The tree in the top photograph is one of London’s “ten great trees”. I wonder where the other nine are. It’s called a Brunswick Plane, it’s over 200 years old, and is thought to be one of the original trees planted when the square was created in the 1790s. Here it is again, isn’t it magnificent? I love trees. And parks.


I have visited (and lived in) a lot of major world cities and London beats them all for the abundance of green spaces, public parks and gardens. Directly opposite this park, and beside the Goodenough College, is the Foundling Museum. Well worth a visit.


Once I had toured my immediate surroundings, I hopped onto the tube (the subway) at Russell Square station and headed over to one of my favorite shopping areas, Marylebone High Street. I totally agree with an old copy of TIME OUT magazine which says – Avoid the mob on Oxford Street. Marylebone Village is where the smart (and posh) shoppers shop.

I like it for its village atmosphere and selection of great shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, as I was crossing the very busy and congested Marylebone Road, a piece of grit flew into my left eye. Temporarily blinded in one eye, I staggered into a Boots Pharmacy on the Marylebone High Street and asked for some eye wash. The kindly salesperson brought me a box of OPTREX eye wash with its own little eye bath. Standing in a corner, I rinsed my eye and the grit came out. Coming out of Boots, I spied an OXFAM charity shop a few doors down. I popped in and bought myself a gorgeous (second-hand) linen jacket for £14 and a pair of houndstooth linen wide trousers for £16. I then went into The Natural Kitchen for a take-out coffee. Clutching my £5 double caffè macchiato in one hand and my OXFAM shopping bag in the other, I joined the smart set and strolled down the High Street in the sunshine.


Looking for the perfect gift? Pop into ORTIGIA, Italian soap and fragrance company, for the most exquisite selection of perfumes, creams, soaps, candles and textiles from Sicily. The little boxes alone are worth keeping.


Scandi design (Scandinavian) at my favorite store, Skandium, where you can find items from Marimekko (Finnish), iittala (Finnish) and Georg Jensen (Danish).


And then I came across a store I had never seen before. Designers Guild. I walked in and swooned. Bed linens and cushions, paint colors to complement the fabrics, wallpapers, home furnishings, tableware, rugs, stationery and other design-led accessories. The shop also stocks a great range of contemporary and vintage furniture. I’ve never seen such a collection of gorgeous things stocked under one roof.


I purchased these soft 100% linen sheets. There’s another, bigger store on the King’s Road.


My London – Marylebone

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Before we head north to Marylebone, I just wanted to mention a really good Indian restaurant where my friend Rosemary, who’s a Londoner, and I had a delicious meal. It’s called The Star of India and it’s at 154 Old Brompton Road.  

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Marylebone is an affluent shopping and residential district north of Oxford Street. A posh and quiet enclave, it’s a small neighbourhood, really. (Madonna had one of her townhouses here.)  I purposefully avoid the hordes of harried shoppers on Oxford Street and come here instead.  So much more civilized, darling!

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You must visit this gorgeous bookshop at number 84 Marylebone High Street, all wood and polished interiors.  To the left of Daunt Books is a Scandinavian design, furniture and gift shop called Skandium.  I always pop in to gaze at the functional yet stylish lines.

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Natural Kitchen seems to be the main hub of activity on Marylebone High Street, just down from Daunt Books.  It’s all there, from organic porridge in the morning to snacks, lunch, coffee and cakes throughout the day.  There’s also a butcher and a baker but no candlestick maker.

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This amaaaazing shop called Ortigia is located further down at number 23. As you walk in, the intermingled fragrance of the hand-made Sicilian soaps and bath products is divine, as are the exquisite boxes that the soaps come in. I purchased several gifts here.

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If you go around the corner to 27 New Cavendish Street, you’ll find this clothing shop that I really liked and hadn’t heard of before.  OSKA is a German label and the quality of the design and fabrics is outstanding.  Happily, I learned there are two OSKA shops in Paris. Directly opposite is a French fabric and furniture store called Caravane.

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And that’s about it for this district. Next up is Covent Garden.  Marylebone is a delightful district in which to wander.  Stay on the back streets and you’ll be rewarded with small boutiques, picturesque pubs and restaurants.  If you continue walking south on Marylebone High Street (just south of New Cavendish Street) and then turn right onto George Street, you’ll find a unique museum on Manchester Square called The Wallace Collection containing world-sourced antiques, sculpture and artworks set within an historic townhouse.  It also houses a lovely restaurant that serves lunch and afternoon tea.  

Splash some cash at Durrant’s Hotel, 26-32 George Street, in their restaurant or cozy bar. A privately-owned 92-bedroom Georgian townhouse hotel, Durrants is a quiet and stylish retreat; everything a hotel should be – small, cosy and utterly charming (and expensive!)  My mother and I stayed there in the late 1980s.

Continuing south from Manchester Square you’ll come onto Wigmore Street which runs parallel and just north of Oxford Street.  See the schedule at Wigmore Hall, a lovely concert hall located at number 36.  Early music, chamber music and classical song is showcased here.

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