Quiet London


A decade ago I purchased a small book entitled Quiet London. I treasure this book and take it with me every time I go to London. In total, author Siobhan Wall has written a quartet of quiet books including Quiet Paris, Quiet New York and Quiet Amsterdam.

The book promotes not only quiet places, but supremely interesting and unique places that the traveler wouldn’t ordinarily stumble upon. Here are just a few of the historical and beautiful places that I’ve explored thanks to this book:

The Foundling Museum. A former orphanage, the museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity. Established in the 18th century to care for babies at risk of abandonment, it housed around 25,000 children before its closure. Alongside works of art, objects and archive documents that reveal the story of the Hospital, a diverse programme of exhibitions, displays and events offer different ways of engaging with its history.


Benjamin Franklin House. The style of the unadorned interior of the house could be described as 18th-century minimalism, as most of Franklin’s furniture and belongings didn’t survive. The house comes to life, however, through the narratives told during organized tours makig it easy to imagine what it must have been like living here 300 years ago. Franklin was not only the unofficial United States Ambassador to Britain, he was also a prodigious inventor.

Carlyle’s House. Renowned Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle lived here from 1851 to 1881 with his wife Jane who was not only a prolific letter-writer herself, but who encouraged her illustrious rather shy husband. Built in 1708, this beautiful house located at 24 Cheyne Row in Chelsea is a joy to wander around.

Doctor Johnson’s House. There aren’t many residential 18th-century houses still standing in the City of London, but fortunately this is one of the few to survive. Built in 1700, this is where Samuel Johnson lived and where he wrote the first comprehensive English Dictionary.

Freud Museum Archive and Library. 

The Cinnamon Club. Set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library, The Cinnamon Club is an institution in the world of Indian fine dining. The original modern Indian restaurant in London, The Cinnamon Club has a long history of serving innovative and creative Indian cuisine in a magnificently majestic setting.

3 bookshops – Primrose Hill Books. Persephone Books on a favorite street of mine in Bloomsbury: Lamb’s Conduit Street, and Daunt’s bookshop.

London Review Cake Shop. Steps away from the famous British Museum and located in Bloomsbury at 14 Bury Place. But to be honest, I think the management has changed because the quality of the cakes is not what it used to be. But the cake shop is inside a very nice bookshop. I pop in when I can to see the new book titles and have some Oolong tea.

Wallace Collection restaurant and the Courtauld Gallery Café. London museums have an added benefit: gorgeous coffee shops attached to them.

Bishopsgate Library. I spent a wonderful few hours here in July 2015 seeking cool refuge from the heat outdoors. See link of my city wanderings and the Bishopsgate Library here:


Too many places to mention. Buy the book! It’s divided into the following sections: Museums, Libraries, Bookshops, Restaurants and cafés, Places to have Afternoon Tea, Pubs and Wine Bars, Galleries, Hotels and Places to Stay.

I’m off to London on Saturday for six days. Stay tuned for a travel report when I get back (after the annual Lille flea market.)

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.