Getting together with old friends for a quality period of time is like dusting off a room of your life and sifting through memories while cultivating new ones. Girls weekends, proper ones where you shed kids/husbands/responsibilities, are quite fun. Liberating even. A little reminder that being a mother is not just about the kids, but it’s about you too.
Marylebone village is an excellent area to base yourself for a girly weekend of walking, perusing indie shops, lingering in stylish cafes and sipping cocktails. With Oxford street as its southern border, there’s an abundance of specialist shops to High Street heaven. There’s a range of prices and a distinctly Francophile atmosphere. Plus proper London buzz. You’ll fall in love with the area. We did!
Where I would recommend a friend to stay:
The Arch caters to corporates during the week, but by Friday night it’s all tourists. Marylebone High Street is a 5-minute walk, and weekend prices aren’t too steep, especially if sharing with girlfriends. It’s an unassuming and quiet, yet chic and contemporary. And you can’t beat the location.
Girls weekend in Marylebone – Suggested itinerary:
From the hotel, take the short walk to Marylebone High Street and puruse the shops. Stop into Daunt Books (the BEST bookstore in London), La Labo for personalised perfume, Brora (expensive cashmere) and La Patisserie Des Reves even if just to look and have the French shop assistants scowl at you! Peak in the windows of Skandium for Swedish home design inspiration. Have breakfast at La Fromagerie Café, a wonderful artisan cheese shop and deli or lunch at the communal le pain quotidian. Or be like Gwyneth and just drink your lunch at the hip Roots and Bulbs juice bar.
Then pop into the Wallace Collection for your fix of 18th century French art. For dinner, try The Providores and Tapa Room (book upstairs or wait with the masses for tapas downstairs) or The Potting Shed Restaurant & Bar (neighbourly and quiet). On Sundays, don’t miss the Farmer’s Market for seasonal foodstuffs from artisan and local producers.
To explore Oxford Street, head south. Make sure to stop into St Christopher’s Place for lunch (boutique shops and alfresco dining). Try Carluccio’s for a bite to eat or exit toward Wigmore Street and try Le Comptoir (casual Lebanese). Then join the crowds on Oxford Street for High Street shopping heaven!
Take a cab (or tube) to Westminster and board a Thames Jet tour (a highlight, especially on sunny days) and walk across Westminster Bridge to join the crowds taking selfies with Big Ben. Take the short walk up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square where you can wander through the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery, then have a Bellini at the top floor Portrait Restaurant for panoramic London views (book in advance).
IF YOU GO:
The Arch London 50 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London W1H 7FD +44 020 7724 4700 thearchlondon.com Family owned boutique hotel in Marble Arch, spanning 7 Georgian townhouses and two mews homes. Popular with corporates during the week who vacate by the weekend (we got a special weekend rate) and perfectly situated to explore the chic Marylebone/Oxford. There’s a TV in the bath (and a bath pillow). Nespresso and a complimentary soft drink mini bar. Quiet and unassuming, yet contemporary and chic. Perfect.
The Providores and Tapas Room 09 Marylebone Rd, London W1U 4RX +44 020 7935 6175 theprovidores.co.uk Wait for a table downstairs for tapas, or book a table upstairs for more formal dining.
The Potting Shed Restaurant & Bar Dorset Square Hotel, 39-40 Dorset Square, Marylebone, London NW1 6QN +44 020 7723 7874 firmdalehotels.com We found this via OpenTable (a special set menu), and since we all hadn’t seen each other in a while, thought it might be a quieter restaurant so we could hear ourselves talk. English classics in a casual environment. Cricket interior.
La Fromagerie Café 2-6 Moxon Street, London W1U 4EW +44 020 7935 0341 lafromagerie.co.uk Stop in for breakfast, lunch or a treat yourself to an artisan farmhouse cheese from the walk-in cheeseroom.
Daunt Books 83 Marylebone High St, London W1U +44 020 7224 2295 Travel specialist/general bookstore with original features including oak galleries and skylights. dauntbooks.co.uk.
Le Labo 28A Devonshire Street, Marylebone, London W1G 6PS +44 020 3441 1535 lelabofragrances.com
Perfumery. The number in the fragrance name indicates the number of notes in its composition and the name of material refers to the most prominent note in it. Technican mix your scent as you wait, and personalise the packaging. Neroli 36 was a theme scent for the weekend (tones of the beach).
Le Pain Quotidien 72-75 Marylebone Rd London +44 020 3657 6949 http://www.lepainquotidien.co.uk/store/marylebone-high-street/#.VQPnEHm-1Vs Translation: “daily bread”. Simple healthy food based around a communal table. The Marylebone restaurant was the very first one to open in London!Great choice for lunch.
Roots And Bulbs 5 Thayer Street, Marylebone, London W1U 3JG +44 020 7487 2900 rootsandbulbs.com One of London’s first cold press juice bars.
The Wallace Collection Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN +44 020 7563 9500 wallacecollection.org Museum of world-sourced antiques, sculpture, artworks and armour, set within a palatial townhouse. Free.
Marylebone Farmers Market Cramer Street Car Park, Cramer Street, London W1U 4EW +44 20 7833 0338 lfm.org.uk Sunday outdoor street market trading in seasonal foodstuffs from artisan and local producers.
Thames Jet Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2JH +44 020 7740 0400 thamesjet.com 50 unforgettable minutes as you experience high-speed aquatics.
National Gallery, London Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN +44 020 7747 2885 nationalgallery.org.uk
National Portrait Gallery St. Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE nationalportraitgallery.org housing a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people.
Portrait Restaurant Level 3 of the National Portrait Gallery, www.npg.org.uk The Portrait Restaurant’s celebrated view stretches from Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. It’s a sensational accompaniment to any meal – breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.
St. Christopher’s Place, London, W1U 1AY stchristophersplace.com Shops, fashion boutiques and restaurants near Oxford Street.
Carluccio’s St. Christopher’s Place, London W1U 1AY +44 020 7935 5927 carluccios.com Authentic Italian restaurant and deli.
Comptoir Lebanais, 65 Wigmore Street, London W1U 1JT lecomptoir.co.uk Casual Lebanese wraps, tangines and salads.
Fly London 5 St Christopher’s Pl, London W1U 1DZ flylondonshop.co.uk Contemporary footwear with comfort in mind.
Do you have any recommendation in this area? What do you enjoy about a girls weekend away?