The other weekend, just when we thought the British summer was fading away to mild temperatures and chilly evenings, Alex and I popped over to London and were Alabama-slammed by scorching temperatures. We had gone over to the Big Smoke to catch-up with a few of the Travelettes girls, for a weekend of nibbling, shopping and cocktail swigging. Well, when in London!
But we hadn’t quite expected the scorching hot summer in the city. Temperatures had soared to 30°C and being among the heaving crowds and tight buildings, sweat was the theme of the weekend… But we figured out some top ways to stay cool in London when the temperature sky-rockets.
1. Stay somewhere with a lovely garden
We stayed in the loveliest Airbnb place in Bethnal Green, a short tube ride from Shoreditch and Spitalfields Market, and were immediately stunned by the twee nature of our little apartment. Nestled in the urban jungle, our haven had bunting, vintage paraphernalia (including a very cool globe),sweet little bedrooms and a garden full of pears and other fruits.
In case you don’t know much about Travelettes.net, it’s one of the top female travel websites that has about 10 female contributors based around the globe. I began writing for them way back in 2009 when they launched, and Alex joined a few years later. August 2015 saw Travelettes’ 6th birthday – a meet-up had to happen! All the girls are usually travelling far and wide, so to fit in a meet-up with even just a few of us is a bit of a miracle!
I turned up at Bethnal Green a few hours before Alex (bloody Megabus had nearly left her stranded!) and immediately had a good chinwag with Kathi. I hadn’t seen her since our surf trip in Fuerteventura so we had plenty to catch up on, including her recent trip to Israel which had blown her socks off. Alex arrived touting a bottle of Prosecco which perfectly complimented the one I had brought, and we popped those corks and gave a good toast to the good weather and the reunion!
Having a cute little garden was perfect as we could recline in the shaded area beneath the trees and sip our bubbly without sweating it out indoors.
2. Avoid the tube
The next morning, with slightly Prosecco-addled heads, we met Caro (Travelettes Berlin-based contributor) for the first time during a lazy morning of coffee in the garden. We finally got our shizz together when hunger became too much and headed over towards the Old Spittalfields Market. when in London in hot temperatures, avoid the tube at all costs as it really is a hot tube of hell where you’ll be slicked down with sweat in nano seconds.
If you have time to walk the streets and avoid the public transport, I highly recommend you do so. We had minimal time so had to descend into the hot heat and stand in silenced, moist warmth and grit our teeth. It was like being reborn when we surfaced again.
3. Take refuge in cool markets
We struggled a bit finding a breakfast spot around Spittalfields as we our hunger stopped us from venturing too far. It was soon a case of hanger taking over. Old Spittalfields Market is a huge undercover shopping area which has plenty of shops and chain restaurants/cafes, plus delightful market stalls selling fun and sparkly wares, and clothing that will have you wandering and touching things for a while.
The market on this site has been going for 350 years, and whilst the contents has of course been updated over the centuries, it remains an East London institution. With Brick Lane and other shopping delights surrounding it, it’s definitely a top place to wander with your wallet to sedate your shopping urges. Very pretty, but the glass roof acted like a greenhouse baking all beneath in sticky heat!
After a quick and simple brunch of eggs, toast, chilli and avocado (my personal fave) at The Canteen, we perused the market where Kathi stocked up on lovely vintage rings. Just outside the market in the sweet cooling breeze, Caro got her bookworm on by grabbing beautiful and arty travel magazines from a small newsagents – their range was astounding!
With only an hour before we were meeting Editor-in-Chief, Katja, in Piccadilly, we swooped into a small entrance on Commercial Street which had vintage signs outside. We entered the shade and were immediately surrounded by a treasure trove of vintage delights! We swept in, brandishing our money and snapping up as many treats as we could hold.
From denim jackets to festival fashion embroidered t-shirts, leather handbags to dusty retro sunglasses, there was simply too much to browse and too little time. We did take a bit too long in there though but it sure was a cool escape.
4. Sip cocktails in the shade
Back on the hot tube we went, and zipped over to Le Meridien Piccadilly hotel. We had been invited to The Sipsmith Sipping Garden, one of the few places in London’s centre where you can enjoy an alfresco cocktail away from the hustle of the streets, to enjoy some cocktails and canapés.
The garden was in fact up on the second floor of the hotel, on the balcony outside the Terrace Grill & Bar. Le Merdien had partnered with the London Gin distillers, Sipsmith, to bring a little haven for a cocktail. The narrow balcony gives you a birds-eye-view of the busy streets below and gave us serious relief from the heat.
We all sampled the British Bellini: Sipsmith Sloe gin, mixed English berries, a dash of grenadine and lemon juice, topped up Chapel Down English sparkling wine. As gin is my choice of poison, I had to try the Three Ways Negroni, which really knocks your socks off but has such quality gin that it is simply delicious!
Katja joined us with her young baby, Atlas, and we got stuck into the canapés that came over to us thick and fast – see the Sipsmith Sipping Garden menu here. Alex and I have only met Katja once in person, so it was nice to chat away in person and get some updates on what’s going on in her life.
5. Eat ALL the ice cream
From Devon crab cakes to juniper and chilli sausage rolls, the canapés were a nice range of British dishes with inventive twists. But don’t forget the desserts! With gin being the theme, it only made sense to have ice cream infused with gin.
Jude’s had teamed up with Sipsmitth to create a lovely refreshing gin and tonic ice cream. Sorry, Atlas, you can’t eat this iced treat! The Sipsmith Sipping Garden is only open during the summer months, so be sure to check it out before the end of September.
Alex left after our cocktail session to head back to Bristol, and the rest of the weekend mainly revolved around food and Prosecco. What a winning combination! I do love London and catching up with friends, old and new, is the perfect way to enjoy the city.
From eating to drinking, hardcore shopping to kicking back and relaxing in your accommodation’s garden, London makes for a great girls weekend. Thank god we had good weather, but be warned… when it’s hot in London, it sure gets hot. Stay cool, friends.