These days we must be ready to seize any opportunity to travel safely. So it was with pleasure that my partner and I hopped aboard the 14.12 to London Waterloo. Never mind that I was retreading my pre-pandemic commute. I was on holiday!
It felt odd to be wandering the streets of central London with my visitor’s hat on. Everything was familiar – the black cabs, the buses, Oxford Circus. And yet it all seemed slightly different. Exciting, even. I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere. I could stop to enjoy all the things London has to offer.
Leaving Oxford Circus tube station, we headed down Regent Street. Then a right turn took us to our hideaway for the night. No.5 Maddox Street is a collection of a dozen serviced apartments run by London-based Living Rooms. It also owns the trendy The Laslett hotel in Notting Hill, as well as several other apartments dotted around the capital.
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Stepping though the door at No.5 we were greeted by white walls, wooden floors and neat, crisp lines. The modern, minimalist interiors are the work of Tracy Lowy, who got the whole “home away from home” concept off the ground when she started Living Rooms in 1993. All of the flats were recently refurbished to celebrate No.5 turning 20.
The retro elements are, however, timeless. Hanging in the bedroom, for example, was a black and white photo from 1968 of “Halinka” modelling a mini-skirt on a bench in Soho Square. She complemented others in the living room of the local area from the 1950s and 1960s.
All the basics – plus Chablis
Stepping outside, through the double doors onto the snug balcony, the urban view was one of tumbledown fire escapes reminiscent of M. C. Escher’s famous 1953 lithograph Relativity, otherwise known as “Crazy Stairs”. Meanwhile, the white tiles on black grouting in the en-suite bathroom (with bath tub and products by REN) is very hipster chic.
In the living room, there was a Marshall DAB retro-style radio. The gas fireplace completed the cosy feel, especially on an autumnal evening.
In the kitchen, you will find everything you need for a few days in the big city: a fridge, electric hob, microwave, dishwasher, along with a few essentials to get you started, including milk, bread, butter, jams, tea, coffee and a bottle of Chablis – so very Mayfair.
But as tempting as it was to stay put and nestle down, London was calling. So we dropped our bags and took ourselves off to the British Museum’s fascinating new Tantra exhibition – full of befanged Hindu goddesses and not so much as a mention of rock god Sting.
But then, as I discovered, we’ve been getting Tantra – a medieval Indian philosophy based on the power of divine feminine energy – all wrong in the West for centuries, before finally mixing it up with the sexual politics of the 1960s cultural revolution.
The exhibition is certainly worth a visit and runs until 24 January. Be sure to book ahead.
Once we’d had our fill of divine feminine energy we wandered back towards Mayfair via Carnaby Street and found a spot to indulge in a cocktail or two. The luxury of being able to stumble back to your Mayfair apartment afterwards cannot be overstated.
Not for us the rush back to London Waterloo station to catch the last train, slaloming through the hordes of burger-munchers. We were at leisure to relax, find that bottle of Chablis again, and settle down to a Chinese takeaway delivery from Hakkasan Mayfair, which we found just around the corner. Hot food, chilled wine and cosiness – that, to me, is the perfect way to spend a weekend in London.
Chris was a guest of No.5 Maddox St. From £240 a night (three-night minimum stay), living-rooms.co.uk
Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.
Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.
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