Monday, October 3, 2016
Shopping Guide: Seven Dials, Covent Garden
I love helping friends and family members create itineraries for their trips to London. I often take pity on tourists outside Holborn station in the morning, looking lost and gesticulating wildly at a map - so much so, that I often stop to offer advice or point them in the direction of a decent café or little-known view (mostly, they just want directions to the British Museum).
But the number one question I get asked is ... where's the best place to shop in London? And, well, I'm a little biased, but I've worked in the Covent Garden area for years, so I always automatically reply, "Covent Garden". And more specifically, Seven Dials - that collection of seven little streets that converge into a central junction, marked by a column with six sundials. It's filled to the brim with trendy boutiques, meandering passageways, delightful restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
On any given payday, you'll find me wandering Seven Dials, gazing longingly into shop windows and standing in line for a flat white at Monmouth Coffee. I can't quite get enough.
Here are some of my favorite places to shop in Seven Dials, for that true "Londoner" experience:
It's pretty obvious that I'm a bit of a jewelry magpie. When I first moved to London, I coveted the popular designer jewelry I saw women wearing on the tube but today, I'm more likely to notice jewelry that's more unique or bespoke. Laura Lee is one of those places I spend my lunch breaks with my face pressed up to the glass: her beautiful, handcrafted-in-London designs are meant to be keepsakes. High-end, yet subtle, I adore the ring stacks made from precious stones and 18k gold - I've had my eye on one of her signet rings for a while now.
When I visited her store last week on Monmouth Street, I learned that the shop keeps these wishlists on file (complete with customers' ring sizes!) to ensure that birthday presents and anniversary gifts are always spot-on.
Perhaps that signet ring will make it into my stocking this year after all (*HINT HINT* AHEM ...)!
From Laura Lee, I cross the street to one of my favorite stores to shop in the States, Club Monaco, which, in its Covent Garden incarnation, has been re-envisioned into a carefully curated shop that is more akin to a boutique shopping experience than its multi-storied locations in the US and Canada. Here, clothes hang in what I can only describe as a glorified walk-in closet/dressing room of my dreams (the plush carpet - the artwork!). The store also features exclusive collections from premium brands such as Citizens of Humanity, as well as a wonderful selection of jewelry and accessories.
Last week, I took home a sumptuously soft cashmere scarf in baby pink after my visit - a staple Club Monaco accessory that will see me well into the late fall and winter months here in London.
Kit and Ace
I don't really have an "off duty" look, but what I love about Kit and Ace (which is known for its technical cashmere) is that its collections are versatile enough to take you from the plane to work to dinner out at night - truly. I popped into the store last week to test drive their "Fit and Design" session, which helps customers navigate all the little details that go into every piece of Kit and Ace attire.
The concept behind the Seven Dials location is lifestyle-driven: the store frequently hosts supper clubs and events focused on wellness and travel. The framed art on the walls is by local artists, and is all available to purchase. Candles and dinner conversation games are sold alongside cocoon-silhouette cashmere coats and luxurious leisure wear.
Come December and January, I'll be living in my Willow long-sleeve, made of brushed technical cashmere, which one member of the Kit and Ace team very accurately described as, "a hug for your body".
Tearing myself away from Monmouth Street, I like to check out the new season colors at Italian sneaker favorite, Superga, which I've been wearing all summer long. The Seven Dials store has an option to personalize shoes and I love watching the artist work in the window whenever I walk past.
It's tempting to buy a pair in every color ... especially during the end-of-season sales. Supergas are my favorite shoes to wear when I'm travelling (or generally walking around London) because they're so comfy and they go with everything.
Before I leave, I like to pick up a salted caramel hot chocolat at Hotel Chocolat nearby - it's been all I'm craving lately now that the temperatures have dropped. I also can't resist the macarons at Pierre Herme, which are my favorite: the flavors are so intense, and the meringue is perfectly soft and chewy.
Have you visited Seven Dials in Covent Garden? What are your favorite stores to browse?
This post was written in collaboration with Seven Dials. All opinions are my own.