Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Guide to London (By Colour)

So you think London is a predominantly monochromatic town? 

Well, it is, but come summer, there's an explosion of glorious colour – in the floral borders of the parks, in the boutiques, even in the tea salons, where bright shades replace the traditionally muted tones on the menus in celebration of the warmer season.

Here's a tiny glimpse of where you can find colour in London. 

Designers Guild, Chelsea.

A profusion of colour in textiles and wallpapers. 
They had pulled out all the pinks and greens in anticipation of Chelsea Flower Show week, and the displays were enough to make you forget the prices and buy one in every colour.

Number Sixteen Hotel, South Kensington.

Still my favourite bolthole.

My favourite rooms at Number Sixteen, the Schiaparelli-pink single rooms, which have enormous French doors out to an equally enormous terrace overlooking the street. Great value if you don't mind a small bed and can book in advance.

Kate Spade, Chelsea.

Their entry for the Chelsea in Bloom exhibition this year wasn't elaborate, but it was still gorgeous.

Ms Lulu Guinness' handbag boutique in Chelsea, which is a paen to pretty colour.

An exhibition in the Chelsea Flower Show's floral marquee. 
This was the orchid display. Isn't it beautiful? 
I've never seen an orchid I didn't like.

Another sublime garden at Chelsea this year. 
This was the Brewin Dolphin Garden, designed by Robert Myers Associates and built by Willerby Landscapes. This one had a lipstick-pink wall, which acted as a stunning backdrop against the pleached trees and the pink and green borders. 
It was awarded a Gold medal. No wonder.

The Gore hotel in Kensington.
If you need somewhere to stay that isn't too expensive and close to everything, The Gore is fantastic. It's right next door to the Royal Albert Hall and a few steps from Hyde Park and the V&A. The interiors are a flamboyant mix of traditional and whimsical. 
Very eccentric. Very British. And very, very friendly.

A secret corner of London, tucked away between Kensington Road, Palace Gate/Gloucester Road and Cromwell Road. Loved wandering around here one morning.

More Designers Guild. 
Don't come here if you're averse to colour.

Lina Stores in Soho.
A lovely little deli/food store that's like an old-fashioned general store.

The Draper's Arms pub in Islington. 
A great little local that non-locals treks miles to visit.
Look at that Kelly green bar. Just beautiful.

A store in Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. 
Westbourne Grove is the hot new spot for great furniture if you're wandering Portobello Road markets on a Saturday. It's where a lot of really interesting dealers have decamped to, and the stores are just as lovely as the stock.

Yet another Designers Guild. 
No, this post isn't sponsored. But if DG wants to toss a cushion this way, I wouldn't say no...

Paul Smith's store. 
Paul Smith is a firm proponent of colour. Have you seen his wallpaper? 

The Prêt-à-Portea high tea at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. 
Went here with a few particularly lovely people on a quiet afternoon. 
We loved the Jason Wu-inspired coconut hatbox-shaped cake bag in retro leopard print chocolate. It was almost too beautiful to eat...

The Hollywood Arms pub in Chelsea. 
Another stylish little hideaway if you're looking for a place to have drinks with the girls, or even a date on a Friday night.

Portobello Road. 
Isn't this house uplifting?
It's a great sight to see as you make your way to the weekend markets...

More Portobello Road.
I loved the Portobello markets. I'd forgotten how much fun it was.

An exquisite door near our hotel in South Kensington. 
It's the perfect shade for a front door, really.

More from Lina Stores in Soho. 
Told you it looked like an old-fashioned general store.

The relatively new Ambersand Hotel in South Kensington. 
Although we didn't have high tea here, the displays did look inviting. And they matched the decor too. Just splendid. As the English would say.

More from the Berkeley's haute couture-inspired high tea.

A fantastic store called The Exchange, which is on Gloucester Road. (There is another in Chelsea.) This boutique had the most extraordinary display of vintage and gently worn designer garb in London. Many of the shoes and clothes still had the tickets attached. I bought a pair of Chanel heels here for 100 pounds. But I could have bought half the store.

A lastly, there is a great little bookstore called Heywood Hill in Mayfair, where you'll find the most interesting (and most colourful) display of titles in the West End. 
I unearthed a heap of vintage Cecil Beatons here for very cheap. Some were even signed.

Potterton Books in Chelsea was another great literary find. They had some gorgeous gardening books. And the staff of both were some of the nicest you'll meet.


  1. Wow, that was great. I'm going to bookmark this post. So hope I can see some of these lovely places when I next am lucky enough to get to London. Fiona

  2. I really am so glad you are back...what beautiful places and interesting things you present to us.

  3. Loving your blog and it's making my day that you are posting again! It will be a long time before I can travel again unfortunately due to personal circumstances but it is a joy to live vicariously through your blog. I was sorry to read you are facing your own personal struggles and I wish you all the luck in the world in overcoming them. Having a partner and great friends does help I find....there are good days and bad days, but I take each day at a time! Sophie

  4. That general store is wonderful, I must go find that one day,oh and the bright blue house is so so cheery - what a lovely post.

  5. Feel the same way about Designer's Guild....It is so beautiful that I went there not once but three times....lucky the hotel was so close! Rx

  6. Unfortunately Lina is in the sleazy underbelly of Soho on Brewer Street surrounded by 'Private Shops'. Not the best place to recommend wandering round. Soho is certainly very colourful in that respect!

  7. i was at designers guild with romy 3 x's. it was so wonderful. i adore the fabric i got and still don't know what i'm going to do with it. also the doors of london were breathtaking. still in shock that i got to see all this.

  8. Swoon! Sumptuous colour, Janelle. The Kelly green and that door have me simpering! J x


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