Camille Charrière’s Inside Guide to London

French-born Camille Charrière is a former lawyer and has a background at both Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion. Today she works as a fashion journalist and creative consultant in her new hometown of London.

I grew up in Paris, but moved to London four years ago to follow a boy. That relationship didn’t last, but I fell head over heels for the city. I am fluent in English – my mom is half-English and my dad is French – so I grew up knee-deep in British culture, and feel the Anglo-Saxons have a lot to offer.

I love the humour here, the open-mindedness, the freedom of expression, how eclectic each part of the city is in terms of food, architecture, style. My only real complaint is the weather. But hey, a little rain never killed anyone.

In fact, the city is always alive, no matter what the weather, the time of day, or the day of the week. I thrive on the fast pace of London life. The city is gigantic, so try and plan to explore one neighbourhood at a time or you will waste all of your time trekking from East to West, which can take up to an hour even on the tube – don’t even think about cabbing it!

The Brits are a merry, friendly, helpful bunch, always keen to make new friends. So don’t be shy to sit down at a local pub and strike up a conversation with the locals. They will always know the best thing to do and will be happy to share a pint or three.

In terms of fashion, the nice thing about London is that people are less judgmental than elsewhere. I like to think that the city has embraced the “come as you are” mentality, meaning you can dress up or down, go crazy (you will notice how much fancy dressing happens over the weekend) or keep it simple. No one will bat an eyelid. Street style on this side of the pond is all about self-expression, so have fun with it!

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Nac.

BAR The coolest (and hardest) place to get into in London is currently Chiltern Firehouse’s bar: The Ladder Shed. Only a lucky few make it past the white-jacketed staff into its large room complete with pink marble bar countertop and mahogany-panelled fireplace. But for those who do, you will sip the best cocktails in town in the intimate company of serious A-listers (Kate Moss is a regular!).

Mr. Foggs and it’s old world charm is my favourite date spot, while Fernandez & Wells on Lexington street boasts the best wine list and spanish tapas for miles around.

HOTEL The London Edition is as majestic as it is convenient, centred in the heart of Soho, a stone’s throw away from Oxford Street (otherwise known as high street heaven for all you bargain hunters). I have enjoyed many a staycation there and can vouch for those beds!

Not far is The Connaught: slightly smaller (read: a little more cosy), and located on my favourite shopping street (more on that later), the SPA offers the best massages (the only jet lag cure that works).

The Ace Hotel or Shoreditch House in East London are best for eye candy and weekend fun!). Finally The Mondrian on the Southbank would be a nice change for those used to staying central and ready to explore a new side of town.

RESTAURANT Do not trust anyone who tells you the food is bad in London. The truth is, eating out is often cheaper than cooking for yourself, so everyone does. I love NAC, on North Audley Street, which offers a healthy selection of delicious (and Instagram-worthy) dishes. Try the kinoa and Cajun chicken.

The Anchor and Hope is the best gastropub I have ever come across, with a game-focused menu that changes everyday (not for those on a diet!). For light and tasty ceviches try Peruvian place Lima Floral. Try Roka for amazing sushi. And for a taste of the skyline view, Duck and Waffle.

 

CAFÉ I’m not really a coffee drinker, but I am nonetheless a sucker for a really cosy coffee spot as am freelance and like to get out of the house in the morning. I love Kaffeine in Fitzrovia, and all the little locals around Golbourne Road.

But frankly, my real favourites are The Electric and Shoreditch House, which I like to think of as my home away from home (incidentally, it’s also one of only two rooftop pools in London). Unfortunately, you can only go if you are a member of the Soho House group.

BRUNCH I take brunch very seriously. I am heavily addicted to poached egg on avocado toast and can’t go more than a week without a proper full English fry up.

Try tiny hipster spot Lowry and Baker for best value breakfast, or brave the queue at Granger on Westbourne Grove.

The Good Life Eatery is a hugely popular healthy option (the super smoothies are incredible) and the Breakfast Club will have something delicious to please every taste.

CLUB + NIGHT London is rife with really fun private member clubs – Arts Club, Groucho Club, Beat – which can be a bit tricky for passing visitors. Try Moral Fox in Notting Hill if you like old-school hip hop, The Scotch in Mayfair if you are after a sexy crowd, or Cuckoo in Piccadilly if you want to dance.

The way we do it is keep an eye out on Resident Advisor and choose our whereabouts accordingly. If you like techno, Unleash/Boneca London organise relatively tame nights with the best DJs flown in from Berlin and Ibiza (Guy Gerber, Salomun, Seth Troxler). I also love Village Underground and Corsica Studios if I feel like an all-nighter.

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Alex eagle walton street.

 

FASHION + SHOPPING I love to stick to my neighbourhood when it comes to shopping. Notting Hill has it all from Matches, Joseph, and all the middle-range brands to the huge mall at Westfields where you can get lost for hours.

I would also say that Mount Street is the new Bond Street when it comes to luxury shopping. The Celine store that opened last year is not to be missed, and Christopher Kane and Loewe just joined around the corner.

Dover Street Market and Browns are my favourite concept stores (especially if you are looking for jewelry). My latest find is Alex Eagle’s new place on Walton Street which stocks all the lesser known directional brands like Rosetta Getty and Isa Arfen. High fashion heaven for bits you won’t find anywhere else. For vintage shopping, I would stick to East London around Brick Lane.

BEAUTY I love the beauty section at Liberty’s which is conveniently located in the heart of London, but stock up on all my daily favourites at Space and K, which offers a curated selection of the best of the best (Chantecaille, Eve Lom, La Mer).

I also am a huge fan of Tom Ford products which can only be found at Selfridges. I get my hair done at a Josh Wood Atelier, which is hidden away behind Holland park station. Last time I was there, Rosie Huntington was sat next to me. Ask for Andreas if you want a magic hand to work your colour, and Rob for a flawless cut that will grow out well.

FOOD If you are dead set on cooking, shop at Waitrose or at Whole Foods, they are the only place where the ingredients taste any good. Head to Borough Market or Columbia Road Market on the weekend if you want to enjoy a nice walk as well as the food stalls. Portobello Road is also a good one at the weekend. They all get very busy though, so be sure you want to brave the crowds.

CULTURE Generally, my favourite exhibitions tend to be found at Somerset House (which you will recognise as the grounds for London Fashion Week), The Royal Academy of Arts and The Tate Modern. All are worth going to, and I can’t recommend enough carving some time out of your schedule to enter their walls. If you make it in time, the Alexander McQueen exhibition currently showing at the v&a is one of the best shows I have ever had the pleasure to visit. It really takes you into another world and will make you fall in love with fashion all over again. Shakespeare’s Globe is also a favourite.

ATTRACTION Okay, bear with me on this one, but if you have the time you really should go and see a musical. They are such a marvellous part of British culture and no other nation seems to get them right like the Brits. ”Billy Elliot” is charming, funny, political and breathtaking (I have seen it three time, including with boys and cried and laughed my heart out each time!) and ”The Book of Mormon” is comedy genius at it’s very best.

The London Eye is also worth a spin if only for the wonderful views of London it has to offer (sunny weather required!), and you have to go say hi to the squirrel in Hyde Park.

THE HIDDEN GEM I don’t want to say too much, but for a really romantic (and 360 panorama) view of the city, make your way to the sky bar at 20 Fenchurch Street. You won’t regret it!

Photo Dean Martindale