Jet Set: London

For those who love seeing the world, travelling is the ultimate joyride. Whether you take a short haul flight to the Big Apple, or book a
safari in the Sahara, there are an endless amount of places to see that are sure to ignite
your senses. These holidays, one of the gang from the fourth floor ventured across the pond to the Mother Land
to ring in 2013 and impressed is one hell of an understatement. London has been one of the most exciting, vibrant and
historical cities for decades – heck, centuries. Rich with culture, the dichotomous melange of old Victorian structures in the
midst of new, modern architecture and boroughs so cool that you can’t
actually pick your favourite because each one is filled with an abundance of unique attributes. London is in a category of its own. 


After spending two nights in the beautiful English village of Crowthorn, the Covent Garden
Hotel
 became home for the week. If you’re looking for a beautiful, boutique hotel to call
a ‘London cottage’ for a bit, this is your gem. Located in the heart of the theatre
district, steps away from the Royal Ballet and home to the colourful, Neal’s Yard; Covent Garden has everything you need right at your curious fingertips. And if you
need a little assistance finding your way back, the lights draping the streets of the seven
dials
 can guide you home. They saved us a few times.

Here are list of highlights – and yes, their winter weather
may be one of them – it was 10 degrees all week. Unfortunately, you’ll notice ‘befriending Kate Middleton’ didn’t make the cut. Sad. 

Curry!
The Brits love their curries and there is no shortage of places to find them. Traditional English curry houses welcome people all hours of the day, including late, and very late-night dinners. We were introduced to this divine new cuisine on a whole new level and it left us craving poppadoms, tasty onion bhaji and king prawn peri peri. London is known for their Indian chefs and one spot we can’t stop raving about is the Delhi
Brasserie
. With a great LGBT bar across the street and (surprise!) a pub next door, this spicy jewel located in the heart of Soho greeted us with open arms and sent us packing with full bellies. 



Pubs
This goes without saying, but the pub culture in
London is incredible. There are easily three pubs at nearly every ‘junction’ and
they’re all full at any given time. Packed with friends, coworkers, groups, couples,
families (with children) – London pubs are a place where people of all ages congregate and celebrate the day’s end. It’s not just the accessibility and convenience of the pubs that is fun, but the environment inside. Often outfitted in dark oak finishes, olde English taps and a no-nonsense atmosphere, they’re small, intimate, and have great service. We hopped on the ‘tube’ to
Notting Hill Gate to enjoy a few pints at the Windsor Castle, a
quaint looking English house from the outside, a proper British pub on the
inside, and home to a lovely, seasonal beer garden out back. Sold. 

Speaking
of Notting Hill…it really does look like this. And we’re in luck because the
house we fell in love with is only £5,250,000. Brilliant.





Walking
Londoners walk rain or shine. From the 7 Dials to the Tower
of London, the coolest way to get around town is your two feet. Walking is not
only amazing exercise for all the curry and pints you’ll be downing, but the
best way to actually see all the city’s offerings. You can cut across Trafalgar Square through
Buckingham Palace – wave to the Queen – over to Westminster Abbey and the gorgeous Houses of Parliament within an hour. Walking extends beyond the London city
limits and well into the English country side. England has more than 15,000 footpaths that are all maintained by their associated counties. We think Welly’s are
fashionable here but they come in awfully handy when you’re trenching through the muddy walks of Great Britain. 



If
you really don’t feel like walking, the London Underground is without a doubt,
one of the easiest and most efficient public transit services in the world. They’re certainly worth a ride, even just to come back and heckle the TTC a little
more. 



Shopping.
You didn’t think we were going to forget shopping, did you? Lucky for us (and our Visas), we took the window-shopping tour down Bond St. on a Sunday when all the stores were closed. Fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, YSL, and yes, McQueen, adorn Old Bond Street and New Bond Street for a stylish mile. Easily one of the most posh areas in London, Bond Street is situated in the heart of Mayfair. In spite of the beauty and elegance that the area exudes, we must admit another grand display of shopping that unleashed an unexpected inner-child: Hamleys. One of the largest, most popular toy stores on Earth! Six impressive floors on Regent St, Hamleys is one of London’s main tourist attractions, welcoming around five million visits a year. It’s worth it, no matter how old you are. You’re welcome, for that one.


All in all, we had a smashing time and hope our tips give you a little taste of this amazing city. Cheers, mate.



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Media, Darling: Gracie Carroll

Gracie Carroll is a blogger and freelance writer who covers lifestyle, culture, fashion, beauty and events. After completing the four year Fashion Communication program at Ryerson, she packed up and moved down to New York City to intern in the fashion department of Teen Vogue magazine


After six months in NYC, Gracie hopped across the pond to London. Following some PR work and online writing, the stars aligned and she met with the Executive Fashion Editor of ELLE UK for a fateful coffee which turned into a role at the magazine – assisting their fashion features director.

For the last few years she has been back in Toronto working on her blog, writing for ELLECanada.comPostCity.comFILLERmagazine and Plaid Magazine. Sometimes she throws parties and organizes events too, because she likes doing those sorts of things.
Twitter: @GracieCarroll

Did you
always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I’ve always wanted to work in fashion. When I was a little
kid I hoped to be a supermodel, but as I got older that changed to wanting to
work for a magazine. Magazines always appealed to me because I thought they
were one great place where I could combine my love for fashion, photography,
writing and art direction. When I was a teenager I also tossed around the ideas
of being a lawyer, doctor, bartender and/or VJ.

Where would
you like to be five years from now?

I’m a Scorpio, and we’re very secretive, so I can’t tell you
that.

Any advice
for people getting started in your industry?

Work hard to get the internships you want, and work even
harder once you get them. The lessons you learn while interning, not to
mention the connections you can make, are often far more beneficial to you than
your education, or what school you went to. A lot of it comes down to who you
are, and who you know  – along with your talent, of course. Living and
working outside of Canada, not one person ever asked where I went to school. It
was about what I was bringing to the table.

What are
your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 

ELLE UK, Refinery29, Fashionista, Globe & Mail Style,
The Coveteur, ‘Thank You, OK‘. 

Best
interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

I fell in love with Giles Deacon when I interviewed him
last year. It was also fun to chat with Anna Dello Russo on the phone back in
London – I’ve still got her number in my iPhone contacts! 

Best advice
you’ve ever been given?

Believe in yourself (from a tarot card reader in Paris).

What rule(s)
do you live your life by?

Go for what you want in life. It’s up to you to make your
dreams come true. 

What’s the
most important tip you can give PR pros?

Don’t pitch stories or clients that make absolutely no
sense for the publication. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and will help you
lose credibility very quickly.  

Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.

It actually just happened in Calgary over the
weekend. I told a Calgary PR I wanted to visit a spa and a restaurant for lunch
before I flew out the next day. Within two hours she had me booked and
confirmed with a full itinerary and transportation sorted. Aside from answering
any questions I had, or solving any problems I’d created, she completely left
me alone to enjoy the experience – bliss.

I hate?

Bananas. 

I love?

The special people in my life that make it so much
richer. 

Reading?

ELLE UK‘s October Issue and Life by Keith Richards 

Best place
on earth?

My cottage, but I’m biased. 

Dinner
guest?

My best friend, Rachel. She’s been the best dinner
guest since grade four. 

Hero?

My mom. 

Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

Instagram, Rocket Man, UBER, and Epicurious. 

Pool or
ocean?

Infinity pool into the ocean. 

Voicemail or
email?

I hate both but email if I have to choose. 

Fashion week
show you’re most looking forward to?

Lucian Matis. 

Rave: High Tea

Whether it’s an alternative to coffee in the morning, a cozy drink on a cold rainy day or a relaxing way to end a meal, there is nothing like a good cup of tea. As lovers of tea, one of our favourite indulgences is going for High Tea. 


We were first introduced to High Tea while living in London, England one summer. It was a friend’s birthday and instead of going out for dinner, we opted for traditional afternoon tea. Dressing up in our most elegant summer dresses, six of us headed to the Savoy Hotel to enjoy scones, tea sandwiches, pastries, tea, and champagne for the birthday girl. It was divine.



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Whether it’s for a special celebration, or simply an outing with girlfriends (it’s a great alternative to brunch), we’ve found three places in Toronto that offer both traditional and variations of this popular British custom.

The Windsor Arms Hotel –  18 St. Thomas St.
Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, or even just an afternoon tea, we’ve found that The Windsor Arms offers the most authentic High Tea experience in the city. With options to sit in the French-style lobby tea room or the majestic purple room with its original 1927 working fireplace, you feel as though you’ve been transported to another time and place. The price ranges from $30 during the week to $38 on the weekends for “Full Tea”, which includes scones, tea sandwiches, desserts and a selection of teas. While the Windsor Arms is definitely on the more expensive side, it is well worth it for the experience and delicious food.



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Red Tea Box – 696 Queen St. W.
While High Tea at the Red tea Box is not exactly traditional, it is most definitely a whimsical experience. When walking into the store/restaurant, you feel as though you’ve just stepped into the world of Alice in Wonderland, with colourful, ornate pastries and quirky mismatched furniture, silverware and tablecloths. A variety of prix-fixe options are available including the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” (including scones, sandwiches, tea cakes and tea for $27), Tea Bento, South East Asian Tea, Tea Feature, and Dessert Bento. We’ll be heading back again to try each of these cool options.



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T Buds – 3343 Yonge St.
For a more casual yet equally fun and delicious High Tea experience, T Buds on Yonge (north of Lawrence) offers an extensive selection of teas and sandwiches available for afternoon tea. For $22, you’re served the traditional High Tea spread upstairs in the Tea Lounge. A bonus at T Buds is that it is first and foremost a tea shop. The staff are very knowledgeable, and if you enjoyed the tea you sipped, you can buy it downstairs to recreate a tea party at home.



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If you’re looking for something new and different to do in Toronto then we definitely suggest you try High Tea; if not for the tea, then at least for the tea sandwiches! Who can say no to delicious little crustless bites of goodness?