Are we allowed to say ‘staycation’? Well, whatever we’re currently calling it, I had a bit of travel cancelled recently and was getting majorly itchy feet, so I suggested to Mr E that we take a little weekend trip to London. And what a lovely weekend it turned out to be. We stayed at the very lovely Dorsett Shepherds Bush, which is the perfect hotel for a city break: it’s literally a five minute walk from the tube station (and Westfield Shopping Centre), and we spent the whole weekend exploring and hopping on and off the tube.
We arrived a bit early for check in at the Dorsett, but they very kindly offered to look after our bags so we could head to Victoria to pick up our tickets for Wicked. We booked through Attraction Tickets Direct, which is a good choice if you just want to go to a show on a certain day and aren’t massively fussy. The tickets work on a best available basis and we actually got some really nice, central stalls tickets with a wonderful view. If you haven’t seen Wicked, you absolutely must. Apparently the current cast is quite new, but wow, the power in those voices! I found the story (and the singing) really emotional and although I knew Defying Gravity, I didn’t really know much about the storyline (it’s a kind of ‘prequel’ to the Wizard of Oz, telling the story of how Elphaba, who turns out to be the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good Witch met). It’s absolutely lovely and I’d highly recommend it. Mr E wasn’t really sure about going to a show (‘do we have to go to one with singing?’), but he loved it too.
After the show, we decided to head back to Shepherd’s Bush to relax at the hotel. I read somewhere that Dorsett Shepherds Bush actually used to be a cinema (the Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion, opened in the 20s), but was damaged during the war. It was restored eventually and served a couple of different functions until being finally abandoned in 2001. The current hotel building, opened in 2014, is beautiful, with an incredible curved glass roof and a minimal, modern ‘Asian fusion’ interior, boasting 317 bedrooms and gorgeous suites (we were lucky enough to be given one of these), as well as meeting rooms, a couple of restaurants, a lovely bar, called Jin, and a top floor spa.
Our suite, decorated in delicate, muted golds and creams, with floor to ceiling gold silk curtains disguising a view of the green (sadly the fair was in town so I’ll spare you the view), was stunning. I love the attention to detail (check out the delicate little bird decorating our door):
We decided to stay local and spent a lovely evening wandering Westfield (it’s open until 10pm on a Saturday). Shepherd’s Bush might not be the prettiest place, but there are plenty of restaurants and bars (the Defector’s Weld is fab), a huge Vue cinema, and Notting Hill and Kensington are both around a ten minute cab ride (or bus) away, and it’s so easy to walk to the tube – the world’s your oyster.
We finished our evening relaxing in the pretty Jin bar, sharing a delicious bottle of Californian Chardonnay (highly recommended, this one, we’ll be looking out for it again), before heading up to bed.
The next morning, we decided to head to Columbia Road (I’ve always wanted to experience the flower market) and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an easy walk from Old Street tube and there are loads of cool cafés and coffee shops along the way too. When you get there, it’s a whirl of colour and heady scent and shouting and hustle and bustle, but it’s so worth it. I wish we could have carried more stuff home, but I settled for 20 cream roses for a fiver. Bargain!
Huge thanks to the lovely bunch (geddit?) at Dorsett Shepherds Bush, and to Attraction Tickets Direct for our fabulous Wicked tickets.