Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Hidden Treasures in Soho

Thank you to Push PR for inviting me to their 'Christmas in July' press day, held today at The Soho HotelI could spend hours walking around Soho: a condensed, if extreme snapshot of London’s diverse, cosmopolitan, energetic and fashionable residents. You can typically spot the tourists: simultaneously bewildered and fascinated by surrounding  sights/streets/outfits. Or, perhaps the feeling that you might never fully acclimatise to Soho applies to most people, bar the seasoned ‘Soholite’. As much as I’d like to pretend that’s me, it’s not (yet). 
The Soho Hotel, London
The Soho Hotel
The Soho Hotel became increasingly elusive as I negotiated my way through Oxford Street roadworks, failed to glance up at the street sign of my chosen pathway and lost patience as my usually reliable ‘Google Map app' died. With no mobile and no direction, I wasn’t only reminded of how much I rely on technology and how I should be more organised before leaving the house. Becoming entangled in the colourful crowds, I realised that when you enter the Soho maze, your life (or day) really is in the hands of this crazy little world. It’s a bit like Vegas casino’s: with no clocks on the walls, you lose orientation and have no idea how many hours have passed.

For those new to Soho, it’s not all noise, bright lights (or red lights) and some distinctively dubious looking shops/bars. A centre for the media/entertainment industries(hopefully I’ll find my way around soon...), there are also Jazz clubs, theatres, famous nightclubs with live music, two Michelin-star restaurants and trendy hotels with equally ‘trendy’ rates. Luckily, it wasn’t too long until I found the one I’d been looking for, tucked away in the surprisingly quiet, cobbled Richmond mews. 

The Soho Hotel London, Afternoon tea
The Soho Hotel, Afternoon Tea

The Soho Hotel (of the Firmdale Group) is contemporary, smart and spacious, offering bedrooms to apartments, screening/private event rooms to spa treatments, and a restaurant/bar to Ruinart afternoon tea (£28) on vintage sofas. Now I love the characteristic edginess which I have always associated with Soho, but in my opinion, this is a welcome addition to its ‘smarter’ offerings, which include Dean Street Townhouse and Soho House.

The Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
The Dean Street Townhouse

Finally entering the press room, I was thrilled that Christmas had again, for me, made a summertime appearance. A lovely, varied selection of (mostly) girly festive goodies, I made a mental note of items which could earn a spot on my Christmas list. I would like to share one particular discovery with you, which I absolutely adored (and please believe me when I say that I will not feature anything I don’t personally like). ‘Lovely Lip Balm’ by Andrea Garland, an aromatherapist-come-natural-cosmetics-queen from Hackney. 

Lovely Lip Balm - Flower Fairy Tin - Hawthorn
Lovely Lip Balm - Beaded CompactLip Balms
In a beauty world saturated with lip sticks, balms and glosses, it’s surely not an easy market to master. But, bored of the brands in Boots, I was ready for a different product. If you try these ‘Lovely Lip Balms’, I’m certain you’ll agree just how moreishly magnificent the ethically-sourced ingredients are: Shea Butter, sun-protecting Red Raspberry Seed Oil,  moisturising Sweet Almond Oil, anti-oxidant Vitamin E Oil and Organic Beeswax. But what really made me smile (and what sets these apart from other natural/ethical lippy competitors), were the exquisite vintage tins, compacts and pill boxes that store the balms (as well as several of Andrea’s other products).  Beautiful, nostalgic one-offs worth treasuring, they would make the ideal gift or spoil-yourself-because-you-deserve-it treat. Travel tins and cologne pots are brilliant for the boys and body/face products prices start at £5 (£16 for the lip balms). 

I’d love to hear what you think... now I’m off to plan my next trip to Soho.

Images: 1) Push PR, 2), 4), 5) The Soho Hotel, 3) Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, 6) - 8) Andrea Garland


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