London in the summer is always a good idea. There's a certain ease that floats through the city – the warm weather and sunshine evaporating any of the gloom that Londoners carry so well. Like a collective sigh of relief, the city leans back, easing into itself just a touch more, a luxurious comfort that invites you to hang around at the pub for one more drink. It's a nostalgia I have always loved about London, and a feeling I often look for in the framework of my favourite British brands. So, when the opportunity to head over to The Big Smoke with Jaguar, (a brand whose heritage, luxury craftsmanship and storytelling precedes itself), during the height of summer presented itself, you can rest assured that my bags were already packed.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that while I may not be the most well-versed in the technical complexities of the automotive industry, one thing I do understand innately is experience. It just so happens that Jaguar does both of these things very well; from the moment you step inside the luxurious cabin of the fully-electric I-PACE, to sitting trackside at the sustainable racing event of the year that I am proudly coining the new Formula 1 (more on that later); luxury and lifestyle have never been more closely considered.
So, by now, you're probably wondering what I managed to get up to with little over 48 hours and the tenacity of the Jaguar I-PACE on my side? Keep reading on for all my favourite London recommendations and highlights.
It's true that London is littered with plenty of luxurious stays to choose from, but for me, nothing will ever beat The Berkeley. Located between two of my favourite landmarks – Hyde Park (for an early and quiet morning stroll) and Knightsbridge (for obvious reasons) – the experience from start to finish is unmatched. Spacious and luxurious rooms that accomodate my obsessive overpacking (to be fair, the London weather is notoriously unpredictable), and a cloud-like comfort that I desperately welcomed at the end of each jam-packed day, it's hard to find something not to love. And don't get me started on the mini bar!
If you have a leisurely start to your day, settle in for a full English at the Collins Room (closely followed by a serving of scones), but if time is of the essence, a coffee and traditional Parisian pastry from the master Cédric Grolet will make breakfast on the run feel like a complete luxury. I, obviously, made sure to make the time for both (on numerous occasions during my quick stay). Fair to say the croissant at the airport was not the same.
So, why London in the first place? Yes, it might seem serendipitous that we travelled to Jaguar's home country, but it's probably not for the reason that you might think. If, like many of us, you have been swept up in the hype around Drive To Survive, and now walk around with an unusual number of Formula 1 facts living rent-free in your mind, you're definitely going to want to know about Formula-E. For the uninitiated, Formula-E is a fully-electric alternative to professional racing – yes, you read that correctly, every car on the racetrack is fully electric, without compromising on the performance element. First launching in 2014, it's fair to say the initiative was well ahead of its time, as the push towards more considered sustainability in the automotive industry continues to be at the forefront, and I luckily, had the opportunity to experience the event in real time.
It's one of the reasons why Jaguar has made an official commitment to becoming fully electric by 2025; and with vehicles like the E-PACE, XE and of course the I-PACE leading the way, it's further proof that in 2023, style and sustainability can co-exist. Now, for the list of things I never thought I would experience: a hot laps activity (yes, it really is as fast as it looks), the famous pit lane walk and some of the best trackside street style, featuring the one and only Jarvis Aivali, that I have seen in a long time. Who said there wasn't a place for fashion at the race track?
There was plenty of time off the track, too. Would you believe me if I told you that I also had the unique opportunity to make my very own sneakers from scratch? Because that's exactly what we did with a visit to Helen Kirkum Studio – a luxury sneaker artisan that utilises recycled and dead stock materials, to create artisanal and authentic pieces. From the various off-cut fabrics, to the stitching and the final design, we created our very own, entirely bespoke sneakers. Watch the reel below for a sneak peak into the process, and if you find yourself in London, I couldn't recommend the experience more highly.
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I also managed to fit in a ceremonious visit to one of my favourite vintage stores in London (though sadly, with no success story to come back with), and also went for a fast-paced walk through the streets of Soho for a Glossier top-up and a trip to Aimé Leon Dore to pick-up a Greek Freddo Cappuccino and a pair of their boxers. Very much playing into the bloomers trend for spring.
Have you ever had dinner inside an art installation? No, not an art gallery, but within the art itself? I don't mean to make you jealous, but that's exactly how I spent one of my evenings with Jaguar in London. Inside the Lightroom, a long rectangular dining table sat within the space, encased by legendary artist, David Hockney's immersive art experience, Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away). Arguably one of the most surreal experiences I have ever been a part of, the decadent four course menu was inspired by Hockney's creations, which were displayed digitally along the walls and the floor. Think butter, flakey tarts encased in a cloud of smoke and an immersive basket of freshly harvested delights for dessert. A must-see exhibition if you happen to be in London before it closes on December 3. You might have to BYO snacks, though...
As I mentioned earlier, I am a serial over-packer – which doesn't bode well when you put me in an environment where the weather never matches what it says on the app. Thankfully, the Rimowa Essential Suitcase (in this heavenly shade of Petal Pink), knows how to handle my chaos, with plenty of space for all the extras. Some key fixtures that saw me through: these Friends with Frank Great Chino Trousers, a stripped cotton shirt (or two), a staple black blazer – mine is an old Ben Sherman style I stole from my dad, but this SIR The Label silhouette is even better – and plenty of accessories, including my Cartier Panthère watch, go-to Tiffany & Co. hardwear earrings and plenty of rings.