Category Archive for England

London alternative art! Yoko Ono at Tate Modern, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences

fashion bloggers london instagrammable locations spots

London, baby, yeahhh! Always a pleasure to be back in England — my starting point for my collab with Play Airlines (which I flew from London to Iceland to NYC).

If you’re looking for avantgarde and artsy things to do on London, UK, then this post is for you. Read on for my queenly stay at The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences (above photo) and Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, two of London’s finest boutique hotels… as well as my visits to Sketch (avantgarde afternoon tea), fashion boutiques, and Yoko Ono’s exhibit at The Tate Modern!

yoko ono music of the mind art exhibit tate modern

“Yes, I’m a witch too.” Yoko Ono is one of my creative heroes… so I was beyond chuffed to see the Japanese artist’s show, Music of the Mind, at The Tate Modern, London. (It runs until Sept 1, 2024). Please watch my IG video of the exhibit to see the interactive elements, as well as clips from her films “Cut Piece” and “Fly.”

yoko ono ladder yes exhibition tate art museum

The Tate exhibited a number of Yoko Ono’s works from the mid-1950s to the present. Music of the Mind turned out to be one of the most moving exhibits I’ve experienced. Her conceptual art and participatory works – such as where audience members cut off her clothes – are imaginative, absurd, genius.

yoko ono tracing shadow tate modern music of mind

Here I am following Yoko’s instructions to trace my shadow on the wall, using pencils provided. (My skirt is Kuwalla Tee.)

london yoko ono art gallery exhibit the tate britain uk

The artist was married to John Lennon, and has been unfairly blamed for breaking up The Beatles. But if you ask me, Yoko Ono is the most talented of them all!

yoko ono work to be stepped on, mummy is beautiful 2024

I loved seeing her thought-provoking, creative instructions written in Japanese (and published in her book “Grapefruit.”) Visitors can put their feet on “A Work to be Stepped On,” or add messages to their moms to the wall in “My Mummy Is Beautiful.”

wishing trees yoko ono the tate modern art museum

Here I am adding my wish to the Wishing Tree. Come see my video of the Yoko Ono x Tate Modern Britain exhibition — it’s one of the best art shows I’ve seen in recent memory. PS: Sound on when you watch my IG reel because her singing is “Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai Ai!”

sketch london egg bathrooms coolest restroom

For another eccentric experience — book the afternoon tea at Sketch. An 18th century townhouse was transformed with maximalist decor that ranges from psychedelic to space-age (and the bathrooms look like alien eggs!)

sketch uk neon decor art restaurant london

The funky space encompasses several restaurants and bars. My favorite is the pink Gallery by India Mahdavi, which serves as a playful salon de thé.

sketch london coolest bathrooms rainbow eggs toilets

Perhaps you’ve seen Instagram pics of the Sketch bathrooms. Each white egg is an individual toilet!

afternoon tea sketch london menu food sweets

The afternoon tea included British classics like cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and Battenberg cake — all artistically presented.

machine a clothing boutique london fashion style

Then, a requisite visit to Machine-A, a luxury concept boutique with a brilliant selection of emerging, contemporary, and streetwear labels.

dover street market london avantgarde clothes

Dover Street Market is another must-visit for fashion lovers. The multi-floor space feels like an art exhibition — I spotted a nod to The Collapse.

the athenaeum hotel residences review 5 star hotels

After walking around London all day, I was happy to rest my head at The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences. The 5-star hotel has a bespoke, indie spirit that shines from the moment you’re greeted at the Art Deco doors.

london uk art boutique hotels athenaeum

There’s a new queen of England… Or so I felt, staying at The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences near Buckingham Palace, London! The Mayfair location can’t be beat, and with only about 100 rooms, every guest can depend on personalized service.

london mayfair hotels overlooking park views

It was a royal stay by every measure… check out these spacious Art Deco rooms with views of Green Park, and a teddy bear on the bed.

instagram fashion travel hotel bathroom selfie

Unlike “cookie cutter” hotel chains, every space here is full of character. As the kids say these days, the bathrooms are a vibe.

the athenaeum hotel london rooms review

I received a sweet welcome when I checked in. Guests can also access the top floor lounge, and enjoy snacks while taking in skyline views (you can see the London Eye Ferris wheel and other landmarks over the trees).

london healthy english breakfast athenaeum hotel

She loves a high protein breakfast… and The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences customized it to include all my favorites! (Free-range eggs made to order, smoked salmon, avocado, spinach, and berries with farm-fresh yogurt and chia seeds).

interiors lobby athenaeum hotel residences reviews

The hotel has a marvelous spa and Jacuzzi as well. I recommend treating yourself to a nice stay in Central London to experience it to the fullest.

london content creators style goth fashion

Wearing a Kuromi top from Uniqlo, Miffy pouch, and Windsor Store denim skirt with slit. Hair ribbons are from Japan.

116 at The Athenaeum dining dinner menu hotel London Restaurants

Dinner at the in-house 116 Restaurant was a delight. The locally-sourced, seasonal dishes included gin-cured salmon and British asparagus. The fresh floral-infused cocktails paid homage to the neighborhood’s surrounding gardens.

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An impeccable stay at The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences, London… Can I move in?

london uk instagram photography locations mayfair houses streets

I also experienced the best of British hospitality at the stately Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.  The hotel is in my favorite neighborhood of Marylebone/Mayfair — known for its flower gardens and classic homes, and close to Hyde Park and Oxford Street. Just look at these surroundings!

hyatt churchill hotel london england

Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill tips its hat to Sir Winston Churchill (Britain’s WWII Prime Minister) with elegant design and service to match. His charm radiates from the paintings and sculptures of his likeness, which fill the classic lobby.

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Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is ideally situated a peaceful area, yet close to all the major London landmarks and shopping streets.

british food hyatt churchill regency restaurant montagu kitchen

Loved the seasonal British cuisine at The Montagu Kitchen: asparagus with poached egg, grilled octopus with spring peas puree, Dover sole and steak. The Churchill Bar also serves craft cocktails inspired by Sir Winston Churchill’s life and achievements.

Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill winston churchill hotel

The joy of warming up by the fire, as my friend played the grand piano in the lobby… Can’t wait to return to the Hyatt Recency London – The Churchill to make more memories.

national express london bus stansted airport transfers

We bade goodbye to London, and made our way to Stansted Airport. Hot tip: National Express is “the” way to do airport transfers in London. The buses are timely, comfy and inexpensive, with many stops throughout London. I easily booked my rides online and boarded from Victoria Station, which was close to my hotels.

If you’re flying into London, take National Express to/from the airport — very happy with the rides and service.

london goths, gothic girls highgate cemetery

PS: If you’re interested in Goth guides to London, see my previous Gothic England posts here. I covered Camden Market / Cyberdog, Highgate Cemetery, Last Tuesday Society / Viktor Wynd, and other Halloween / dark attractions. I also have stories about Manchester’s alt culture and Whitby Gothic Weekend — there’s so much to see and do in UK!

PPS: I was interviewed about fashion and travel in The Wall Street Journal. I also have new Tokyo guides up on Fodors. including where to shop, eat, and how to save money.

Much more travel writing and content to come soon from my Europe and NYC trip… check back on the blog soon, and see my videos and pics on @LaCarmina Instagram! 



Gothic tour of Highgate Cemetery in North London: British vampire graveyard! City Relay rental apartments review.

london goths, artist zoetica ebb

When you’re in London with your Gothic comrades… there’s no better place to hang out than in an English graveyard!

Zoetica, Trevor and I spent a spooky afternoon exploring Highgate Cemetery in North London, the final resting spot of George Michael, Sex Pistols punk manager Malcolm McLaren, and other famous Brits.

Beware: according to local lore, these burial grounds are haunted by a vampire. Read on for the ghostly legends, as well as a tour of my classic City Relay flat.

visit highgate village cemetery

I was happy to reunite with my long-time friends Trevor and Zoetica Ebb, who both relocated from California to London. They’re thoroughly enjoying life in the UK: there are lots of alternative and underground events here (occult life-drawing, and witchcraft courses at the British Museum, to name a few. We also visited the Viktor Wynd cabinet of curiosities together, as you may recall from this post.)

highgate cemetery entrance

It was our first visit to Highgate Cemetery, established in 1837 and a favorite haunt for Goths. We adored the setting from our first glimpse of these black and gold ornate gates, surrounded by autumn leaves.

Visitor info: Highgate is easy to access by the tube on the Northern Line, which passes through Camden. (Might as well visit Camden Market on the way — here’s my guide to Camdenlock). There’s a small entrance fee, and the gates close at 3:30 or 4:30pm, so be sure to get here early).

Graveyard address: Swain’s Ln, Highgate, London N6 6PJ, UK

highgate cemetery tombstones

Highgate Cemetery is split into West and East portions. West Cemetery can be accessed only if you pre-book a tour in advance, since you’ll need a guide to traverse these crumbling older graves. We’ll have to visit the western side next time: it contains some of the most impressive architecture, including the pillared Egyptian Avenue, and Circle of Lebanon.

london haunted graveyard tombs

However, there’s still so much to see the East side. We arrived as the sun was setting, and light was glowing through the crucifixes.

Highgate Cemetery holds 53,000 graves. I confess that we added one more…

luichiny designer boots shoes vintage

… it’s a long story, but Zoetica’s Luichiny boots gave up their last breath during our hangout! We gave these gorgeous shoes a proper send-off in the most Gothic of graveyards.

highgate cemetery west east

Highgate Cemetery was established in 1839, and dedicated to St. James. Fifteen acres are set aside for the Church of England, and two acres for the Dissenters.

The tombs are especially striking in autumn, covered in creeping vines and fallen leaves

zoetica ebb blue hair biorequium

The cemetery’s grounds are lush with vines, shrubbery and wildflowers, most of which have grown naturally and intermingle beautifully with the gravestones.

ancient gravestones highgate

Many of the gravestones are works of art, made more beautiful through decay. Love the effect of the stone-carved chains bound by vines.

haunted tour london highgate vampire

In the early 1970s, locals began reporting sightings of a ghostly figure. Soon, the legend spread that a vampire was haunting Highgate Cemetery!

spooky bizarre weird london

According to one tale, this supernatural being was a King Vampire of the Undead, who practiced black magick in medieval Wallachia (Romania).

It’s easy to understand why Highgate is the site of ghost stories, as you stroll through the overgrown pathways and stumble upon hidden crosses.

london goths, gothic fashion

I think the only vampires you might come across…. are Goths lurking amidst the headstones!

london uk english graveyard

The graveyard is especially striking around Halloween, when the tombstones are covered in creeping vines and fallen leaves.

Many famous artists are buried in Highgate, including musician George Michael, and author Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

george michael highgate cemetery grave

Outfit of the Day: I wore a rose top by Jawbreaker Clothing, faux leather panel leggings by UK Tights, and an old faux fur jacket.

rose gothic top jawbreaker clothing

Close-up on my  Jawbreaker red rose tank top, which I layered over a long sleeved shirt. Love the cross-stitching down the center, and the embroidery detailing. They also have a 90s style tartan and mesh dress that I love.

spooky halloween cemetery london

In the 1970s, quite a few acts of vandalism took place. In response, an organization called Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust was founded in 1975. The Friends took steps to restore the damage, and carefully maintain the property to this day.

goth fashion blogger london uk

As the sun lowered, a groundskeeper walked through ringing a bell — time to clear out. I imagined that he was protecting visitors from vampires, who come out to feast at dusk!

wild strawberries britain

Look for wild strawberries peeping through the leaves. Edible fruits, sprouting from the flesh of the dead.

zoetica ebb artist art

If you’re an artistic, Gothic type like us, Highgate will stir your imagination.

So lovely to reunite with Zoetica Ebbartist / writer / photographer / designer. You might recall I modeled her Alien Botany dress here.

haunted horror london tours

Trevor pointed out this frightening statue of an angel, who looks like she could use an exorcism. He stands in front of a grave marked with the Cross of Lorraine, the double-cross symbol with connotations to the occult, alchemy and Freemasons. 

Trevor is a stylist at Bubblegore Productions / Torso Vintages, and the founder of Sector Spectre Showroom. He once styled me for a shoot at the Conservatory of Flowers (click to see).

marilyn manson devil t-shirt

Trevor wore something fitting for the occasion. (Find a similar Marilyn Manson top here and and here. More below):

black cat on coffin

The grounds are a haven for birds and small animals such as foxes. We came across this creature of the night… a black cat, sitting on a sarcophagus!

black cat graveyard cemetery

If Highgate Cemetery is indeed haunted, this black kitty would know…

karl marx grave highgate cemetery

I leave you with two of the most famous burial sites. On the left is MM – Malcolm McLaren, punk impresario and original manager of the Sex Pistols. On the right is the memorial to Karl Marx. The socialist theorist’s tomb was the site of two attempted bombings by discontents.

highgate cemetery black candle

Don’t forget to stop inside the chapel, and browse the selection of artisan products — including fine books, and this irresistible black Highgate candle.

highgate chapel church london

I leave you with this spectral view of the chapel after dark. The imposing Tudor Gothic building is topped with turrets and a bell tower. Inside, there are two chapels: one for the Church of England and the other for Dissenters.

If you’re intrigued, you can plan a visit and find out more about Highgate Cemetery here.

miffy pajamas, pjs primark

Between my adventures, I looked forward to relaxing in my Miffy pajamas

London hotels are notoriously small and expensive. I solved this problem by renting an apartment from City Relay. On their site, you can see that they offer short-term rentals and holiday apartments all over London, including the best locations (Chelsea, Kensington, etc).

fg properties rental flat review

My large, airy flat (The Fulham Road Residence) was conveniently located near Earl’s Court tube, and had plenty of space to cook and entertain friends. I enjoyed living like a Londoner, and feeling right at home in this cute living room. TV, fast WiFi and all amenities are included.

city relay london airbnb

City Relay manages the flats, and made it easy for me to check in. City Relay has a front desk where you can get help from staff, and leave your luggage if you aren’t ready.

It only took a few minutes for me to get my key, and read the document that explained the WiFi connection and other info. The two bedrooms were stocked with fresh towels and bath products, so I had nothing to worry about.

short term apartment rentals london

Nothing like brewing a cup of tea, and kicking back in my bunny PJs!

I was glad to have a modern kitchen at my disposal. I went around the corner to Sainsbury’s for soup, and cooked it up on the stove with the pots provided. (A great way to save money as well, since eating out in London can be costly.)

fg properties apartments hotel

Staying with City Relay meant that I could experience living the posh life in Chelsea. How beautiful is the exterior of my rental flat, The Coleherne Road Nest?

rent classic london flat

The living and dining area have high ceilings, and lots of light. There are two bedrooms and a bathroom: the apartment has plenty of room for several people to share.

I was within walking distance of the Saatchi Gallery, Taschen bookstore, contemporary couture boutiques, antique shops, cute bakeries… Chelsea is the perfect neighborhood for a stroll.

fg properties Holiday Flat Rental London

City Relay is the perfect balance between a hotel and AirBNB. You get to live in a spacious home filled with personality, supplied with fresh linens, water bottles water and toiletries.

london apartment rental fg properties

The comfortable sofa called my name, after a long day of sightseeing.

If you’re looking for a reliable, modern yet affordable place to stay in London, City Relay has my hearty recommendation.

skylon restaurant bar grill menu

I’ll end my London stories with two fine meals. I had the opportunity to dine at the renown Skylon Restaurant Bar & Grill. (Address: Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX)

Part of D&D London, the restaurant is located in Royal Festival Hall, with panoramic views across the River Thames.

southbank london ferris wheel

Skylon is located in Southbank, an area worth visiting. The waterfront has cute stores, public art exhibitions on display, a skate park, a luminous carousel, and the iconic London Eye Ferris wheel. Sit by one of Skylon’s picture windows, and take in the lively view below. (Photos by Joey Wong).

skylon bar cocktails

Inside, the upscale bar splits the space into two sections: the grill, and fine dining. Skylon has a large selection of cocktails based on various flavor families such as “spice, smoke and cinnamon”. I loved my tequila-infused lemongrass, with red bell pepper and paprika syrup, and egg whites.

skylon restaurant london drinks

The outstanding bartenders also made me custom cocktails, based on my favorite tastes and decorated creatively.

Skylon offers a set tasting menu based on truffles. We decided to order a-la-carte, beginning with a refreshing smoked salmon cannelloni with creme fraiche, salmon caviar, and chervil.

skylon fine dining london food

The juicy, braised ox cheek was served with a flavorful sauce, which paired well with freshly grilled vegetables.

london creative desserts skylon

I ended with what appeared to be a poisoned apple — but turned out to be a light and nuanced dessert. The cloud meringue also made a sweet end to the meal. If you’re looking for a special meal with an epic view of London, Skylon is the place to be.

quaglino's restaurant london

Before seeing The Exorcist live in theater, I had dinner at the nearby Quaglino’s. (Location: 16 Bury St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6AJ, UK)

The enormous brasserie-style restaurant is located in the heart of St. James. Recently renovated, the glowing bar and staircase are… “lit.” 

cocktails quaglinos west end

Quaglino’s has been a “happening” dining establishment since the 1930s; Queen Elizabeth II even dined here in 1956.

The bar has a massive cocktail selection, from fresh botanicals to vintage liqueurs. On the right, I’m savoring every sip of “The Happy Widow” — made with vintage Remy Martin XO, benedictine, yellow chartreuse, apricot brandy and bitters.

black white striped bathroom

Quaglino’s was revamped with flair by D&D London. The result is modern meets old-school Mayfair charm. Don’t miss out on the bathrooms, which remind me of Beetlejuice’s suit.

quaglino's london menu dinner

The menu is based on seasonal flavors. Since I was there around Halloween, I got to savor the perfectly cooked saffron risotto, with winter greens and aged pecorino. My friend Vanessa loved her roast sea bream with caramelised cauliflower, curried raisin and coriander.

desserts quaglino's review

We had a healthy starter: salmon tartare with herb and green chili emulsion. This gave us a great excuse to indulge in the chocolate marquis dessert. Quaglino’s was a West End meal to remember.

It’s time to say “cheerio” to London for now… but I’m sure I will return soon. I hope you enjoyed these stories from Great Britain! For more travel tips (including Shoreditch, Camden, Goth clubs and shopping), check out my England blog posts here.

PS: I’m doing a travel AMA (Ask Me Anything) here on AMAFeed. Feel free to submit questions to me, and I’ll answer them in depth!


Filed Under England, Fashion