Category Archive for Fashion

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

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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.

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

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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!)

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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!

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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! 



Winter holiday travels in Ottawa, Ontario & Outaouais, Quebec! Parc Omega wolf & bear suite, Nordik Spa Chelsea.

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Happy 2024! Let’s make this year the most amazing one yet.

I have a lot more Japan content coming your way, but let’s start things off with a Canadian winter / holiday season recap…

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In December, I explored Outaouais (Quebecois  region north of Ottawa) and Canada’s capital with Sancho Angulo! Read on for our “ice queen” adventures in Ontario and Quebec.

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How cozy is the enormous fireplace at Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Quebec? Built in 1930, the luxury hotel looks like a giant log cabin.

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In December, snowy Ottawa and Outaouais feel like a winter wonderland. The regions have charming European-style Christmas markets and events, which made Sancho and I feel as if we were in a Hallmark holiday movie!

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Even this Goth was feeling merry and bright at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Located halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, the hotel holds the record for the world’s largest log cabin.

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I enjoyed an eggs benedict breakfast with this snow-covered view, and a deep massage at the spa that got me in “serenity now” mode.

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It’s a good hair day… time to explore the village of Montebello with Sancho!

le bistro montebello poutine quebec food restaurants

We had lunch at Le Bistro Montebello. The Quebecois family-style menu included bison steak and poutine made with local ingredients — oui, oui.

marche de noel montebello quebecois xmas market

Then, we walked over to the charming Marche de Noel / Montebello Christmas Market, which was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There’s no entry fee, and the neighborly staff greets you at the entrance with free cups of spiced hot mulled wine… We loved walking around and seeing the artisanal vendors, such as chocolatiers Chocomotive.

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I don’t get to do many winter outfits these days (due to The Collapse’s global rise in temperatures) — but I had fun styling my new Snowman New York coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses (which have a Y2K vibe).

snowman new york puffer coat long jacket black luxury

Snowman New York produces luxury outerwear with high performance materials and 90/10, 700 fill power down. I love how they create puffer coats that have a chic and non-bulky look, yet keep you warm in bone-chilling weather.

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Their coats are handmade to last, and insulated with highest premium down — you can tell that this is luxury outerwear.

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Love the sleek, lightweight, cyber-like design of Snowman NY’s long black puffer… I felt like a character in The Matrix. (My shoes are Comme des Garcons x Salomon collaboration sneakers, from Tokyo.)

adidas originals marcolin cat eye sunglasses OR0089 shades

My Adidas Originals shades (OR0089 ) are oversized cat eye sunglasses made from durable acetate: functional meets fashion-forward eyewear.

elf pub fairmont laurier hotel elves christmas popup bar

Back to my Ottawa Tourism adventures… “Sancho Claus” and I popped into Elf’s Pub, a Christmas pop-up bar at Ottawa’s Fairmont Château Laurier. Sip on eggnog cocktails, and feel as if you’re in the North Pole.

metcalfe hotel downtown ottawa lobby design decor

I stayed at The Metcalfe Hotel in downtown Ottawa, and the lobby was festively decorated — giving me a chance to pretend that this was my tree.

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‘Tis the season to eat and be merry. My Ottawa restaurant favorites included Metropolitan Brasserie (French tuna nicoise salad, steak tartar, and Sancerre and Chablis wine), and The Grand pizzeria. Sancho and I also feasted on Asian fusion like kimchi beef wraps at Sidedoor restaurant (above).

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At Ottawa’s Aviation Museum, you can board a “Flight with Santa” this season that lets you sit in his “sleigh” as you fly over the Canadian capital.

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Ottawa also has a popular Christmas market, and attractions like skating on Rideau Canal.

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I also descended into the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War museum. In the early 1960s, Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s government built this top secret, four-storey underground bunker to shelter VIP officials in the event of a nuclear attack. (It was decommissioned in 1994, and became a museum.)

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A tour of the Diefenbunker is a must. I was fascinated by the Cold War era technology and cultural quirks (there are early computers, and no plastic — but ashtrays everywhere!). I was particularly tickled by the food freezer that served as both a meat locker… and a makeshift morgue. (Or perhaps the two are the same, if  we run out of food in The Collapse?)

diefenbaker cold war nuclear bomb bunker shelter canada

The Diefenbuker also has an epic escape room themed around spies and nuclear missions. I can’t wait to come back with Sancho to slay the puzzles.

parc omega bison nature park ottawa

There’s so much to see around Ottawa… Sancho and I went north of the city to Parc Omega in Montebello, a nature park that lets you get up close to adorable Canadian wildlife!

parc omega quebec bears self drive animals nature preserve

Parc Omega has a car safari, or self-driving route that lets you see a variety of animal species along the way. Pick up a bag of carrots before you go…

feed deer carrots from car omega park ontario

… so that you can feed the cute deer and elk that poke their noses into your car windows!

parc omega montebello quebec park canadian wildlife animal encounters

Just don’t feed the bears like I did… (Kidding, they were in hibernation at this time of year.)

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How sweet are the animals, with their thick winter coats? Parc Omega lets you see them in their natural habitats as you explore.

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Our tour guide taught us about the animals such as the short and stocky Mongolian horse, which was once nearly extinct.

parc omega wolf and bears suite cabin chalet

Then, Sancho and I checked into the Wolf and Bear suite for an overnight stay. The luxurious two-floor chalet adjoins an enclosure of young wolves and bears…

hotel with wolf pack enclosure park omega wolves

We got to wake up next to a panoramic window overlooking an enclosure of wolves!

stay in hotel with wolves outside window ottawa quebec canada park omega

Sancho built a fire, and we watched our wolf neighbors run and play. As you can see from my Instagram reel, it felt as if we were one with the wolfpack.

parc omega bon restaurant montebello

Feeling “hungry like the wolf,” we headed to the onsite Omega Bon restaurant for refined dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients.

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We devoured the pot of fondue made with Montebello’s famous Adoray cheese, rum cocktails with maple syrup, and other Quebecois favorites.

nordik spa chelsea sauna restaurant food

Finally, we had a wellness day at Nordik Spa-Nature Chelsea — located at the entrance of Gatineau Park, and only about a 15 min drive from downtown Ottawa. Nordik Spa-Nature is the largest thermal spa in North America with 10 outdoor baths, 9 saunas, and a variety of relaxing treatments like a float in a saltwater pool, and a bewitching choreographed Aufguss ritual in a sauna.

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We indulged in winter cocktails as we soaked in a variety of steaming outdoor pools overlooking snow-topped landscapes (the onsen one was my favorite). Watch my video of our Nordik Spa day to see what we experienced!

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Still thinking about the food at Nordik Spa’s main restaurant, Restö — warm brie, mushroom toast, gnocchi with duck, I could go on…

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I spoke more about these experiences in a travel article for Huffington Post.

As I told Huff Post: “I predict more travelers will plan getaways to Outaouais, the region of Quebec located about an hour’s drive north from Ottawa. It’s home to one-of-a-kind nature experiences like Parc Omega, a wildlife park with self-driving adventures that let you get close to (and feed!) Canadian deer.” She recalled waking up to see a wolfpack on the other side of her window. “I also loved soaking in the steamy outdoor baths at Outaouais’ Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest thermal spa in North America that reminds me of the vibe at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon,” she added.

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My recent adventures with Sancho make me keen to do more cold-weather travels! It’s also an opportunity to do more winter styling: I’ll be living in my Snowman New York hooded coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses this season.

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Did you have a happy holiday? How are you feeling about the start of 2024? I’m manifesting more road trips, travel adventures with friends, and time in Japan this year… let’s make it the most amazing one yet!