The downside of living in a big city like London is that you rarely have the time or energy to appreciate all its charms the way tourists do. You have to deal with work, kids, groceries, cleaning, laundry, etc., until it’s all you can do to fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. You need a solo staycation. One of those delightful holidays that don’t involve any planes or trains or other people. Instead, you’ll pack your bags and head to a great hotel (may we humbly suggest the St Giles London Hotel, conveniently located in Bloomsbury?) so you still feel like you’re on holiday. You won’t be making your own bed or running into nosey neighbors this weekend. Instead, for a glorious 36-ish hours, you’ll be a tourist in your own great city.
Noon: Soak Up Some History
Instead of waking up early to catch a flight, sleep in. Check-in begins at 2 p.m., but if you like, you can drop your bags with the concierge, for complimentary storage, and do a little sight-seeing before it’s time to unpack. You’ve already visited the Tower of London and the Victorian and Albert Museum with your non-local friends so there’s no need to go again. Your time will be better spent checking out one of London’s little-known historical treasures, like the Foundling Museum, which is conveniently a short stroll from the hotel. The exhibits are always changing and provide some great insight into London’s history and society.
2:00 P.M.: Enjoy Your Solo Staycation Quiet Time
When you’ve soaked up enough history, head back to the hotel to check in. Kick off your shoes and savor the experience of being in a hotel solo instead of your flat surrounded by people and your to-do list. Soon it’ll be time to shower, change your outfit for your evening and head out. There’s no need to do your make up, though, as your first stop will be at Charlotte Tilbury’s fabulous Beauty Boudoir in her Covent Garden store for a Looks Makeover.
It’s a small splurge at £35, but as the entire cost goes towards products you get to take home with you, it’s well worth it. The flawless make up you’ll be sporting for your fabulous evening out is basically a bonus for being smart enough to let an expert pamper you for an hour. Be sure to take your skincare and makeup recommendation notes, along with your products, when you leave.
Pro Tip: Opt for lipsticks or her fantastic Rock-n-Kohl eyeliners and you can easily fit them in your evening bag during the rest of the night.
6: 00 P.M.: Tapas and a Show Were Made for Those on Their Own
Now it’s time for dinner. You might not be used to eating alone, especially on a weekend night, but certain restaurants are best alone. Barrafina is one of those spots because, contrary to what most people think, tapas are best when you aren’t awkwardly ensuring equal sharing of all the best dishes. Order a few of your favorite dishes, enjoy a glass of great wine and relish the time and space to savor both your food and your thoughts. But don’t linger too long or you’ll miss the highlight of your evening- a show in the West End.
Yes, you, genius planner, you went ahead and booked an affordable discounted ticket on TodayTix for a show this evening. Whether you prefer musicals or serious dramas, the London theater scene has options for you and it’s finally the night to see that one show you’ve been meaning to catch but haven’t yet had the time.
10:00 P.M. Listen to Live Music
After the show, it’s off to the fantastic jazz bar, Cahoots. Don’t be put off by the exterior. It’s a little seedy looking when you’re on the street but lovely when you make it down the stairs and into the bar itself. The drinks are delicious and strong, the ambiance is lovely and best of all, the jazz music is generally better than anywhere else in London. If you like live music and great cocktails, Cahoots might be your new favorite spot. Stay as long as you like, or until last call at 3 a.m., before heading back to your quiet, calm hotel room for a great night’s sleep.
11:00 A.M. Sleep In and Enjoy a Leisurely Brunch
No-alarm days are the best kinds of days and after a late night, you’ll want to sleep in. Once you’ve woken up and packed your things, it’s time to check out but your staycation isn’t over yet. Leave your bag with concierge, remember it’s complimentary and head to Covent Garden for brunch at Dishoom, one of London’s best Indian restaurants. Dishoom is great with a group but is even better solo if you enjoy people-watching and bottomless chai. If you aren’t sure what to try, start with the gunpowder potatoes, prawn koliwada, and chili cheese toast and soak up the great ambiance with your delicious brunch.
2: 00 P.M. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Once you’ve eaten and drunk your fill, it’s time to move on to Covent Garden itself for one last hurrah before your staycation ends. Head to Chin Chin Labs for some of the best ice cream in the entire city. It’s nitrogen ice cream so it’s incredibly fresh and smooth, with absolutely no ice or freezer burn. The flavors change weekly and whether you prefer something basic like Valrhona Chocolate or something exotic like the Avo Taco, Chin Chin Labs will always have something for you. It’s a great way to end your staycation on a sweet note.
Your staycation is over and you’re back to reality, but with London on your doorstep and so many more museums, shows and restaurants to explore, perhaps you should start planning your next solo adventure now.