Summer in London with Charlotte Rey
Swedish by birth but a Londoner for the past decade, creative consultant and designer Charlotte Rey tells us about her life in the UK capital.
It didn’t take long for Charlotte Rey to fall in love with London. The designer came to the city for university ten years ago, and quickly discovered her adopted home, a metropolis of millions, wasn’t so overwhelming after all. “It’s a cluster of micro-villages, each one with its own personality and own sorts of characters and eccentricities,” she explains. Here, she shares her take on London, in partnership with Monocle.
Q: What brought you to London?
A: I was born just outside Malmo but I left Sweden at 18 for Paris, where I started to work for Acne. I then moved to London to come to university here—and ended up being involved in the setting-up of Acne Paper’s offices in the city. I now run a creative consultancy with Duncan Campbell called Campbell-Rey; we specialize in craftsmanship and legacy-focused brands, and we’ve also launched our own interiors and furniture studio.
Q: What was your first impression of the city when you moved?
A: It felt so vast. There are such differences across the city but you just need to know how to navigate it. When I first came I used to live in Notting Hill; nowadays I try to move back and forth between east and west every couple of years. I’ve lived in Shoreditch, then Chelsea, then Stoke Newington—and now Ladbroke Grove.
Q: What’s your favorite time of year?
A: My favorite is autumn because London weather is rarely Mediterranean hot, so English houses are built for autumn with their fireplaces. Within the season, my favorite time of day is the golden hour when the sun is setting. I love going for a brisk walk then.
Q: What makes a good hotel?
A: I like places that are well thought out and clever – where you feel like you’ve stepped into somebody else’s vision. Aesthetically I hate half measures and lazy design that loses track of details. And then, of course, a great hotel is where you can get a good night’s sleep. It should function as a springboard into the city: any place that provides that is a success.
Rey’s pick of delectable places to dawdle, discover and dine in London.
Bocca di Lupo
Grab a seat at the marble counter of this Italian restaurant in the heart of Soho for the best people-watching. The menu changes twice-daily to reflect what’s in season and focuses on lesser-known recipes from around the peninsula. Most ingredients come from Italy but the gelato, bread, salami and pasta are made in-house.
Note: Each dish comes as either a small or regular portion size, so you can choose to graze or tuck into a big plate of fresh pasta as you see fit.
Bocca di Lupo: 12 Archer Street; +44 20-7734-2223
Sir John Soane Museum
The former home of neoclassical architect Sir John Soane was turned into a museum in the 19th century and – as per his request – has been kept just like it was when he inhabited it. There’s an astonishing number of architectural drawings as well as paintings by the likes of Turner and Canaletto.
Note: To visit the architect’s own works around London, head to the Bank of England in the City or the Dulwich Picture Gallery to the south.
Sir John Soane Museum: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields; +44 20-7405-2107
Recently reopened in a new location in Kensington, the Design Museum is housed inside the former Commonwealth Institute. British architect John Pawson is behind its calming oak-and-marble atrium and interiors. Exhibitions adopt interesting takes on the industry, spanning furniture to fashion.
Note: Head to the top floor to see the permanent collection, which covers the history of design.
Design Museum: 224-238 Kensington High Street; +44 20-3862-5937
Holborn Dining Room
Rosewood London’s brasserie serves a range of British classics but the pies are the stars of the show. Head chef Calum Franklin only puts one flavor on the menu at a time and is happy to go vintage with flavors.
Note: The drinks list is also suitably British: the bar has London’s largest selection of gin, numbering 400 varieties and 30 tonics.
Holborn Dining Room: Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn; +44 20 3747 8633