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48 hours in london

festival-bound? here's where to go when you're not standing in a muddy field.

July 18 2013

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In the U.S., we have our fair share of music festivals, but in Europe the scene is truly bonkers. In London alone there are by our count nearly a dozen festivals, ranging from electronic dance parties to reggae-thons, happening within the city limits this summer. If you happen to be traveling across the pond to partake in one of these fine British music gatherings--this very weekend it's Lovebox at Victoria Park--you don't need to be spending all your time pulling your best Kate Moss in muddy fest fields; here's how to stay busy in between sets.

DAY ONE
10am: Wake up in your nice comfy bed at One Leicester Street, a hotel located in the middle of the Londontown. Yes, you could stay in the Williamsburg of the city (i.e. Shoreditch) but the central location makes getting around so much easier. And despite the noise and craziness outside, the inside is a cocoon of minimalism and vaguely nautical decor (wood paneling and a blue and white color scheme). As is the case with most Euro boutique hotels, the rooms are cozy (read: miniature), but seeing as you'll be enjoying music during the day and exploring the city late into the night, just consider this your posh crash pad.

11am: Start your day off right with a proper brunch at The Toy Shop Bar (32 Putney High Street). The name doesn't adequately describe the insanity that awaits you inside. Like a carnival fun house on acid, this place features eye-popping colors, toy-themed cocktails (Play Doh Milk Punch, anyone?), loads of neon lights, prosecco on tap, and, of course, delicious food like a full English breakfast, to provide proper sustenance for a long day ahead.

7pm: Say you're not into the headliners or need to remove yourself from the situation due to a near brush with heatstroke, skip out early and replenish with a plateful of tacos and rehydrate with a couple of rounds of frosty Micheladas at Casa Negra (54-56 Great Eastern Street). Though the Brits aren't known for their grasp of Mexican cuisine, be assured that this stuff is legit. His other down home, South of the Border spot Bodega Negra is a favorite of Miss Kate Moss. After you've filled your belly with guac and grilled meat, you can either check out the downstairs club or proceed to another spot.

9pm: The speakeasy bar scene is still raging in this city and the newly opened The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town (12 Artillery Lane) is a good place to check it out and continue your festival recovery. To get there, you'll have to go to lengths reminiscent of NYC's beloved PDT. Enter the retro cafe The Breakfast Club and look for the Smeg fridge, then open the door, step through, and--voila!--find yourself in a dimly-lit cocktail lounge. Decompress while you sip delicious cocktails, emphasis on sip as you don't want to avoid being hungover for the next day of musical festivities.

DAY TWO
12pm: Before you sit in the sun and take in hours upon hours of live music, you will need sustenance. At this newly permanent location of HomesliceLDN (13 Neal's Yard) you can choose from five different wood-fired pies but lest you think these are your typical pepperoni and veggie options, you are mistaken. Past creative offerings include bone marrow, white anchovy and chard, and smoked trout. You can also pre-party (with wine or beer) if you're into that sort of thing.

2pm: In case you chose to do one day of festival or would just prefer an indoor activity, the Victoria & Albert Museum's Club to Catwalk show is an awesome option. The exhibit explores the influence London's '80s club scene had on the city's fashion landscape and the then upcoming avant-garde designers like Betty Jackson, Katharine Hamnett, and John Galliano. Tracing the progression of the scene's influence on magazines, music, and film, the show is an in-depth look into the vibrant and unique aesthetic of the decade.

4pm: If you skipped the exhibit and have opted for a three-day music marathon, it might be time to decompress so head over to Agua Spa (50 Berners St.), a 10,000 square foot oasis of calm tucked into the Philippe Starke-designed Sanderson Hotel. You'll instantly chill just by stepping into the dreamy, white space. After standing all day and night, you will want to book the 60-minute deep tissue massage. There is literally something called the chill-out room so just head in there and do exactly that. If your skin is freaking out because it's been in the sun for days, try to snag an appointment with in-demand aesthetician Eve Lom, who is spending two weeks out of the month at the spa. You can thank me later.
KATIE DICKENS

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