There area several ways to do Fashion Week. When I was beauty assistant at Marie Claire, I would run like a mad thing from show to show surviving on little other than Propercorn and Vitamin Water, with outfit changes on tube platforms and cafe loos. Now though, I am a little more particular about how I do Fashion Week.
Choosing shows is much like dating – you have to prioritise what you really want, and quickly learn that pity dating the designers you’re not so fussed about will lead to little more than Fashion Flu by the end of the week. This year, I was ruthless in my selection of what I would and wouldn’t attend, and in the planning stages whittled the 75 invitations (not even exaggerating here) down to the 15 I really wanted to see. I’d attempted to use proximity to my base as a selection tool, but given Hotel Cafe Royal’s super central location I could literally get just about anywhere within the fashion circuit in under half an hour. So I gave myself a four-per-day maximum, and set about curating my wardrobe.
A fashion week wardrobe must be many things, but perhaps the most important thing is organisation. A quick recce of Hotel Cafe Royal’s junior suites meant I needed to skimp on absolutely nothing. The large wardrobe had hidden drawers and shelves neatly hidden behind the pristine fronting, and the ample hanging space meant organising outfits was an absolute dream.
I used to do my make-up myself, but this has several problems. A) I am not very good at it. And B), the make-up needed under harassing lighting for photography is entirely different to what we are used to doing on a daily basis. So the wonderful Candice arrived at my suite each morning at 9am to prep me for the day ahead. Candice and I are both gluten-free, so I ordered a basket of gluten-free pastries to arrive just before she did (I told her it was so I was totally prepared. Actually it was because I wanted first pick of the daily changing selection…..).
We did my make-up in the lounge area of my room – the sweeping triple window let in heaps of natural light which is exactly what you need for make-up, and the huge desk was big enough even for Candice’s mammoth kit.
Of course, having full make-up every single day ends up being taxing on even the most well-prep’d skin, so on my final morning I booked a facial and massage in the hotel spa, Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre. The experience was absolutely heavenly. Once Theadora had finished, not only was my skin glowing and healthy-looking, I felt relaxed and refreshed. I spent a solitary few moments in the relaxation room, before using the gloriously calming swimming pool.
The thing that amazed me most about Hotel Cafe Royal was the space. Everything feels relaxed and comfortable, from the double showers to the sweeping presentation staircases. And the gym is stocked with a phenomenal amount of equipment – certainly the best-stocked hotel gym I’ve ever seen. It was often difficult to remember that I was in one of the most central, busy areas of London. I gave myself a rest day on the first day of fashion week, but by two I was absolutely itching to try the gym out. It would be easy to spend hours down there alternating between cutting-edge cardio machines to a comprehensive selection of free weights, bars, kettlebells, TRX and machines.
It’s lucky the gym was so great, because my final day of LFW was outrageously indulgent. The day began early, with Paul Costelloe’s SS18 show. If you’ve been to Paul’s show before, you’ll know that he typically favours an evening slot, and treats his guests to champagne upon arrival in the Oscar Wilde bar. This season, Paul had a morning slot, but that didn’t deter the champagne. So I felt I should continue the elegance with a truly decadent meal. Hotel Cafe Royal‘s afternoon tea is probably the best I’ve tried, with a near-constant stream of bespoke teas, Laurent Perrier champagne, and the most exquisite little delicacies I’ve ever seen (both sweet and savoury).
My favourite place to be, though, was my suite. The suite was completely soundproof – even the busy street below was silenced by a sturdy double window, and my squishy bed could fit me sprawled both vertically and horizontally (I’m a wriggler, so inadvertently tested this fact for you). The room is fully geared-up for business with a full-size desk, plus international connection ports which mean you don’t have to fuss with adapters.
My stay at Hotel Cafe Royal was up there with the most pleasant three nights I’ve ever had. The staff were extremely attentive – the waiting team knew I was gluten-free, and the concierge greeted me daily by name. Nothing was too much trouble, and I was consistently surprised by thoughtful gestures like fresh slippers being placed by my bed at turn-down, and the sweets that arrived with the laundry kit when I professed a desire to iron my clothes.
To book a room at Hotel Cafe Royal, visit their website.