Last week, Chris and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to London for work. We were invited by Williams Sonoma and William Morris and Co to preview their newest collaboration and the inspiration behind it. It was my first time in London and although it was a quick trip, they brought us all over the city and countryside and I soaked up every last hanging floral–on the walls and storefronts.
We took a direct red-eye flight from Raleigh to Heathrow and arrived Monday morning. A driver brought us to our beautiful hotel–The Rosewood London, but our room wasn’t quite ready yet. They sat us in their “mirror room” which was this gorgeous jewel box dining area. We both ordered “the healthy” breakfast option and watched as Cameron Diaz, her husband, Benji and their daughter came over and sat on the couch 5 feet behind us! We smiled but said nothing. And then ran into them the next day as well!
Our first engagement was scheduled for that night, so we got a nap, watched the Queen’s funeral procession in the afternoon and got ready for dinner at a nearby hotel–The Ned. They had a private room reserved and it was all served family style. Lots of great options and we were able to meet some amazing magazine editors and executives from William Morris and Williams Sonoma.
In the morning we packed our bags up and set off to the Morris & Co headquarters in Denham where we were able to see the studio where everything is designed and the new collection for Williams Sonoma! (I already ordered the utensil holder for our countertop!)
Although London was incredibly beautiful with her ornate architecture at every turn, the English countryside has my heart. We drove through the Cotswolds and onto William Morris’s home, Kelmscott Manor.
So many details, although hundreds of years old, felt so familiar. The shape of his fireplace that our range hood was modeled after. All of the wallpaper and fabrics that I see so many places now, originated there!!
We then had lunch at The Royal Standard of England in Beaconsfield. I believe the pub is some 900 years old and I couldn’t shake that I felt like I was in a set at Disney World or something, not an actual place that all of those movies and restaurants were likely inspired by. I got a lot of questions about how I can eat while traveling, and if I stick with veggies and meat, I’m usually just fine. (But I also brought some pills to help just in case). I had the braised pork and bubble and squeak with fresh applesauce. English pub food–so good!
We then headed to the birth place of William Shakespeare, Stratford-on-Avon, for the night. Breath taking views and the cutest streets. We stayed at the Ettington Park Hotel. An extremely old (and fairly haunted–I’ll tell THAT story in tonight’s love letter) manor house, turned hotel on 40 beautiful acres. It dates back to early 1500s. After a quick rest (yes–we did all of this in one day!), we met for dinner at Woodsman Restaurant. We tried a lot of traditional English food and stayed out way to late chatting about the day.
After a restless night, we set off in the morning to Loughborough to see the Morris & Co factory. We saw all the different ways wallpaper is printed. Watching so many humble and hard-working people creating something to bring joy and beauty to our homes was such a moving moment. Home matters. How we feel in our home matters. It has to!
We had a great day at the factory learning and trying a few of the techniques (they still do some block printing and let me try!!) Morris & Co provided wallpaper to the Queen and royal family. There was a really special moment where they let us go into the archives and see the block for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Just sitting there on a shelf!
After the tour, we hopped on a train back to London. If you have the opportunity, take a train in England. It was such a charming way to end our time with the two Williams.
Chris and I checked back into the Rosewood and got ready for our special dinner. I made reservations at The Clove Club in London a few weeks back. It’s a 2 Michelin Star restaurant and after 12 perfect courses, we would absolutely agree. We did the Chef’s tasting, so you don’t order–the Chef just cooks all the small courses for you. It ended up being a 4 hour dinner and every mouthful was a surprise. I was able to add my dietary restrictions to the reservation and they were incredibly accommodating. I don’t feel like I missed a thing!
The next day, we explored London on foot. Took pictures of way too many storefronts. Went to Buckingham palace. Stumbled in an antique bookstore. Went to Kiln for lunch (a hole in the wall Southeast Asian restaurant that Chris hasn’t stopped talking about–it. was. INCREDIBLE). And then saw Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theater.
We ended up eating at our hotel that night so we could get to bed early for our flight the next day and it was such a great end cap to our trip.
We couldn’t do everything, but I feel like we did SO MUCH in the few days we were there. I already can’t wait to go back as a family.
Love England and love William Morris! What a magical trip.
You two “CLEAN UP” extraordinarily WELL!!! franki
Your trip to England sounded fantastic and reminded me of my trip to England years ago. Besides visiting London I also toured the countryside including Stratford Upon Avon. Brighton Beach is another great place to visit. I thoroughly enjoyed the taverns and lovely tea shops. I’m sure you brought back wonderful ideas. Nothing like a trip to England to get the creative juices flowing. So glad that you and Chris enjoyed your trip. Thank you for all the wonderful decorating ideas, tips, and recipes.
What a wonderful short trip! I am not a wallpaper fan but do love some William Morris paper. Are they calling it William Sonoma now? Thank you for your pictures of the store fronts. Sorry for the haunted experience at that first hotel. I am afraid that I would back out the front door and firmly say no. I hope we are going to see some new wallpapers. Hope you were not ill after the different foods and sleep time.
I’m so glad you had such a jam-packed great time!
I love the UK and so hope you have a chance to take your girls and see each of the countries. They are incredibly different.
Awww loved this! I have been antsy to travel lately so living vicariously through you is so fun! Aren’t the Cotswold’s & English Countryside just like being inside a storybook?!
Ok, so a Cotswold native here (born & raised in Gloucestershire) & I’m tickled pink to read about your heavenly trip!! I think you belong there – don’t you? :)
I’m especially happy that you were able to see the best parts of my home (& heart), which in my humble opinion, can be found outside of London – although the city is pretty fabulous, but it doesn’t compare to the glorious countryside &…blah blah blah, you already know now for yourselves.
I love your blog & this is by far your best post – even if I am slightly biased!!
British Sterling is struggling – now is the time to buy!! ;)
Wow, your trip sounds like it was great fun! I’ve really got to get over there. I can’t wait to read about your ghost story!
Julia, you are just so beautiful.
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