Insight Into | Travelling Solo

It was only 5 weeks into my trip, when I was sat on my flight from Sri Lanka that it really struck me that I had fallen into this ‘Solo Traveller’ bracket. There I was flicking through the ever-engaging Singapore Airlines in-flight magazine, when I came across an article called ‘Going Solo’, and I couldn’t believe how much it rang true. So I thought I’d give an insight into my experiences, alongside a few of my top tips to allow yourself to embrace the art of travelling solo.

According to Google trends, the term ‘solo-travel’ rose 50% between January 2015 – December 2017, but more interestingly (to me anyway) is that in the past year over 75% of these ‘solo travellers’ have been female.

Why? I mean, it’s not totally clear cut, but I have a few suspicions:

– Women are becoming more financially independent & consequently more apt to travel.

– A wide social shift in independence & personal freedom.

– The Instagram Movement – I really do believe this plays a huge part, so many females are seeing photos of beautiful destinations, and just wanting to book a flight and leave ASAP.

– Finally, something I really believe is the key defining factor in all of this – ‘Technology’ – smartphones allow people to feel comfortable, safe and connected anywhere on the planet; something that just didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, travelling with my nearest and dearest have been some of the greatest times of my life, but there is nothing like the freedom of having your own schedule and the satisfaction gained from adventuring alone.

My First Hand Experience


– I found that I am more present and have paid better attention to details than when I’d travelled with friends.

– I have definitely been more open-minded to new activities, partially because I have had no excuses to say no, but also because it’s been a great way to meet new people.

– Don’t fear eating alone. Whilst I haven’t found myself sat in any white-table cloth restaurants alone, I have sourced out places that have bar seating. You’ll be surprised how many people are in the same situation, and by the end of the meal you’re unlikely to have sat like a lonely lemon for the whole thing (even if it is just the bar man that’s engaged with you for the past hour).

– Whilst I don’t know that I can claim I’ve mastered the art of solo-travel just yet, I can claim to have become acquainted to the various shades of solitude: from the occasional bouts of loneliness to the unencumbered joy of absolute freedom.

My Top Tips For Travelling Alone


– DO YOUR RESEARCH Whilst we all love to think ‘wouldn’t it be great to just book flights, accommodation etc as we go along on the trip’, this just isn’t something I’d recommend do when travelling solo. Whilst I’m a stickler for a good spreadsheet, I didn’t want to ‘over-plan’ my trip. However, I had booked all my flights, and most of my accommodation prior to leaving. This didn’t leave me feeling restricted at any point in my trip thanks to the research I had done to ensure I spent enough time in each place. However, this did hugely reassure me (& my family) that when I was arriving to a new destination I at least knew where I was resting my head that night. The last thing you want to be doing is arriving in Sri Lanka at midnight and trying to find somewhere to stay.

– STAY CONNECTED Don’t forget there are people at home that are still living their everyday lives, and worrying about you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your travel bubble and forget this. So keep them in the loop, I found that making a group WhatsApp for my nearest and dearest so that I just had to send one message was the easiest way! But also grab an app like Find My Friends, just so they can check in.

– THINK SMART It’s easy to get carried away with taking on a carefree attitude when so far from everyday life, but personal safety must never be forgotten. I found that simple things like only withdrawing cash during the day, not wandering around at night without reason , staying covered up in the evening (I’m not talking full body suit, just be sensible, take a scarf to cover your shoulders, chest etc.). I have met some people that take this pretty seriously –  I’m talking wearing a fake wedding ring to keep unwanted attention at bay, but I can’t say I took to this.

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Restaurant Review | Hide

Mr Dabbous is back, and better than ever with his latest spot at 85 Piccadilly, Hide. This spot spreads its magic over three floors, aptly named ‘Below’, ‘Ground’ and ‘Above’. Below stealing the underground bar magic, Ground offering the far from classic ‘a la carte’ menu, and Above taking tasting menus to new heights.

With floor to ceiling windows flooding the place with light, an unrivalled design staircase and a partnership with Hedonism wines restricting your wine menu selection to a mere 6,500 bottles, this is an absolute must visit.

About


Hide is a restaurant and bar by Hedonism Wines and Ollie Dabbous.

Do Not Miss Dishes


1. Charcoal baked flatbread with ricotta made locally & crushed green herbs
2. Barbecued octopus, moscatel grapes, lovage & white miso
3. Warm acorn cake, smoked caramel & choice of liqueur; Cornish clotted cream

Do Not Miss Drinks


Make sure to get there at least 30mins early to enjoy a drink ‘Below’ – whilst the food might be a showstopper, the drinks certainly give it a run for its money.
1. Summer Solstice
2. The Fallen Madonna
3. Chuckleberry Fizz

Cost


Okay, so it’s not cheap, you’re looking at main course setting you back anywhere from £22 to £32, and cocktails are certainly at the pricier end of £16/£18. However, if you’re looking for a treat or want to spoil yourself rotten, it’s an absolute must.

Where


85 Picadilly

Nearest Transport


Green Park

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Habit Hunter Hotspots | April Edition

1. Get your caffeine fix


WHAT IS IT? Returning for 2018, the London Coffee Festival is the UK’s largest coffee and artisan food event, a celebration of London’s vibrant coffee culture featuring gourmet coffee, speciality tea, artisan food, demonstrations from world-class baristas, live music and a comprehensive ‘lab’ seminar programme that will educate even the keenest of coffee lovers.

WHERE: Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane
NEAREST TUBE: Liverpool Street

2.Take part in a ‘Fizzathon’


WHAT IS IT? This fizzathon is back celebrating Italy’s finest export with leading producers showcasing their bottles. A ticket will bag you up to eight glasses of fizz – and there’ll be plenty of authentic Italian food if you’re not up for a liquid lunch.
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WHERE: Oval Space, 29 – 32 The Oval, E2 9DT
NEAREST TUBE: Bethnal Green

3. Go POP this Easter


WHAT IS IT? Get yourselves and your offspring to Pop’s free Easter bonanza, which this year is hip hop themed. Test your agility at a breakdancing class, test your concentration on a hip hop jigsaw puzzle and try your luck at the gold chain giveaway. At 3pm it’s time for the big kids to hit the dance floor as The Doctors Orders take over the decks from Fun DMC, and play a mixture of hip hop, R n B and grime until the small hours.

WHERE: Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road. SW9 8PQ
NEAREST TUBE: Brixton

4. Float on with a Flotilla


WHAT IS IT? Paddington Basin is getting a sprinkling of sparkle as a full-on flotilla of illuminated origami boats are released on to Regent’s Canal. ‘Flotilla’ by artist Steve Messam, is an armada of 180 boats at Merchant Square, which look like white ‘paper’ creations by day and light up at night to set the canal gleaming with a changing pattern of luminous colours.
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WHERE: Merchant Square, Harbet Road. W2 1BF
NEAREST TUBE: Paddington

5. Support the city from the sidelines


WHAT IS IT? With its cheering crowds and fancy dress fundraisers, the London Marathon is our very own world-famous running race. Covering 26.2 miles and shutting down roads left, right and centre, it takes over the city for one weekend every April. Here’s all you need to know about running the London Marathon 2018, whether you’re a road-pounding-pro or a newbie in a Disney costume.
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WHERE: All around london
NEAREST TUBE: Check site

6. Take in a sip of Paris with Leroy


WHAT IS IT? It comes from the team behind the Michelin-starred Ellory, now closed. This place is mostly about the wine, much of it natural or ‘low intervention’. I’m sure Leroy will quickly join the ranks of the best natural wine bars in London.
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WHERE: 18 Phipp Street, EC2A 4NU
NEAREST TUBE: Old Street

7. Be a BRAT


WHAT IS IT? Tomos Parry’s Basque barbecue inspired restaurant sits above Smoking Goat in Shoreditch (also on this list) and it’s about as smoking hot as it gets right now. Instagram is awash with pictures of grilled turbot grilled slowly and served with an emulsion made from the gelatinous cooking juices. The menu is focused mainly on seafood, sourced from Cornwall and cooked over fire. Londoners are going gaga for it.

WHERE: 4 Redchurch Street, E1 6JL
NEAREST TUBE: Shoreditch High Street

8. Pamper yourself at Salon64


WHAT IS IT? Long gone are the days where a trip to the hairdressers only meant a cut, flicking through a copy of OK! Magazine and discussing your next jaunt to Europe. Turning the traditional idea of hairdressing salons on its head, newly opened SALON64 offers far more than your classic cut and colour. I’m talking about a coffee bar, a dedicated station to putting on your make up (because touching up your eye liner on the tube is never good news), charging points, and drool-worthy interiors

WHERE: 4 Bateman St, Soho, London W1D 3AG
NEAREST TUBE: Oxford Circus

9. Dough it yourself


WHAT IS IT? Go and experience a masterclass in pizza making with drinks, Neopolian snacks and your own creation to be had along the way! On arrival you are served friggitoria (Neapolitan street food!) and a glass of prosecco or beer. The class will start once everyone’s settled in, and you’ll be shown how they make the dough, then using one we made earlier you’ll get the chance to throw it yourself, top it, cook it and then eat it all with another couple more drinks along the way!  At the end of the session, you’ll get a shot of Pococello (our limoncello) and some of our famous Nutella pizza ring. You will also get some Pizza Pilgrims goodies to take home.

WHERE: 12 Hertsmere Rd, London, E14 4AE
NEAREST TUBE: Canary Wharf

10. Have a whirl at Dirty Dining


WHAT IS IT? 100 Wardour St are proud to present Dirty Dining. Along with delicious food your heart and feet can feast on the sounds and motions of one of the world’s most memorable movies. A hand picked cast has been brought together to
present a loving (slightly tongue in cheek) homage to the iconic movie, “Dirty Dancing”. Your trip to the Catskills will begin with a lavish 3 course dinner, featuring dishes like yellowfin tuna tartare, roasted chicken with a champagne sauce, and passion fruit tart with coconut sorbet. Then, settle in and watch the show.

WHERE: 100 Wardour St, W1F 0TN
NEAREST TUBE: Tottenham Court Road

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Habit Hunter Hotspots| March Edition

1. Treat your mum to something special at Scully


WHAT IS IT? Scully started work in the kitchens at Ottolenghi, going on to become the creative force behind much of the menu as head chef of NOPI when it opened back in 2011. The food on offer doesn’t really subscribe to any particular culinary tradition, but rather draws from Scully’s own family heritage, which stretches from Ireland to Bali. Which basically means you’ll find dishes ranging from candied butternut with cabbage samba and apple shrub; to octopus with salt-baked avocado and black garlic; to beef short rib pastrami with horseradish & pistachio, in a constantly evolving menu.

WHERE: 4 St. James’s Market, SE1Y 4QU
NEAREST TUBE: Piccadilly Circus

2.Get your cheer on and scout out Mo


WHAT IS IT? A brand new sporting event from the organisers of the London Marathon, The Big Half challenges elite runners and amateurs alike with a 13.1 mile course from Tower Bridge to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. Just weeks ahead of the London Marathon 20,000 runners – including London Marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru, Mo Farah and Callum Hawkins.
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WHERE: Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, Bankside, London SE1 2UP
NEAREST TUBE: Tower Hill

3. Embrace Women of the World 


WHAT IS IT? The Women of the World Festival (WOW) is back for its eighth year in 2018, returning to the Southbank Centre for five empowering days. Now the largest women’s festival in the world, the festival sees meetings happen across five continents with one million people involved, giving women the chance to talk about their heroines and how their achievements have inspired them.

WHERE: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX
NEAREST TUBE: Waterloo

4. Soar to the top


WHAT IS IT? Calling all summit sprinters! Dare to take the stairs in brand-new Walkie-Talkie Tower Climb challenge. Hundreds of participants will take on the steep challenge to soar to the top, climbing over 800 steps across 36 floors before being rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of London in the vibrant Sky Garden, 160m above ground.
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WHERE: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF
NEAREST TUBE: Monument or Tower Hill

5. Get Holi in the City


WHAT IS IT? The ultimate antidote to a dull working week, this fun Holi celebration at Cinnamon Kitchen is one of the best events in London in March. Don some protective garb and prepare to wonderfully messy and colourful at this fun pop up event.
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WHERE: 9 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YL
NEAREST TUBE: Liverpool Street

6. Cause a Ruckus in The Vaults


WHAT IS IT? Prepare to party like it’s 1918 at this amazing immersive club night in Waterloo. Head to the river for what is set to be one of the best events in London in March as The Vaults is transformed into a turn of the century London, complete with Irish gangsters and plenty of music and madness.
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WHERE: Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN
NEAREST TUBE: Waterloo

7. Have dinner above the clouds


WHAT IS IT? Sky Garden’s elegant signature restaurant, Fenchurch, is hosting an exclusive dinner with well-renowned wine producers from Michele Chiarlo. Join them 37 floors up for an evening of delicious wines, exquisite food pairings & intricate tasting notes.

WHERE: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF
NEAREST TUBE: Monument or Tower Hill

8. Embrace a secret concert


WHAT IS IT? A candlelit acoustic concert at the Asylum Chapel in London. Three carefully selected and talented acts unplugged. The musician’s names will not be disclosed until the evening of the event. This is music as it’s supposed to be: live, intimate and in a very special location. Enjoy hot mulled wine or cider (winter), tasty drinks and delicious home made food provided on site from 6.30pm (not included in the price). Music begins at 7pm with 2 intervals.
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WHERE: Caroline Gardens Peckham, London, SE15 2SQ
NEAREST TUBE: Queens Road Peckham

9. Walk amongst the flowers


WHAT IS IT? Paternoster Square is turning yellow again as 4,000 illuminated daffodils pop-up in the space to mark the Great Daffodil Appeal 2018. Each handcrafted flower will represent the people the terminal illness charity will support throughout the month of March.  Walk through the flowers and listen to letters from patient’s families describing the care and support their relatives received from Marie Curie Nurses, make a donation in return for a daffodil pin in support of the Great Daffodil Appeal and leave behind a memory of a lost loved one by writing a message on a daffodil and placing on a ‘Memory Wall’ by the installation.
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WHERE: Paternoster Sq,  St Paul’s Cathedral EC4M 7DX
NEAREST TUBE: St Pauls

10. FEAST it out


WHAT IS IT? Feast is the NEW grown up and developed version of the old street food and restaurant experience Little Feast, and the sister site to Feast Canteen in Hammersmith. An incredible den of deliciousness, Feast will have big sharing tables and communal seating for 300 diners, DJ’s, as well as a rotating line-up of the capital’s most incredible independent eateries. The space is set to become a new kind of restaurant and bar hybrid for West London and beyond to enjoy.
WHERE: 201 Wood lane, White City Place W12 7TU
NEAREST TUBE: White City

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Top 10 | Pancakes in London

Frying pans at the ready. Pancake Day 2018 falls on Tuesday February 13, meaning that its time to go flipping mad. Whilst some may be more into perfecting their toss at a Shrove Tuesday pancake race, whether it be sprinting towards the finish line or just spectating. Most of you will prefer the DIY approach, or have someone make them for you. Here’s my roundup of the top 10 spots for pancake day in London – have fun, but just don’t get too battered in the process.

1. Where the pancakes are


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Banana praline marshmallow – two pancakes, banana, hazelnut-sunflower- cocoa-nib praline, basil marshmallow choice of chocolate or sea salted caramel.

WHERE: Arch 35a, 85a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 0NQ
NEAREST TUBE: London Bridge

2. Riding House Cafe


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Buttermilk pancakes with berries, vanilla clotted cream, maple syrup.

WHERE: 43–51 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PQ
NEAREST TUBE: Oxford Circus

3. Granger & Co, Chelsea


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Ricotta hotcakes, banana and honeycomb butter

WHERE: 237 Pavilion Road, SW1X 0BP
NEAREST TUBE: Sloane Square

4. My Old Dutch


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: The Forever Nutella

WHERE: 131-132 High Holborn, Holborn. London, WC1V 6PS
NEAREST TUBE: Holborn

5. Jackson & Rye


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Buttermilk pancakes with caramelised and maple syrup cream

WHERE: 56 Wardour Street, London. W1D 4JG
NEAREST TUBE: Tottenham Court Road

6. Tom’s Kitchen


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Seasonal berry pancake with maple syrup.

WHERE: 27 Cale St, Chelsea, London SW3 3QP
NEAREST TUBE: Sloane Square

7. Milk Cafe


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Buckwheat pancakes, blood orange, orange Chantilly, toasted milk, blood orange caramel.

WHERE: 18-20 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG
NEAREST TUBE: Balham

8. Story Coffee


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Quinoa Pancakes (GF) with roasted apple, wild flowers honey, whipped ricotta and toasted coconut.

WHERE: 115 St John’s Hill, London SW11 1SZ
NEAREST TUBE: Clapham Junction

9. The Delaunay


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Pancakes with blueberries & creme fraiche.

WHERE: 55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB
NEAREST TUBE: Covent Garden

10. The Book Club


THE HABIT HUNTER’S DISH RECOMMENDATION: Pancakes with caramel sauce & banana.

WHERE: 100–106 Leonard Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4RH
NEAREST TUBE: Old St or Shoreditch High St

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Habit Hunter Hotspots| February Edition

1. Immerse yourself in your dreams


WHAT IS IT? An immersive experience from the guys at DotDot. They promise to awaken all your human senses. They are the place where hyperreality and virtual reality meet – a live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies.
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WHERE: 2 Pear Tree Street (off Goswell Road), London EC1V 3SB
NEAREST TUBE: Farringdon

2.Head to Vegan Life Live


WHAT IS IT? Showcasing a wealth of information for both newbie vegans and veterans alike, Vegan Life Live will shine a spotlight on the current trends. They will bring you the very best of all things vegan, including clothing, cosmetics, household products and the most delicious food and drink for the cruelty-conscious consumer.
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WHERE: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY
NEAREST TUBE: Muswell Hill or Wood Green

3. Go to brunch with the mean girls


WHAT IS IT? After selling out in NYC within hours, the MEAN GIRLS-themed brunch party is hitting London – and it is ever-so fetch! The brunch ensures a day filled with “rainbows and smiles” with MEAN GIRLS themed games, cocktails and brunch food, whilst the famous, cult classic plays in the background.

WHERE: Floripa, 91-92 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3HZ
NEAREST TUBE: Old Street

4. Get under the skin of Ferrari


WHAT IS IT? Ferrari: Under the Skin is a major exhibition at The Design Museum, examining the fascinating history of one of motoring’s most iconic brands. The show, created in collaboration with Ferrari, celebrates 70 years of precision design, from the launch of the very first Ferrari car in 1947 to the latest car in production.
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WHERE: 224-238 Kensington High Street W8 6AG
NEAREST TUBE: High Street Kensington

5. Head to hard yard


WHAT IS IT? Pop Brixon has teamed up with The Hard Yard to offer full body, prison-style workouts designed and led by ex-offenders. They’ll get you pumped, sweating and sculpted with no equipment, just bodyweight resistance and hard graft, afterall, their trainers started out in prison cells, with little space or equipment). Grab a mate, sweat it out and refuel afterwards at Pop’s many food outlets.
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WHERE: 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8PQ
NEAREST TUBE: Brixton

6. Support Billy & Jack at their 24hr supperclub


WHAT IS IT? When Billy Wright and Jack Layer met on MasterChef, a foodie bromance blossomed. This weekend, the foodie duo is set to host a 24-hour supperclub to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Taking place at Plum + Spilt Milk in Kings Cross, Billy and Jack will cook for 24 hours straight, prepping nine consecutive supper club sittings spanning brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night feasting, to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
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WHERE: Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, Kings Cross, London N1C 4TB
NEAREST TUBE: Kings Cross

7. Get inspired at About Tomorrow


WHAT IS IT? About Tomorrow 2018 at Work.Life is a special festival of female empowerment;  is about supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs in the UK, with 10 awe-inspiring events throughout February and March 2018. The business-focused series has a bit of a twist – the events only profile and feature female-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs, to help inspire other women to chase their dreams.
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WHERE: Work.Life offices around London
NEAREST TUBE: Check the site

8. Go zen at The London Edition


WHAT IS IT? Sound Sebastien was born through Jasmine Hemsley and Toni Dicks’ mutual love for the ancient practice of sound and its ability to calm and curate good vibrations for the ultimate in relaxation. During each session, guests are invited to reset and renew through a sound-induced meditative state. All relaxation needs are catered for; from Tempur foam pillows and essential oils to cosy blankets and silk lavender filled eye cushions.
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WHERE: 10 Berners St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3NP
NEAREST TUBE: Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road

9. Have a pita party


WHAT IS IT? This carb party follows a month-long menu of perfect little pitas created by guest chefs. Try mini versions of all four thought up by culinary whizz kids from Smokestak, Breddos Tacos and Honey & Co, plus chef Oded Oren. Berber & Q will finish things off with a desert edition too.
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WHERE: 46 Exmouth Market, London. EC1R 4QE
NEAREST TUBE: Angel

10. Stay on trend at Fashion Week


WHAT IS IT? Staged in London Fashion Week venue: The Store Studios, 180 Strand – this is the only event that gives you unparalleled access to the industry to experience the best of British and international fashion including a showcase of designer and trend catwalks shows, designer shopping and industry talks.
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WHERE: The Store Studios, 180 Strand, WC2R
NEAREST TUBE: Covent Garden or Waterloo

The Habit Hunter x