London is bursting with traffic, people and noise.
I should know, I live here.
I also work here, date here and get stressed here. Life.
So, when I think of escaping work and day-to-day life, I don’t think of staying in the city.
Are you mad?
I dream of a country cottage, an open fire, a freshwater swimming lake. Not a sound or a soul in sight… Bliss.
However, time is something that I don’t often have, therefore travelling hours for a staycation isn’t always an option.
And yet, the need to switch off remains crucial.
Our lives have become a WFH reality, and we all need a break from ‘that’ set-up.
But could I do that in my home city?
After one stressful morning of work, the out of office finally went on and I had a stay-cay in London to find out.
And it turns out that it was the breath of fresh air that I needed.
I didn’t need a palace, but I also didn’t want your bog-standard cheap thrill. I wanted good beds, no noise and a good breakfast in the morning.
After settling on the location of Kensington, an area far from my home in Greenwich and one that I actually never so much as took a step in before, I booked into the Ibis Styles hotel.
What was it with us Londoners that didn’t venture too far from our own boroughs?
This was not your standard Ibis.
I had a balcony that overlooked a garden – I squinted and imagined that I was in Italy, whilst sipping my 5th coffee of the day. Alright 7th, it was a stressful morning.
A double bed, funky room and a shower that provided more power and oomph than the District Tube Line. Or my own shower at home.
Not to mention a contactless check in experience. My phone was my hotel room key!!
Not today, Daniel!
Feeling content, and less stressed already, I donned sunglasses and set out for the Design Museum.
Again, I live in a city that oozes art and culture, and yet I’m too time poor to enjoy it.
Not today, Daniel!
An exhibition of “Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life” was being displayed and I was ready to escape into her mind for an hour or two.
Exploring the life and works of the French architect and designer, I sampled chairs that looked like they inspired most of the furniture collection that now is available in IKEA.
Wistfully, I walked through the exhibition and ignored my email pings.
At one point I was sure that this is where I’d meet a beautiful stranger, who’d later ask me to dinner. That always happened in art museums, right?
It didn’t happen.
The fascinating exhibition gave me the urge to stroll around the area afterwards, looking up in a world where we are focused on looking down.
My phone remained firmly in my pocket and I rambled around Kensington in the evening sun.
Although it was the smallest borough in London, it was also jam-packed with incredible eateries and architecture. Not to mention lined with multiple museums to get lost in.
Am I right?
Dinner was a simple wine and pizza, both indulgent and delicious.
Allowing me to catchup with WhatsApp groups that I had ignored due to workload – a common issue and unexpected additional stress.
Am I right?
I had cocktails in my hotel reception and chatted to guests that I’d never met.
They probably thought that I was crazy.
Don’t you just love a holiday chat with a stranger?
Finally, I collapsed onto my bed, with wind coming through the balcony doors.
I smiled and put on the TV.
Had I just over-indulged and escaped in my own city?
After what felt like the best sleep I’d had since before Covid, I had a breakfast to set me up for the day.
As I opened back up my work inbox, reality came flooding back in.
I rode a tube to the office that I hadn’t got on before and felt refreshed.
Naughty in fact.
Perhaps in an age where travel is tricky, we shouldn’t ignore the places that are on our doorsteps.
Turns out you can stay-cay where you live, even for just one night.
Sometimes sleeping in a hotel bed is all the escapism and reset that you need.
I recommend it.