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Lazy Sunday brunches, local date nights and killer cocktails: Dawn O'Porter's guide to London

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Dawn O'Porter misses London. While living in Los Angeles with her husband Chris O'Dowd, the writer and founder of fashion brand Bob has had a case of withdrawal symptoms from her favourite cocktail bar, brunch spot and hairdresser in the capital.

But fortunately she'll be back from October 15 to 18 to co-host Stylist Live - a four-day festival of cocktails, culture, catwalks and conversation - with Edith Bowman.

Dawn and Edith will be overseeing proceedings as we host a variety of brilliant speakers, workshops, food stalls and fashion shows in London's Business Design Centre. 

In the meantime, we catch up with the star to find out about the places she always makes time for when in town. 

Dawn's favourite places for...

A lazy Sunday brunch
I think it's worth becoming a member of Shoreditch House just for their breakfast offering. In summer it's beautiful just sitting on their rooftop and in winter there's usually firewood burning. It's the perfect place that isn't home. I usually go for a classic poached egg or avocado toast - the trendiest thing you could eat right now. Yes, I'm mad for avocados, too.

The cheesy pizza
This one is easy - Pizza East in Shoreditch. The venue is massive and atmosphere is really fun. I'll always go for a margherita. Sometimes I might get something like salami added on top, but I get really scared that I'll make the wrong choice. So I stick with a good old margherita pizza and sprinkle chilli flakes.

A killer cocktail
I’m not into modern stuff so I always go back to American Bar at the Savoy. It has an air of old school glamour and class. I like sitting there and imagining all the stars who have been there before. My go-to drink is an Old Fashioned - I'm a big fan of whiskey.

A great sandwich
Two friends of mine, identical twin sisters Laura and Jess, have just opened a café in Crystal Palace called Brown & Green. They make the best sandwiches. It's always fresh, very healthy and their menu changes daily. But you can't go wrong with their classic Sourdough bacon butty with rocket and tomato. 

A date night
We (Dawn and her husband Chris O'Dowd) used to live in Bermondsey right by a restaurant called Pizarro and we would go there all the time with our little mixed breed dog called Potato. Bermondsey is the most dog friendly street I’ve ever come across between London, New York and Los Angeles. Pizarro do great wines, tapas and simple Spanish cooking. The menu seems to change daily, but my highlights have been sweet meats and razor clams. The owner is there a lot – I always take this as a sign of a good restaurant. 

An unforgettable meal
There are loads of novelty restaurants in London at the moment, but I think one that’s nailed it is Burger and Lobster in Soho. I ordered the whole lobster grilled with melted butter and I just loved it. They do two things on the menu but have kept it so perfect. It’s really fun too – I love wearing an apron and just digging in. 

Chef Sam doing what he does best #steamedlobster #dinnertime #threadneedle

A photo posted by Burger & Lobster (@burgerandlobster) on

Time with her girlfriends
We had my hen do at Brawn on Columbia Road because it's a brilliant spot for large groups. Unfortunately you won't find much for vegetarians here; it's all about the pig. From black pudding to pork chops, the daily-changing menu is for real meat eaters. It's also a restaurant where you can order loads of small plates and try lots of different foods, which I love.

A bit of quiet
I usually put my headphones on, start a good audiobook (I’ve listened to Jane Eyre loads of times) and go for a stroll. I love walking along the river, starting at Tower Bridge – Tower Bridge has to be a part of my walk - moving up to Waterloo and into Soho. If you ever feel like you’re bored of London and it’s a clear day, this is the walk you need to do. 

For a cultural fix
When I’m in London I explore five percent of what’s on offer to me culturally. The last time I was in the city, I was early for a meeting so I thought, "Why don't I pop into the National Portrait Gallery". I had this guilty feeling while I was in there because I don't visit museums enough. But the great thing about the Portrait Gallery is that you can go in, have a wander and and just stare at people’s faces. It's lovely.

The focal point of Dawn's favourite walking routes in London

Tower Bridge, the focal point of Dawn's favourite walking routes in London

A wardrobe update
I head to vintage shops. If I want to splash some cash I’ll go to William Vintage in Marylebone. If I’m looking for some bits, Beyond Retro is great for something cheap and cheerful and a fail safe resort would be Brick Lane. I’ll grab a bagel from Brick Lane Bagel Bakery and have a wander.

A haircut 
Oh, it’s a constant battle. My favourite hairdresser Tim Pateman cut my hair for the first time five years ago and every time I’ve cheated on him it’s been a disaster. When I lived in London he used to come to my house and do it, but now I have to squeeze in a cut with him every time I visit. It’s growing out right now but I’m waiting for when I visit London in a few weeks. No one does it like Tim. Sometimes we’ll chat throughout the haircut and sometimes he’s quiet and concentrates. He’s just opened a salon near Hatton Garden called The Lion and the Fox and it’s lovely and understated. I’m not into big fancy salons.

 

 

A photo posted by Dawn O'Porter (@hotpatooties) on

Decision time

If I had to leave London for good, the last place I'd visit is...

Covent Garden. I just did a pop up shop for my fashion brand Bob in Seven Dials in May and I just fell in love with the area. I think my perfect day in London would start with breakfast at the Covent Garden Hotel. I would then shop in the boutiques in Seven Dials and order a really healthy lunch on Neal’s Yard (a small alley between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street). Then I’d get a necklace made in Tatty Devine featuring a word that was symbolic of my last day. I would end the day in a Central London beer garden or jump into a cab and head to the American Bar at the Savoy.

The thing I miss most about London when I’m away
London, hands down has the best architecture in the world. In Los Angeles the buildings are dirty. In New York it’s so hectic and built up. In London you can have a stunning view from anywhere in the city.

I think it’s also definitely the most stylish place on earth. I think people watching in London is the best. The great pub culture of drinking and socialising is something I really miss.

Dawn

Dawn O'Porter is co-host of Stylist Live, a four-day festival of cocktails, culture, catwalks and conversation from 15 - 18 October 2015. Tickets start from £25 which provide free access to the Culture Lounge and Learning Labs, the Stylist Catwalk and the main floor where you’ll find more than 100 exciting pop-up boutiques and experiences.

Visit Dawn's fashion store at bobbydop.com

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