Tea and Jewels at Ham Yard Village
I was recently invited for a tour of the lovely Ham Yard Village in Soho, a pretty little collection of independent boutiques nestled around the leafy Ham Yard Hotel courtyard. Located just a couple of minutes north of Piccadilly Circus, the village is right in the middle of London's shopping heartland, but feels a million miles away and is a peaceful place for a bit of gentle browsing. Until I visited I had no idea that it even existed!
My Cup of Tea is a mecca for all things tea related, and therefore a perfect place for a tea enthusiast like myself. I sampled some of their soothing and fragrant rose and cardamom tisane and spent some time admiring all of the beautiful tea making and drinking wares, which they source from all over the world. Loose black and green teas, stored in huge steel canisters behind the counter, are sold by weight, while their wide range of tisanes come in bags of delicate cotton pouches.
I also learnt about the history of matcha tea and its recent rise in popularity and watched a "perfect matcha" being made, which was mesmerising! I had no idea what an art it was, and the important place that matcha holds within the ancient rituals of Japanese tea ceremony.
The shop also sells a range of the most exquisite tea drinking vessels, which had me swooning all over. Unfortunately they were a little out of my price range....
Anabela Chan set up her jewellery label in 2013 having worked previously in architecture, fashion and art. Her pieces are distinctively fun, bright and elaborate, combining natural and fantasy themes and motifs with bold and brightly coloured gemstones in all shapes, cuts and sizes.
Her pieces have been worn on the red carpet by Lady Gaga and Rita Ora but what impressed me most about her work is that she is a determined advocate for laboratory grown gemstones, the use of which makes her jewellery both sustainable and ethical, but also far more accessible than jewellery using mined stones.
The jewels, while absolutely stunning, were probably a bit too ornate for me, but that didn't stop me from trying on a range of massive sparkly rings like the incredible one above, and marvelling at the almost obsessive craftsmanship that goes into each piece.
After all that hard work a spot of lunch at Ham Yard House's restaurant was in order, followed by a good nosey around the hotel, which has a warm, intimate charm and is filled with playful and interesting furnishings and objects, carefully curated and designed by owner and interior designer Kit Kemp.
There is such a focus on detail, and a feeling that a great deal of love, creative flair and fun has gone into the eclectic aesthetic of the hotel. I particularly liked the basket weave lights hanging in the Orangery, and the giant Alexander Calder tapestry hanging in the stairwell.
Despite its intimate feel, the hotel packs a lot into its space, housing 91 bedrooms and suites, 24 serviced apartments, a drawing room and library, spa, gym, theatre, meeting rooms and 1950s style bowling alley. My favourite part, however, was the leafy roof terrace, with its wonderful views of Soho and beyond, beehives, olive trees and vegetable garden.
If it hadn't been quite so chilly, I would have happily whiled away a couple of hours up there, with a book and a glass of something cold. The hotel is however currently selling tickets for Hot Gin Roof nights where guests will be invited up onto the roof terrace to wrap up in blankets while sipping 1920s inspired hot gin cocktails and enjoy the views. Not bad, eh?!
Thank you Ham Yard for having me!