I’m going to just go out on a limb here and say that my one unique talent is finding the best places on Airbnb.com.
Last June – has it really been that long? – but yes, last June, I hit London for the third time. London seems to be becoming a bit of a yearly thing for me – so many people I love having decided to settle there, but this time I was there for my best friend’s graduation in the sleepy university town of Exeter. I extended the trip past that to hop between the most iconic/standard european destinations with an old girlfriend, who was a first timer to both london and paris. So London for us was divided down in two: pre-paris, and post-paris. Pre-paris London was spent wandering down the normal touristy areas – london bridge, the shard, the thames, etcetera, and we stayed right by London’s Bridge with the most amazing Airbnb host in the world, Hayley. More here.
Post-paris, though, found us in Shoreditch, East London, a hipster neighbourhood which has been fighting against claims of gentrification for the last couple of years. Haters gon’ hate, I say. I personally found it lovely.
But let’s talk about my unique talent; ref: start of post. I rented a private room in this gorgeous sunlit loft right by the Shoreditch tube station, an unusually large place for London city. The first night, we shared the apartment and some conversation with a couple from New York who were renting the other room. This is why I love renting private rooms on airbnb – it’s a sure recipe for guaranteed conversation and possible friendship because you live with other people and you have to make some form of small talk. Force yourself to converse! It’s good for character. The couple we met were two halves of an entirely too inspiring whole: one was a ballet instructor, the other the publicity director for the Book of Mormon on Broadway. The best part? The publicity director was an English major in Univeristy. It was a beautiful moment of clarity for me, a I see the light moment and all that. Career options for English majors! I adored them. They moved out the next morning.
We had the entire apartment to ourselves the next couple of days, the hosts themselves being off to Switzerland to visit family. The last night, they returned from their trip and we had some (organic) tea with some (equally organic) strawberries together. See what I mean about the area being supremely hipster?
And there we had the story behind the apartment explained to us by Sebastian and Sandra, our lovely, effervescent hosts.
The apartment we were living in was a converted office building, which explains the huge floor space, the brooklyn-esqe fire escape, and the emergency exit sign that they felt was too cute to remove. They were probably right: we had previously assumed it was intentional interior decor. It certainly fit the theme. Plants grew out of every corner in the apartment, hung from the ceilings, and sprouted out of pockets in the walls, because what better for one’s mental and emotional well being than to feel at one with nature? And most of the furniture was either sourced from vintage markets or handmade. See: table which used to be a door, above.
More often than not, your living space reflects your personality, and moving around in the open concept apartment really gave us a sense of what Sebastian and Sandra were like as people. The apartment spoke to us, and I dont mean this in a figurative sense. Every day that we lived there, we uncovered new post-its and sharpie-scribbled notes on all possible surfaces. The fire escape door reminded us to be happy. Above the coffee machine: a post-it note – what you focus on EXPANDS. And when you washed your hands after taking a poop, on the mirror: today is a brand new day!
You live here, day in, day out, Sebastian explained. It needs to fuel you with positivity. It begins at home.
He was on to something there, for sure. It was impossible to feel worried in that apartment, and it was nearly impossible to leave it and venture outdoors to explore. The living room smelt of life from all the greens (and with a bit of help from the aromatherapy diffusers they had going), and there was constantly soft jazz playing in the background, flushed speakers and an iPod somewhere. And the kitchen was an open hug – stocked with ethically grown fruit (it said, on the label) and organic tea / coffee, that guests were welcome to help themselves to.
Because we only had one night overlapping with the hosts themselves, we weren’t around to take part in their usual routine, something I very much regret. They get up every morning at six to do yoga together, and either cook or eat out in the evenings. (Couples should start and end the day together, Sebastian had said.) They hold meditation sessions for their guests and friends every month, and organise movie screenings in their living room for the shoreditch community once in awhile. It would have been the perfect in for a non-londoner, a great segue into the buzzy, modern lives of the young city dweller. Lucky for the guests who lived there during those nights: it must have been incredible.
Still, I’m not too fussed. I’ll be back in London again within the near future for sure, said best friend mentioned at the start of this post having decided to stay on in the city to pursue his masters. And when i return, I’ve been cordially invited to join Seb & Sandra – maybe not for 6am yoga, but definitely for one of their fantastic dinner slash movie parties. All organically prepared, of course.
Say hi to / live with this incredible couple: listing link here.
Till next time. x