GQ’s style and grooming director takes us on his perfect day through Seven Dials – from martinis to masques
I should probably caveat this piece by explaining that I’m really not a raging alcoholic, but that I do seem to spend my life in search of a perfect martini. There’s nothing better to lift the spirits and quicken the heart, after all, than an alchemic mix of ice cold vodka, zingy lemon zest and dry vermouth (just a splash mind), and until recently I didn’t think I’d ever actually be able to find the perfect one.
That was until – just before lockdown – I popped into the Covent Garden Hotel on Monmouth Street in Seven Dials. Bright, fresh and totally intoxicating, the martini made for me at the hotel’s bar not only left me slightly inebriated, but it also inspired me to go out into Seven Dials (of which Monmouth Street is part) and rediscover the area.
The truth is that my role at GQ magazine means that I spend most of my time in Mayfair – my office is there, as are most of the brands we work with – and it’s a point that has resulted in me not spending nearly enough time in Seven Dials, and my recent visit made me regret that immensely.
First stop on my journey of rediscovery was at Murdock, a barbershop just across the road from the Covent Garden Hotel. I opted for a close chop, and the service was as competent as my cut was excellent (it’s still holding some semblance of its shape now, four months into lockdown). Following that – the martini still working its magic – I decided it was time to do some shopping. I’d just returned from fashion week in Milan and my retail juices were well and truly flowing.
Aesop, the Australian beauty and grooming brand, can also be found on Monmouth Street, so I stopped in to buy myself a pot (or three) of the brand’s night masque. In the past year or so I’ve become a firm advocate of night masques, primarily because you wake up in the morning looking and feeling refreshed. The aforementioned one from Aesop is, in my opinion, easily the best. Next, I popped down to fragrance house Le Labo to pick up my favourite scent The Noir (it smells like blackcurrant leaf and earl grey tea) before heading into Ace and Tate to nab some sunglasses in time for summer. I have a strange face shape and a very deep nose bridge, but Ace & Tate’s wayfarer-style frames – with their slightly thicker than usual profile – fit my face perfectly.
By my final stop, I was fully sober, so I decided to pop into Birkenstock to buy myself a pair of totally sensible, lockdown-friendly house sandals. The slightly-awkward-yet-super-cool two-strap sandals I bought from its Neal Street store haven’t left my feet for the past three months (they’re particularly good to wear when watering the plants.)
Shopping over and thirst renewed, I popped back to the Covent Garden Hotel for a ‘you know what’ – just one, of course. Because as Dorothy Parker famously said: ‘I like to have a martini, two at the very most – after three I’m under the table, after four, I’m under my host.’
Teo van den Broeke is the style and grooming director of GQ