By Jordan Rhodes
As an Anglophile who makes it a priority to visit London as much as possible, naturally one of my favorite magazines is the British version of Town & Country, and I was more than a little ecstatic when it launched in 2014. So when I serendipitously stumbled upon contributing editor Alisa Swidler’s Instagram profile while stalking various Brits for their English countryside photos, I felt like I had hit the jackpot when she accepted my follow request, but little did I know I was about to be inspired, both personally and professionally. We struck up a dialogue over email which eventually lead to the exciting opportunity to interview the author of the well-known "Alisa’s A List" society column, and find out about the London that she loves. Originally, that's all this post was going to be about - Alisa's London favorites – but I had to include her impressive bio, just below, which should be an inspiration to us all.
Alisa campaigns across a host of humanitarian issues, including off-grid access to medicine across the Cambodian archipelago and in rural Indonesia. She has ongoing partnerships with President and Secretary Clinton, Ted Turner and Sir Richard Branson and is a Trustee of The Mayor's Fund for London, the global artisan collective Nest and The Zeitz Foundation. In addition, Alisa and Eva Longoria Executive Produced “Food Chains,” a documentary on migrant farm workers which premiered at The TriBeCa Film Festival. She is on the Advisory Boards of Charlize Theron's Africa Outreach Project, the Branson's Big Change Charitable Trust, Royal Albert Hall, the Last Mile Health Consortium and the PR firm Project Associates. She recently became a Brand Ambassador for the Song Saa Foundation, Lucy Annabella Organics and the womenswear designer Amanda Wakeley. Alisa is married to a Senior Portfolio Manager and has 5 children. Originally from New York City, she has lived outside of London for the past 13 years.
Thank goodness this world has people like Alisa Swidler. Needless to say, she is the perfect source for all things London, and I am thrilled that she is the first mom to be interviewed for this site. Below is a glimpse of the city that Alisa calls home.
1) Where do you love to dine with your family?
Inamo is the coolest sushi restaurant in London. My kids love it because the menus are computerised and appear on the table so they can order themselves - plus, the food is fabulous and it's right off Piccadilly Circus.
For brilliant Chinese food with views above Kensington Gardens, Min Jiang has tables for large groups and an enormous menu. Also very conveniently located on Kensington High Street.
For the best food with massive views try Aqua Shard located in the tallest building in Europe.
2) Are there any secret playgrounds, or museums under the radar, that families should know about?
Royal Albert Hall - now hosting more family events including Cirque d'Soleil and screenings of Frozen with a live orchestra and choir.
Winter Wonderland - from November to January this immaculate amusement park pops up in Hyde Park with rides galore and ice-themed everything.
Legoland - from April to October it's worth taking the trip to Windsor, see the Castle and make your kids happy with a day at Legoland; there's even a hotel on site.
If it's raining hit Westfield, a gorgeous up scale mall near Notting Hill where they've just launched "Kidzania".
3) London is such a great walking city. Are there any particular streets or areas that you enjoy?
I love Mayfair, especially Mount Street for shopping and restaurants. I also love doing a long walk with the kids across the river to the Tate Modern.
4) Where do you shop when buying gifts or clothes for your children? What about gifts for friends or yourself?
Harrods for their massive selection of designer girls dresses - biggest in London.
Harvey Nicks - Style Concierge is their version of the perfect personal shopper - and they have a great shoe selection and a brilliant outdoor roof top restaurant.
Space NK - I buy loads of beauty products from them, their selection is full of cult brands and they just started stocking Lucy Annabella Organics - bath oils/milks and candles - my favourite gift to give.
Amanda Wakeley on Albermarle Street - one of my favourite designers for cashmere, pencil skirts and coats - she also does fur wrist warmers and key rings that make great gifts.
Waterstones bookshop on Piccadilly - the biggest in Europe with a huge kids section.
Armorial Paris - in Thomas Goode (one of the world's best lux home shops, Kate picked her China pattern from there) - Armorial stocks gorgeous paper and note cards and will create magnificent invitations or a new monogram for you.
5) When you have friends visiting, what hotel do you recommend?
The Bulgari Hotel has one of the best spas but the Dorchester has amazing suites and you can never go wrong with The Four Seasons.
6) If you were moving away tomorrow, what would you do on your last day in London with your family?
This one is really hard - probably do a spin through Selfridges, get food and have a picnic in Regent's Park. Or maybe go back to the Tower of London to see the crown jewels!