Isn’t it every girl’s dream to live life like a glamorous celeb? Unfortunately, keeping up with the Kardashian’s or the Beckham’s does nothing more than bump up an already over bulging bank account. Unlike Victoria and her Louis Vuitton lined pockets, most of us have little more than a gaping hole burning its way through the lining. However, with a little imagination and a sense of adventure you really don’t have to be massively minted to have a good time. These days, it would seem that even a penniless princess can work it Hollywood style and for not much more than a tenner.
Seems unlikely? Well it’s actually more than possible to have a gorgeously glam day out in London’s West End, without re-mortgaging the house. With a little planning, a get up and go attitude and a fabulous frock you’re seriously good to go. First call, as any seasoned celebrity knows, is to quite literally roll out of bed and get an essential make over. Ok so maybe you’ll have to buy a travel card and take the bus into town, but putting your face on at the crack of dawn is top of the celebrity lifestyle list.
Head to one of the many large department stores on Oxford Street and book yourself in for some super star treatment at the cosmetic counter. Although it is possible to walk in off the street, click your fingers and demand an appointment, I’d suggest you take the safer option and pre-book your moment in the spot light beforehand. With a highly trained beauty consultant and a whole host of expensive products to die for, you’ll be in heaven before the mascara’s even had time to dry. Make-up junkie Saskia recommends the service highly. “The beautician I had gave me some great tips for my skin and fantastic make-up advice to help bring out my best features,” she explains. “I felt amazing and really glamorous when meeting my friends for lunch afterwards.” And rightly so, for what headline grabbing celeb would seriously leave the house with a face like the back end of no-where. Getting the perfect cover girl look not only gives you a fabulous looking face, but will also positively kick start your day, leaving you ready to face the cameras. Unfortunately that would be the High Street security cameras, not the paparazzi, but remember, the real beauty here, is that it’s all gloriously free.
So with a dewy fresh face and a spring in your step, it’s time to slip into something a little more comfortable. Why not Sarah Jessica Parker it up a notch with the help of your very own personal shopper at the wonderfully lavish Selfridges on Bond Street. You will definitely have to book this session at least a month ahead as it is immensely popular. Your personal shopper will then pander to your whims, advise, style and create a new look for you; and the best part, all whilst you sit in the comfort of a chaise longue sipping earl grey tea. With no obligation to buy anything at all, (although of course they’d prefer you did) you can simply take their advice about what suits you, get an idea of how these styles look on you and then you are better equipped to go rework your new look. “I had such a wicked day,” says media professional and professed shopaholic, Lisa. “Although I couldn’t actually afford to buy a lot of what I tried on, I learned a lot about the correct style for my body shape and was treated like a princess for over 2 hours,” she continues. The beauty of having a personal shopper at Selfridges gives you the opportunity to try on everyday high street fashion and exclusive designer wear all at the same time. Don’t forget to capture the memory before you change though, it could be the only time you parade up and down in a £5000 Marc Jacobs coat whilst sporting a pair of £700 Jimmy Choos. The ultimate selfie situation, so pop off some stylish shots of you and your friends dressed up to the nines, oh and then grab some free perfume samples on your way out.
After all that exhausting shopping, it’s time to catch up on the latest gossip and get some chow down time. Perhaps a spot of value for money lunch at one of the ‘all you can eat’ bars dotted around Soho and Leicester Square. Lunching at Mezzo, the Ivy or Nobu would be the perfect celebrity choice, but as hugely popular and ridiculously over priced restaurants, you will have to cross those off your list for this experiment. Of course, the other alternative for saving the pennies is to bring an old-fashioned picnic lunch, chill out in Soho Square gardens and do some serious people watching. Very 50’s chic and truly romantic, which is of course, always phenomenal.
Time for some afternoon treats and fortunately London has quite a few fabulously free places to choose from. If you fancy a bit of fine art for a change then wander on down to The National gallery in Trafalgar Square, or over to one of the many free photographic galleries or trinket shops scattered around Covent Garden, where you may well bump into the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow or Sadie Frost. Afterwards meander over to Covent Garden’s piazza, where you can while away a whole afternoon with a pot of tea and some fabulous street culture. Or for those of you who want to ramp it up a bit to impress your friends back home, pop in to number 34 New Bond Street and watch the sale proceedings at London’s top auction house Sotheby’s - even the illustrated catalogues make for interesting browsing. Just remember, keep your arms firmly on your lap, or you could find yourself the new owner of some very expensive paintings, and financially a little short with only your trusty tenner to hand.
On the other hand another good and free option is to have a sneaky peek at celebrity hangout, Champneys Spa on Piccadilly. It doesn’t cost to make enquiries, and you might just get more than you bargained for as I found out a few years back. I only popped in to pick up some membership details and the next thing I know, I had been on a tour of the whole spa, including the aquarium, the Cleopatra pool, relaxation room and the rosemary and mint steam rooms. I was even given a lovely cup of tea and some colour brochures and eventually left with one free days pass. (Which I used and had the most amazing day - but that’s another feature). Champneys health spa is seriously worth a look, but dress smartly and wear your best smile, who knows you might find yourself floating around in luxury with the likes of Madonna before the weeks out. It’s worth a shot, right.
Time for tea already and time to take a lingering break in one of the many street cafes in Leicester square or Covent Garden, it’s amazing how long a pot of tea for two can actually last especially when over a gaggle of girly laughter. For those of you willing to part with a bit more than tenner, why not step it up with tea at the world famous Ritz, hotel (smart dress only). The tea and the service are second to none and at £34 per person, including a delicious selection of sandwiches, cakes and a pianist, you will be dinning with the cream of the crop. (Book 6 weeks in advance). Make sure you take some time to visit the hotel’s bathrooms, the toiletries, especially the hand cream, are seriously posh and smell absolutely delicious. You couldn’t keep me out of there! Well that was until I accidentally pulled the top off one of the gold plated taps a few years back and soaked my sheer summer dress right through. My fiancé was a little confused when I ran red faced back to our table and demanded that we leave immediately. Fortunately I have returned since and managed to sit through the whole experience without breaking anything. It’s definitely worth it.
So, after a refreshing tea break, why not walk off the feeling of fullness with a slow stroll along Shaftesbury Avenue, check out the fabulous neon lights at Piccadilly Circus and soak up the buzz of the early evening crowd. However, if you really fancy a change of scenery, then hop on the tube to Waterloo station and walk along the river till you get to the London Eye. The South Bank is a beautiful part of the city that transforms itself magnificently into the night leaving you with that holiday happy feeling. And after such a busy day living it large, why not spend the last of your change on a nice glass of wine at one of the funky bars lining the river walk before heading home. Chances are there’s a kind gentleman waiting to offer you gorgeous girls a top-up and some friendly conversation, even if he’s not quite Richard Gere or Brad Pitt, it’s a pretty nice way to end a perfect day.
It was once famously declared by Dr Samuel Johnson that "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford," and how true he was. You may be penniless, but there is such a thing as a ‘free lunch’ and nothing beats the satisfaction of finding it. I know I’ll certainly be back for many more phenomenally cheap days out in London, empty pockets or otherwise! For there is just something so satisfying about a challenge that forces you to create something out of nothing.
Written by Kerys Nathan