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Hello, I’m here to fix your boiler…

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I am a strong believer that when it comes to cities, especially of those ‘home’ variety for individuals who – like me – have confusing heritage, it’s all about spicing things up in the bedroom, so to speak. And for this I wholeheartedly recommend roleplaying: sexy nurse, keen repairman, bored prison guard… whatever floats your boat (enthusiastic Pokémon trainer for me), but the trick is to live, experience and interact with your city from a slightly different perspective, different lifestyle. Rent an inexpensive car for a few days instead of taking public transport, wear a suit every day for no reason, shop like a local, walk like a tourist, book an Airbnb flat in a high-rise and wake up to sunrise on the 20th floor… Enjoy wider horizons but also encounter new limitations. Yes I’m aware this sounds like a page out of a self-help book, but I promise, IT’S SEXY WHEN YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT. I’d like to think that this is how London and I keep a healthy relationship, even if I have to ask for a hall pass every now and again.

Seoul, for me, is one of those ‘home’ cities – despite never having lived there and a place I still consider an exciting, unmapped territory, I can’t help that on the rare occasion I do visit I slink into an oddly familiar routine that one would typically expect from a local. Now, this isn’t to say that I know my way around the back streets of Gangnam or the best way to haggle over a kilo of spinach with the lady in the market (why does one need kilo of spinach anyway), but it is the inevitable nature of: I seem to blend in with my own people? Last April, brought over by work, I was determined to spice it up – and instead of going straight to one of my relatives, booked two nights at the Conrad hotel on Yeuido island – the city’s business and banking district and also home to the most spectacular cherry blossom festival.

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Bag – Celine. Shoes – Aquazzura ‘Christy’

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Watch – Larsson & Jennings ‘Saxon’. Necklace – Effra London

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The hotel, while stunning in design and efficient in service, is undeniably oriented towards business purposes, which is exactly what I’d wanted. I woke up early and mingled with the suited men at breakfast, read the cartoon page off the International New York Times with my glasses perched low on my nose, and abused the concierge app to book wake-up calls but snoozed through the morning. In the afternoon, I took walks through the cherry blossom festival and bought street food, which I smuggled back into my room. And on the last day, I took a friend and snuck into a local public school’s sports field and we spent the afternoon on the bleachers imagining life as a Korean high-schooler. It was love rekindled, and so far away from the Seoul that I got too easily accustomed to. Next time, I’m booking a helicopter ride and borrowing a dog. Now tell me that’s not some power couple’s therapy.

A big thank you to Conrad Seoul for the kind hospitality.

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Sweater – Isabel Marant. Trunk bag – Marni. Denim culottes – Charlie May. Heels – Gianvito Rossi

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Cape – ASOS. Jeans – Frame Denim. Bag – Chloe. Boots – Tibi. Sunnies – Madewell. Watch - Larsson & Jennings

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3 Favourite Work Spots
in Warsaw

‘Thank you for your message, I am currently Out of Office stuffing myself with homemade cake and watching endless Korean TV with my parents. For urgent issues, please take a number and divide it by ZERO.’ Trips to Warsaw are never classed as work in my book, even if for genuine business purposes. This is one place in the world I will always consider as childhood playground, home sweet home, and at times, exciting new horizons. So, even as I lug a buttload of work and deadlines from London, in my mind I am absolutely, completely Out of Office.

In time, handy little gadgets like this HP Stream with Intel Inside® tablet snuck their way into my occasional Warsaw stints, and every time I find myself venturing a little further from home to find a happy place to work from. Anywhere with coffee and wi-fi, initially, but we all know a bit of zing goes a long way (McZing sold out since the dawn of hipster cafes). Many a local was consulted – particularly The Styledigger, my resident yellow pages since her days in Krakow – to narrow down three great spots to work in town:

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1/ Charlotte – chleb i wino
aleja Wyzwolenia 18, warsaw | bistrocharlotte.com

‘Bread and Wine’, a more-than-attractive sign-off of a trendy yet-slightly-rough-around-the-edges bistro at the Southern cusp of Warsaw centrum – one haven that I frequent whenever I’m back in town. Open from 7am, the premise is thick with the smell of fresh-baked leaven bread – plain or garnished with raisins – heroes of town. Keep an eye out for the pots of conserve, chocolate spread and lavender honey that accompanies the bread basket, for the jars are deep and the contents are finger-lickin’ good. A great place to catch up with emails, or wind down after a day – free wifi, of course. I do suggest keeping your tech gear minimal, because after a glass of wine you’ll suddenly be speaking Polish and making friends.

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Blazer - Max Mara. Skirt – YesStyle. Shoes – Aquazzura (similar). Bag – Gucci Soho

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2/ Museum of the History of Polish Jews
ul. Warecka 4/6 , warsaw | polin.pl

An important visit, if not mandatory – especially if a visit to Krakow is not yet on your itinerary. Highly educating and inspiring – a great place to work and find food for thought. Food for stomach too, in the cafe at the heart of the building.

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3/ eMeSeN
ul. panska 3,warsaw | emesen.pl

Short for MSN, or Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej – not the chat application of adolescent heydays although eerily exciting in similar measure. Relatively new to the block and a rather balancing presence to Warsaw’s ‘golden’ mall a few doors down, the Modern Arts Museum houses a café-cum-foyer that sports a tasteful selection of design books and comfortable chairs/stools to work on. I’d only recently discovered it, but found myself returning more frequently than the usual spots. Free wi-fi, decent coffee, and lots of good distractions.

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Speaking of gadgets, the HP Stream is a new kind of tablet with built-in Intel Inside® Processor, which means ‘fast’ for those who, like me, only speak colouring book. I picked it up because it was kind to 1) my wallet and 2) my bag – at a size just large enough to fit in one hand, and thus inside one of those mini-bags that make you suddenly proud of a questionable skill of editing your life down to a matter of a few essential belongings. Nevermind of course, the mess of an inbox – if it fits inside a Gucci Soho, it ships. Lastly because, 3) it runs on Windows 8.1 – which might come as a surprise to some given my profession as a graphic designer, but yes, I am a PC. And guess what, since we’re sharing secrets, I eat pizzas backwards. Now what.

In collaboration with HP & Intel. All views and opinion my own.

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