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A Local's Guide to London, England

Describe who you are in 3 sentences:
My name is Erica Quaglia. I’m from Italy and I live in London. I’m a fashion and beauty enthusiast and a travel devotee. I worked in the events industry for many years and have now been in beauty PR for the past 4 years. I am the Senior Account Manager & Head of Artist Relations at Chalk PR.

What is your relation to this city?
Growing up with an English mother meant that I came here often when I was younger. I eventually decided to move here with my best friend and never looked back. I love how cosmopolitan and open-minded this city is. I have met so many amazing people here from different parts of the world. The first couple of years were a lot of fun and probably the best of my life. However I soon realised that there are job opportunities here that do not exist in Italy. There is no nepotism, people are professional and take you seriously. If you work hard, you get rewarded. 

Best experience?
When I was working as an event planner, I was lucky enough to organise some incredible events including premiere parties, BAFTA and BRIT Awards after-parties. It was a great experience that I will never forget. I was then able to change career paths and start working in PR, which is something I have always aspired to do. Buying my own apartment in West London was also amazing.

Weirdest experience?
I spent many unforgettable nights at "The Box" when it first opened. However some of the performances really pushed the boundaries of social decorum. Having to hide because the performer was ‘spending a penny’ on the audience, was pretty weird.

Your top 3 hangout spots?
Impossible to choose 3!
- "Rosewood", "The Ned", "The Mandrake Hotel", "The Arts Club", "Annabel’s", "Shoreditch House", "Kettner’s Townhouse", "The Mondrian" and "Sushi Samba" for the views.
- I love "The Electric Cinema".
- Westbourne Grove, just off Portobello is my favourite street in London.
- "Regent’s Park" is so dreamy...especially in autumn.
- In December, the ice skating rink at "Somerset House" is pretty magical
- "Fortnum’s Lodge" offers the best selection of hot chocolates, even tipsy ones.

Favourite restaurants?
- "Berners Tavern" at The Edition
- "Isabel" (worth a visit for the beautiful individual powder rooms alone)
- "Bodega Negra" (the Margaritas are lethal)
- "Zuma"
- "Roka" (the Canary Wharf location is my fave)
- "Nobu Berkeley" (best Black Cod ever)
- "Balthazar" (best Bloody Mary in town)
- "By Chloe"
- "Princi".
Fave spots in my neighbourhood are "Pizza East", "E&O", "Farm Girl" (beware, they don’t take bookings so you’ll always find a queue on weekends) and "Juicebaby" on Westbourne Grove (best açai bowl I have ever had). These are all just off Portobello Road.

Best date place? 
I love outdoor cinemas in summer...you can’t beat watching Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in the moat at the Tower of London.


Best Sunday spot?
A Sunday roast at "The Spaniards inn" (iconic pub in Hampstead Immortalised by Dickens in ‘The Pickwick Papers’) followed by a walk on Hampstead Heath is a must. Alternatively, brunch at "Chiltern Firehouse", "NAC Mayfair", "The Ivy Chelsea Garden" or any of "The Ivy Brasseries".

If you were to live in another place, where would that be and why?
Definitely NYC. I love the states and I try to go as often as I can, but I would live in NYC. It has an energy like no other place and I feel right at home there. I always get butterflies when first crossing the bridge and seeing the Manhattan skyline.

Where is your escape place from this city?
- I love Paris (it’s so easy to get to by Eurostar)
- Milan (one of my closest friends lives there. I also lived there for a few months before moving to London)
- Ibiza (my best friend lives there)
- Rome is my hometown and my family is there so I try to go as often as I can.
- I have such fond memories of exploring the English countryside when I was younger. I would like to do more of that. I love "Cliveden House" in Berkshire and I visited the beautiful "Chatsworth House" in Derbyshire last year. They had the most incredible fashion exhibition at the time, ‘House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion’.

Best 5 local advices?
1. Always book restaurants in advance. The hot spots normally need to be booked at least 2 months ahead.
2. Check out upcoming exhibitions and make sure you catch a show. I recently saw ‘All About Eve’ with Lily James and Gillian Anderson. It was excellent.
3. The weather changes every day. It can literally be warm and sunny one day, raining and freezing cold the next. Always check the forecast so you can wear appropriate attire
4. Do something ‘typically British’ like having Afternoon Tea at "The Ritz" or "Claridge’s". I’m going to Royal Ascot for the first time this year, so I’ll be adhering to the formal dress code and sporting a fascinator!
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