Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


November 3, 2013

Piccadilly, London and The Athenaeum

Walter Besant once said “I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day” – okay I haven’t walked around London for the past thirty years however on every visit to the big smoke I always find something fresh and new to discover.

After having one of those special serendipity moments where I made an Afternoon Tea reservation, an email from Secret Escapes popped into my inbox about a special offer at The Athenaeum. As I’m not one to dismiss these serendipity moments I made a booking for one night and tried to wait patiently for the weekend to arrive.

The Hotel

The Athenaeum is a small family owned five star luxury hotel located on Piccadilly opposite Green Park; for location it’s second to none for a visit to London especially if you have luxury shopping on the mind.

The first thing you will notice on arriving is the Living Wall on the exterior, then the friendly doorman and finally you will experience an extremely smooth and customer focused check in.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum luxury hotel exterior and lobby

The lobby area is very small and you will notice that the lifts are a bit tight when there are two of you in the lift with your luggage however the reason for this is that the property is grade listed so no major work can be carried out.  I found this to be one of those lovable quirky features however I don’t think all travellers will understand.

After a very impressive check in and a mini tour of the hotel lobby and restaurants we arrived in our room.  First impressions was that it was pretty darn fabulous; red is my favourite colour and there are splashes everywhere.  The room rate provides free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks from the mini bar which after a long journey is a godsend.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum luxury hotel london

The first thing that G does when he arrives in a new hotel is to check out the bed to see how comfy it is but for me it’s to find out what beauty products are supplied in the bathroom – wait for the scream, Ren products!  I use Ren at home and I love them so for me the hotel was a winner (check out the multiple smiles from me).

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum luxury hotel bathroom ren products

The Spa which I didn’t have time to check out offers Ren treatments so I think this means I need to head back to try out a treatment.

The Athenaeum is ideally situated at the Green Park end of Piccadilly so you don’t feel like you are surrounded by hordes of tourists and with this location you don’t have to travel far to find some great places to eat, shop and do.

Green Park Tube Station which is an approx. three minute walk from the hotel is the home to the Victoria, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines so getting around London will be a breeze.


Obviously we had Afternoon Tea at The Athenaeum, so please feel free to read my review here.

80 pairs of shoes the athenaeum afternoon tea london

Our room rate didn’t include breakfast however I decided this meant that a visit to The Wolseley (approx. 5 minute walk from the hotel) was called for especially to check out how they handle customers with a gluten free dietary requirement.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum the wolseley interior lights

You must notify the restaurant of your dietary requirement prior to arriving however they don’t go out of their way other than gluten free bread.  I ordered a full English breakfast and was shocked to discover that they didn’t realise that sausages were full of gluten; I ended up receiving extra bacon instead.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum the wolseley breakfast london gluten free

If you don’t have a dietary requirement then the pancakes are too die for however if you are gluten free then there isn’t a grand selection on offer except the Full English or Gluten Free toast with eggs etc.  For the money and what was on offer I would eat elsewhere however for celebrity spotting The Wolseley is priceless – Hello Claudia Winkleman and Ron Howard.


The Athenaeum is a great base if you are wanting to hit Bond Street and hit it hard! You can walk there in 5 minutes so at least you are never too far away from brand new shoes. Bond Street is the place to shop if you are after luxury brands like Chanel, Gina, Cartier, Miu Miu, Burberry, Coach and Mulberry just to name a few.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum bond street luxury shopping

If you are Tea Connoisseur then a visit to Fortnum and Mason is a must, once again this is no more than a five minute walk from the hotel.

around the world in 80 pairs of shoes fortnum and mason luxury shopping coffee chocolates

The famous department store where the Queen gets her groceries from, has gone back to it’s roots and has started to sell candles again and who would have thought candle displays could be so beautiful. As it’s the season the Christmas shop is a must if you are addicted to Christmas – their shop displays are stunning.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum london luxury shopping fortnum & mason christmas shop candles

What most people don’t know is that Fortnum and Mason now offers Afternoon Tea on the top floor of the department store however you will need to book in advance, my review is here.

Now if you get addicted to those Ren products then you need to visit my favourite department store in the whole of London, Liberty. From the hotel it’s a 15 minute walk or just one stop on the Victoria Line from Green Park to Oxford Circus, take Exit 8 and turn left from the exit and straight in front of you is Liberty (yes I have done this journey a few times!!). Liberty stocks a wide variety of goods including scarves, jewellery, pretty china, shoes, stationery and the famous Liberty print which can be found in the Haberdashery department.


The Royal Academy of Arts is about a 7 minute walk from the hotel and for me this was my first ever visit. Now I’m a Kiwi and there is that rivalry between the Australians and the New Zealanders however I thought a visit to the new exhibition of Australia was required to show my neighbourly support.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum royal academy australia

The exhibition is a showcase of Australian art through the ages and it was interesting to see how much the landscape changed with each decade through the art on display.  If you have never had a chance to see original Aboriginal artwork then the £14 ticket is money well spent; the exhibition is impressive.

Green Park is directly in front of The Athenaeum and with the changing seasons a walk is must through the park. The hotel offers their guests bikes and kites to use free of charge however we didn’t have a chance to take them up on this offer. During summer the iconic striped deck chairs are scattered around the park.

80 pairs of shoes piccadilly london & the athenaeum green park


You could get away with any style of shoes; it’s pretty flat and there are no deadly cobbled areas.

What is the first thing you check out when you enter a new hotel room?  What’s your favourite part of London?

Disclaimer: the approx. walk times are a true indication if you have very long legs otherwise you may want to add a couple more minutes onto the travel times.


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