Before he settled in Florida, Jason Arbuckle lived in London for nearly 15 years while working as design director for renowned book publishers and fashion magazines in the city. After taking time off to traverse the globe, he chose Palm Beach as his home base. The former graphic designer still makes regular trips to England to find new markets for J. Falkner, the stationery company he founded on the island in 2011.
Vibe: The mix of old and new makes London the most exciting city in Europe now. Marvelous old heritage sits next to the latest trends in fashion, design and architecture.
Soundtrack: Emeli Sandé’s cool, rich voice is heard from cafés to clubs.
Best Time to Go: Early autumn, when culture in the city comes to life after the summer holidays—or in spring, when there seem to be blossoms on every branch.
Fashion essentials: A cool pair of boots that won’t be shy around rain for the day and something skinny in the evening. London fashion is still tailored very slim.
Local dish you dream about: The English know their desserts—or “puddings,” as they call them. It’s worth the fight for a table at the Ivy just to have the sticky toffee pudding.
Guilty pleasure shop: As a stationery and leather-goods junkie, I’m a kid in a candy shop at the original Smythson’s store on New Bond Street. Plus, they monogram on site, making it especially hard to leave without one of the trademark Nile Blue boxes.
Local Secret: Brasserie Zédel opened last year in a giant ballroom hidden deep beneath an old hotel, and it has quickly become the place for buzzy pre- or post-theatre dining. Even better, the prices are a pleasant surprise.
Best way to spend a free morning: Experience London’s hipster ’hood, Shoreditch. Fortify yourself with a great English breakfast at the Albion Café, then stroll nearby Redchurch Street for the trendiest stores London has to offer.
A must-do experience not in the guidebooks: Hop on a “Boris bike” (the city bikes are nicknamed after the mayor). London streets may look intimidating, but there’s nothing better than taking a bike for a spin; the city suddenly opens up to you.
Best seat in town: Go high up in the London Eye Ferris wheel and spy Buckingham Palace’s enormous private garden. (Sure, it’s touristy, but everyone should do it once.) If you prefer to be more grounded, get an outdoor table at Scott’s in Mayfair, where London’s power brokers gather to smoke between courses.
Signature cocktail: The classic gin and tonic is a getting a revamp, with trendy artisanal combinations of the standard popping up. Rhubarb G&T (at Bob Bob Ricard), anyone?
Hometown good to sample and stockpile: Get thee to Fortnum & Mason’s for the most charming packaging in town. The tea caddies and biscuit tins, with designs redolent of old Empire, are the perfect presents for friends back home. (fortnumandmason.com)
Unwritten rule the locals live by: The famous English frostiness is just a façade. Maggie Smith is playing a role — real Londoners are much friendlier.