This year I was lucky enough to visit London for the Tea Party Club’s annual event, Wicked & Whimsy. I had a wonderful experience, and I’d definitely recommend the event for anyone who was interested in attending. This is part 1 of a three part series documenting this event. The majority of this section is negative, due to the unpleasant interactions I had with strangers at my AirBNB near the event venue. Please understand that these experiences absolutely do not represent the event itself (it was wonderful!!) but that I am sharing them so that other lolitas understand the risks of not properly investigating an area before booking accommodations. For a much more positive report on the actual event, please check out part 2 and part 3 once they are posted!
Wicked & Whimsy took place over the course of a weekend – on Saturday there was a fashion show & vendors space, and on Sunday there was a tea party. I arrived very early in the morning on Friday, and since my accommodations weren’t going to be ready until much later in the evening I picked up a pocket wifi unit from TEP wireless at the airport, and checked into a day room at a nearby hotel. The wireless unit was very useful throughout the trip, and I’d recommend TEP if you’re planning to visit London. You receive a little package like the one in the photo below from a suitcase store on the lower level of Heathrow, and inside are all the items you need to use the pocket wifi. There is even a return envelope that you can drop off at any mailbox if you’re planning a quick departure and don’t have time to stop back before leaving. For my own sanity I chose to return it to the package store because I wanted a receipt for my records. But, it was nice to know that if I was running late I always had the mail in option.
That afternoon I gathered my things and headed into the city. I was very excited to meet my new roommates & see our apartment! While I really enjoyed the company, this was unfortunately one of the few instances where the AirBNB reservation did not meet my expectations.
Unlike the photos, which showed a bright and quaintly decorated room, our living space was quite dingey and run down. The room itself was much smaller than expected and needed new paint, and while there was one regular bed, the second bed (mine) was hardly more than a futon mattress thrown on an old slat in the middle of the room. The space was very cramped, and because I had so much luggage for the fashion show I ended up keeping my belonging stacked in a corner where they’d routinely topple over and make a mess.
The apartment also had a communal restroom on each floor – which wouldn’t have bothered me as much if the lights worked. But multiple times the lights were out, and you’d have to go up or down a floor to either get ready or shower. And, to make things worse the room was so hot that I couldn’t sleep at all, even with a rickety old fan pointed at me through the night. Honestly though, in other circumstances I could have overlooked many of these things since the owners were very kind. The price was cheap enough that a mediocre experience wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. But, unfortunately I had several bad experiences that were directly related to the apartment’s location near several bars and clubs. I regret not doing more research on the area, because had we stayed just a few blocks closer to the venue, my experience could have been that much more pleasant.
Our first night was fairly uneventful since we all just got food from the japanese restaurant on the corner and prepared for the next day. However, after returning home from modeling in the fashion show my troubles began. Because of how warm it was in the room, we kept our door cracked open if we were home to help with the air circulation. Apparently a creeper noticed and he popped in without invitation. He left when I made it clear he wasn’t welcome, but returned that evening to invite us to join him downstairs. Again, we all refused and promptly locked the door. Later that night I went out to use the hall restroom and the same man was out on the stairs watching our door. He saw that I noticed him and disappeared, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was still lurking around for the rest of the night.
The next night was worse – when I returned home from a pleasant evening of wandering around the city, a mob of drunk men from the bar downstairs followed me to the apartment door while screaming and catcalling me. Those who know me will tell you that normally I’m the type to scream right back – but after the creeper the night before I just didn’t have it in me. It took everything I had to scramble inside without having a complete meltdown. Once I was safely in my room, I immediately packed my bags and changed my plane ticket reservation to the first flight out the next morning. After that experience, I don’t think I’ll be utilizing AirBNB in that area of London again – and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for single travellers either.
The reason that I’m making this post is to help my readers understand the importance of researching the area that you’ll be staying in – and to not just rely on the AirBNB reviews. If I had taken the time to look at ratings for the establishments near by I would have realized that the location was dangerous, and I would have known to choose a safer location. In a situation like this, where you won’t have easy access to other accommodations, being extra prepared will never hurt!
So with that said, please learn from my mistake, and research, research, research!!
Happy travels and please check back for a glowing review of the actual Wicked & Whimsy event later this week!
– Rosie Darling