Secret Shopping. Hidden Silver Vaults, London

Beneath the non-descript sidewalk of Chancery Lane, The London Silver Vaults offers the largest museum grade collection of antique and contemporary silver in the world. The quiet neighborhood and unassuming entrance bely the underground vaults filled with private vendors selling to collectors and Those in the Know.

I’ve made attempts to visit, for over five years, bank holidays have thwarted each attempt – they close on bank holidays. I finally made an outing, which nearly required a new suitcase to tote my treasures home, they do ship!

The London Silver Vaults is a sizable subterranean market that opened as The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit in May 1885. Originally renting out strong rooms to hold household silver, jewels and important documents it transitioned to housing silver dealers in secure premises a few years later.

With 3.9 ft. thick walls lined with steel the vaults were never broken into. The building above the vaults was struck directly with a bomb during WWII, however, this did not damage the vaults at all, despite the building being destroyed. A new building, Chancery House, was constructed ten years later, and since 1953 it has been in its present format, with shops-based underground, each in their own vault, closed each night with massive metal doors.

Descend five levels below ground by elevator to enter a massive steel door into each private seller’s vault.  All the shops have been owned for at least 50 years by the same families. It is said that it has “the largest single collection of silver for sale in the world” contained within more than forty shops, the owners enjoy sharing their knowledge and are a wealth of information on the antique objects they offer.

Pieces date from the 1600s to present day, English silverware is recognized as the finest in the world due to the quality control of silver goods since the 12th century when the trade organization, Goldsmiths Hall, invented the term ‘hallmark.’ Silver experts are well versed in the different hallmarks. From silver tableware, fine silver cutlery, unique cocktail shakers, decorative pieces and gifts to jewelry and special collector items.

On my list were silver asparagus tongs and large bread forks. What – you don’t have asparagus tongs? Asparagus tongs are a specialized form of kitchen tongs dedicated to handling asparagus at the table. There are ones for eating asparagus and for serving it. Both types have fallen out of fashion, though both can still be purchased from specialized kitchenware and dinnerware dealers. Still in fashion at my table! I was unaware of single guest asparagus tongs, a prize in its original velvet box… I left this small fortune black velvet box accessory with the shop owner.

A few favorite vendors, plan to spend a day, half of Saturday wasn’t enough to browse all the treasures. As one of the original companies to open in The London Silver Vaults, David S Shure & Co are now fourth generation silver dealers who specialize in antique and modern silverware, old Sheffield plate and cutlery. David is a renowned specialist in British silverware from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods and holds a keen interest in designer items from the latter part of the 20th century.

Vault One. David Shure. Our first stop where we spent much time with the dealer marveling at Victorian silver biscuit boxes which unfold with the touch of a button. Note to self: pay more attention to dining scenes in English period films!

He also has a grand collection of cocktail shakers, think of the elegant Thin Man series, Nick & Nora and Asta during their cocktail hour. The Thin Man opening scene – the slightly sloshed, yet debonair, William Powell as Nick Charles instructing a bartender: “The important thing is the rhythm! Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time; a bronx to two-step time; a dry martini, you always shake to waltz time.” Cocktails equaled glamor, elegance and style. My timeless Prohibition era cocktail shaker made in 1930 by International Silver fit into my carry on.

Vault 29. Established over 60 years ago, Silstar Antiques is a family run business with a long history of working in the famous London Silver Vaults. A traditional friendly dealer who likes to build trusted, lasting relationships with their clients, Silstar is proud to supply antique and modern silver to buyers and collectors around the world. They are best known for their large stock of antique silver goblets, some of which date back to the 16th century and typically carry over 100 goblets in stock at any one time. Silstar refreshes their stock of goods continually with new arrivals weekly.

Vault 31 & 32. Wax Antiques specialize in early English and continental silver from the 1600s onwards. Their impressive collection includes rare items from the Charles II period and earlier. Members of LAPADA, Wax antiques also offer an extensive stock of Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian silverware.

Lifestyle Management – Luxury Travel and Luxurious Lifestyle.

Highly Recommend!

Hola! Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina.

Mention Latin America and Colombia, and your first images might be dazzling mountain peaks, coffee farms, salsa music, a cathedral made of salt, sunshine and most likely, a history of crime. Colombia has all of these. Its people are stylish and sophisticated, few countries have managed the turnaround rebranding achieved by Colombia achieved in the last 15 years.

A welcome arrival at the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina which is nestled in Zona G (Gourmet area), and is recognized as one of the finest luxury Hotels in Bogota, truly a monument of cultural interest.

The Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina entwines its 1940s colonial history with a splash of contemporary Colombia. A leafy suburban mansion set in the heart of the capital is an ideal retreat for those escaping the hustle and bustle of the city – settle down beside cozy fireplaces indoor and in the beautiful gardens. Designed by Colombian architect Santiago Medina Mejia, in the 1980’s the original hotel was doubled with the addition of a separate wing. Twin towers separate the hotel into two parts: the original 1940s house of the Medina family and an extension, built in the 1980s. At first glance both sections blend into one, but the 1940s area boasts original wood-paneling and unique handcrafted cedar wood doors. The room with the best original features is the one-bedroom suite 303, which has an entire wall of 1940s handcrafted panels.

Small details across the hotel pay homage to its founding architect, Santiago Medina, with stained-glass windows depicting a picture of birds and flowers – Medina’s passions. There are fireplaces in 16 of the 62 rooms, so be sure to request one, unless it’s summer!

Casa Medina is situated in the heart of Zona G, also known as the ‘gourmet zone’ of Bogotá.  Within a one-mile radius there are more than a dozen restaurants and bars of a medium – to high-quality, situated in a safe area which is easy to explore on foot. 

Bogota, the capital city of Colombia is known to be very cool, which is why the Four Seasons has built two hotels here. Half of the rooms are suites, which offer refined spacious living, huge bathrooms and walls of windows bring towering trees inside.

Castanyoles restaurant sits in a colonial courtyard with a glass roof, which gives an al fresco dining effect. The Mediterranean menu offers Spanish tapas alongside light Greek dishes and homemade pastas, cooked by the Italian chef. Starting with small bites of empanadas and my first cup of local Colombian coffee and of course, I tried the more traditional Cacao tea – which rendered me jittery.  Sunday brunch is buzzy with locals and live music – a fun place to sit and people watch.

Sitting in the ‘gourmet zone’ of Bogotá, the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina is the perfect base from which to explore the sprawling capital of Colombia. The hotel is surrounded by dozen restaurants and bars, but the dining options at hotel are delightful!

This central location allows easy access to the amazing art community in Bogota, there are more than 100 art galleries in the city, many museums include the Botero Museum and the fascinating Gold Museum, definitely worth a visit. In 2000, Colombian artist Fernando Botero, made a significant contribution to the Botero museum. Donating 208 art pieces, 123 of which were his own work and 85 were from other international artists. This generous donation forms the core of the museum’s collection and is a testament to Botero’s personal commitment to promoting art and culture. The permanent collection features notable works by artists such as Balthus, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Sonia Delaunay, Claude Monet, and Henri Matisse.

One of the most striking art districts, primarily for its colorful and technical depictions is the Graffiti District, located in the industrial district of Puente Aranda, in the western part of the city. I enjoyed a guided tour of this now gentrified area, which was once the most dangerous neighborhood in the city. Graffiti in Bogota is so much more than just a pretty picture, it actually tells unique stories of the history, politics, and addresses current issues facing the city today. It’s more than just a painting and is something that many people in Bogota are proud to show off to tourists. It’s not actually “graffiti” but rather “street art.” The artists who paint these massive murals on the walls around Bogota are professionals and most are paid for their services. Art is a means to express feelings and spread a message to others without censorship from the government. This open-air gallery, one of the most important of its kind in South America, offers a large number of colorful murals created by more than 20 national and international artists.

Gracias Four Seasons for my lovely authentic visit!  Highly Recommend!