Five Minutes with Ashley Baker of Air Mail

Words by
Ashley Baker

23rd November 2022

SPHERE meets journalist and American in London Ashley Baker on the eve of Thanksgiving, to discover how she balances work editing and podcasting for Air Mail, with settling into her new family life in London. In the process we uncover things about our own city we were not yet aware of. River Cafe delivery anyone?

Im originally from Wichita, Kansas and lived in New York working as a journalist for 18 years until I moved to London in August 2022. Im finding it… invigorating. It’s very fun to be new in town, especially as a journalist, where exercising curiosity is among the most important parts of the job. And after many years of living in the noisy and often frenetic neighborhoods of Manhattan, the more relaxed, “little village” lifestyle of London is welcome.

Ashley Baker with the Airmail team
Ashley Baker with Air Mail co-editor Graydon Carter, deputy editor Julia Vitale, and writer at large Michael Hainey

Working on Air Mail and Morning Meeting means… that I’m always looking for stories. We are here to inform and enchant our readers and produce journalism that they value, so do my job most effectively, I need to be out and about as much as possible, because the very best ideas come from conversations, often impromptu, with people from all walks of life.

Air Mail launched in 2019, and we have always worked with an exceptionally strong stable of U.K.-based writers. It’s a treat to be able to see them all in person now, and also discover new talents who bring their areas of expertise to Air Mail.

Our podcast, Morning Meeting, aims to bring our listeners the stories behind the stories they read in each issue, while also giving them a sense of the goings-on in the Air Mail universe. I hope that my perspective on what’s happening in London is as interesting as my co-host Michael Hainey’s take on New York…

Buns From Home
London's best cinnamon buns?

The highlight of my career so far has to be… Launching Air Mail. Creating a new media brand from scratch is a beast, but we have had such fun at every turn and found an engaged and enthusiastic audience right from the beginning. This is thanks to our co-editors, Graydon Carter and Alessandra Stanley, who are not only great journalists and thinkers, but also the very best mentors and friends. It’s an honor to get to do this kind of thing, and to do it for an intelligent, worldly audience like ours is, as Trump would say, tremendous.

The neighbourhood I ended up in London is… Kensington. We were fortunate to move across the street from the nicest people in town.

The Deck, Savile Row
Boyfriend jacket from The Deck

Since Ive been in London the news cycle has been… addictive. A few weeks after we arrived, the Queen died, Boris stepped down, Liz stepped up and promptly imploded, and now we have yet another prime minister who is facing one of the most challenging moments in modern history. My addiction to the news cycle is at circa-2016-election levels.

Another part of my role is staying on top of cultural happenings and trends in London for our column Recommended… If I’m watching a television show at 9:30 a.m., it’s for work, I promise. We have an expansive view of high-quality pursuits—it could be a podcast, movie, television show, handbag, or purveyor of heritage popcorn.

Pasquale Jones
Ashley Baker's most missed NYC haunt

Transitioning from life in New York has been… easier than I expected, due largely to our wonderful friends, who have made us feel so welcome.

Im never bored by British political scene becauseit’s more entertaining than Love Island.

What I have loved most about Boris is… his sister Rachel.

If I had to sum up Liz Truss in 3 words… pub quiz answer.

When The Queen passed away shortly after my moving to London, I was most struck by the almost universal reverence that Britons held for the Queen, despite their political differences—how deeply she was loved as an almost maternal figure.

River Cafe catering
Thanksgiving Turkey to order in from River Cafe catering

My personal style signature is… tailored jackets, usually from The Deck on Savile Row, and a gold necklace from Belperron that I rarely take off.

What I love most about London that New York doesnt offer is a more tranquil and polite way of life. And then there are the many delights to be discovered at the Shreeji newsstand on Chiltern Street, our Air Mail partner. And I’m not sure how I ever lived without regular access to Daunt Books, Liberty London and the cardamom rolls at the Sloane Square location of Buns from Home.

What I love most about New York that London doesnt offer is… unbridled energy and the pizza at Pasquale Jones.

Ashley Baker
Ashley Baker with Air Mail writer at large Michael Hainey

If I could change one thing about London, it would be… lower housing prices.

If I could change one thing about New York, it would becleaner, safer streets.

My favourite London experience so far is … wandering all over London looking for lamps with my best friend, Carly, and watching my seven-year-old daughter perform “Eye of the Tiger” and “True Colors” at her fall concert.

For Thanksgiving I will be… ordering catering from the River Cafe. It’s a school night here…

Labour & Wait
The interior of Labour & Wait, Marylebone

My favourite London store is…  Labour & Wait in Marylebone. I get a disproportionate amount of satisfaction from things like utility brushes and soap dishes.

The best style experience in London I've had recently… I was in need of a new black tuxedo jacket and my friend Jeremy King introduced me to his tailor, Hanish Patel. Mr. Patel came to my flat, took my measurements, and a few weeks later, I had the smartest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, tailored to perfection, all for less than the cost many similar items found at John Lewis.

The place I love taking my kids isBuns from Home and Kensington Palace to experience a royal childhood vicariously through the Victoria: A Royal Childhood exhibition. 

The tech item I am never without is… my Oura ring.

The books Im currently obsessed with is Matthew Perry’s memoir and Last Summer in the City, by Gianfranco Calligarich.

When I am not editing/writing for Air Mail, you will find me… Walking my dog in Holland Park or running myself in Kensington Gardens.

The next question on my mind is… Will Boris attempt another comeback?

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