I freakin’ LOVE Knomo. I recommend them all the time to people who want stylish but tech-savvy bags for laptops, tablets and phones. They’re miles ahead of most brands in terms of not just acknowledging tech but actively incorporating it into their products, which makes them ideal for gadget fans. They make the awesome Elektronista clutch we recommended for Mothers’ Day last year, which literally every woman should own, and would if it weren’t quite so pricey.
The Grosvenor Place bag from the Mayfair range is also pretty spendy at £179, but I would MUCH rather spend that money on a well-thought out, actually useful bag than one that costs so much because it has a particular logo on it. Each to their own, though.
First thing to know: this bag is pretty big. It measures 33cm high by 42 wide and 15 deep, with zips on either end for expanding the space inside. When I first considered getting it, I thought it might be too big to use as a daily handbag – but it’s not. It does get in the way a bit when you’re on a packed train or escalator, but I’ve mostly found it a great size for toting all my stuff about.
Especially as it has SO. MANY. POCKETS. And they all have a gorgeous red lining that contrasts beautifully with the black fabric, as well as making it easier to find your stuff.
On the front, there are twin individually-zipped pockets, one with RFID-blocking for extra security with smart cards. I’ve quickly got into a routine of putting my phone and wallet in the RFID one, and keys/lip balm/other emergency doodads in the other one. It makes for super easy access and I like that.
There’s also a handy charging gadget you can get for these (sold separately for £99) called DropGo, that lets you charge your phone wirelessly just by putting it in the pocket. It works with Samsungs automatically, or there’s a charging case you can get for iPhones – but be aware the iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy S8 Plus won’t fit. It holds 4500 mAh which is enough for about 1.5 charges on most phones.
Behind the front pockets is a reasonably well-concealed zipped A4-sized one, with three card slots and a smartphone pouch. It does make a lot more sense to keep your cards and phone in here, because it’d be a lot harder for someone to nick them, but I prefer my way. My stuff’s insured, though – is yours?
This pocket is also super-handy for keeping your CV folder pristine while waiting for your job interview, or filling with letters to take to the post office, or anything else you need to keep nice and flat and secure.
Onto the main section! It is glorious. You can fit so much in here, even without opening up the expander zips. My laptop, flat shoes, battery packs, a camera, and all my accumulated tchotchkes fit in there with ample room to spare.
There’s a laptop pocket that takes up to 15-inchers, with a tablet pocket in front for slates up to 10in. They’re both described as “padded” but there’s not much, and the front side of the tablet pocket is just material, so I wouldn’t put anything in there without a case or sleeve.
The other section in the main compartment is a huuuuuuuge zipped pocket in the front wall. This is my emergency-overnight section, including contact lenses, solution, tampons, makeup, paracetamol and Imodium (no one wants to shit themselves, let’s be honest), but it would be equally good for documents, medical stuff, or whatever else you tote around on your person.
The last section is on the back, open at the top but zipped at the bottom. Why? Because it’s designed to let you slip the handles of your suitcase through and securely plop your bag down on top. Genius. It’s still useful when not at the airport, though: keep the zip closed and you can keep all sorts of (relatively flat) things in there, and the sub-pocket within. It has a magnetic closure for extra simplicity.
The Grosvenor Place has two long leather shoulder straps, which easily slip over even thick winter coats. It’s comfortable on the shoulder, although bear in mind it gets heavy with a laptop inside – the bag weighs a kilo empty!
There’s leather trim in other places too, like the tops of clip pockets and the zipper pulls, which – along with the pale gold hardware – adds class to the main fabric. It’s made from satiny black nylon, which makes the bag splashproof – that’s already come in handy several times. Good old London.
The last, and most lovely, feature of the Grosvenor Place is also in all other Knomo products: a unique code stitched into the lining in an easily-spotted location. You register your code on the Knomo site, and if someone finds it, the website URL is right there on the label so they can help you get your bag back. Yay!
The Knomo Grosvenor Place is pricey, but repays your investment every time you pick it up. The red linings, the leather trim, the smart pockets – you can tell a lot of time and thought has gone into this bag. It’s well-designed, beautifully-arranged, and Tardis-level roomy.
I’ve had mine for months, and it makes me happy every time I look at it. Especially when I remember there’s a pair of comfortable shoes in there somewhere.
The Knomo Mayfair Grosvenor Place is available now directly from Knomo, or House of Fraser, eBags, Amazon US, and lots of other places. If you can, go and see it in person first, so you can get a feel for the size and shape – but I think you’ll love it. I do.
PS: If you’re struggling to justify the cost, remember the old £1-per-use rule*: use it once a day for six months and you’ve paid it off. Easy.
*not a proper rule, just something someone told me at school once and I’ve stuck to ever since. It makes justifying things like winter coats, laptops and furniture much easier. It also works in other currencies, because it doesn’t seem to actually matter how much the unit is: it’s more about putting yourself in the long-term mindset. A £10 sale dress might only get worn once, a £500 mattress will be used for 8 hours (hopefully) every night. Plus it doesn’t squeak when you bone on it, and that’s priceless.
Main image and press images: © Knomo. All other images © Gadgette.