I love London. I love the accents, the style, the manners, the stiff upper lips. London is clean, refined, and not at all boring. There is a load of wealth (foreign and domestic), royalty, glamour, and historical significance. It’s the place that inspired your fairytales as a child with castles everywhere, but a place that your real-life Prince Charming will also enjoy. Whether it’s your first time, or just one of many trip, here are my recommendations for three days of glam in The Big Smoke.
The Lay of the Land:
London, much like New York City is vibrant city with so much worth seeing and doing that you’d have to be a resident to truly enjoy everything that London has to offer. The city is a huge expanse of green space, cobblestone and marble along the Thames which winds through the middle of the city. Divided by more than 20 boroughs, the inner boroughs of note for visitors are Westminster, City of London, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark, and Wandsworth. My favourite neighborhoods in these are Soho, Mayfair, Fitzrovia, Chelsea, The West End, Convent Garden, South Kensington, Notting Hill, and Marylebone.
There are more iconic sights than NYC, London has an incredible history that that visitors can enjoy learning through a variety of tours, museums, and performances. There is plenty of art and culture throughout the city as well.
Londoners are very friendly, but no-nonsense. They pay premium to live in their city and you can see the care that the community takes to ensure that visitors enjoy London at its best.
Who would enjoy it:
Anyone who dreams of being a princess, foodies, Beatles lovers, historians, dapper dudes.
Where we stayed:
Most recently, we were very practical staying at a centralized Hilton or Marriott (cannot remember which).
Previously, I have stayed at the Kimpton Fitzroy London on Russell Square, and Le Meridien. Both exceptional. I enjoyed the St. James area with so much in walking distance.
What I ate (and drank):
We ate our way through London. By neighborhood, here are my recommendations.
St. James/Trafalgar Square
Gordon’s Wine Bar.
The Ivy – Multiple locations including Kensington High Street. SO good. We had brunch here (twice). The cottage pie was very good.
Soho – Just north of your hotel on the west side of the theater district. Awesome food.
Bocca di Lupo – SOOOOO good. Italian tapas. GO! My husband couldn’t stop talking about it. A favorite of the Duchess of Sussex.
Dean Street Townhouse – MUST GO for Sunday for “Sunday Roast.” It’s a thing in England. FYI – they give you a ton of things and you just mix it all together. We literally had no clue what to do.
Disrepute – classy upscale bar. technically members only so book in advance. Also has a cool secret entrance.
The Vault – another secret bar. (Londoners really love their secret bars).
Marleybone – Northwest from Soho. Really cute area with lots of great food.
La Fromagerie – Cheese store that does sandwiches
The Golden Hind- Great Fish and Chips (it was closed when we were there for refurbishments recently.)
The Ivy – Multiple locations including Kensington High Street and right by your hotel. SO good. We had brunch here (twice). The cottage pie was very good.
Chiltern Firehouse – Awesome for Brunch and Dinner. There is a great bar upstairs but only people with a special coin get in.
Mayfair – South of Marleybone, West of Soho on the Eastern Boarder of Hyde Park
Mayfair Chippy for the best Fish and Chips.
Kensington and Chelsea- West and South of Hyde Park to the Thames. The “Royal” Borough.
Bumpkin – great for brunch, lunch or dinner – we had a good meal here.
Bluebird – a Duchess of Cambridge favorite.
Goat – good brunch
Tom’s Kitchen – good brunch.
The Ivy- Chelsea – so good.
The Builder’s Arms – good pub with good food.
The Crossed Keys – good pub
The Muffin Man –Cash only. Really good. Not a fussy afternoon tea, but more so breakfast.
The Britiania was an awesome pub that we went to here with great food.
The Ivy – Kensington High Street
Byron Burger – great burgers
Kensington High Street for Shopping
How we got around:
The Underground aka “the Tube” can get you everywhere, even the airport. It’s the fastest and cheapest route anywhere and super reliable.
What we did:
Museums- The Government run museums, which are all free!
The British Museum – The Rosetta Stone is there and lots of mummies.
Victoria and Albert Museum – Art
The Tate – Art
The Tate Modern – Art
National Gallery – Art including Impressionism
National Portrait Gallery -Art
Kensington Palace – Princess Diana’s dresses are on display, and Kind George and Princess Charlotte’s living quarters are preserved. Plus you may catch a glimpse of a Range Rover or two coming and going with a certain princes or princesses.
Tower of London – Do the Beefeater Tour – it was totally worth it. It start in the moat by the gate. If you have to wait for the tour to start- check out the crown jewels.
London has amazing green spaces. Start in St. James Park and head west across Greenpark to Hyde Park and end at Kensington Palace. You can walk or rent bikes.
Catch some views
Eye of London – If you plan to do this, book ASAP. It was insane when we walked over there and they were sold out for the day.
The Shard a London skyline icon right across from the Tower.
Tea is amazing and you should have it every day. You can get a tray of pastries and sandwiches to share or one per person. You can typically share the pot of tea…and you can add champagne to every tea.
Afternoon Tea Bus We did this! (Debbie rec) It wasn’t the best tour because people were talking to loudly, but it was a good overview of the city, and the tea was great!
The Muffin Man – Cash only. Really good. Not a fussy afternoon tea, but more so breakfast.
The Ampersand Hotel – Afternoon tea – it was awesome and they didn’t demand that you order a whole tray for each person. Sharing allowed.
Aqua Shard – There is a restaurant at the Top of the Shard with great tea!
Here are a few extra things to see depending where you stay.
Knightsbridge: west of Belgravia just south of Hyde Park
Harrod’s is here as well as several great stores. Visit Harrod’s food hall and enjoy. It’s so amazing!!!!!! You cannot go to London without seeing this insane store.
St. James/Trafalgar Square
Head south to Westminster to see Big Ben (under construction) Parliament and Westminster Abbey
The Ritz – see tea recs.
Picadilly/West End (Theater District)
Thriller Live (Michael Jackson) is playing which is like the Elvis thing we saw in Vegas
Wicked, Mamma Mia, Aladdin, Lion King are all playing. The Ferryman is supposed to be a really great play but it was sold out when we were there. Don’t forget you can also see NINE hours of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for $600.
Download the Hamilton App and enter their lottery for tickets to their show two day in advance. If you win, you get two tickets for 25 pounds each. Just make sure you enter the London lottery.
Belgravia – South of Mayfair, West of St. James, East of Knightsbridge
Sloane Square is here. Really good shopping and it start the King’s Road which is some of the best shopping in London.