Touring London Town.
There are just some things that I consider bucket list ‘non-negotiables’. Those items that I think everyone should witness and explore with their own eyes and ears. Magazines, media and movies can only portray so much beauty but our vantage point is the most perfect and accurate way of really consuming all that a place or event has to offer. It allows us to make it personal and create a snapshot of a memory that will stay with us forever.
London is one of those places for me. I witnessed the Royal Wedding through the eyes of the Today Show and I feel like I could sketch my own version of Buckingham Palace from memory, but to actually go and visit this city is something surreal.
I’ve had many ask me for suggestions on how to best explore this city and suggestions on what to do and where to eat so I thought I would jot down a few of my favorites to get you started.
If visiting London for the very first time it’s always a good idea to squeeze in a chunk of tourist spots so that you can say you’ve experienced them at least once. It goes without saying, Buckingham Palace should rank nearer the top of your target list. It really is a beautiful piece of architecture that makes you feel like you’re in some kind of fairly tale movie scene.
On a clear day the London Eye gives an incredible 360 view of London. From here you can spot Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, St.Paul’s Cathedral and the River Thames to name a few. Another option, in order to see London in a quick-snapshot-kinda-way is to jump on a big red open top bus. This will allow you to hop on and off at those sites that you’ve always been dying to see without completely wearing out your little tootsies.
Some other items on your ‘must do while in London list’ could include seeing a show in the West End, a trip to Trafalgar Square, a visit to Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral and walk over the Tower Bridge.
Contrary to what many would like to believe the food in England is delicious. London is one of those melting pot places and the food influence comes from a variety of countries and cultures. The Borough Market is a great start for the outdoor, fresh food feel. Is one of the worlds largest open air market and features anything from a glass of fresh Pimms to your classic fish and chips. The vibe here is quite unique and the food is definitely something to write home about.
Book a table at Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill. It’s located in the iconic Savoy Hotel and is the perfect London treat. The restaurant has an elegant 1920s theme and makes for the perfect pre theatre dining experience. The dishes are a compelation of British and French influences and the flavors will leave you wanting more.
Chinatown is the perfect place to start if something a little more cultured is your taste. Nestled in the heart of London’s West End, you’ll find the streets lined with international restaurants serving up some of the best dishes. You can grab some of the best Hong Kong street food or dine in and experience some authentic Chinese fusion cuisines.
Indian restaurants are also a plenty in England. If your palatte can handle all of the flavours and spices opt for an Indian inspired curry.
One of the natural beauties of this gorgeous city is the parks. Take some time to stroll through the greenery or even pack a picnic and make a pit stop for the afternoon. Kensington Palace which is now home to the not-so-new William and Kate, is nestled in Kensington Gardens. If it’s your lucky day you may even spot a royal landing.
Hyde Park is another gorgeous landscape and most comparable to Central Park. There a places to eat and you can rent a row boat to take you down the stream. Is the nursery rhyme stuck in your head yet? In the summer this is a prime location but it’s definitely worth a visit no matter the time of year, you might just have to throw on an extra layer or two, or three. This park is host to rock concerts in the summer and ice skating rinks + Christmas Markets in the winter.
Take a walk along the Southbank, this is a great way to see London by foot. Along this stroll you’ll be able to see The Shard, Tate Modern, St.Paul’s Cathedral among other interests.
I’m a creature of habit and once I find a favourite (hence the spelling) I anticipate going back time and time again. Some of these favorites are what I like to call my ‘hidden gems’ of London.
Breakfast in bed at the Goring Hotel tops this little list of mine. The name might sound familiar because this is where Princess Kate got her beauty sleep the night before the wedding. It is a quaint and quintessential treasure and, although it’s not the most economical of places, it’s worth every pretty penny. There’s just something about coffee and french toast delivered to your bedside on a silver platter that has me swooning. The afternoon tea at the Goring is also a special treat, I’d even go as far as saving it’s the best that London has to offer.
Another off the trail kind of place is Notting Hill. Although I’ve never spotted Hugh Grant I was able to knock on the blue door. You may, for a second, feel like you’ve walked on to a movie scene but this eclectic borough will have you falling in love for its own personal culture. The shops carry a unique variety of clothes, accessories and knick knacks and the fresh street food will tempt you with every stride. If you’re still hungry for something delicious you can step inside the famous Hummingbird Bakery for out-of-this-world cupcakes.
London is home to some of the world’s best shopping. If this is up your street, as it is mine, make time to visit Harrods department store. This store makes Macy’s NYC look like a child’s playground. After navigating this luscious space head over to Oxford Street. This street is always bustling no matter the time of day but this street is lined with everything you need to feed that shopping habit.
I hope this guide has convinced you that you must add this destination to your ‘must see’ list stat. No doubt there will be something amazing for each of you. Now go start planning + dreaming and thank me later.
Have any of you been to London? What was your favorite about this city?