London has always been my dream city (aside from New York). I went to London for a couple days with my parents, back in 2009, and couldn’t wait to go back, especially with a group of friends. So it felt like a dream come true when I formed a great group to join me on the trip.
I can’t help but grin ear-to-ear when I’m in London; the giddiness overwhelms me. We walked around seeing all the main sites in the day, then went out at night; experiencing a more posh club in the West End and a classic British bar in Camden, down the street from where we were living. Some people are surprised that it’s my favourite city, but I can truly see myself living in London, while maintaining an exciting lifestyle.
Airbnb: We were initially going to stay at a hostel, but with a group of 5, Airbnb made more sense. One of the girls found us a great place in Camden, right by a main Tube line. It was felt like a luxury having a place to ourselves and being in a great location; yet it only cost us about as much as a hostel would. I didn’t take photos of the apartment but we did have an impromptu photoshoot before going out. Spice Girls 2.0?
Platform 9 3/4: at Kings Cross Station *or anything Harry Potter related*. Going on the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour was sadly a little out of our budget, but we did make an effort to stop by Kings Cross Station to get the classic Platform 9 3/4 picture. The line was long but it went by quick enough and I think we were all happy we got a picture.
Piccadilly Circus: the Times Square of London. Check it out at night – enough said.
West End Show: Once again something we didn’t get to do (budget and time wise), but if you are a lover of Broadway/theatre make sure to check out a West End show … ESPECIALLY The 39 Steps. I may be super biased (it was the play I performed in my senior year of high school – as Annabella Schmidt), but this show is hilarious. Classic British humour at its finest. It’s quite impressive as well; the cast is made up of 4 actors playing numerous characters!
Clearly I loved being in London!
Walk along Thames River: We wandered the Thames River from the Borough Market to Big Ben and it was quite a nice walk.
London Eye & Big Ben: are obviously must-sees in London. I’ve never gone in either, but seeing them from the outside is still pretty great. That being said, I would like to ride the London Eye at night – but it’s quite expensive.
Borough Market: If I lived in London I would stop by here often. It’s a great market with delicious looking food & drinks all around.
Tower of London: I didn’t get the chance to go to the Tower this trip, but back in 2009 it was my favourite tourist site of London. If you love British history as much as I do, you would be hurting yourself by not going. Stepping into the Tower, where so many milestones in history occurred, was incredible. For those who don’t know much about the history, consider taking a tour – it’s really cool!
Buckingham Palace: is worth seeing. I personally think it’s better going when the guards aren’t changing; less people, therefore better photos.
Churchill War Rooms: another important place to visit if you care about history – particularly WWII. It’s the secret underground headquarters where Churchill and his team lived/worked. Definitely an eye opener to life during the war.
Notting Hill: If you relate to me in the sense that Notting Hill is one of your favourite movies, all the more reason to go! Walking through the Portobello Market, I kept picturing Hugh Grant in the “Ain’t No Sunshine” scene. Sadly, I didn’t find him or his travel book shop (apparently there is a real one). Full disclaimer: I still have a major crush on Hugh Grant.
Burberry Flagship Store & Regent Street: Regent street is so fancy that I felt posh by just walking along it. Really worth passing at night – it’s near Piccadilly Circus. As you walk along Regent Street, make sure to stop into the Burberry Flagship Store. It is incredible; pretty much a fashion museum/mansion.
Harrods: for all things pretty. Since you probably can’t afford much at this store (no shame – neither could I), treat it like a museum. Every room had something new. Below is a picture of me in the crystal room. I didn’t touch a single thing in that room, I’m far too clumsy.
Oxford Street: for obvious reasons. Shop away!
Covent Garden: probably one of my favourite spots in the city. There are a bunch of cute shops mixed in with big brands. When we went, there were even street performers. I would love to see Covent Garden at Christmas, it looks like a wonderland.
Any Classic English Pub: and order bangers and mash! Trust me on this one. I accompanied my meal at Camden Head with the best cider I’ve ever had (seen below) – an Old Mount Cider in the flavour Passionfruit & Apple.
fish!: in the Borough Market, for classic fish and chips with mushy peas.
Talkhouse Coffee: this is the perfect place to stop for a delicious latte after wandering along Notting Hill’s Portobello Market. They’ve won awards, don’t remember what for, but that shows you they’re good! *WORLDS BEST CUP OF COFFEE*
Ben’s Cookies: in Covent Garden. These are so scrumptious! They offer many flavours and I swear, the cookies just melt in your mouth. Perfect way to warm up in the winter.
High Tea: we attempted high tea in Chelsea, but sadly arrived too early. As a huge part of British culture, I recommend finding somewhere to have high tea. Make sure to check the hours and also make a reservation for popular spots. We were all too hungry to wait, so we just ordered lunch and cocktails. Seen below is the cocktail I ordered, called Made in Chelsea. Needless to say, we felt posh being there.
Blues Kitchen: Every one I was with would recommend this bar without hesitation. They have live music, so we pushed our way to the front of the crowd and watched the BeeKays perform. Their guitar skills were mind-blowing. You can see us front and centre in the photo below. Best night of the trip, hands down.
We attempted to go to the Marylebone Bar, a recommendation we were given, but we took too much time getting ready and arrived at closing – lesson learned, this isn’t a place that stays open past midnight. Though I didn’t technically experience it, I still think you should check the place out. It’s a cool setting with interesting cocktails and infusions. You will definitely feel like a local there.
The photos below were from Verve Bar. Though it was nice, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a place you need to check out. Just explore the nightlife, bar hop, and get to know some new people – aka some dashing British lads. ;)
That concludes my recommendations for visiting London! Have you been? I’d love to hear what you thought about the city in the comments below.