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An international center for business, culture, design, cuisine, and art, it’s no wonder London is one of the most visited destinations in the world. England boasts of tradition and history, although, as the capital, London is also a metropolitan center for modernity, innovation, and growth. Fast-paced, yet incredibly charming, London is truly a 21st Century, international Renaissance city.
LONDON TRAVEL TIPS –
Map Out Your Itinerary Based on Neighborhoods – London is very spread out, so plan your daily outings based on neighborhood sites and proximities. It will be easier to then determine which restaurants and sites you want to explore.
Bring Comfortable Walking Shoes – Like most metropolitan cities, walking is a common mode of transportation, so pack a comfy, yet stylish pair of shoes for everyday touring.
Buy a Visitor Oyster Card – For 50% off underground metro rates, as well as discounts at attractions like The National Gallery, there is no reason not to get a Visitor Oyster Card.
Take the Heathrow Express – If you are flying into Heathrow Airport, plan on taking the 25-minute express train into the city. It is much faster and cheaper than arranging a driver or taking a taxi.
Where to Stay –
Sofitel London St. James, 6 Waterloo Pl – Parisian elegance meets London tradition in this 5-star luxury hotel. Situated in the heart of the city, the hotel’s location could not be more ideal, not to mention it has all of the comforts and amenities needed to experience London like a royal. Think plush bedding, decadent hotel breakfast with freshly baked bread and marmalades, in-room Nespresso, a fitness center, an award-winning spa, and a fabulous concierge. If you are looking for a high level of service in the middle of the action, this is the place to be.
LIBRARY London, 112 St. Martin’s Lane – At this private members club and luxury boutique hotel, each guest has exclusive access to the facilities, including the restaurant, bar, and events. Each of their 6 unique rooms is fully equipped for a lazy morning, breakfast in bed, with a fully stocked Kitchenette, Nespresso included. In the evening, stop by their bar for an inventive cocktail inspired by famed authors, including Oscar Wilde and Roald Dahl. To feel like you’re living in a luxury, London flat, with all the amenities of a hotel, this is a wonderful accommodation in central London.
South Place Hotel, 3 South Pl – This uber chic, 5-star, boutique hotel is located near the neighborhood of Moorgate. It’s fabulous interior design and modern architectural vibes make this a great fit if you’re looking for both luxury and trend. The rooms are modern and comfortable, with deep bathtubs, expansive rain showers, plush king size beds, and blackout shades. Conveniently a 2-minute walk to the underground, and in only 2 stops you can find yourself at Tower Bridge, The Shard, and Borough Market. The hotel also has an excellent restaurant, Chophouse, where guests select from for their menu, a la carte, for breakfast. For a more refined dining experience, try their rooftop level to either enjoy cocktails or indulge at their Michelin star restaurant, Angler.
What to Do –
Tower of London – One of London’s most historical attractions that were once a prison, royal residence, zoo, mint, and armory, today stands as the home to the precious Crown Jewels guarded by the Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters.
Tower Bridge – Just across the way from the Tower of London is, of course, Tower Bridge. Take a walk across for gorgeous views of the Thames as you make your way to Southwark for a stop at The Shard and Borough Market.
Borough Market – London’s oldest market, this open-air arrangement of over 100 vendors is the perfect place to taste local flavors. There is certainly no shortage of great food from freshly baked bread, impressive cheese assortments, the classic fish and chips, and daily caught seafood, so definitely be sure to come hungry.
Buckingham Palace – Pay the Queen a visit to one of London’s most iconic sites. Tours are available for 10 weeks in the Summer, but only on select days in the Winter and Spring, so if you want to see how the Royal Family lives, check the schedule online prior to arrival.
Hype Park & Kensington Gardens – Grab some bites at your local grocery store and head to London’s largest open space for a picnic, if weather permitting, or simply take a stroll and escape the city bustle. If you are visiting in the Winter, check out the park’s Winter Wonderland ice skating.
Big Ben – An obvious stop for London tourists, though what most don’t know is that the iconic clock is officially named Tower of Elizabeth. It is actually the bell inside that is named Big Ben.
Neal’s Yard – This may have been the cutest street that I visited in all of London. Walk through to grab lunch or coffee as you are touring around the Covent Garden neighborhood. It’s a wonderful area for wandering, shopping and eating.
Where to Eat –
Le Bab – For gourmet street food with an excellent wine list, head to this open kitchen eatery for some of the best kebabs. Opt for their Hummus & Le Bab Bhajis and Braised Lamb Shoulder & Beef Shin with Curry Mayo to start. As for the main event, the Herdwich Lamb Adana Kebab and 15-Hour Free Range Pork Shawarma Kebab were my favorites.
Kiln – Think Thai food meets trendy London. Sip on cocktails as you patiently await your seat at the bar to watch the talented chefs whip up an array of decently sized sharing plates, including Clay Pot Baked Glass Noodles, Jungle Curry, and Beef Cheek Curry.
Primeur – For an intimate evening out in one of London’s residential neighborhoods, this once industrial garage has been transformed into an intimate restaurant serving up exquisite small plates from their daily menu.
The Wellington – You can’t leave London without stuffing yourself at a proper Sunday Roast, and there is no better place to do it than at The Wellington. Don’t miss out on their mouthwatering Yorkshire pudding served with a juicy pork roast and a side of mac & cheese bites.
26 Grains – For healthy comfort food that is ideal on a drizzly London afternoon, stop by for delicious soups, flatbreads, and avocado toast. The White Bean & Sage Soup and Flatbread, Haloumi, Pickle are both divine.
Boki – This friendly and well-decorated cafe hangout in the midst of Covent Garden is great for both almond milk lattes, matcha, and artisanal treats during the day, or a sit-at-the-bar aperitif in the evening.
Social Eating House – For a refined taste of London’s cuisine, this culinary hotspot is a must try. The menu is elaborate and detailed, and will totally change your mind on any negative preconceptions about British cooking.
Kricket – Indian food is a must when in London. For a contemporary locale in Soho, I recommend stopping in early to get your name on the list at this trendy Indian restaurant.
Where to Drink –
Hutong, The Shard – For London’s most amazing view, head to The Shard’s 33rd-floor bars for a round of drinks. About £15 per cocktail, I promise the price tag is worth the view. Definitely grab a table around sunset to experience the city’s skyline both at the golden hour and at dark.
Rum Kitchen – To kick off the evening, grab a round, or two, of amazing £5 cocktails at this Caribbean style eatery during their 5 to 7 PM happy hour.
Wheatsheaf – For an evening out at a British pub, this was one of my favorites. They offer an extensive beer selection, and an impressive wine and bubbly for any non-beer drinkers.
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