London, another city that seems to never sleep, and a place that was difficult to leave. It was such a whirlwind of an experience and I tried to pack in everything I possibly could to make the most of my trip. I would have loved to stay for another week to truly check everything off of my list, but it was such a fulfilling 4 days in London nonetheless. Below is everything you would ever need to know about a trip to London!
Where to Fly In
London Gatwick: If at all possible, try to fly into the London Gatwick Airport. Having flown into Heathrow and Gatwick both, Gatwick was a way easier experience and less stress. It is a bit of a smaller airport, and is further out from the city than Heathrow, but taking the Southern train or the Gatwick Express to get back into the city was so easy and made it feel much closer to the city.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in 2 different locations during our trip, our second location being close to the train station to get back to the Gatwick Airport.
St. Giles London: Bedford Ave, Fitzrovia, London The St. Giles is located just northwest of Soho and was in the most charming location. The price couldn’t be beat, and it was such a quaint, cool hotel. It was perfect for what we needed, and served as a great home base for our trip. It was walking distance to almost everything, and the room was small, but had everything we needed. The best part was the 24 hour Cafe in the hotel that was the perfect breakfast spot.
Comfort Inn London Buckingham Palace: 8-12 St. Georges Drive, London This hotel was a great surprise for our last night in London, since it was close to the train station which we needed to get back to Gatwick. Being familiar with Comfort Inn hotels in the US, I was more than surprised when we pulled up and saw a gorgeous and quaint hotel. The room was gorgeous, the people were friendly, and it was a great choice for our last night. I will say, this was a bit further away from all of the attractions being near Buckingham Palace, but it allowed us to see the other side of town.
Attractions We Saw
One of the great things that helped us on our trip was the Rick Steve’s Pocket Guide to London. The walking tours he laid out in his book were so awesome and helped us to walk around the city while hitting on the most important attractions, especially the Westminster Walk.
The British Museum: Free Museum located just outside of Soho. Was an incredible collection of history, especially seeing the Rosetta Stone and the mummy collection.
Piccadilly Circus: It was especially incredible to see this lit up at night! London’s Times Square.
Carnaby Street: Really cool shopping district described as “London’s epicenter of culture and lifestyle.”
Trafalgar Square: A public square just outside of Westminster that commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Big Ben/Parliament: Did you even go to London if you didn’t see Big Ben?
River Thames and London Eye: Seeing the River and the Eye is the iconic London scene. We didn’t get a chance to go on the Eye, but seeing it from the River was even better.
St. James Park: London’s gorgeous park in the middle of the city. Gorgeous for picnics and walks on warm sunny days.
Buckingham Palace: The residence of the Queen. When the Royal Standard Flag is flying, the sovereign is present. If the Union Flag is flying, the Queen isn’t home. Weekdays are probably best to visit here to avoid the crowd. We were there early afternoon on a Monday and there was barely a crowd.
Changing of the Guard: Takes place at Buckingham Palace typically takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11 am. We went over on a Sunday to check it out, and the place was a ZOO! If this is something you want to see, get over there early, and try to go on a Wednesday when the crowd is less.
Tower of London: One of the coolest attractions in London! A fortress completed in the 11th Century, it used to home the Royals of London and their Prisoners. The lines can get quite long on the weekends and even weekdays with school field trips. Try to get there as close to opening as you can, and no later than about an hour after it opens. It takes about 3 hours to see everything, so the earlier the better to avoid the crowds. See the Crown Jewels first! That's where the lines can be the longest.
Tower Bridge: Not to be confused with the London Bridge, the Tower Bridge is right outside the walls of the Tower of London.
Harrods: A department store that is nearly as big as a mall. Anything you could possibly need in the world, Harrods probably sells it.
Warner Brother Studios Harry Potter: If you are a Harry Potter lover, than this is a must visit. The Warner Brother Studios, about 30 minutes outside of London, is home to the sets of the Harry Potter Films. Easily accessible by train, expect to spend about 3-4 hours here. And be sure to get tickets a few weeks in advance. Be prepared for crowds at all times, because it is always busy. But so incredible to see.
Where We Ate
London has an incredible food scene, and it’s hard to find a bad meal. We wanted to get a variety of cuisines and really take advantage of the foodie scene London has to offer.
VQ 24 Hour Cafe: 111A Great Russell St, Fitzrovia, London Was at the base of our hotel in Soho, and was our go-to breakfast spot. Everything was delicious, and kept us fueled throughout our long days of walking in London.
The Rising Sun: 46 Tottenham Court Rd, Fitzrovia, London A typical British Pub that was in Soho near our hotel. Was definitely a local spot, and we got to join toe locals for a great meal while watching the Football Match.
Busaba: 52-53 Eastcastle St, Fitzrovia, London An asian fusion restaurant that had a seriously cool vibe, inexpensive prices, and delicious food. Hands down best Pad Thai I’ve ever had.
Dishoom Carnaby: 22 Kingly St, Soho, London A popular London Indian Cuisine spot. Not being a huge fan of Indian, I was nervous trying this place out. But the food was amazing, the ambiance of the restaurant was unique and hip, and the drinks were incredible. Definitely a must try.
Ciao Bella: 86-90 Lamb's Conduit St, Bloomsbury, London An awesome local spot for great Italian and awesome people. The food was delicious and the wine list matched. Was great when we were just craving comfort Italian food.
Timmy Green: 11 Buckingham Palace Rd, Westminster, London We hit this spot for Brunch on our last morning, and I wish we had found it sooner! Was such a cool spot with tons of natural light, delicious food, great coffee, and an awesome vibe.
Sunday Roast: Blacklock Kitchen Soho: 24 Great Windmill St, Soho, London Blacklock Kitchen had a super London feel and a great Sunday Roast meal. Being out of towers and not familiar with how their Sunday Roast menu worked, the waitress was super helpful in explaining exactly what we should order, and suggested some amazing dishes. Everything we ate and drank here was absolutely scrumptious and was the perfect Sunday Roast meal.
Afternoon Tea: Mayfair Kitchen in the Mayfair Hotel: 70a Stratton St, Mayfair, London This was one of my favorite experiences in London for sure. I’ve never felt so posh in my life! The space in the Mayfair Kitchen, a part of the Mayfair Hotel, was so sleek and well designed with all marble and gold themes. This afternoon tea was Italian themed with pastries and sandwiches to match. Bonus: Since I booked through Afternoon Tea we were able to have a FREE bootle of Prosecco. Yes, that’s correct, an entire bottle of Prosecco for free. In addition to unlimited Tea and Coffee. It was a dream come true and my favorite part of London. If you want to do an afternoon tea, you MUST book here.
Where We Drank
Mr. Fogg’s Tavern: 58 St Martin's Ln, London An awesome little British Pub in Piccadilly Circus with a ton of charm.
Waxy O’Connors: 14-16 Rupert St, London Another great bar in Piccadilly Circus. It was a super cool Irish woodland theme and felt like you stepped into a fairytale. Highly suggest coming here at least to see it. I mean there’s a tree growing in the bar!
Scarfes Bar in the Rosewood Hotel: Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London Highly upscale hotel bar that makes you feel as fancy as James Bond. Super high end and expensive, but worth the experience for a drink.
Swift: 12 Old Compton St, Soho, London A really cool bar located in Soho and known for its craft cocktails and cool vibe. Head to the lower level to get a really unique old school London atmosphere.
The O Bar: 83-85 Wardour St, Soho, London One of my favorite bars we went to in London. Think marble, gold, plush pink velour sofas, and craft cocktails. An awesome place to grab a few drinks!
And remember to always be Traveling Trendy.