So if you remember from a month back (how has it been a month already?!) I took a trip to London. As I was preparing for my trip I asked people for their top recommendations for where I should go, what I should see, where I should stay, what I should eat and more. Planning a trip can be stressful because you want to make sure you cover all grounds when you're in a new place and you don't ever want to leave regretting not visiting a key landmark or epic restaurant or site once you're back home. Making lists on lists of places people had recommended for me to go, I remember trying to look online to see if anyone had written a blog post about "things to do in London" so I could see everything compiled into one but couldn't find a thing! So today, I've taken it upon myself to bestow upon you guys my knowledge and wisdom from my trip about some of my recommendations of must-have places to visit-- one compiled in one-- so you're prepared the next time you're in London.
First things first, living arrangements. Let me start off saying that I was t-minus 2 days out heading to London and I had yet to secure where I was going to staying-- convinced I was going to be homeless on the streets of London. I had been debating between staying at a hotel in London or looking into Air BNB, but honestly am so happy that I went the Air BNB route. For those of you who have yet to try it, I highly recommend it because it's honestly now my favorite thing to do and way more preferred way of traveling because you feel like you're actually living in the cities you're traveling in-- getting a really cool and fun experience staying in someone else's place. The key to finding the best Air BNB is doing your research about where the best place to stay is (location wise) and then going from there to see what's available and going through people's comments and reviews on the place to see what they had to say about their experience. I had been recommended to stay near Hyde Park for this London trip as it would be central to everywhere I'd want to go. And that was completely right. Our place was in the perfect in between whether you were trying to go to Soho, Buckingham Palace, and more. I literally walked probably 99% of the time during my trip in London because everything was that close. My Air BNB was perfect for two people and somewhere I'd highly recommend staying in if you're ever out in London (and the British flag pillow in the pics was definitely a selling point for me because obvi it made me feel sooo #UK).
Obviously being a tourist in a new city, you can't go out to London without covering grounds of seeing all of the most amazing main attractions it has to offer. Of course the list goes on further than what I'm saying here, but the stops that I went to and would recommend seeing are the Big Ben, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and the Marble Arch (which is next to Hyde Park). These are all very easy and quick trips you can go to see as they're all really places you just stop by, take a picture at, and then can move on to the next. I'd recommend doing this on your first full day in London to get it out of the way which is what I did and was perfect because I didn't have to worry or stress anymore throughout the trip that I wouldn't have time to go see them. It'll take half the day to walk around and see all these sites but they're all pretty close together in proximity so it'll be easy to do. For the Buckingham Palace, there's this thing they do on certain days I found out while I was there called "Changing of the Guards" where they make a whole mini parade around the guards changing shifts. It's definitely fun to see if you're going to head to Buckingham Palace so check online to see what day(s) and time they're doing it to make sure you coordinate your visit. And for London Eye, I didn't get a chance to go on it, but if you do, people had recommended to go on it at night to catch a pretty view of London in the evening.
If you're looking for place to have #prettydrinksoclock, the Artesian at the Langham Hotel is 100% where it's at. Winner of the "World's Best Bar" for four consecutive years, the vibe of this little lounge is uber cute and the drinks are to die for. Not only are the drink names all so much fun with cool names and hashtags to go with it (I got the You're So Gangsta #FeelingLikeABoss... naturally), the drinks itself lived up to their names with beyond Instagram worthy cocktails.
When people ask me what my highlight or favorite place was in London, I instantly start gushing and talking nonstop about Sketch. When I was talking to my best friend who knows me so well about heading to London, she had said "When you go to London, you HAVE to go to Sketch. It's pink...and so you. Trust me." And trust her I did, because that's all the description I needed and more. And you know when four others you had asked on for recommendations all had Sketch on their lists too-- this was something you surely couldn't miss out on. So what is Sketch you ask? It's the most heavenly afternoon high tea place you could probably ever come across. Feeling like I was in a modern day Alice in Wonderland, this pink'd-out dream was soo much fun. All of their dishware from teapots to milk holders had cute little phrases on it like "It's Ok" and "Forget About It" and their afternoon tea food selects were beyond (I was so stuffed that I couldn't even finish the food when I got to the ending rounds). And if you thought the place itself was cool enough, wait until you head to the bathroom. One of my friends who had recommended heading here had made a note in her message to me saying "... and make sure you take your phone with you to the bathroom for pictures". I remember reading that and thinking to myself that that was the strangest note and suggestion I've probably ever heard when it came down to recommendations, but once I headed to the bathroom I instantly understood what she meant. This bathroom is not like any you'll ever see and is probably visited just as much as the restaurant itself. Feeling like your instantly transported into a rainbow space shuttle, the ceiling was filled with different colored patches and each bathroom stall was in a pod. So cool beyond belief, I think half the time honestly people just went to the bathroom to take pictures rather than actually needing to use it.
** Make sureyou reserve a spot in "The Gallery" for Afternoon Tea as there are different rooms in Sketch that serve different things, and The Gallery room is definitely the best.
If you're looking for a cool and fun food market to head to while you're in London-- Borough Market is where it's at. One of my UKer friends took me here spur of the moment on a Friday afternoon and it was probably one of my most favorite stops from the entire trip (after Sketch... of course). It was so cool because it was filled with so many bomb different little food stops-- they had every type of food you can imagine on top of having little stands for beer and wine (which I guess that's what people do in London-- have like a drink break in the middle of the day before heading back to work?! Sounds like my kinda place). I ended up getting a mushroom pie & mash because obvi that's what you have to do in London.
All I wanted in life while I was in London was a good place for brunch (there's just so much fish and chips you can have, ya feel me?). So while I was out in Soho, I was on the hunt (and a mission) to fulfill my #brunchgoals dream. Heading through different little bars and pubs asking if they still had brunch at 1 PM and getting judged, I finally stumbled upon this cute little restaurant called Vinoteca that had brunch all day (thank the lord!). I got this amazing egg dish called the "Gypsy Eggs" and also the avocado toast which were both A+. And as an additional bonus, this heavenly brunch spot is also a wine bar so it's perfect if you're looking to have #wineoclock as well.
If you're looking for an upscale restaurant to have a meal at, The Punchbowl is definitely one that I'd recommend. Started off by Guy Ritchie and noted as one of Mayfair's oldest pubs, this restaurant stands on its own in a quaint little street in the midst of London. The dual bar/restaurant has three different types of dining experiences depending on what you're looking for. The first floor is the Pub where you can order a drink and some food casually, the second floor (which is what I did) is the Dining Room where you can order some amazing dishes (the fish and chips here are highly recommended), and the third floor called The Club is a beautiful setting if you're looking to have an exclusive private dinner party.
Hopefully these tips and recommendations help-- and inspire you to book a trip to London ASAP! I'm going to be compiling my must sees and do's from the Italy portion of my trip to go up soon too so stay tuned.