London Recap & Travel Guide

The much-anticipated London itinerary and recap is here! Based on popular demand (well, a Twitter poll), I’m doing one post per city to recap my trip. Since we spent five jam-packed days in London, this post is definitely on the longer side, but I hope you guys find it informative and helpful, whether you’re planning a trip in the future or just looking to cure a case of wanderlust 🙂 

This was my high school graduation gift from my parents. I had been begging to go to London and Paris for as long as I can remember, and this trip was better than I ever imagined it to be. I cannot express how thankful I am for this experience. Spending ten days in two of the most incredible places in the world with my favorite people is truly the best gift I ever could have asked for!

Also, for the the majority of the attractions, museums and other activities, we used the The London Pass. It’s basically a huge ticket that gets you into most of the major tourist attractions, museums, monuments etc in a city. For our specific list of things we wanted to see and do, it worked out to be cheaper to buy the London Pass over individual tickets for each attraction (which we determined before the trip). It even got us special benefits like skipping lines at certain places. The London Pass was a great way to have access to the city, and I highly recommend it!  

DAY 1


We arrived in London pretty early in the morning since we had an overnight flight. We checked into our hotel, St. Ermin’s, quickly freshened up and headed out in search of lunch. Nothing was more appropriate for our first meal in London than Sunday Roast at a pub. 

We wanted to keep our day pretty easy going since we were all pretty tired. Our hotel was pretty close to Buckingham Palace so we walked over there after lunch. I just wished we could have gone inside the palace! One day after we left London, they started offering tours of Buckingham Palace and I’m so upset we missed it. I guess that’s just an excuse to go back again soon 😉

By that point, we were all so tired even though it was only about 2:00, so we headed back to the hotel and napped. After a few hours of sleep and a shower, we were all feeling much better. For the evening, we walked over to Chelsea to see one of my parents’ old flats from when they lived in the city (My parents lived in London back in the 90’s before my younger sister and I were born. They were there for their jobs and this trip was their first time back since moving home!).  


For dinner, we kept it simple and went to Pizza Express. My sister and I shared penne bolognese and a Margherita pizza, which were both incredible. On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped for gelato at Amorino and they made the cones into the little flower designs. It was so cute and equally delicious. 

DAY 2

After getting a much-needed night of sleep, we were up again and had breakfast at Ravello. I had a latte and an egg & bacon sandwich on an English muffin. Then, we walked over to Parliament Square to catch the classic London double decker bus to head to the Tower of London. As tourist-y as it was, it was included in our London Pass and was actually a really nice way to get a good first look at the city beyond the blocks surrounding our hotel.

At the Tower of London, we listened to a tour for a bit, then broke off and saw the Crown Jewels, which were breathtaking. I walked out of there waiting for Prince Harry to sweep me off my feet because I’m ready to be British royalty 😉 
There was also a boat cruise included in our London Pass, so we figured we’d escape the traffic we hit earlier in the morning by taking the boat back to Westminster. Again, kind of tourist-y and not our usual speed, but it was a cool way to learn some more history about the city. Plus we had beautiful, sunny weather which made for great pictures. By this point, it had gotten pretty late but we needed something to eat to hold us over until dinner, so we went to the Royal Quarter Café. 


It was so adorable and we had the best food. I had a chicken Caesar salad which was delicious, and a nice change of pace from the unhealthy eating we’d been doing. My family was still recovering from the time difference, so we headed back to the hotel so they could take a half hour power nap before dinner (and I got to catch up on blogging!). 


We went to Hakkasan in Mayfair for dinner. Hakkasan is an Asian fusion restaurant that is in a few major cities including NYC and Vegas, as well as two locations in London. My family loves Buddakan, a similar restaurant, so we gave it a try. This was the night I wore the statement necklace & handkerchief hem skirt outfit I posted about last week. 

The food was incredible. We ate everything family style, and some of my favorite plates were the jasmine tea smoked pork ribs, the clay pot chicken and the rib eye beef with ho fun noodles. It’s such a cool atmosphere and the food is absolutely amazing. It was definitely one of my favorite dinners of the whole trip! 

DAY 3



We had a quick breakfast at Pret à Manger (latte and croissant for me) before heading to Westminster Abbey, part of the London Pass. At the abbey, we did an audio guided tour. It was super crowded which made the audio tour kind of challenging, but regardless, I love history, so learning about the abbey, different coronations, and kings and queens was so fascinating.


From there, we walked to the British museum, also included in the London Pass. We walked through the Egyptian exhibits. Ever since elementary school, I have been fascinated by Egyptian history, so I loved this museum. One of the exhibits we saw was displaying artifacts and treasures that were found when they recently discovered two entire cities (!!) underwater in between Athens and Alexandria. How cool is that?! 

After the museum, we walked over to Covent Garden for lunch and found the most adorable cafe, Palm Court Brasserie. It had a very Parisian vibe, which got us all excited for the upcoming second portion of our trip! I had the most delicious roast chicken & french fries. Guys, apparently french fries & gravy is a thing. I’d never heard of it before, but it is so good.


The Covent Garden area is just a bunch of cute shops and cafes/restaurants/pubs. Some of the stores were “big names” like Zara and Urban, but there were also lots of independent boutiques and vintage shops. We didn’t have too much time, but it was a fun area to explore. A favorite was Lola’s Cupcakes, a small cupcake shop on Neal Street. I got the Oreo one and it was delicious. I also loved walked around Neal’s Yard, a street in Covent Garden. It’s kind of like a hidden alleyway (but wider), and it was so cool just to walk through. If only we had more time to explore each shop and restaurant!



 

For dinner, we took the Tube (subway) from Westminster to Kensington High Street, where my parents’ second old flat was. From there, we walked to dinner. We went to Kalamaras Greek Taverna, one of my parents’ favorite restaurants from when they lived there twenty years ago. It was so cool to walk around and see where they used to live and go out. Plus, they talk about this restaurant a lot so it was great to see it in person and try it. Let me tell you- it lived up to the hype and beyond. And I don’t even really like Greek food. I had the chicken souvlaki for dinner, but we shared a bunch of dips with pita bread as an appetizer. My favorite was the hummus. Next big trip… Greece? 😉

DAY 4

We started Wednesday morning with our new favorite: Ravello breakfast sandwiches. From there, we headed to Paddington Station to take the train out to Windsor. Windsor Castle was also included in the London Pass. There was also an audio tour for the castle, so we spent the day following that. We saw the state apartments, which is the “main attraction” of the castle because it’s the inside tour of the historic and special rooms. Obviously, we didn’t get a tour of the current residences, but we saw some of the older King’s bedrooms, offices and some of the major dining rooms and halls. 

Touring Windsor Castle was one of my favorite things we did in London. It was a very detailed tour and really gave great insights into the Royal Family of England and their histories. I only wish I could have gotten a “behind the scenes” tour of everything else… Maybe it is just me, but I found it all SO fascinating. Now I guess I just have to become a British royal to see the rest 😉


After the castle tour, we walked around the little town of Windsor outside of the castle walls. We had lunch at The Carpenter’s Arms Pub which was delicious. I got a typical English dish, beef and ale pie with mashed potatoes & veggies. It was so good- I want to learn how to make them at home. The pastry of the pie was just as delicious as the filling. 


We walked around the town a little bit after lunch to some of the shops. There was a Barbour store there, and I looked into buying a Barbour jacket (I need a good jacket for school!) but they surprisingly had a very small selection of just sale items and there was nothing in my size (once we were back in the city, I proceeded to check two more Barbour stores and the Barbour section at Harrods- nothing!). Then we hopped back on the train back to the city. 

For dinner, we walked back through some parks and Piccadilly Circus to the Soho/ Mayfair area again to go to Bob Bob Ricard. A friend had recommended it to me, so we gave it a try. It’s English and Russian food, which initially turned me off, but it ended up being delicious. The highlight of the restaurant was the “press for champagne” buttons that were on every table. 


It was a very cool atmosphere with great drinks and good food. I had the chicken Kiev, which is breaded and stuffed chicken. For dessert, I had whisky chocolate truffles (they were pink/gold and glittery!). We all really enjoyed this restaurant and the cool atmosphere but agreed it was a little expensive for what it was (especially in comparison to Hakkasan, which blew our minds).

DAY 5


For our last full day in London, we had breakfast at The Sanctuary House, a pub and hotel. I highly recommend the pastry platter. I think it’s supposed to be a shared dish, but my sister got it and I had major order envy the entire meal. It’s basically just a bunch of different croissants, pastries and bread/jam: my idea of the perfect breakfast. 


We walked to Harrod’s for the first stop of the day. It was so incredible just seeing the clothes from designers like Chanel and Dior. It felt more like I was walking through a museum than a store. The visual merchandising was very well done, and of course the clothes were breathtaking and beautiful. My favorite was the “Shoe Heaven” floor. All the Dior, Miu Miu, Manolo Blahnik, Chanel and Prada shoes a girl could dream of! 


After some browsing, we headed to the food hall. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was unbelievable. My favorite room was definitely the patisserie, where I got a chocolate croissant. My sister got a chocolate layered cronut which had layers of croissant dough, chocolate icing and white chocolate shavings.

Next, we started walking over to Soho for afternoon tea and some shopping. We went to Topshop first which was a major success. The bottom floor was really cool because it was all different vendors, labels and designers that aren’t at other Topshop locations. Most of that stuff wasn’t really my style or it was more expensive and not practical but so fun to look at! I ended up buying the cutest black and white plaid skirt that buttons in the front.


After some shopping, we went to tea at Sketch. I had heard of it from bloggers like Julia and also multiple friends recommended it. My mom, sister and I went and had the best time. The atmosphere of the tea gallery room was so cool (all pink!). Everything from each gallery wall print to the phrases on the inside of our tea mugs… the branding was impeccable (and we all know I’m a sucker for good branding).


Also, all the tea, sandwiches, snacks and desserts are unlimited. My favorite sandwich was the mozzarella & pesto panini. My sister loved the cucumber, asparagus and ricotta cheese sandwich and my mom’s favorite was the English chicken salad sandwich. The scones were also amazing. 


Another cool thing about Sketch were the bathrooms. I don’t really have any other way to describe them besides the pictures above, but they were so unique and definitely interesting. It just added to the cool atmosphere of the entire place and experience. Highly recommend it to anyone going to London! 

After tea, my mom, sister and I headed back to Covent Garden for some more shopping (while my dad was meeting with a friend who lives in London, we had to fit in all the shopping we could!). We checked out a few stores, but ended up in Urban Outfitters. I had heard that they carry different labels and brands in Europe and the UK, but found that it was mostly the same merchandise as the US. I bought a cute black off-the-shoulder crop top that I can wear with a bunch of skirts, shorts and flowy pants. I’m so excited to style it on the blog, so stay tuned! 

We basically shopped till we dropped. We were all thrown off meal-wise since we didn’t really have lunch, we just had sandwiches and treats at tea. We met my dad back at our hotel and decided to go out for a light pub dinner. We went to The Feathers pub, which was only a block or two from our hotel. 

I got the beef and ale pie, same as I had for lunch earlier in the week, because it was just so good! I figured I might as well soak up and enjoy all the English food and culture while we were there. We also had an awesome appetizer platter which had some nachos, mac n’ cheese, onion rings and chips. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend our last night in London than in a pub! 

NEXT STOP: PARIS! 
We had an afternoon flight to Paris, so we had a quick breakfast at The Royal Quarter Café in the morning before leaving London. Lauren and I both had croissants and iced coffees, which were more like coffee frappés than normal iced coffee, but just as good. These croissants were only preparation for all the croissants and pastries that we would be eating in Paris! 

Congratulations if you made it all the way through this post- it was a long one! Please feel free to comment below, tweet me or email me with any questions you have about my trip. I’d be more than happy to answer. Stay tuned for some more London outfit posts this week, and soon, my Paris recap! 

XO, Nicole 

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4 thoughts on “London Recap & Travel Guide

  1. I've always wanted to go to London (probably because I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, haha), and reading your post makes me want to book a ticket right now for the next plane that lands there! Cannot wait to read your post about Paris!

    Like

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