As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago we went to London! It was one of my favorite trips we have ever been on. I am hoping that we will go back someday.
Today, I wanted to share our London experience. We managed to do a lot while we were there, so hopefully this overview helps you if you plan to visit London sometime soon!
- On the first day, we arrived around noon. After getting through customs and grabbing our luggage, we ended up getting to our hotel around 1:30 PM. We took a cab to our hotel, but I would recommend to take the Underground/Tube instead. It will take you the same amount of time with public transportation and you will save $100.
- We stayed at the Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel.
- I had points to use, so our entire stay was covered with Marriott points! Traveling for work pays off.
- Since we wanted to stay awake, we did a lot of walking the first day. We walked through Hyde Park, and ended up walking all of the way over to Kensington Palace! We were going back to Kensington Palace the following day, but I still wanted to walk over to see the outside and take a picture.
- After leaving Kensington Palace, we walked over to Notting Hill. I was obsessed with this neighborhood. All of the houses are beautiful and almost everyone has a colorful door. It is a very charming area of London. Not much was open in Notting Hill since it was Boxing Day, but it was so fun to walk around and take pictures.
- It started raining when we were at Notting Hill, so we got an Uber back to the hotel since we didn’t want to walk 3 miles in the rain. Once we got back to the hotel, we talked to the concierge service about a good place to eat for dinner. We really wanted Indian food!
- We ended up walking to Roti Chai for dinner. It was a fun Indian restaurant within walking distance of our hotel, so it was perfect for the first night in London. We actually ended up really liking the food! They have a street kitchen and a dining room with different menus – we sat in the dining room downstairs so we could get more of a true Indian meal.
- After leaving dinner, we stumbled into the pub next door – Three Tuns. This was THE CUTEST little pub and again, it was the perfect find for our first night in London. I was hooked on pubs ever since this night – not because of the drinking, but because they were so cozy and so different from bars in America! We went to a pub almost every night on this trip.
- Our second day was the worst day in terms of weather. It was very cold, very wet and very windy. It was snowing/sleeting and it just wasn’t fun weather to walk around in!
- Despite the weather, we still made the best out of the day. We first went to the Tower of London. I had pre-booked tickets, so I wanted to make sure we still did this. The Tower of London was really impressive. This place is basically one giant fort, and it’s awesome. This is also where the Crown Jewels are housed. I was blown away! Seeing the Queen’s crown up close was breathtaking! I wish I could have a crown like hers.
- After visiting the Tower of London, we popped outside to get a quick picture with Tower Bridge. Most people think this is the London Bridge. The London Bridge is actually quite unimpressive.
- Next, we decided to walk over to Leadenhall Market. I had seen a few pictures of this place online, so I knew we needed to go see it in person. It is a little outdoor market with a few shops and restaurants. The structure is really impressive, so definitely try to stop here for a photo if you ever make it to London. We later realized that this is also where some of the Harry Potter’s movies were filmed.
- Our next stop was Borough Market. I had heard great things about this market, so we planned to walk over there, check it out and grab some lunch! This market had a lot to offer. There were tons of different vendors selling everything from fish & chips to paella to Thai food all the way to desserts. It really is the perfect place to stop for lunch while touring around London. We ended up grabbing some fish & chips because we wanted to try some of the “traditional” London food. Neither one of us is a big fan of this kind of food, but we both ended up liking it!
- After lunch, we took the tube over to Kensington Palace. This was our first experience with public transportation in London, and I was surprised at how easy it was! The Kensington Palace tour was interesting. We didn’t get to see any of the current residences or anything, but we did get to see a lot of older state rooms and ballrooms. It is crazy to think that the Royal Family has been living there for centuries!
- We had a bit of time to kill before dinner, so we decided to head over to Harrods, the famous department store in London. I was totally overwhelmed by this place. I had no idea how big this place was until we went inside. I think there were 6 or 7 different floors, but each floor is bigger than your standard Dillards! In total, there is over 1 million square feet of selling space! If you want to see the whole thing, you might need an entire day!
- We did not buy anything because the prices are outrageous, but it was still fun to walk around. My favorite part was the Champagne Bar that we found on the first floor. I guess everyone needs to stop for a glass of bubbly before they drop $2,000 on a purse 🙂
- After we finished window-shopping, we had plans to grab an early dinner at Dishoom. This is a really popular Indian restaurant in London. Unfortunately, it was so popular that the wait was already an hour long at 5 PM! We had to find another option since we needed to be somewhere by 7 PM. Luckily, there was another Indian restaurant down the street called Cinnamon Soho. It was really small, but everything still tasted great!
- After finishing our dinner, we went to the tube station to grab the train to Notting Hill. We had a 7 PM reservation at The Ginstitute. This was a really fun experience where we learned about the history of gin and everything you would ever need to know about how gin is made. The best part was that we got to make our own gin to take home! So, Alex and I have 2 new bottles of gin on our bar cart that we made ourselves – how cool is that?! If you are a fan of gin, I would highly recommend booking this experience while in London.
- The next morning, we woke up and walked over to Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, you cannot go inside Buckingham Palace at this time of the year, so we just admired the building and took a few pictures.
- From Buckingham Palace, we walked over to Westminster Abbey. Ever since watching Price William and Kate’s wedding, I had been dying to see this place! It was absolutely breathtaking and more spectacular than anything I had seen on TV. All of the little details and the architecture was fascinating. It amazes me to think that this was built such a long time ago – I don’t know how they did it!
- After leaving Westminster Abbey, we walked over to see Big Ben and The Parliament. Big Ben and sections of the Parliament were actually under construction when we visited, but it was still impressive to see the building. We didn’t buy tickets to go inside the Parliament, but they do have daily tours if that is something you are interested in. I told Alex that we will have to go back someday to see Big Ben when it is covered up in scaffolding.
- From the Parliament, we started walking towards Trafalgar Square. On the way over, we stopped to get a few pictures of the London Eye since it was a perfectly clear day. We didn’t do much at Trafalgar Square, but we just wanted to see the area. The National Gallery is in this area, so if you like museums, this would definitely be something to see.
- Covent Garden was just around the corner from Trafalgar Square, so we decided to head over there next. Covent Garden was one of my favorite areas in London. It was a very cute shopping area and there were tons of fancy shops and restaurants in this area. They had a huge Christmas Tree up in the middle of everything, so that was definitely something to see!
- By this point, we were starving, so we decided to head over to Dishoom for lunch. I was so excited that we were finally going to get to try this place after 2 failed attempts! We only had to wait 20 minutes, so I would call that a win (people normally have to wait over an hour). We had a huge lunch and everything was fabulous. After eating at Dishoom for lunch, I knew we were going to have to come back for dinner another night. It was that good!
- After Dishoom, we walked across the street to see The Ivy – it is a really famous restaurant in London. We tried to go in and grab a drink at the bar, but we got denied, even though there were spots open at the bar (we must not have looked wealthy enough). The place did seem a little snooty.
- From there, we started to make our way towards the London Eye since we had a 2:30 PM reservation. We walked through the Westminster neighborhood and found several cute houses and pubs along the way. One of my favorite things about London was all of the old architecture and pubs. That is something you just don’t see in America!
- Once we got over the London Eye, it was an absolute zoo. The crowds were insane! I was so happy that we had pre-booked a VIP reservation. The only problem was that we couldn’t figure out where to go. We finally made our way into a ticketing office and found a VIP desk. We waited in line to grab our tickets and then headed up to the VIP Bar/Lounge to wait. We grabbed a drink in the bar since we had about 30 minutes to kill – it was a really cute bar with lots of neat decor!
- The experience on the London Eye was great! We lucked out and had a perfectly clear day, so we were able to snap some great photos. Also, the angle of the sun around 3 PM was perfect! We booked the VIP Tour, so we got champagne to enjoy during the 30-minute ride. I would consider getting the VIP ticket if you don’t like waiting in lines and want champagne 🙂
- After the London Eye experience, we took the tube back to the hotel to freshen up. We were a little tired after all the walking! Once we got ourselves together again, we walked over to the Soho neighborhood to get a bite to eat. We passed so many beautiful Christmas lights on the way over, so we stopped to snap a few photos in the middle of the street. This probably wasn’t the safest thing I have ever done, but it was worth it for the picture!
- We ended up grabbing dinner at a pub in Soho – it was the perfect option after walking around all day. After spending a bit of time at the first pub, we walked down the street to another pub for more drinks because why not?! We had a really good night at the pubs that night and it was just a really fun atmosphere every we went! I would highly recommend the Soho neighborhood in London for something fun to do at night.
- At this point in the trip, we were pretty exhausted, but we wanted to keep seeing more. We decided to take the tube over to King’s Cross train station. This is a huge train station that has routes to other parts of England and even Scotland. Next door to King’s Cross is St. Pancras International. This is where you can find the trains to Paris and other countries in Europe. This building was fascinating to me! It was so beautiful and it didn’t seem like a train station at all.
- There is also a Marriott hotel attached to the St. Pancras, so we walked over there to see how it compared to our hotel. The St. Pancras hotel was fascinating, and they had this beautiful staircase that you can take up to the guest rooms. We decided that we are staying at this hotel if we ever come back to London! Plus, you have access to all of the trains and the underground tube system.
- After leaving the St. Pancras, our plan was to visit The British Museum. This came with high recommendation from multiple sources, so we thought we would check it out. Once we got to the British Museum, we quickly realized that our plan backfired. The line was all the way down an entire street and wrapped around to the next street. By the looks of it, the line had to be over 2 hours long. We didn’t feel like waiting, so we decided to do something else. That leads me to our next “fail”
- I thought it would be a great idea to go and see the Sky Gardens. After taking the train all the way over to the financial district, we found out that we actually needed tickets to get into the Sky Garden. It is free, but you still had to book tickets ahead of time. I was so bummed! At this point, I was getting very upset because I feel like everything we were trying to do was failing. It is very frustrating to be on a trip like this and not have things go as expected.
- Anyways, Alex cheered up and convinced me to walk over to Shakespeare’s Globe. This was a really neat building, and it is located right on the River Thames. We didn’t go on a tour or anything, but it was still nice to see. Next to the globe, we found a super cute pub called “The Anchor,” so we decided to go in for a quick drink. This pub was first established in 1616, so it was really cool to be in an establishment that old! It was nice to relax for a second before our next adventure.
- We had a little bit of time to kill before our 2:30 PM high tea reservation, so we decided to take the water taxi back to Westminster. I thought it would be something different and fun to do since we had only taken the tube – I wanted to experience as much of the public transportation as possible.
- We finally made it over to Sketch for our afternoon tea. The reason I booked Sketch is because I had seen several people talking about it on social media and it seemed like the really “trendy” place to go have tea. So, while it wasn’t a traditional environment for tea, it was still really interesting and fun.
- I could probably do an entire post about Sketch, so I will try to be brief on this post. For afternoon tea, you have an option to add champagne, so we did! The tea starts out with some caviar service and then you get a huge tiered platter of desserts and sandwiches. You can also ask for a scone to go with your tea as well. It was seriously so much food! Do not eat lunch before you do this.
- Anyways, Sketch is a really cute place and it is all pink, so I loved it. The bathrooms were also really weird and interesting. You basically go to the bathroom inside this egg thing. It’s definitely something to see!
- After tea, we decided to walk around for a bit to burn off some of the sugar we had consumed. We walked back to the hotel and just sat around for a bit since we were in a sugar coma.
- Since we loved Dishoom so much, we decided to go back for dinner. We ended up waiting for a table for about 1.5 hours, but we didn’t mind since we needed to work up an appetite again! After Dishoom, we went to bed since we had to get up at 5 AM for a flight to Dublin.
Day 5 (Last Day)
- (Note: We went to Dublin for 3 days in-between Day 4 and 5) We arrived back in London around 10 AM and made it back to our hotel around 11:30 AM.
- We had a 12:30 PM lunch reservation at Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden. If you want to do dinner here, you need to book several months ahead of time. The lunch was actually really nice and really relaxing. It was the perfect thing to do on our last day in London. For lunch, you can either do 2 or 3 courses. We both did the 3-course lunch so we could try the desserts. You also have the option to add-on a 1/2 bottle of wine with your lunch, so we each did that as well! Honestly, the price wasn’t that crazy for how much food you got! I think it was only around $35-40 per person including the wine.
- After lunch, we decided to walk around Covent Garden for a few minutes. We were so full that we needed to get up and move around a bit! We didn’t end up buying anything, but there are tons of good shops over in this area.
- Since we didn’t make it through much of Harrods the other day, we decided to go back and see some of the floors that we had missed. I am glad we went back because it was much less crowded and we were actually able to move around freely! We didn’t buy anything here either, but it is fun to look around and window shop. We did stop at the Champagne Bar for a quick glass of bubbly – I thought it would be a fun ‘last day in London’ treat!
- We walked back to our hotel from Harrods and decided to get organized before leaving the next day. We were so tired by this point in the trip, so we weren’t up for doing much! Our plan was to go back to Dishoom for dinner, but we later found out they were closed for their holiday party (I was so sad!). Since my mind was set on Indian, we decided to walk to a different restaurant down the street called Masala Zone Soho. It was really good food, but it had to be 90 degrees in that restaurant – we were uncomfortably warm. We ate our meal quick and went back to the hotel to go to bed.
(Coming Soon – a FREE PDF download of our itinerary from this trip!)
The next morning, we hopped on the tube to Heathrow and made our way back home! It was a fabulous trip, and I can’t wait to go back someday soon.
Have y’all ever been to London? If so, what were your favorite things about the city? Did you love the Indian food as much as we did?