Just a quick hop across the pond and you’ll find yourself in a place that’s oozing with poshness, while still brimming with that cozy casual vibe where you can sit and have a pint at the corner pub with the locals: London baby! All I can think of is the Friends episode when they all go to London for Ross and Emily’s wedding and Joey can’t stop yelling London baby! Here is how I spent 48 hours in London + all of the spots I researched but didn’t get a chance to go to this time around. Let’s make a little trip to London town annually shall we?
When my mother-in-law jokingly suggested that I meet them in London for the weekend, I don’t think she actually thought I would do it! I was flying standby and was number 18 on the list, so I was doubtful I would even make the flight. Luckily I scooted on by just the skin of my teeth AND was bumped up to Delta One miraculously where a scary movie (I flew out on Halloween), endless red wine, and a full lay down bed awaited me. HEAVEN. I spent the best weekend in London exploring with Thomas’ family. Since he was still in training he couldn’t come, so I am looking forward to going back with him soon!
Getting there: I arrived at Heathrow Airport and boarded the Heathrow Express! It’s a 15 minute speed rail that drops you right off at the Paddington Station. It’s a little more expensive for $48 roundtrip, but for it’s effortlessness and speediness the price is worth it for me!
Stay: We stayed at the Melia White House hotel in central London. It was a little room but had everything you could need for a short weekend and the location is perfect for exploring the city.
Breakfast: You know I would be RAVENOUS after a flight so breakfast was the first thing on the agenda! That first morning we had breakfast at the hotel where they had a full breakfast buffet. There’s something so perfect about tomatoey beans with fried eggs and runny yolks. I only ever eat tomato beans when I’m in England for some reason – I have to remember to make them at home! And when I say make I really mean just dump a can of Heinz on buttered toast because that exactly what it is. That sounds gross but for some reason it’s surprising delicious and oh-so-British.
Explore: The double decker red buses, iconic black taxi’s, underground signs, and the cute telephone booths that are probably so commonplace to Londoners, are always so magical to me every time I step onto the streets of London. On Friday morning we took a long walk from our hotel through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens before landing at the Natural History Museum. We walked around the museum for a just a short time before we realized that where we really wanted to be was in a cozy pub away from all the crowds.
I love a good museum and the best part of London is that they are all free! But with free entry means big crowds and when I only have 48 hours somewhere, I would prefer it not be spent looking at the back of someones head. But here is Time Out’s top 10 museums in London if you want to fit them in on your next visit!
Lunch: Quaint, cozy, and charming Builders Arms sits on a quiet street in Kensington. Walking through the doors the first thing you see is a cute sleeping cocker spaniel right in front of the fireplace. This was by far the best fish and chips I’ve had and I love the minty mushy peas that they always serve alongside. And if anything at all, come here for a beer!
Dinner: We have a running joke in my family that all we do on vacation is sleep, eat, crap, and nap! Sorry to be crude but let’s just call a spade a spade and be honest, that IS pretty much all we do. So in true fashion after we had our pub meal we headed back to the hotel just to take a little nap and energize for, you guessed it, DINNER!
Our hotel was in the Marylbone/Fitzrovia area and we found the best tapas restaurant, Iberica. We did some damage on pitchers of sangria, plates of jamón ibérico, toasted bread with tomato, and every other dish they had like British hare croquettes, pan-fried octopus, and twice cooked lamb. Everything was SO good and it’s such a fun and lively place to take a group to! I told Thomas that we should go to London one weekend just to have dinner at this place again – it’s that good. We were having too much of a good time (and wine) that I forgot to take pictures, but you get the idea!
Breakfast: Go figure, we were starving when we woke up and needed coffee stat so we walked to the Refinery at Regent’s Place. I loved the vibe and aesthetic of the place but if you want good customer service this isn’t where to go. It didn’t bother us because it was pouring rain outside and we had nothing else to do but sit there and people watch as they ran by the windows with their umbrellas turning inside out, but we waited an eternity (more like 20 minutes) for a cup of Joe. I’m very caffeangry in the morning until I take that first sip ya know.
I did love their English breakfast which was eggs, roasted portobello, extra butta, bacon, bangers, tomato beans AND blood sausage. Don’t knock the black pudding until you try it, if you pretend it’s not blood it’s delish. Please don’t disown me.
Pit Stop: Next we headed to Harrod’s which is one of the world’s most famous department stores. It is a very popular tourist destination and pricey but it’s fun just to walk through there. Surprise surprise, my favorite part is the food hall where it’s brimming with the best of the best from a butcher shop and cheese monger to glorious dessert cases with the most beautiful cakes and petite fours.
After our walk Thomas’s grandmother who’s 87 and the real MVP of any trip we go on, needed to sit for a minute even though she is stubborn and tries to refuse. We had cute little cappuccinos at a Harrod’s cafe before striking out to portobello road!
Day Trip: Notting Hill and Portobello road is one of my favorite places. There’s such a melting pot of people and culture bubbling as you wind your way through Portobello market. It’s funny, I was there in 2014 when I was studying abroad and wrote this blog post, and this time around we ate the same seafood paella I had 5 years ago! There is so many cool antiques and knick-knacks so plan on spending some time here and having lunch! We just had a quick snack, but here’s a great list from Time Out on the best spots to eat in Notting Hill!
We spent our final night in London eating pasta, drinking wine, and enjoying each others company none of which I captured because being present felt most important. If you’re making a trip to London, I am sure you will spend more than 48 hours there, so here is a list of everything I’ve done or still want to do on our next trip to London based on the research I’ve done. Cheerio darlings.
Where to stay:
– Hoxton Hotel
– The Mandrake
– Portobello Hotel
– Rookery (if you want to get fancy)
Where to Eat:
– Flour & Grape (handmade pasta)
– Half Cup (Popular brunch spot)
– Smokehouse (gastropub)
– The Waterhouse project supper club (8-course meal by Michelin star chef)
– Said Dal 1923 (best hot chocolate in London)
What to do:
– Do a hop on hop off bus, I did this last time and although touristy it’s fun to see the city that way!
– Of course Big Ben, the London eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London (seeing where Anne Boleyn is buried in the chapel in London Tower is surreal)
– Get a beer at Ye Old Cheshire cheese, one of the oldest pubs in London.
– Walk through Camden Market – Very eclectic, vibrant, and punk-rocky. Amy Winehouse lived in this neighborhood.
– Platform 9 ¾ – all my Harry Potter geeks, this is a must. Here’s a throwback pic for you haha.
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