London for Londoners
If you have already been to London a couple of times and seen all the sights then this is the guide for you. When I travel back to London by myself or with friends these are the things that make me supremely happy and remind me of the many happy years spent in this amazing city.
- More about your oliver guide: Sterling Boyd
- Trip type: Adult, City
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: Let's just move to London
to & from
Fly into Heathrow airport and book a car to your destination. Booking a car in advance or using Uber is much more cost effective than taking a cab. Atlas and Addison Lee were the two companies I used the most.
Where to Stay
- The London EDITION - nestled right in the center of town next to Soho, Regent street, Oxford street and Regents park. The Edition is my go to hotel when I travel by myself to London. It is close to Soho for all the great restaurants, Regents Park for a walk through the gardens and is a central spot for busses/tube to get you anywhere you want to go. Make sure to go to Berners Tavern in the hotel for dinner or drinks.
- Ham Yard Hotel - Even if I don't stay in Ham Yard Hotel, I always make my way there for a drink. The hotel is beautiful and right in the center of Soho. The hotel was also awarded the 'Best Afternoon Tea'. Even if you don't stay here, it is worth a visit.
- Charlotte Street Hotel - I love this hotel. Check out the photos. If you end up staying here, have a cocktail downstairs and then head to ROKA for dinner. ROKA is an incredible Japanese restaurant with a super cool bar downstairs. Make sure to book in advance.
Where to Eat and Drink
- After perusing through the shops, have an early lunch at 202 Westbourne Grove. The goat cheese salad and peach ice tea are my personal favorites.
- For the foodies out there, book lunch at The Ledbury. It won't disappoint.
- After your lunch, stop by Ottolenghi for the most amazing desserts to eat while you walk.
- Start your morning or early afternoon off with breakfast or lunch at the Riding House Cafe.
- End up in Soho for late lunch or dinner. My absolute favorites are Barrafina (spanish tapas) and Bocco di Lupo (authentic italian). Barrafina doesn't take reservations so get there early!
- After your visit, go to Petersham Nurseries for a lunch like nowhere else. It is so English, so beautiful and so worth the trip. Petersham serves a tasting menu in a glasshouse nursery. Shop the antiques and gifts post lunch. Make sure to make reservations in advance.
What to Do
- If you are traveling from the US, then you will likely land in London in the morning. If you can manage it, get right off the plane, drop your bags at the hotel and head to Notting Hill for your first day in London. Take a black cab or tube to Notting Hill Gate and walk to the shops on Westbourne Grove between Ledbury Road and Colville road.
- Some of my favorite shops are Aime on Ledbury Road (boutique shopping for women), Nanos for kids on Westbourne Grove, Smythson for gorgeous leather goods (passport holders please), Diptyque for scents and perfumes and Wild at heart flower shop (instagram pics please!).
- From Notting Hill, walk through Hyde Park on your way back to your hotel. Hyde Park is beautiful in all seasons so don't miss it.
- There are many great shops in London, but there are only a few I make an effort to visit every time I am in London. Head to Liberty London on Regents street because it is beautiful and a British institution. The Liberty prints never go out of style.
- Then walk to Fortnum and Mason to buy gifts for all your loved ones back home. Fortnum and Mason tea and hampers are favorites in our household.
- Walk next door to Hatchards bookstore. If you have little ones at home, you can find the most amazing and unique children's books.
- Post shopping, walk through Green Park to Buckingham Palace and St. James Park.
- London is meant for the garden lover. There are so many beautiful parks and gardens that it is hard to know where to start.
- If you have already done all the traditional sightseeing spots (Hyde Park, Regents Park, St James) then make a point to head to Kew Garden in southwest London. Make sure to stop by the Botanical Art exhibit within the garden if you happen to be a watercolor or oil painting lover. Your heart will stop.
- On your way home, walk along the River Thames as you make your way back to Richmond train station which will take you directly back to London central.
- Get an Oyster card as soon as you get to London at any tube stop. You can use it for all busses and tubes.
- And do make sure to have an English breakfast.
Walk the shops of Marlybone on Marlylebone High Street between Wigmore street and Devonshire Street. Visit the Wallace Collection and have a cheese and wine tasting at La Fromagerie. If it is a nice day, find a pub and sit outside. Order a Shandy and tuck in!
For those who have time to travel further afield, take an overnight trip to Bath. You can take a train direct from Paddington to Bath in under two hours. Stay at Babington House (part of the Soho house group). It is one of my absolute all time favorite hotels set in the beautiful bath countryside. The spa is out of this world and sells Cowshed products (knackered cow) is my personal favorite. Travel into central Bath to see the natural Roman hot springs, don’t miss taking a walk in the countryside around the hotel and grab a bottle of rose while you play croquet on the lawn. You will fall in love instantly and never want to go home.
Pubs, Pubs & More Pubs!
When someone asks me to share my favorite pubs in London, I end up writing a never ending list. I write about the pub that has the best ever English roast, the pub that has just the right table under the rose bushes, the pub on the green where people pour out of the front door buzzing on a warm evening, the pub where every person brings their dog and the pub dutifully puts a dog bowl and bone under every table, the pub where the river Thames rises to cover the outdoor tables at end of the evening and in almost all cases, you end up on an impromptu swim with whomever was sitting around you….
I can go on and on. The English pub is an institution that can’t be missed. Below are a few that are relatively central and will likely be in places you are staying. Bust most of all, just walk into one you like the look of, grab a drink and chill out. You never know what will happen!
- Go to the Phene in Chelsea for a drink if you want to surround yourself with the local Chelsea gang. This is a great pub for a boozy afternoon or pre dinner drink. Grab a table outside on the patio.
- Duke on the Green in Fulham was our group of friend’s local for 12 years. If you are in Fulham make sure to go. It is a young crowd and gets quite rowdy as the evening goes on. Have fun.
- The Pig’s Ear, Chelsea. Go shopping up and down Kings road from Sloane Square to Chelsea Manor street and then end at the Pigs Ear for a drink and early snack or dinner. Great little pub off the main road.
- For a great pub in Soho, go to Dean Street Townhouse. You can eat and stay at Dean Street, but mostly we would gather here for pre dinner drinks. It is a great spot for people watching and always fun.
- If you are looking for an old school proper pub experience, try Coal Hole in the Strand. There will be other tourists about, but I loved going to pubs like this when I lived in London. Dark wood, beers on tap, booths…you get the idea. Check out the Savoy and Somerset House around the corner.
- For more of a local experience, go to Admiral Codrington in Chelsea. Book yourself in for dinner and show up early to hang in the bar. Make sure to have the fish and chips.
- If you want to go for a gastropub experience, book Harwood Arms in Fulham. The food is fantastic and it is a great place to get a traditional English roast.