Published: January, 2018
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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.
— Sterling Boyd
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • 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.

inside scoop

  • 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.

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Other Favorites…

Marylebone

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!

Bath

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.

We have loads of London guides for pub crawlers, culture seekers, history buffs and royalty followers.

Find Alice Johnson’s guide here.

Find Kara Schwabauer’s guide here.

Find Cynthia Pillsbury’s guide here.

Find Corre Larkin’s guide here. 

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Published: August, 2018
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London, UK, London

— Alice Johnson
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Family, Group getaway, Solo, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 3-5

to & from

You’re spoilt for choice with London airports. London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted all offer convenient access to the city. If you’re travelling from the continent, the Eurostar, Channel Tunnel and ferry are more characterful ways to travel.

  • If you bring your car on one of the latter two options, park it cheaply with YourParkingSpace and take public transport during your London stay. Traffic’s notoriously bad.

Where to Stay

London’s hostels aren’t cheap, but standards and style exceed the average found in most major European cities.

  • Budget: I recommend Generator at King’s Cross for a jazzy atmosphere and decent amounts of personal space.
  • Mid-market: Airbnb is my first choice – many London homes have quaint or quirky personalities. Definitely the best way to experience the city like a local.
  • Premium: the Town Hall Hotel is a 5-star masterpiece of British humour and flair. Surprisingly, the wine bar won’t break the bank, so it’s great for a posh evening out even if you don’t stay the night.

Where to Eat and Drink

London is full of amazing places to grab a bite, whether it’s for lunch or dinner!

  • Borough Market – if you’re lucky, you can construct a full size brunch through diligent sampling
  • The Regency Café in Pimlico is an art deco icon of Full English breakfast destinations, but there’s not much separating their menu from every other neighbourhood café!
  • Flat Iron Square – hipster street market vibe. Will entertain you well past dessert
  • Chick 'n Sours – festival of neon serving wings as big as yours
  • Chinatown – Soho comes alive at night. Line your stomach with dumplings before cocktails at Opium (and don’t be intimidated by the doorman!)

What to Do

You know the saying: when a man is bored of London, he’s bored of life!

  • Oxford Street – clichéd chain stores galore, but that’s the appeal
  • Covent Garden – blissful commercial neighbourhood featuring small and fancy boutiques
  • Tate Modern – art mecca
  • West End – ultimate tourist destination. The Palace Theatre is a dominant landmark
  • Natural History Museum – say hi to Hope the blue whale and Dippy the Diplodocus. You’ll learn more than any history lesson in high school
  • Trafalgar Square – magnificent and lively public space
  • South Bank – edgy riverside cultural hub
  • Islington High Street – unspoilt, upmarket passage for drinking, dining and antique shopping Brick Lane – bustling street market for food and alternative fashion. Brave the curry houses at your peril
  • Lidos – Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park is ideal for cooling off in summer, or impressing your travel companions in winter
  • Parks – all 8 of London’s Royal Parks are spectacularly landscaped. They’re perfect for picnicking and picturesque strolls

inside scoop

  • ‘Boris’ bikes – nicknamed after former London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Santander-branded bicycles are available to hire at docking stations all across the city. A healthy way to take in London’s scenery, arguably less sweaty than the tube…
  • Night tube – the Tube runs all hours from Friday to Sunday. And there’s Wifi underground. You’re welcome.

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  • London Eye – Just. So. Slow. Better views without swaying aerial sickness at Sky Pod Bar
  • Changing of the Guard – nothing to see here, even if you do push through the crowds
  • Stairs on the underground – to be avoided, particularly at Covent Garden on a weekend. Unless you really, really want to work off that Full English.

more...

We have loads of London guides for pub crawlers, culture seekers, history buffs and royalty followers.

Find Kara Schwabauer’s guide here.

Find Sterling Boyd’s (adults who like pubs!) guide here.

Find Cynthia Pillsbury’s guide here.

Find Corre Larkin’s guide here. 

To add a suggestion login or join

Published: January, 2018
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London, England (Kara Schwabauer)

We ended up buying my son a scooter on the first day in London and he used it everywhere... Many kids his age and older are on scooters, so we felt a little bit like a local.
— Kara Schwabauer
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 4-5 DAYS

to & from

  • Red eye direct from Newark, United Airlines. We traveled with our little ones, 18 month old daughter and 3 1/2 year old son.
  • While there, Uber or tube (my son loved the tube). Uber is so easy and inexpensive in Europe.

Where to Stay

We stayed with friends in Chiswick, darling city in west London.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • The Ledbury in Notting Hill. World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. Superb! Very fun and attentive staff, felt like we had known them forever! 6 or 8 course set menu, presentation was everything and beyond! Food was amazing, the oyster(s) were the best of the best!
  • Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill. Very cozy, good lighting, fun cocktails, try the Porn Star Martini.
  • Blue Boat in west London, riverside. Upscale pub food, perfect for kids, good craft beers. Great views of the river and fun to walk around after.
  • Shack Shake-Covent Garden, because burgers and fries are always a good idea!

What to Do

  • London Eye: Good way to see the city from above, you can get some great pictures. Buy tickets online, line is quick and efficient.
  • Transport Museum of London (Covent Garden)-Best museum for little ones, especially those that love trains and buses. Very hands on, each child gets a map upon entering that they need to punch at various parts of the museum along the way.
  • Diana Memorial Playground-huge pirate ship on sand with many nooks and crannies to explore inside. Very safe, only able to enter with a child, families everywhere, pack a picnic! Great slides and a water area on warmer days.

inside scoop

  • We ended up buying my son a scooter on the first day in London and he used it everywhere, gave him a sense of freedom instead of being in a double stroller with his sister. Many kids his age and older are on scooters, so we felt a little bit like a local.
  • When traveling with little kids plan one activity a day, otherwise it's too much pressure.
  • Wander-we stopped at almost every playground we saw. Eat like a local-grab a cookie or croissant at the local bakeries.

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We were limited because of small kids that still nap in the afternoon, but we had no expectations!

more...

We have loads of London guides for pub crawlers, culture seekers, history buffs and royalty followers.

Find Alice Johnson’s guide here.

Find Sterling Boyd’s (adults who like pubs!) guide here.

Find Cynthia Pillsbury’s guide here.

Find Corre Larkin’s guide here. 

To add a suggestion login or join

Published: December, 2017
Book this trip

London, England (Cynthia Pillsbury)

Read up on the monarchy to make your London trip more meaningful and memorable!
— Cynthia Pillsbury
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, City
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: 4-5 DAYS WITH KIDS

to & from

Any non-stop flights from US to London.

Where to Stay

There are many great hotels in London. Our family loved our time at the Langham Hotel on Regents Street in the West Side of London. It’s a central location that provides easy access via walking, buses or taxis to the major sites of London.

The Milestone, across the street from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, is another great option.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • London has excellent restaurants, but often times they come at a high price point. Our splurge was The Wolseley, a 1920’s former car showroom is an epic space that makes one feel as if they are in right back in the roaring 20’s.
  • Chiltern Firehouse is a tough reservation to come by, but worth going if you can get in!
  • Go Indian… London has many authentic Indian restaurants, every neighborhood has many, high quality ones that are delicious.
  • The best approach for lunch or casual dinners is to focus on a neighborhood and find a local pub that has a good yelp review.

What to Do

  • Tower Bridge and Tower of London is a fun way to kick off your sight-seeing… arrive by boat via the Thames River.
  • Allow plenty of time at the Tower of London and make sure to take a Beefeater Tour.
  • National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery is worth seeing, choose an exhibit, and don’t think about seeing the museum in its entirety.
  • Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace are all places to walk around and take in over a few hours.
  • Matilda Matilda Matilda (buy tickets WAY in advance).
  • Convent Garden is a fun place to go and eat lunch outside if weather permits and have the kids watch the street performers.
  • Walk across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern –then head to the Borough Market under the London Bridge.
  • Walk through St. James Park and watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace- lower expectations it’s slow and subtle!
  • Buckingham Palace is open to tour for part of the summer when the Royal family is at Windsor Castle.
  • Imperial War Rooms/Churchill War Rooms – make sure to spend 2-3 hours there to take in the WW2 bunker rooms.
  • The Victoria & Albert Museum is worthwhile, then a walk around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
  • L’ Orangery, next to Kensington Palace is a very civil and nice way to have high tea and/or lunch while kids can run around.
  • a href="http://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/visit-us/top-things-to-see-and-do/hampton-court-gardens/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hampton Court and Gardens- make sure to do the audio tour.
  • Windsor Castle is worth the trip outside of London if you can go when the Queen is not in residence.
  • Allow time to explore Hyde Park, there are playgrounds and fountains and pop-up art museums to discover.
  • Hamley's Toy Store on Regent street will be the experience your kids will not forget but you will want to... if they deserve a treat, go!

inside scoop

  • Consider hiring a London Guide, friends used Henrietta Ferguson "Luxury Tours of London" and LOVED the curated experience.
  • Map out your day in advance and choose sites to visit based on location, consider covering neighborhoods in a day.
  • Don’t fret too much about restaurants. London is more about the sites to see than the food to eat (at least with kids).
  • Build in downtime in the afternoon, London is a huge city and you will be walking a lot so kids will be exhausted by mid-afternoon.
  • If you want to ride the London Eye, but tickets in advance for an early morning time slot (most hotels sell them) but be prepared to pay a lot to avoid lines. We were disappointed and would not do it again or highly recommend it. The views are great, but you are not sure what you are seeing because there is no audio guide.

more...

We have loads of London guides for pub crawlers, culture seekers, history buffs and royalty followers.

Find Alice Johnson’s guide here.

Find Kara Schwabauer’s guide here.

Find Sterling Boyd’s (adults who like pubs!) guide here.

Find Corre Larkin’s guide here. 

To add a suggestion login or join

Published: December, 2017
Book this trip

London, England (Corre Larkin)

Spend the afternoon on a sunny day in the beer garden of a pub and take your kids!!! Kids are welcome in all pubs.
— Corre Larkin
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Family, City
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 7-10 DAYS (OR DO A 2 WEEK TRIP AND TACK ON PARIS TO THE END AND GO VIA EUROSTAR)

to & from

  • LAX to Heathrow. Tons of direct flights every day. Air New Zealand is our personal favorite.
  • Use London as a base and then take Easyjet or Ryanair for cheap flights to anywhere in Europe.
  • Always take the Eurostar if going to Paris. So easy and while it may be a little more expensive than an Easyjet flight, it's worth it for the sake of ease.

Where to Stay

  • Try and get an Airbnb in Chelsea -somewhere off the Kings Road. Or in South Kensington or Notting Hill. All great neighborhoods that would be a perfect base.
  • If you want to be more central, then you can't go wrong with the Connaught or the Berkeley Hotel. Both are stunning hotels with impeccable service. However, London being London, they are quite pricey.
  • If you are on a tighter budget, then try going with an Airbnb slightly outside Zone 1. Neighborhoods that are easy to get into central London would be Fulham, Kensal Green, Chalk Farm, Bethnal Green, Stepney, Lambeth/Vauxhall or Clapham.

Where to Eat and Drink

London is so big with so many food options this one is almost impossible. I will simply give you my favorites rather than where you should go.

  • The Sands End pub for a Sunday roast in Sands End Fulham, don't forget to get the scotch eggs to snack on while you wait.
  • Benares for the best high end Indian food you will ever eat, central London on Berkeley Square.
  • Wagamama for a quick and easy bite in the middle of the day when you are tired of walking (it's a chain- so there are locations all over).
  • The Ivy Chelsea Garden for a long afternoon of rose drinking.
  • Churchill Arms in Notting Hill is a gorgeous little pub covered in flowers in the summer owned by the most charming Irish pubowner, Jerry. In the back is a small Thai restaurant that has the most authentic thai food outside of Bangkok. Order a Jungle curry and be prepared to sweat.
  • La Familiglia right off the Kings Road in Chelsea for simple but authentic Italian and locals favorite. Last time I was there we saw Kate and Pippa.
  • The Harwood Arms in Fulham for upmarket gastropub food.
  • River Cafe in Hammersmith- go see where April Bloomfield and Jamie Oliver and a slew of others cut their teeth.
  • Zafferano in Belgravia is another of my favorites for a slightly more special occasion.
  • I would skip any of the upmarket chains like Nobu or Cecconi's. Stick with restaurants that you can't find anywhere else.

What to Do

  • Hit up the best shoe department in the world, Harrods.
  • Take an uber out and spend the day walking around Richmond Park and then go to lunch at Petersham Nurseries. I promise you it will be your favorite day of the trip.
  • Hit up Portobello Market on the Friday rather than the Saturday and you avoid the tourists but instead be among the real treasure hunters.
  • Spend the afternoon on a sunny day in the beer garden of a pub and take your kids!!! Kids are welcome in all pubs. (See Sterling Boyd's Guide for Pub Suggestions)
  • Walk along the Thames from Westminster Bridget to London Bridge. You will pass by everything and then you can end at the Tate Modern, the coolest art museum ever.

inside scoop

Go into any newsagent and get a Oyster Card. You can then add on money to your oyster card and use it for traveling on the tube (underground) or the bus system. I think you can even use it on the overland rail system now. It’s sooooo much easier and cheaper than buying a day pass.

skip it

Oxford Street. It is so packed and full of tourists and stores and is my least favorite part of London.

What to Pack

more...

We have loads of London guides for pub crawlers, culture seekers, history buffs and royalty followers.

Find Alice Johnson’s guide here.

Find Kara Schwabauer’s guide here.

Find Sterling Boyd’s (adults who like pubs!) guide here.

Find Cynthia Pillsbury’s guide here.

 

To add a suggestion login or join