Planning yet another trip for people to visit London. Well, two trips actually one for my mom and her best friend arrive Tuesday the 21st of February and one for my family this summer the first weekend of July. In preparing their trip, I realized I had done a post about London here and there but no complete London guide. So this is my complete London guide including restaurants, shopping, museums, spots to check out and activities.
Grosvenor-square Marriott- the hotel my family prefers it's also located in Mayfair a central wealth borough of London situated between Hyde Park and Soho. Oxford street is shopping street of London that runs east to west and is just two blocks from the hotel, as well as the other two main shopping streets: Bond Street (expensive) and Regent Street (main brand shops) are3 also just blocks from the hotel. The area has lots of restaurant and Soho has most of London's nightlife which is on the other side of a regent street.
The square it sits on is Grosvenor-square which is a beautiful park dedicated to the United States as U.S. embassy is the central aspect of the square. The park includes statues of Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and a 9/11 memorial that is just beautiful and includes all the British citizens that died in the attack.
Liberty of London- a shop that dates back to 1800's and is built in Tudor style. The store holds a full range of departments though best known for the unique liberty prints. The aspect of the store that's interesting the most is actually unique collections. From furniture bought all over the world (think ABC furniture NYC) to its expansive brands that include the most well-known brands (Valentino to Gucci) to up and coming brands. Their buyers have a unique eye even in those classic brands they choose a unique mixture from the collections.
& other stories- owned by H&M &other stories has fast fashion that is a little more fashionable than Zara and H&M and a little higher quality (£79-150)
Cos- another H&M owned cos is a bit more sophisticated in their styles appealing to 30+ age range though I find they have very cute styles and I still shop it. The clothes can be hit or miss and need to try on because of the unusual shapes.
All Saints- All Saints Spitalfields is as it name suggests a British based band paying off the hip cool trendy Shoreditch edgy look. Even though the brand is global its actually a little cheaper here than in the other country.
Carnaby Street- Carnaby Street is an “ally” next to Regent Street. Its the beginning of Soho and so it's the being in of cool the street has a lot of history in the 1960’s is the center of creating the new hip cool trendy while my mom remembers it as the head shop area in the 1980s when she would frequent London. While today it's large brands that want to position themselves as “cool” it comes together as still a cool area.
We Built This City I think London may Have more souvenir shop than any other town and more souvenirs created for it and every single one these shops tries to sell every one of those souvenirs. We Built This City is a unique Souvenir shop rather than the same old products they sell fresh “Carnaby Street” type products that you would actually use or put up and remind you of your trip to London.
Selfridges- Selfridges & Co. sits at the end of Oxford-street. The store is one of the original department stores. The store carries everything from £5 hats to £2,000 coats. The store's creation was recreated in the show, Mr. Selfridge.
FORTUM AND MASON- the poshest supermarket in the world. A truly British experience is to walk through F&M and see it. The hampers are a traditional Christmas or house guest gift.
BRGR.CO- BRGR. maybe my favorite burger EVER. The beef is gourmet and the fries skinny and crunchy just the way I love them. The shakes and hard (alcohol) Shakes are also incredible. Pretty much everything they serve is fantastic including the hot dogs, my friend swears by the cheese and truffle fries (I’m not one for truffles). I've noted booth locations on the map ones in Chelsea and the others in Soho.
C London- located just around the corner from Grosvenor Square this is a favorite of mine. The food is high-end Italian food. My favorites are the cream tomato gnocchi, and then my absolute favorite is the meringue cake for desert or meal (no judging here)
Ritz London- one of the most famous and regal hotels in London. The hotel dates back to 1906 and has close ties to the royal family and most of London high society. If you aren't willing to pay £999 a night for a basic room then they do a tea you can book for £60 a person which is the standard cost of most hotels tea and is apart of the classic London experience.
Chotto Matte- a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant my dad wanted to visit on our last trip after explaining to us the cultural history of the two. But after I messed up and got it mixed up with a different restaurant on the list we ended up not eating there after all. Later a friend suggested it and swore it was incredible.
Franco’s- When my parents and I were staying at the Ritz we were heading out and asked for recommendation they sent us to franco’s, and it was some of the best Italian food we had ever had
Franco Manca- sourdough pizza sounds incredibly weird, but it is the perfect twerk of the classic. Franco Manca is my favorite pizza for a number of reasons the amazing pizza for one that includes the incredibly fresh toppings, interesting sourdough dough, and the classic Naples style pizza. But the £5-8 price point is the cherry on top.
Sketch- nothing is more Hip Cool trendy then Scetch the restaurant located off Regent Street includes some of the most bizarre decor in the world, notably gets on Instagram's top posted restaurant. The restaurant in clouds two different restaurants the top is the library witch is a real foodie experience that will cost you £100-200 / pp they require you to order four courses, then the bottom restaurant, the gallery is more reasonable and the more posted part with £30-50pp. There's another three bars inside the building I would check out if your not into a complete foodie experience or don’t have the time because the decor needs to be checked out (particularly the bathroom connected to the gallery)
Ben's Cookies- every tourist spot in London will include a ben’s cookies, so though its a tourist spot the cookies are incredible. The cookie tastes like buttery dough.
Maitre Choux- nothing says London like spending £5 on a 3-inch eclair. Maitre Choux specializes in eclairs and sells all sorts of gourmet flavors the eclairs are worth it (you know if you don’t remember you just spent £5 on it).
The Breakfast Club- the breakfast club is cult favorite they always has a line. The restaurant is Americana with all American movie, and tv shows themed aspects. The food is “American” breakfast all day. Honestly, I think it's overrated. I went in October on Sunday at 9 am, and the line took just 45 minutes for us to get a table because there was only two of us. Theres a few spots and only the one in Cannery war (financial district) takes reservations.
Snowflake Luxury Gelato- the Gelatoaire makes great gelato and is always changing flavors every day is
completely different flavor besides chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.
Aqua Shard- the Shard is the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Theres four restaurants on the top and another in the hotel on the lower floors. Aqua Shard has sophisticated food that's almost as great as the views. The food is around £50pp while the viewing area on the very top is £30pp, but you can go and have a cocktail in the bars no reservation and for just a few pends a person and take in the views. The tea in the hotel is also notable for £57pp.
Borough Market- Borough Market includes every food stand known to man and is a foodies paradise.
The National Gallery- the center of Trafalgar Square the national gallery holds a great collection of paintings including Van Gogh’s life cycle of a sunflower and a vast collection of Turner's.
The National Portrait Gallery- located on the side of The National Gallery. The National Portrait Gallery holds the history of England through portraits of its most influential people (the gallery incorporates paintings based on sitter not on painter or quality of portrait) notably the Duchesses of Cambridge portrait hangs in the gallery and got a lot of press a few years back.
The Courtauld Gallery-one of the few museums in London with paid admission. Courtauld Gallery is somewhat undiscovered and yet holds some well-known pieces. The gallery sits in Sommerset house and Somerset is also cool spot that holds ice skating in the winter and concerts and movies in the summer and great views of the Thames from the front.
Tate Modern- the Tate Modern is considered a revolutionary modern museum opened in 2000 the museum is located in an old factory and has its unique way of curating its gallery that took the art world by storm. This is a must see for any Modern art enthusiast.
Saatchi Gallery- if you have any interest in advertising you know Saatchi for his and his brother's controversial agency. And yet in the art world, he is just as well known for collecting in 1990 and 2000’ his power could increase the price of artwork by $100,000’s by just having the interest in a piece. The Saatchi Gallery is building located in Duke of York-square that exhibits his collection and is curated by Saatchi.
Victoria and Albert Museum- the V&A known as the first art and design museum started by Prince Albert after the incredibly successful of the great exhibition of 1851. The museum is huge and has a fascinating history including many first (first photograph as art, first cafe in a museum, etc.) it's definitely worth to check out the exhibitions on show at the museum during your visit. One of the elements they're most know for is the fashion gallery which almost always has some great exhibits.
The Wallace collection- an old estate home located in the center of London. The house holds Wallace's collection including a collection of armor, silver wear, and an extensive collection of art including "the Swing or L'escarpolette" by fragonard. The house also has a beautiful restaurant in the center of the house in an atrium and a popular luncheon spot.
SERPENTINE GALLERY- at the top of the serpentine is the serpentine is the gallery, every summer they commission an n installation piece outside the gallery that is free to walk around and works as commutative space.
British museum- maybe the most famous museum and Britain second to the Louver in the world the British Museum most well known for its marbles from the pantheon and the rosette stone. My favorite part is not actually the exhibits but the recent addition of the ceiling in the courtyard. The building is in a Greco-style from the 1800’s, but in the early 200’s they added a beautiful glass ceiling to enclose the center between the two buildings.
Places to see and things to do
London Eye- built as a celebration of the millennium and meant just to last a year it's since become a part of the London skyline. This is a favorite activity to take people new to London on. Located across the Thames from the Westminster you can expect to see some of the best views of London in a spacious capsule.
Kensington Palace Road- Behind Kensington Palace and Hyde Park is Kensington Palace Road. The road stretches between Notting Hill and Kensington High Street the road looks like it's closed to the public with gates on booth sides and signs that state no Photos but it is a public street the street holds many of country embassy homes as well as seeing the length of the palace.
Serpentine row boats- the serpentine is the long lake that stretches most of Hyde Park. During the summer it looks Picture Perfect. in the summer you can rent row boats and paddle boats.
Brompton Cemetery- Brompton Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries. It's 39 acres in the middle of London which makes kind of amazing to walk through.
Richmond Park- the largest of the royal parks. Richmond is a picturesque British countryside the park is located about 45 minutes by tube from the city. It's also where I lived my first year in London.
Royal Botanic Kew Gardens- Kew Gardens is located right next to Richmond. The gardens are renowned for their innovation at the gardens and considered the world’s most famous botanic garden.
Electric Cinema- as a part of the Soho House. The movie theater takes the elegance of an old theater and technology of a modern theater. The theater includes leather lounge chairs and cashmere blankets inside the foot stool the theater also serves real food like hot wings and chili dogs.
Piccadilly Circus- the center of London is Piccadilly Circus. Regent Street (shopping) ends there as well as Shaftesbury Ave (theater) and Piccadilly road.
Big Ben- this takes no explanation but fun fact big ben is not referring to the clock but instead the bell.
Buckingham Palace- again takes so no explanation. But notable that it only opens rooms for a few months a year and has an exhibition every summer. Also, notable the changing of the guard happens every day in the summer, and they wear the red coats you think of but in the winter its every other day so check the schedule and they are in the long blue coats.
Tower Bridge- the iconic London bridge often referred to as “London Bridge” which is a different bridge that's just a cement bridge and is actually quite ugly. Tower Bridge is iconic in its drawbridge ability. The bridge has two structures the bottom is the road and top which was built as a structure is now open to the public and glass floor has been installed to so you can look over the cars and Thames. The exhibition also allows you to go into the mechanics room of how the bridge works.
Tower of London- Tower of London is an interesting aspect of London history not only does it includes the history of London but also the crown jewles. All the guards wear a distinctive uniform, and all are veterans from real service as well they live on site.
St. Paul's Cathedral- a central part of the London skyline the cathedral includes a large dome you can climb and get some great views. (it is a long hard climb)
Wimbledon- located just 45 minutes outside the city by tube most of the year it is just a quiet suburb, but two weeks a year it lights up with the excitement of Wimbledon championships. The tournament is one of if not the most famous tennis tournaments around. Tickets sell out upon release, and it has to be on your radar but you can always que for which they keep a reserve of center court tickets and grounds tickets for people who que. Queuing takes an average of three hours but is its own experience.
Camden Lock Market- Camden Lock is north of London and an edgy part of the city. The market has all sort of stands from cheesy pot paraphernalia and London shirts to artisan products.
Spitalfields Market- on the east side of London Shoreditch was once a run down sketchy area now it's a trendy spot with lots of artists and she amazing street art. Spitalfields is the center of the Shoreditch with that unique cool vibe the area has.
Borough Market- Borough Market includes every food stand known to man and is a foodies paradise. Located on the south bank near Tower Bridge and the Shard.
Duke of York Square Market- the market is pretty small and only takes place on Saturdays but it's a favorite of mine maybe because it's close to where I live and I like King street, but it has great food like fresh donuts, empanadas, and much more.
Portobello Road market- maybe the most known of all the markets, featured in Notting Hill and has been around for 100 plus years. The market takes place every Saturday and is a massive stretch for miles on Notting Hill's center street portobello road. The market was initially known for silver and British antiques now it's more of tourist spot (all the silver has portobello road stamped on it). The truth is if you want to check it out do it any other day of the week besides Saturday because it is a scene on Saturdays and most places are open every day of the week.