When Brandon and I decided to spend a week in London we had no idea what to see or where to eat. We invested in the “London Pass” after having a great experience with the “Paris Pass” that gave us no-line and prepaid access to all the major tourist destinations. We were a little bit disappointed with the “London Pass” because we spent a fair bit of money on it but we still had to wait in lines, and there was a limited selection of museums (we felt, anyway).
Regardless, we wandered through London making our way through the different neighbourhoods, and taking in the old English architecture and Londoner culture. Sometimes we got extremely lost, walking for hours upon hours, until we found a place that captured our attention to investigate.
In light of this, I thought I would put together a list of our favourite attractions/restaurants so that you don’t have to spend so much time thinking about what to do while in London:
Place to Stay
Park Plaza London Riverbank
We loved this hotel! It was affordable, and very accessible. The Vauxhall tube station was right there, but even just stepping out of the front doors you could see Big Ben. There was a fancy looking restaurant and lounge within the hotel itself. We did not get a chance to eat there but it looked upscale and delicious. The room was spacious and clean and, best of all– they had North American outlets!! Staying in a hotel like this was a dream for us when we are used to the smaller, boutique hotels of Europe. If we travel back to London, we would definitely consider staying at this hotel again.
Places to See
It felt like we walked a longggggg time to get to Kensington Palace but the walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens was worth it for the simple English beauty of it all. The boats on the pond, people having picnics, huge floral blooms, and cyclists leisurely peddaling by, made for a very peaceful walk up to the currently inhabited Kensington Palace. I very much enjoyed the Palace itself, because of the Royal outfits they had on display and the history about Queen Victoria (who is one of the more interesting Royals, in my opinion). It was one of my favourite parts about our trip to London, and I would probably go again if given the chance.
Churchill War Rooms
This was not on our list of places to see when we went to London, but we stumbled upon the entrance while roaming the streets and thought we should take a peek. The Churchill War Rooms were a surprising favourite of our trip to London. The museum was laid out in a very interactive way, and we found the underground labyrinth of rooms very intriguing. I am not a huge fan of wartime history, but I really enjoyed the War Rooms and would recommend them for anyone travelling to London in the future.
Kind of creepy, and really historically significant. We couldn’t not go to Westminster Abbey, and we waited in line a long time to do it (even with the “London Pass”!). It was one of the more interesting churches I have been through because of all the Royalty that have been baptized, married and then buried within its walls. A London staple destination for any tourist!
Fortnum & Mason
Tea. Tea. Cute Picnic Baskets. More Tea. For a true taste of London’s finest tea, you must go to Fornum & Mason’s flagship store that has so much jam, chocolate and chopped up leaves, you are sure to find the perfect souvenirs for your relatives back home!
King’s Cross Station
Obviously, for Brandon and I, visiting the Harry Potter famous Kings Cross station was a must. If you are a kitschy HP fan, you must go have your picture taken and scour the Harry Potter themed store. Keep in mind, if you don’t want to pay for their professional photo of you entering platform 9 & 3/4, you can take your own (this is what we did). Also keep in mind, then they tell you to make it look like your running into the wall, they don’t mean jump on and almost break the set up (….ooops, my bad… I was overly excited).
A very, very famous luxury department store. Our excursion to Harrods turned out to be more of a people watching expidition. Our mouths gaped at the suitcases full of top-of the line luxury goods, while their tracksuit laden owners pranced around on their phones. It was pure craziness, but it was lovely to look at the beautiful pieces, and to get a taste of the London high fashion scene.
I am not a huge Pho person, but this little restaurant on the side of the Thames River really delivered. A little bit healthy, and completely outside of my comfort zone, Pho cafe was a refreshing change to our battered fish diet in London.
Big Easy Bar BQ & Lobstershack
Brandon and I love us some brisket and pulled pork so we scoped out this restaurant in Covent Garden. The ambience of this barbecue restaurant was very North American, so I felt right at home. Then they gave us bibs to wear and it was like they knew us! You can’t ask for more than great food and a comfy vibe, and Big Easy delivered!
If you are looking for a unique and very intagrammable place to have high tea, Sketch is the place. The plush pink chairs, ironic wall art, and giant egg-shaped bathroom pods made for a very intriguing experience. As a matter of fact, the food at Sketch is probably the best food I have ever been served at a tea service, and they kept refilling the plates with our chosen favourites. The customer service was excellent, and the staff offered to take our picture at different angles to ensure we got the best shot. Sketch is a really memorable place, and I would suggest going there I’d given the chance.
You must go! You need to make reservations in advance, and it is a bit of a splurge, but it was one of the most lavish dining experiences I have ever had. The decor was so opulent, I felt that I was having tea in a Palace! A true London experience that we chose to enjoy on our last day in London. As we wrapped up our meal, the pianist played Canadian singer, Michael Bublé’s, melodic song, “Home”, and it was the most perfect ending to our trip.