Complete Guide to London, England
Where to stay: The Hoxton, Holborn in London is one of my favorite hotels in London. Not only is it in a great location, but it’s affordable (always check Hotel Tonight for last minute deals) and has such a fun, young vibe. Their rooms are always different and quirky, they are a bit small in this location, but the beds are very comfortable and it has all of your necessities. It definitely appeals to the urban traveller and always seems to be busy no matter the hour of the night. The downstairs lobby area acts as both a workspace where you can have coffee, breakfast or even a full blown dinner and drinks. It’s always packed for a reason- it’s affordable, located in the heart of London, beautiful interior and great food/ drinks. If you stay in an Airbnb my favorite areas are- Mayfair, Marlylebone, Soho, Covent Garden.
Lunch: Yauatcha Soho has been one of my favorite spots in the world and has been since I started going there in 2014. It is some of the best dim sum I have ever had. They have such a great variety on their menu- soup dumplings, pork buns, shui mai, scallop dumplings, cheung fun.. I could go on and on. The ambiance is nice, it’s dark and modern and great for any occasion. I would come here at least once a week when I lived here. It is an absolute must- go alone, on a date, with friends whatever- just go! It’s in a great location in Soho, so you can walk all around after:)
Explore: Walk all around Soho (where Yautcha is) , Oxford Circus, Piccadilly, China Town, Carnaby Street and Bond Street. There is literally so much to see and do in London that it’s best to walk all around to see everything. I would clock in about 10 miles a day whenever I was there!
Dinner: Gymkhana is the best Indian food I have ever had. I think if you have been there, or know anyone that has- they would agree. It’s a Michelin star Indian restaurant located in Mayfair. The interior is dark and sexy, very old school with dark panelled walls and dark leather booths. Perfect for date night, or a celebration dinner. Definitely search for a reservation for ahead of when you plan on going- it’s almost impossible to get in there but so so worth it.
Drinks: Mr Fogg’s is a really cool speakeasy type bar also in Mayfair so you can walk there after Gymkhana. You have to have a reservation to get in or else you could be waiting all night. Reservations aren’t too hard you just need to call or book online a little bit ahead of time. The inside is decorated like an eclectic living room with different kinds of seating and ornaments on the wall. They also have great cocktails!
Brunch: Opso is another favorite of mine- it’s a great low key greek spot located in Marylebone. Go for lunch or dinner- it is pretty casual with all wood and glass interior. Every single dish is to die for- ceviche, lemon-oregano chicken, hummus & Pits and Catch of the day are always great. Oh and they have GREAT bagels- try and get a reservation if you can though.
Explore- Once you have explored all the above, and if it is your first time in London then you have to see some of the big attractions: Big Ben, Buckingham palace, Tower of London, London Eye. Here is a more complete list of best sights to see in London.
High Tea: You can find High Tea at a lot of places in London, but there are none quite as extravagant as Sketch. Most famous for it’s egg shaped bathrooms and all pink dining room- Sketch is a classic must see spot in London.
I have been many times for drinks (they have 3 different bars there so be sure to stop in) and after years of wanting to, I finally had high tea there. It is located in the back room that is all pink. With 4 courses of food- starting with an egg, then your 3 layer cake tower, crumpets and then finish off with a piece of cake. You get unlimited tea from an extensive list and great to sit there for however long you like. They also have a live violinist playing which adds to the lovely ambiance. While I think high tea is a must and Sketch was a great experience- it is a pricey one. Coming in at 80-90pounds a person depending if you get alcohol.
Dinner: Pachamama is a really great Peruvian restaurant with 2 locations (my favorite is Marylebone). Everything here is incredible- pork belly, sea bass ceviche, salmon ceviche, yellowfin tuna, duck and rice and grilled octopus are a must. The drinks are just ok in my opinion- but definitely good enough. It’s located down stairs in a dark atmosphere with the bar in the center. It can get a little loud so if you are thinking of having an intimate date- I wouldn’t suggest it. Great for casual dinner or before going out!
Drinks: To see an incredible view of London you have to go to Duck and Waffle at night. It’s located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the financial district. With floor to ceiling windows, you get great views of all of London. It has an open bar with great cocktails and a lovely staff. No reservation required.
Brunch: Either graze at all of the amazing markets* or go to Ivy Chelsea Garden. There are a couple Ivy locations and all are equally cute and “Instagram worthy”. The one in Chelsea specifically has beautiful decorations and great outside seating. Grab a cute typical brunch then walk around the Chelsea/ Kensington area.
Markets: Some of my favorite markets are: The Borough Market, Brick Lane Market, Portobello Market, and Covent Garden. Read more about the markets here. You will find tons of great food stalls here. You also have to stop off for a Ben’s cookie at some point in your day. They are the best cookies I have ever had- always warm and gooey.
Transport to either Gatwick or Heathrow airports: Most long flights will either land/ depart from Gatwick airport or Heathrow so I highly recommend taking the train to and from- it is WAY cheaper and faster. Taxis can be as much as 70 pounds. The Heathrow express is 22-25 pounds and takes you into Paddington station in central london in 15 minutes. The Gatwick Express is 25 pounds and take you into Victoria train station in central london in 30 minutes.
OTHER FOOD SPOTS I LOVE:
In the interest of keeping this post a little bit shorter, I will just list out some of my other favorite London restaurants below:
-Dinings (sushi), Park Chinoise (Chinese), Coya (Peruvian), Hakkasan (Chinese), Tokimato (Japanese), RAC(French-great for lunch) Roka (Japanese),Sumosan (Japanese), Novikov (japanese), China Tang(Chinese), Peyote (Mexican) Cecconis (Italian), Nandos (chicken- great for fast lunch), ahi poke (great poke bowls), The Bluebird (brunch in chelsea), Kurobuta (Sushi in Chelsea), La Bodega Negra (Mexican), Wahaca (mexican)