Often you take your home city for granted a little.
Sure it has its cool bits, but it’s just the regular, the norm and the un-exciting.
Well last year, I made a little pact with myself to really get to know London.
Both as a ‘local’ and a tourist.
I wanted to REALLY be able to recommend the good bits whenever one of you guys asked me on YouTube or Instagram.
Just like when you ask for a recommendation about a city I’ve visited around the world.
I wanted to have the same perspective on London.
And so, after many days of ‘research’ (read, trying out different coffee and cake shops), I now present to you…
The ULTIMATE guide to London.
Okay, okay – so maybe ultimate is slightly clickbait.
But PRETTY good guide to London doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
SEE & DO
London is world famous for its West End Theatre District and so if you’re visiting, I’d definitely recommend trying to see a show while you’re here. It’s usually cheaper to book tickets online and I highly recommend a website called From The Box Office (you can book tickets here), as they have a super helpful customer service department and they’re really transparent about the seating, pricing and have a whole section of reviews for each show so you can pick the best one for you and your travel companions. We recently saw Aladdin and loved it (the flying carpet scene almost made me burst into tears it was so INCREDIBLE), however the Lion King is also amazing!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan like me, then London is going to be a REAL treat for you, because there are tonnes of secret and non-so-secret witch and wizarding activities to try in the capital. Of course the Potter hub is at Watford Warner Bros Studio Tour, which is located in Watford (just outside of London), which I’d recommend reserving a whole day for. It really is fabulous, I’ve been seven times. I’m slightly embarrassed. But mostly not. But you can read more about that (and see pics) here. However if you DON’T have a whole day to spend, there are plenty of magical things to see and do within London itself. Of course you have the Harry Potter & The Cursed Child theatre show. Of which I still haven’t seen yet. Please take me!
You have guided Harry Potter tours, showing off some of the inspiration behind the movie magic and some of the real life movie locations. And then you have the REALLY hidden gems, like the House of MinaLima on Greek Street in Soho. We stumbled upon this place by accident and were greeted with a treasure trove of real Harry Potter artwork. The store is owned by graphic designer duo Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina who worked on all eight Harry Potter films. There are four levels of incredible limited edition pieces inspired by and taken directly from the films to buy or browse. If you chat to one of the very friendly shop assistants, they’ll also reveal some secrets and stories behind the artwork too. Our quick visit turned out to be a rather expensive one, as we left with a newly purchased limited edition run print of the Quibbler cover, as seen in the films. I’m so excited to add a bit of magic into our home, as the films were (and are) such a big part of my life.
London can be quite fast paced, so if you want to escape the hustle and bustle for a spot of pampering, then I’d recommend popping into one of the many London Spas. For the best pedicure, manicures and waxing in town, head to my favourite place just off Oxford St called Townhouse. It’s not only the most gorgeous place in town (think marble, neon lights, plush velvet sofas and bubbly on arrival) but they even have a nailfie booth, so you can show off your new nails in their very best light. Or for something a bit different, you could try a more futuristic therapy like floatation tank sessions. I haven’t tried it yet, but apparently it’s amazing!
As with any capital city, there are an abundance of options to choose from in London, which means you don’t want to waste any of your culinary experiences on something mediocre. I’d recommend trying an afternoon tea while you’re here (because it’s SOO british, didn’t you know – ahem, even though I’d never heard of afternoon tea until I was about 14) and there are a plethora of options to choose from. If you’re vegan or dairy-free, there is an amazing afternoon tea at The Sanderson, another at Egerton House and also at Taj51 Buckingham Gate (read my post here). If you want a real taste of luxury, I’d book up at The Ritz, a Palm-festooned, glass-ceilinged world famous venue famed for its rather extravagant afternoon tea. It’s not cheap, but it’s something you’ll never forget. It’s also pretty much bottomless, so the cakes just keep on coming (if you can manage it).
For a street food dining experience with friends, head to Paddington Pergola, where you can grab a table in a covered outdoor area, before taking your pick among a variety of different cuisine ‘hatches’ in the wall. I usually go for the guacamole and chips, because Mexican is my all time favourite. But they also do steak chips, steamed buns, cocktails and Japanese nibbles.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat that will also provide you with the perfect Instagram backdrop, then you’ll want to pop into Peggy Porschens for cake, Saint Aymes for a 24ct gold coffee, Dominque Ansel Bakery for a pastry and Eat By Chloe for a plant-based treat. I frequent at all of the above far too often, so if you do visit – you’ll probably see me there too!
And if you’re not quite sure what you want, but want to read more than my relatively short, succinct summaries, then head to this post for more in-depth reviews of my top four restaurants in London.
If you like your own space a little more, I’d recommend a room at The Hospital Club – which actually turns out to be more of an apartment. Each ‘apartment’ is totally different, so no stay is quite the same – with a mix of creative designers coming together to create a luxurious home away from home. You can read more about my stay here, but take my word for it – a visit will have you talking about it for weeks. Our stay was almost three years ago and we still recommend it to everyone who asks about hotels and accommodation offerings in London.
Hotel wise, I personally love the Amba Hotel Marble Arch, because it’s SO central and perfect if you’re looking to take advantage of the cities incredible shopping opportunities. But if you’re looking for something a little more out-of-this-world shall we say, then you can’t go wrong with a stay at The Shard. The Shangri-La hotel has harnessed the incredibly unique location (and height) of the building to create a tranquil yet powerful space that you never want to leave. You can read all about my stay here, but if I’m totally honest, words don’t do justice to how incredible it really is!
Do you have any recommendations for where to visit, stay or eat in London? If so, leave them below!