“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson
I don’t even know where to start with this city, which leads me to believe that there will be several spinoffs on this topic.
There is no place in the world that I love more than London. It was my home for a short two years and in that time it consumed me. In such a big city, I have never felt more at home and my soul never more at peace. If a city could be your soul mate, London is mine.
There are a few misconceptions that I would like to clear up for starters:
- the weather really isn’t that bad there, the English just LOVE to complain about the weather
- aside from rent/property, London isn’t that expensive. An average grocery shop in Toronto I find to be slightly more pricey than in London. The key is getting out of the touristy areas
- the general public are quite friendly and welcoming, especially the expat community (which is most of London)
- their local specialities aren’t that bad. I was once tricked into eating blood pudding without realizing and before I was told what it actually was I didn’t mind it
- there is logic to driving on the opposite side of the road (although I never got used to it)
Now that that is settled, lets move on to the fun stuff!
If you had 72 hours in London, what would I do with you? It’s easy to spend the first day seeing the main sights; Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, Parliament, Southbank, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden. (If you start at Buckingham Palace this is the perfect walk for day 1 in this exact order, map it out! It was my go to when people came to visit). Finishing up the trip in Covent Garden is perfect as there is a spot of shopping and hundreds of great places to eat a drink. One of my favourite places to take people is Adventure Bar. They have some crazy drinks including one that comes with crickets as a garnish and all kinds of fun things. It is a bit pricey, but the quality is great.
For day two I would probably suggest getting to Camden Market for the late morning and puttering around to see some of the amazing things there. My favourite way to get to the market is starting in “Little Venice” and walking along the river until you are in Camden. If you are short on time, there is a tube stop called “Camden Town” that takes you right there. This is also where I would grab a lunch (the Mexican here is AMAZING) and get it to go heading to Primrose Hill to enjoy the views (weather pending). I would also like to note here that in some of the bigger chain grocery shops you can get glasses of wine (yes, individual plastic wine glasses) to go, that are perfect for picnics. They are on the shelves beside the wine bottles and the tops of the glasses are sealed with foil like a yogurt. Brilliant. From here, heading a bit more central we would pop up at Tower Hill and take a look at The Tower of London and Tower Bridge for some sightseeing. Then head over the St. Katherine Docks area before walking over Tower Bridge to the Shard for drinks at either Aqua Shard or Oblix. The Shard is the tallest building in London and is all glass which comes with some GREAT views. They have a viewing platform that costs about £30 to enter but I suggest to head to one of the bars with that £30, grab a seat and split a bottle of wine with a friend for the same price. If you are keen to head out for the night I do recommend Mahiki. It’s not too far from where you will be and it is quite the hot spot. Just note, they do have a dress code and it always has a line so get there early if you are interested.
I am a bit conflicted as to what to do with you for day three so I will give you a few options…
Hipster Central – Head East! There are some amazing markets in London. Head to Borough Market for brunch (you will need the lye in from the night before). It is the most amazing and delicious food market. My suggestion here is to budget £20 a person for you and your travel companion(s) and just go around and buy everything and split it all, that is the best bang for your buck! Then head further East to Old Spitalfields Market. They have some amazing things here so I hope you saved your money. From clothing to hats to jewellery to more snacks. You are set for the afternoon. From here I would send you to Aldgate Station a for FREE Jack the Ripper Walk at 7:00. Its about an hour and they ask that you donate what you feel it was worth at the end. Not too shabby! Assuming you are as hungry as I always am, I will send you to Brick Lane for dinner. Brick Lane is literally a street with a zillion Indian restaurants where you barter the cost of dinner outside with the host before you head in to eat. You can usually get your apps thrown in and a bottle of wine for the table for FREE if your good, don’t settle for less! There are quite a few bars in this area if you are still interested in staying out. I have been to The Big Chill Bar a few times, its’s worth looking into.
English Elegance – For a day of pure English Elegance here are some ideas. Head to Hyde Park for lovely little wander. Depending on the weather I LOVE to rent out a rowboat and spend some time on the water with the swans. Once we are finished here I would head to Harrods for a spot of shopping. Try not to get too lost along the way! There are soo many amazing things to see in here, it is basically the fanciest department store ever and they have everything! Literally. Afternoon Tea is a necessity. Some of the best spots for it is the Langham Hotel, The Ritz, Aqua Shard and the Savoy. Basically all the high end hotels do it spectacularly. After tea I would suggest a stop at some of the palaces or grand houses for a look around including; Kensington Palace, Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace. From here perhaps pause and change for dinner and here are a few suggestions for that…
- Bob Bob Ricard – for an overall amazing experience AND the whole restaurant is booths! Oh, and there is a “Press for Champagne” button in every booth… NBD.
- The Savoy Grill – I suggest this because Chef Ramsay has created the entire menu here and has put a French twist on the English favourites including Beef Wellington. Now, I don’t eat meat anymore BUT if I were to eat Beef Wellington anywhere in the world it would be at the Savoy headed by Chief Ramsay. It’s made to share and for £80 for the two dinners it’s not too bad of a deal.
- The Gate – because I am now a pescetarian (non meat eater but fish eater) I will send you to my Last Supper. The last place I ate, on my last night in London was this wonderful vegetarian restaurant. I went with some avid meat eaters who enjoyed themselves so much they almost became vegetarians! It is very small so I do recommend that you make reservations. It is also located in an odd place, I believe above a school or something? So you are not in the wrong place, you just need to creep beside the building and go up a flight of stairs. You won’t get murdered. I promise.
Shop the day away – So you figure that you have seen the main sights and you know that London has amazing shopping so lets call a spade a spade and head to the shops shall we? Selfridges. Need I say more? It has it all. Harrods, amazing for anyone to see. It is actually a work of art and has a huge range of product in it as well as a spectacular grocery store (where the stars shop for food) and some affordable restaurants including a Godiva Chocolate Cafe. Delicious. Next to it is Harvey Nichols which is comparable to a Saks Fifth Avenue and has a great rooftop bar which is a great place to stop for a drink and people watch. Oxford Street in general is a great place to start. It has all the big stores like Topshop, H&M, PRIMARK (my favourite store ugh!), Miss. Selfridges, M&S, Coast, Dorothy Perkins (where you can find the Kardashian Kollection), Mango, Forever 21, New Look, Next, River Island and the first HMV (His Majesty’s Voice) to name a few. Another great department store is Liberty located just off Carnaby Street, also known for shopping. I found myself wandering around there a lot but have never purchased anything for no particular reason really. But it is a wonderful place to wander. If you are looking for something a bit more high end Bond Street is the place, it has everything that matters.
**PLEASE NOTE TO DOUBLE CHECK TIMES FOR ALL SHOPS, MARKETS AND ATTRACTIONS! They all have hours that are different depending on the day of the week and I would hate for you to miss something.
As you can see there is soo much to do and see in London that I couldn’t even properly break it down into 3 solid days and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. So stay tuned for more on London ❤