My Shortlist of London Faves
I’ve just returned from the most epic, whirlwind, and much-needed vacation. My journey took me to Paris, London, and Edinburgh—each with its own unique allure. After countless work-related trips to Europe (in my former life), I finally had the chance to be a full-fledged tourist with family, soaking in the eclectic mix of history and modernity that each city offers. Oh, and there's that time I practically collided with Elle Fanning in the middle of Soho, but I'll save that story for later.
Today, though, I'm shining the spotlight on London.
Sure, you're no stranger to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Harrod’s, etc—those landmarks that grace every traveler's checklist (and come with the inevitable crowds). Instead, I want to delve into my shortlist of longtime favorites and new discoveries of London's vibrant soul.
Off-the-beaten-path Retail Therapy
Who doesn't love a little shopping here and there? London has so many great shops and boutiques up its fashionable sleeve, offering retail alternatives that are anything but ordinary.
Coal Drops Yard: Step into this curious London enclave with a name as unique as its character, where cool storefronts lure you with an unexpected mix of indie makers and renowned brands. From A.P.C. to MHL, Earl of East to Wolf & Badger—this inspiring hub blends the rich history of King’s Cross with contemporary redevelopments. Relax in the ambiance of old-meets-new, as you wander through industrial-era architecture, lush green spaces, meandering canals, and cobblestone walkways. Coal Drops Yard Stable St, St. Pancras N1C 4DQ, Tube: King's Cross
Dover Street Market: Looking for something different? Imagine five floors of fashion that are so conceptual, they practically defy the laws of style physics. It’s like stepping into an ever-changing art gallery of avant-garde luxuries, streetwear, and those little extras that make us swoon. Immerse yourself where the truly fashion-forward gather, marching to the beat of own their own sartorial drum. Dover Street Market 18-22 Haymarket, West End SW1Y 4DG, Tube: Picadilly Circus
Marylebone High Street: Tired of Oxford Street and the typical shopping crowds? Sneak over to Marylebone High Street, a charming alternative that's all about affluent boutiques and stylish cafés. Toast, Claudie Pierlot, and Agnes B to name a few. Dotted with period architecture and inviting green spaces, this more secluded retail spot in central London provides the perfect break mid-shopping spree. Marylebone High Street between Marylebone Road in the north to Marylebone Lane in the south, Marylebone W1U 3QY, Tube: Baker St, Bond Street
Savoring London: A Culinary Journey
Alright, time to dish about the delectable side of London, because what's an adventure without some gourmet indulgence?
Eggbreak: Eggs, eggs, and more eggs! Who knew this humble ingredient could take center stage all day, every day? Tucked away in an intimate cottage setting in Notting Hill, Eggbreak is a must-visit for brunch aficionados. Try the 'Egg, Bacon, and Cheese Toasty'—a slice of savory and crispy heaven. Eggbreak 30 Uxbridge St, Kensington W8 7TA, Tube: Notting Hill Gate
The Windsor Castle (pub): This historic Kensington Chelsea pub, greets you with the allure of a bygone era. As you make your way past the rich wood paneled rooms to the inviting courtyard beer garden, the quintessential English pub experience unfolds—a step back in time to the timeless allure of British hospitality. The Windsor Castle 114 Campden Hill Road, Kensington, W8 7AR, Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Memories of India: Enjoy authentic Indian cuisine meticulously crafted with a dash of innovative creativity. This intimate and cozy setting is one of my favorite spots in Kensington. And the service is a treat in itself—impeccable, memorable, and attentive. Memories of India 18 Gloucester Rd, Kensington SW7 4RB, Tube: High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road
Quo Vadis: Indulge in the flavors of Britain’s seasonal bounty in a restaurant with a past as vibrant as its menu. Once a Soho brothel and home to Karl Marx, now a haunt for modern European fare and history buffs alike. Quo Vadis' colorful past and captivating cuisine make it an enchanting mainstay. Quo Vadis 26-29 Dean Street, Soho W1D 3LL, Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square
The Perfect Afternoon Tea: Artful Elegance at Sketch
Discover a unique and artistic take on the classic afternoon tea tradition at Sketch. Situated in the heart of Soho, Sketch elevates tea time to a multi-sensory journey. From delectable treats to visually captivating surroundings, every aspect is a work of art. Yet, there's more to unveil—prepare for the pièce de résistance. As you venture to the loo, you'll wander through an installation that’s a nod to mod, and it's even more Insta-worthy than your tiered tea stand. Let's just say, it's a WC experience not to miss. Sketch 9 Conduit St, Soho W1S 2XG, Tube: Picadilly Circus, Bond Street
Experience Affordable Luxury: Number Sixteen
When the day's adventures come to an end, there's no place I'd rather retreat to than Number Sixteen. With a touch of colorful sophistication in every corner, this haven is where classic British charm meets contemporary London flair. It's like being a houseguest of that effortlessly stylish friend we all have. But here's the best part—it's not just about luxury; it's about “affordable luxury”. Yes, you heard me right. I sleep better at night knowing that all this style and pampering is a little easier on the pocketbook. Let's be real though—this is London after all. I won't label Number Sixteen as the steal of the century, but a little thoughtful planning can land you an excellent value for this 5-star boutique hotel. I like to indulge every now and then but I'm all about traveling on a budget too. Number Sixteen 16 Sumner Place, South Kensington SW7 3EG, Tube: South Kensington
And let’s not forget…
My Packing List
So there you have it! My whirlwind escapade through London beckons curious souls to explore beyond the obvious. As you saunter through these offbeat corners, may you find joy in the discovery of these hidden gems. And hey, if you've got your own favorite London haunts, send me a message. Because in the world of travel, sharing is caring, and who knows—your secret spot might just be my next adventure!
Until next time, happy exploring!