London has always been one of my favorite cities in the world and after my most recent trip, I'm left to wonder why I don't visit more often. Honestly, I need to make London a yearly stopover, at the very least! As you might remember, I had the amazing opportunity to tour Northern UK last year with HonestlyYUM and Visit Britain. This year, the journey continued with the Southeast region of England, which consisted of a bit of city exploration in London and country relaxation in Bath and The Cotswolds. I will say, after the second part of our United Kingdom adventure, I have truly fallen even deeper in love with this part of the world. You'll see why . . .
The second I stepped foot into The Ned, I was immediately assured that our time here was the perfect way to jumpstart our week long UK adventure. Restoring and rebuilding the derelict Midland Bank, designed by Sir Edwin "Ned" Lutyens in 1924, has been the latest and largest undertaking by hotel pioneer Soho House and New York's Sydell Group. Nearly everything that made this building so special has been preserved and used as the foundation for its design, including the 92 African verdite colums, extensive walnut paneled counters, and 3,000 stainless-steel safe-deposit boxes. Velvet fabrics, handpainted wallpaper, vintage-inspired lighting, brass and mahogany furniture and hand knotted rugs channels the 1920s - a respectful nod to its predecessor. The massive 320,000 square foot hotel boasts 250 guest rooms, each one uniquely different, as well as 10 restaurants (yes, 10!), a members club with pools, a gym, salon, spa and rooftop lounges - and yet, despite its size, can feel totally intimate and a welcome, lively respite from the hubbub of Central London. Tip: to gain access to the members-exclusive parts of the hotel, like the Vault Bar or rooftop lounges, you'll need to book a "large" room or larger.
On our very last night in London, after returning from Bath and The Cotswolds (more on that later this week!), we had the pleasure of spending the night at one of Soho House's other properties: Dean Street Townhouse. Situated in the heart of Soho, this 39-bedroom Georgian townhouse is undoubtedly cozier and more intimate than its sister property, The Ned. I appreciated the modern and wonderfully quirky country house vibes, especially after returning from our blissful countryside adventures. Also, the location is hard to beat - with just 24 hours left in London, it was a certainly a treat having all of my favorite shops and restaurants conveniently located nearby. Tip: Don't miss the restaurant next door for a killer breakfast and late night drinks!
Let's be honest. 72 hours is not nearly enough time to take advantage of all the incredible shopping in London. It hardly scratches the surface! But in the very little time we had, I managed to hit up a couple of my favorites in Soho and Covent Garden, as well as a few new discoveries. Truthfully, you can't go wrong exploring by foot and stumbling into any charming boutique - especially with storefronts as charming and attractive as those in London.
WHERE TO SHOP:
- Liberty of London: This iconic department store, which has been in business since 1875, is one of my favorite shopping destinations of all time. If you love Liberty fabrics, you won't want to miss the haberdashery on 3rd floor, where you'll find all kinds of amazing Liberty goods like fabrics, notions, and tassels.
- The Shop at Bluebird: This gorgeous, contemporary women's boutique spans three floors and carries designers such as Ganni, Isa Arfen, Mira Mikati, Rixo, Isabel Marant and more!
- Petersham Nurseries: This Covent Garden destination has a curated selection of everything you need for your garden and home, including plants, antique furniture, one-of-a-kind pieces and artisanal objects. If you have time, grab lunch at the stunning café.
- Dover Street Market: Visiting the original Dover Street Market in Mayfair will feed you with so much inspiration. Even if most of the high-end designer wares might be out of most our price ranges, it's so worth a visit.
- Neal's Yard Remedies: Stock up on all your organic beauty haul at Neal's Yard Remedies, which is tucked away in the most magical and colorful little courtyard in Covent Garden. Don't miss the Neal's Yard's Dairy shop as well!
- VV Rouleaux: This is a DIY lover's dream. Ribbons, trimmings, tassels, patches, feathers and faux flowers - everything you inspire your next project is right here.
- Atika: This two story warehouse in East London is a one stop shop for vintage fashion and housewares.
- Old Spitalfields Market: Don't miss the vintage and antiques market at Spitafields on Thursdays.
It should go without saying that the food in London is impressive and exciting - and goes far beyond just fish and chips and bangers and mash. Not to mention, the restaurant scene is practically a playground for design lovers. From raw seafood pub fare and from afternoon tea to Indian cuisine, it's impossible to have a bad meal in London. Be sure to head over to HonestlyYUM to check out more from some of our favorite dining experiences!
WHERE TO EAT:
- Neptune London: Neptune is a modern seafood-focused restaurant in the newly opened Principal Hotel overlooking Russell Square. Get the seafood platter and enjoy a cocktail under a pink and peach sea . . .
- The Ivy, Chelsea Garden: This modern British brasserie is a uniquely London institution that is a visual and mouth watering treat. I recommend the Shepard's Pie!
- Sketch London: Sketch is quite possibly one of the most beautiful and Instagrammable restaurants in London, in all it's pretty pink glory. The afternoon tea is not to be missed - with caviar and champagne service! Also, you won't want to miss a trip to the bathroom . . .
- Dishoom Shoreditch: You can't visit London without experience Indian cuisine. There are just too many incredible places to choose from. We had the pleasure of dining at Dishoom in Shoreditch, which serves delicious Bombay-inspired food. The cocktails are incredible as well!
- Hoppers Soho: People queue up at this Sri Lankan restaurant for it's Sri Lankan-inspired curries, dosas and popular egg hoppers.
- Kaffeine: There are plenty of quality coffee houses in London - this one is inspired by the coffee culture in Australia and New Zealand.
You can't visit London without carving out some time to visit any of the city's many amazing museums. Not only are they mostly free, you're almost always guaranteed to catch a quality, traveling exhibition. I personally like to map out a couple of museums, shops and restaurants in Google maps and spend the day on foot. It's the best way to explore any city, especially one as interesting and diverse as London.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
- Tate Britain
- Tate Modern
- V & A Museum
- Natural History Museum
- The British Museum
- The National Gallery
- Gagosian Gallery
- Maddox Art Gallery
- Phillips de Pury
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace
- Stroll down The Mall
- Exploring Kew Gardens
- Photograph the pastel houses along Portobello Road
- Check out the street art in Shoreditch
- Talk a walk down picturesque St Luke’s Mews
- Escape the noise of the city at St. Dunstan in the East