Bring half British London has been another city I’ve been familiar enough with. I moved to the UK when I was 18 so I would bring friends around to show them the sights when they came over to visit me. Since I know my time in Ireland and Europe is coming to an end I’ve found I have this new lens I see the world through and it can be like seeing somewhere for the first time. I’ve started seeing Dublin differently and thought I’d try and see London again as if I was a tourist. My Nan really wanted to see Wicked so before Christmas we booked tickets and flights to London. Nan is from Middlesex, UK which is now part of Surrey and like me felt that she was so close to London she hadn’t really seen any of the main sights and she wanted to see what London had to offer. We approached it differently based on this and I’m glad we did.
We booked an apartment on booking.com out in Chelsea. The apartment was absolutely stunning and our host was an incredibly kind woman, 100% would recommend her apartment to a friend (link here). It was about a 10-15 min walk from the tube, which handily enough was on the Piccadilly line so we came direct from Heathrow Airport. We got an Uber from the tube to the apartment which cost about £7 so we did that. After a quick nap we headed off to dinner. I had booked us dinner at Darwin Brasserie at the Skygarden. The Skygarden has views over London and we got there for around 4pm for a 4.30pm booking and this was perfect as it gave us time to look out and enjoy the view then quickly sit down. Without a restaurant booking the queue was rather long so I was very glad we did. At least until dinner itself was served. Nans was cold and mine was very only OK and considering the prices we expected a lot more. My cocktail alone was £15 so bear that in mind. To be honest we both said in hindsight we’d have been happier in the bar area below enjoying a cup of tea or a drink. I had wanted something fancy before the theatre which it was, but we’d both rather have been happier with some pub grub in the end.
Wicked was, well Wicked! When in London eh?! If you’ve never seen it, well you need to. It’s the best live performance I’ve ever seen, bar maybe the same show but in New York. I’ve seen it twice now. We were at the Apollo Theatre Victoria which let me tell you, looks a lot fancier on the tele than in person. The show was great though, the merch was ridiculously expensive but overall a lovely evening.
The following day we figured we wanted to see some of London’s sights, including Big Ben, Oxford Street, and my Nan wanted a look at Camden and the leather jackets. We got the Hop on Hop off Bus ticket which honestly we did not utilise properly at all. Ended up spending most of our time in the shops on Oxford and Regent Street. Included in our tickets though was a cruise on the Thames, which left from Westminster and landed us up near London Bridge. This was my Nans highlight of the trip. To be honest, we both realised as we went around we had done most of London’s highlights, including London Bridge and the Tower of London. We were both tired and by dinner time (tea time if you’re British) out of sheer desperation, and we mean desperation we ended up in a Pizza Express. Avoid at all costs.
Our last day in London we were determined to get to Camden and have a nose around the shops. If you’re into designed bags, or fake ones that is, this is the place to be. Also if you’re into anything hippy related (be it clothes or weed), nerdy stuff or looking for a £5 band t-shirt. The markets have handmade jewellery, arts and crafts, vintage clothes, and basically anything alternative. Also the leather jackets and boots are to die for and start from around £120 but haggle my friends, haggle. My friends and I have visited and partied in Camden since our late teens and the place is pretty much the same. If you’re here strongly recommend the Oxford Arms, their pizza and chips were cheap enough and the best meal we had the whole weekend. Poppies Chip place is across the road but the queue was massive. If you’ve not had English chipper chips this is a good spot to get them from if you’re willing to wait. Do not leave England without trying them.
So in short we didn’t get to see many spots but I’ve popped my London Google Maps list here and next time there’s a restaurant I’m dying to try: Jacuzzi. They open their bookings a month in advance and I’ll 100% be doing that next time. If you’re into the Afternoon Tea thing some places that have come highly recommended include: Corinthia London, but know its around £70-£80 and Greggs is probably tastier! If you’ve never been to Greggs you cannot leave without trying the sausage rolls. There’s literally songs about them. If you’re set on a quintessentially English Afternoon tea but without the price tag maybe explore the likes of pigsback.com and try and find some afternoon tea deals. Always check T&C and book dates before flights if you can coz generally these deals tend to have day restrictions on them etc. The same goes for hotels and any activity deals.
For fancy magical cocktails check out: The Alchemist St Martins Lane or Avora London for a cocktail adventure!! Cocktails are nice n all but make sure to check out some standard British pubs too, for the atmosphere and more reasonably priced drinks!
Get an Oyster card and top it up or tap on and off with your card, phone, watch. The Tube is very handy but make sure to leave extra time for getting back to the airport in case of delays. The tube system in London is huge and complicated, use your google maps and load up your journey before going down underground as there is little signal and no wifi. This underground system is very old, lifts are not available at over 90% of stations and there’s a lot of stairs. Carry water and a fan in the summer as there is no air con and it can get HOT. I believe there’s an app for the London Underground you can download but I didn’t use this so can’t vouch for this.
If you’ve time for a day trip I can strongly recommend the Downton Abbey one, which is really called ‘Highclere Castle’ by the way. There’s one on Viator but it may be cheaper to rent a car and drive up but make sure to book a ticket in advance. We did the Christmas trip with afternoon tea for about £100 each and it was very much worth it. It’s worth noting though that the castle is owned by a family who live there, part time anyways and theres no photos allowed inside. The Cotswold and Oxford are other places I’d love to see and a day trip from London would probably be much handier than trying to get there myself. Stonehenge is also there, but I wouldn’t be rushing to see it.
If you’re looking for a taxi DO NOT get a black cab, the traditional classic London taxis. They charge an absolute fortune. Stick to Uber or Bolt for getting around if the public transport doesn’t work for you.
Some of my favourite spots/things I’m still dying to do:
- Camden Town
- Harry Potter Studios
- Big Ben (ye have to) head here for the best photo !
- The London Eye (it goes so slow you wont’ feel it move don’t worry)
- The Globe Theatre (standing tickets available from £5)
- A Jack the Ripper night time tour (if you’re a bit dark like me)
- Buckingham Palace (try go for the changing of the guard)
- Climb the roof at the O2 arena! ( really wanna do this)
- English pubs!
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