Across The Pond: Things To Do In London Town

In case you missed it, I spent a wonderful week in London exploring all of the city's best restaurants with VisitBritain. (And if you’re looking for London restaurant recommendations, click here!)

But, as usual, I had to do something between meals, so I put on my sightseeing shoes and set off to explore good old London town. Some of these activities are super touristy, but essential if you, like me, are visiting for the first time! I also recommended a few of London’s finest hotels, and wrote a little bit about the absolute best flight of my life…

What are ya waiting for?! Read on!

London Activities:

1. Buckingham Palace – Perhaps the most iconic attraction in London, and the home of the royal family. You can’t try and make the guards laugh anymore (they’re positioned behind the gate now), but maybe, just maybe, you’ll snag a glimpse of the Queen herself!

2. Notting Hill – Whether you’re on a quest to find Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, or if you just want cute photos in front of the adorably colored houses, this neighborhood is worth checking out! Lots of cute shops and cafes, too.

3. Hyde Park – It’s like Central Park, but cleaner! Nicer! More beautiful! And if you time it right, you can see the Royal Guard passing by on horseback after the changing of the guard.

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4. London Bridge – It’s not falling down, in fact, it’s in perfectly good condition! We walked across this bridge purely so we could sing nursery rhymes and Fergie songs on our way to Borough Market…

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5. Borough Market – One of the most famous food markets in the world! Especially great to visit on a weekend morning. I sampled lots of tasty treats, and ate a delicious hot cross bun (one a penny, two a penny) with citrus, cardamom, and raisins.

6. Westminster Abbey – One of the world's greatest churches! This site is also where Prince William and Kate got married.

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7. Big Ben – Maybe skip this tourist attraction for a few years… much to my disappointment, I discovered that Peter Pan's famous clock tower is currently under renovation.

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8. London Eye – A newer but now iconic part of the London landscape! And this Ferris wheel, although expensive, has the best view of the city.

9. The Globe – I’m not even a huge Shakespeare fan, but it was pretty moving to see the most famous theater in the world with my own eyes. So much theater history here!

10. Shoreditch – Commonly called the “Brooklyn” of London, this neighborhood is the most hipster part of town. Super cute cafes, markets, restaurants, boutiques, trendy graffiti walls, and loads of bars.

11. Harry Potter Studio Tour – If you’re a Harry Potter fan, GET YOUR TICKETS ASAP! This tour sells out months in advance, but it was by far my favorite activity in London. You get to tour the real Harry Potter movie sets, see the costumes, fly on a broomstick (!!!), and gorge yourselves on butterbeer AND butterbeer ice cream. DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

12. Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station – If you’re a reallll HP nerd (or if you can’t get tickets to the studio tour) you’ll also want to head to King’s Cross Station to see the "real" Platform 9 ¾ at the train station!

13. See a Show on the West End – The Broadway of London (except the tickets are a lot more affordable)! While in town, we saw the new musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” a fun show about a teenage boy who wants to be a drag queen. With so much talent on the West End, it's a great way to spend a night out in the city.

Hotels:

1. Covent Garden Hotel – I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more at home at a hotel. Why, you ask? Because this hotel room was big enough to be a home!! Situated in the Covent Garden neighborhood, this five-star hotel is one of the illustrious Firmdale Hotels designed by Kit Kemp. The penthouse suite felt simultaneously homey and luxurious, and was complete with gorgeous floral décor, my own library, an enormous bathroom with a giant bathtub, and a private balcony overlooking the city. To say it was hard to leave is a severe understatement…

2. Ham Yard Hotel – Have you ever stayed in a hotel with a bowling alley? How about one with a private movie theater? A basement “dive bar”? And a gorgeous rooftop terrace with string lights, cozy couches, and handcrafted cocktails?! YUP, the Ham Yard Hotel has it all. This five-star hotel, also from the Firmdale Hotels brand, is officially cooler than the White House. It’s located right in the heart of Soho, (but off of a gorgeous courtyard so it’s not too noisy). The Ham Yard also has a fantastic restaurant in their lobby – dinner was great, but getting pancakes and bacon delivered straight to my bed the next morning was even better.

3. One Aldwych – I had the pleasure of staying in another stunning five-star hotel in a different part of town – the Theater district! My stay at the One Aldwych was exceptional right from the start – they immediately took our bags and ushered us into the lounge for coffee. Our suite had a sweeping view of the Thames river (what a sunset!) and as we gazed out over the town we nibbled on the macarons they sent as welcoming treats. Such hospitality! Also, the Darjeeling-scented bath salts provided much-needed rejuvenation after an exhausting week of travel. Oh, and did I mention they have a restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa in the hotel?!

4. Amba Hotel Marble Arch – We trotted off to explore yet another part of town and stayed at the lovely Amba Hotel Marble Arch! The Easter Bunny must love this hotel, too – he managed to deliver chocolate bunnies and other desserts to us via room service! Best Easter ever! In other important food news, their breakfast buffet was litttttt (special shout out to those tater tots!!).

Airlines:

1. British Airways – This flight changed my life. VisitBritain absolutely spoiled us on our trip to London by partnering with BA for the most luxurious flight I’ve ever experienced. Flying in Club World, we had pod chairs that folded out into a completely flat bed (with silky soft linens from The White Company), and incredible food – multi-course meals on tablecloths with real silverware paired with incredible wines. I actually slept most of my 10 hour flight from LA to Heathrow (unheard of!) and only got up when my flight attendant woke me up with chocolate pancakes and coffee for breakfast. (What jet lag?!) I honestly didn’t want to get off the plane!

Following along on Instagram? See more from the trip at #CarnivorrTravel.