London is hands down my favorite city (so far). I love the atmosphere of big cities and London just has that vibe that I can never grow tired of. For someone who easily gets bored, there are lots of things to see, do, and eat (!) in London and I love that there is something for everyone – no matter your budget or preferences. I love the many cultures that co-exist side by side and I love the diversity – you’ll never feel weird or out of place in London, that’s for sure. I even contemplated moving there for a few months while writing my master’s thesis but life got in the way, unfortunately. Although, who knows what the future holds? Maybe one day I’ll be able to extend my stay for a few months 😉
This past weekend, it was time for me to go back for my 6:th visit since 2010 (I’ve been there once a year since and I don’t plan on breaking this tradition), only this time I had my mom and my sister with me (as well as our partners). Neither of them have been in London before and so I was in charge of planning what we should see, do and eat during our two day visit, which, by the way, is way too short of a stay. We were celebrating my mom’s 55:th birthday and she had long been wanting to visit London. Needless to say, she did not return dissappointed. I had to make sure we saw all the must-see attractions in the city, while we still needed time to shop, relax, and enjoy the city with no stress. Not an easy task in such a big city, so I narrowed it down to a few musts. This is what we did on our short weekend in London:
Must #1: Afternoon Tea
For someone who’s never been to England, afternoon tea is a must in my opinion in order to get a glimpse of traditional English culture – especially when we’re dealing with mothers. Our flight on Friday was a bit delayed and we already had a tight schedule so we didn’t make it to our hotel to check in first. Instead, we headed straight to our afternoon tea appointment at the Milestone Hotel, a boutique hotel in Kensington. I’ve never been to the Milestone Hotel but oh boy, was I impressed by their staff. The smiling and chatty porter welcomed us and took care of our bags, while the concierge took our coats. We were shown into the little salon with old-fashioned interior, fresh, pink roses, and an open fire. We ordered (vegetarian afternoon tea for me and Jacob, and traditional for mom) and soon a three-tier cake stand was served with delicious sandwiches and cakes. The scones were, hand on my heart, to die for: warm, perfectly crispy on the outside and dreamlike soft on the inside. It’s not the cheapest afternoon tea you’ll find in London, but I can assure you that the scones alone were worth the pricetag of £40 per person.
Must #2: Sightseeing
My mom’s not into museums and quite frankly we didn’t have time to visit them either. So on Saturday morning we took bus 453, drove past Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square and hopped off just by Westminster Abbey. We walked down to Big Ben and walked over the bridge to London Eye. I’ve been on the London Eye once and while the views are great, I didn’t think it was worth it, although the others in our party did consider to go for a ride. However, my mom’s fear of height but a stop to that 😉 It had started to get quite cold as we stood on the bridge, looking out on the Thames, so we took the Underground to Tower Hill, where we enjoyed a walk around the London Tower and over the Tower Bridge, with hot beverages at hand to warm us as it only got more chilly. On Sunday we took the bus down to Green Park and visited Buckingham Palace. We only realized it was Changing of the Guards once we got there, but had no time to stay and watch so we headed back to shopping after our visit. Of course, I would have loved to show mom Harrod’s and go for a walk in Hyde Park as well, but we didn’t have time.
Must #3: The View from Hilton Park Lane/Galvin At Windows
As I mentioned, my mom didn’t want to go on the London Eye and I suggested we visit Galvin at Windows for some amazing views of London as well as delicious drinks. Last time we were in London we stayed in this hotel and completely fell in love with it. There’s just no beating the view from here. We arrived early, around 19:30 and were lucky enough to get the last table for five. We grabbed a couple of drinks, enjoyed the view, and then headed to our dinner reservation in Covent Garden. Drinks aren’t exactly cheap here, but on the other hand you do get a magnificent view whether you’re here during daytime or nighttime.
Must #4: Delicious food
It’s no surprise to anyone that I absolutely love good food and I know that all restaurants in London aren’t great. Bad food can really ruin a trip for me (as it has before in London), so I had made reservations beforehand. On Friday, we went to my favorite Indian place Masala Zone in Soho. I really love, love, love their food and always eat here when I’m in London. On Saturday we were thinking about going for burgers at Patty & Bun, but it was jam-packed with people and we’d have to wait for a while for a table, so we went across the street for burgers instead. On Saturday, I had reserved a table at Italian restaurant Clos Maggiore, said to be one of the most romantic restaurants in London. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a table in the beyond beautiful Conservatory, but we did get a table in the restaurant, which has an open fire and is quite romantic as well. I had the truffle pasta and it was one of the best ones I’ve ever had, with freshly grated truffles on top. On Sunday Jacob and I ate lunch by ourselves at Tommi’s Burger Joint (which also has a restaurant in Copenhagen) – delicious as always.
Must #5: Shopping
Because we didn’t have much time, we decided to stay around Oxford Street for all our shopping. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything I liked but I did drool at the dresses from House of CB on the -2 floor of Topshop. Mom and my sister went wild at Primark, while I looked at way too expensive stuff I’ll never buy at Selfridges. I was looking for a nice pair of good quality vegan boots (non-leather) but couldn’t find a single pair I liked. So I only went home with a top extra in my suitcase, but I’ll make up for that on my New York trip next month…