London Travel Guide

by @alifeiimagined
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Despite living in Dublin , virtually London’s doorstep, for the last three years, myself and London seemed to keep missing each other whenever I was planning my next trip.

I was doing my usual flight scouring routine for the August Bank Holiday weekend when I felt London calling to say that we were overdue a catch up. It’s strange to say but I didn’t know what to expect on my return to England’s vibrant capital. The warm memories of London, a regular jaunt during my college years, had become fuzzy recollections. We’d both changed so much since our last outing together. London used to be a staple city and symbol of Europe, but is now seemingly suffering an identity crisis while I’d been having new experiences and finding myself. Deciding to go was like preparing to meet an old fling – a sense of familiarity but not quite knowing what to expect and wondering if the rumours you heard were true.

London brushed aside any angsts by welcoming me with a warm embrace. I’d never travelled in to London before via London City Airport but I can say that the ease of getting in to city centre using the underground system is such an inexpensive and swift experience. Highly recommended. Within 30 minutes of landing I was checking in to my hotel at the Hilton and freshening up to reacquaint with what once was my playground.

The bustling streets and quiet nooks was a wonderful wander down memory lane, and just as there was so much of the familiar to reminisce over, there was the new to discover.

The quaint cobblestone paths around Convent Garden with its multiple artisan cafes, high street brands and boutique stores, along with the flood of colours contained within Neil’s Yard makes it an uplifting area to lose yourself in for several hours. And there was a moment when I was strolling around Westminster that I got to embrace everything that typified London with the traditional red phone booths and double decker buses while gazing up at the iconic Big Ben as his chimes echoed across the city, which I was grateful to hear before he was recently silenced for maintenance.

There’s a lot to do in London and you’ll never have enough time to do it all. I wanted to just immerse myself in the experience of the day to day but you might instead decide to catch a play, explore a museum or visit one of London’s many attractions, which are all worth doing, however, when time is limited, you have to be cutthroat.

Here are some highlights of my August trip that I think are worth sharing:

Highlights from A Girl Who Blooms' August Bank Holiday 2017 London Trip

Where I Stayed:

I stayed at the Hilton London Bankside, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable stay for a reasonable price for a 5-star hotel. The hotel is located approx. 5 minutes’ walk from the Southwark station, which is a direct line straight to London City Airport. The en suite wasn’t big but there was plenty of space because of how efficiently compartmentalised the room was. A bathtub was provided, which I gleefully sunk into a bath full of suds every evening with a glass of wine.

Where I Ate:

For breakfast, I highly recommend Aubaine in Selfridges on Oxford Street. The food was lovely and the price was in line with other eateries so the beautiful ambiance creates an experience which makes you feel like you’re getting more. The mirrored walls are draped with (fake) wisteria to make it a very decadent setting.

Borough Market is my favourite market in London, though I do also love Brixton and Brick Lane, however, a girl can only fit so much food in to a weekend trip. I ate at Borough Market almost every day because I’d missed it so much. There’s just so much choice that anyone will always be able to find something scrumptious to eat for lunch. I’m personally always drawn to the freshly made and cooked on the spot pasta from La Tua Pasta. Their Wild Boar Tortellini is just incredible. And of course, you have the beautiful looming Shard as your backdrop to admire while you eat.

For those with a sweet tooth, and for an absolute peach of an Instagram picture for your gallery, Peggy Porschen Cakes is a simply must visit. Peggy Porshcen Parlous in Belgravia pander to us Instagrammers with its beautiful floral exterior design. I highly recommend the champagne and strawberry cupcake but get two if you’re with a partner to avoid any resentment when a bite taken is considered a bite too big.

Where I Got my Coffee Fix:

When (not if but when) you go to Borough Market, drop in to Monmouth for a great cup of coffee. The queues can be long and it can be difficult to grab a coffee to sit in with due to, not really limited seating, but the sheer popularity of Monmouth, however, the coffee is worth the wait. You can always just order to take away and savour while wandering through the market.

A hip artisan café to pop into is Timber Yard Seven Dials. They have a lot of stylish seating, including a large comfortable couch (how those F.R.I.E.N.D.S characters always got the couch is a mystery), but it can still be hard to find a seat as a lot of people take up residence with their laptops. There’s a selection of sandwiches and snacks, which makes it a good place to refuel. Oh, and of course, the coffee is unreal.

Farm Girl is a cozy café that I stopped into on Portobello Road but be warned there was a 20-minute queue to get a seat and I don’t think that was a once off occurrence. The charming courtyard and inviting interior makes it extremely popular. If you want a photo-op, get a seat outside in the courtyard (if it’s not raining). The staff are very friendly and I’d like to return to Farm Girl for brunch, but if you’re in the area and looking to sit in somewhere just for a coffee then the wait is probably too long.

How Did I Get Around:

I walked! Walked until my feet were battered, bruised and blistered! My toes are getting tingles now at the memory of what I made them endure. However, it is impossible to walk simply everywhere in London and I did use London renowned underground tube system. It’s renowned for a reason – it’s efficient, convenient and easy to get to grips with. However, it can be expensive.

It costs £5 to initially buy an empty Oyster card and then you have to top it up so that you can travel around. I put £15 on my Oyster card at London City Airport, which can be used for buses also, but I only used the tube. I spent nearly every last pence, even though I walked virtually everywhere. That’s per person by the way, so it could be quite expensive for a family to travel around the city because I doubt you’ll walk as much as I did. £20 each should be sufficient for a weekend, but do look into the package passes that are on offer because they might be more suitable for you than they were for me.

My trip to London reminded that no matter how much time passes and what may change, true friends will never drift too far apart. And I promise, London my love, that I won’t leave you waiting so long for our next catch up.

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