I just got back from a trip to London, which has always been one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve been to the history-filled destination many times (my sister lived here for a couple of years), but on my most recent excursion, I went with my sister and some girlfriends. If you’ve never before I highly recommend gathering your best gals and booking a flight. From the deluxe spas to the charming brunch spots, it’s such a great place to explore with friends. We had a blast bouncing around the many restaurants, museums, and bars throughout the city and I thought I’d share some of my must-stay, must-eat, and must-see spots with you! Pour yourself a Pimm’s Cup, find some inspiration, and start planning your most unforgettable trip yet!
I’ve been a guest at this delightful boutique hotel about 8 times and have fallen more in love with it on each trip. From the gorgeous exterior to cozy room options, The Kensington checks everything you’d want from a luxury hotel off your list. Head to the stunning restaurant, Town House, for a delicious meal made with fresh, seasonal produce. After dinner, unwind with a cocktail in the sophisticated atmosphere at The K Bar, which is decorated with cascading chandeliers, mirrored walls, and velvet barstools. Book an aromatherapy massage before you tuck yourself in for the night for the most relaxing experience. Request a room that overlooks Queen’s Gate. Take a right when you walk out of the front doors and stroll over to Kensington Palace Gardens.
Photos via @hotelkensington
In 2012, this formerly abandoned bank was bought by Nick Jones, the founder of Soho House & Co, and Andrew Zobler, the CEO of New York’s Sydell Group. The two collaborated on the tricky task of transforming the property into a 25o-room hotel while preserving the gorgeous architecture. Guests can now chose from 14 different room sizes, which all showcase 1920s glamour in everything from the furniture to the bedding to the artwork. The Ned’s grand banking hall is home to an array of restaurants and retail spaces like Cecconi’s, The Nickle Bar, Millie’s Lounge, and more. For a truly authentic experience, be sure to order a drink at the rooftop restaurant and take in the sweeping views of the city and St Paul’s Cathedral. Located in the heart of London, you’ll also have a wealth of dining and entertainment options just steps away from your suite.
Photos via @thenedlondon
A newer hotel in the center of Bloomsbury, The Academy consists of five Georgian townhouses which have been converted to 50 sleek guest rooms. You’ll adore the property’s quaint library which serves as the perfect spot to enjoy a morning cup of coffee. In the afternoon, sip on a glass of sparkling wine while sampling classic English fare and sweets in the lush, secret courtyard. You’ll feel right at home in one of the snug suites, but should you choose to venture out, you’ll be just a short drive away from popular attractions like the British Museum, Covent Garden, and the many shops that line Oxford Street.
Photos via @theacademyhotel
Eat & Drink
With breakfast menu items including peach and elderflower iced tea, avocado benedict, and smoked salmon crumpets, you can probably guess why The Ivy Chelsea Garden landed itself at the top of my must-eat list. The floral-filled restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but no matter what time of day you make a reservation, ask to be seated in the garden. With ferns draping overhead and magnolias and hydrangeas potted throughout, you’ll feel completely at ease as you indulge in your feast. My sister and I love it and bonus: it’s a great value.
Sharing a signature cocktail with my sis!
Photos via @catherinepdv
Snap a few Instagram-worthy pictures and enjoy some refreshments at this quirky, millennial pink tea room and cocktail lounge. Sketch is the ideal spot to meet with friends for a little pick-me-up. Order finger sandwiches and tea or a bespoke cocktail and appetizers for a laid-back ending to the day.
Photos via @sketchlondon
Open 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year, Duck and Waffle is a modern skyline restaurant located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower. To get to the top, take a scenic ride in one of the lifts that holds up to 16 people. Once inside the glass oasis, you can enjoy just about any food you crave. I recommend heading here for a sunrise breakfast or a sunset drink.
Photos via @duckandwaffle
My sister and I love coming to this blow dry bar whenever we’re traveling through the city and are craving a quick refresh. Similar to the way Drybar works, you can choose from a variety of hairstyles, like braids, curls, or fancy updos, and the stylists will wash and blow out your hair accordingly. It’s a fast way to feel pampered while assuring you’ll look your best for the day. There’s nothing quite like a bouncing British blow dry – Kate Middleton style!
Photo via @duckanddry
Visit Buckingham Palace
I headed over to Buckingham Palace while I was on my most recent trip and I’m so glad I decided to add it to my itinerary. Home to the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh, the royal residence is just as beautiful as you’d expect. I visited once before in the summer of 2012 on my first of MANY London trips. Buckingham Palace is open for tours during periods in the summer when the Queen is away at Balmoral. So naturally, it was stop #1 on our itinerary! Please enjoy this ridiculous photo of us at a Trooping of the Color-themed photo opp – LOL!
From Left to Right: Meg, my sister Mary, me, two of my oldest friends and college roommates Danielle and Lauren, Melanie (who you may recognize from her recurring “Reporting Live” series on my Instagram Story!), Lydia, my cousin Sarah, and Donna.
Photo via @catherinepdv
Walk Through Notting Hill
Nothing short of spectacular, a walk through the vibrant district of Notting Hill is a must-do when visiting London. Whether you want to go to capture some special pictures or you’re simply looking for a festive area to walk around, Notting Hill won’t disappoint. Photos further prove the magic.
There are two points to pop in your Google Maps when bound for Notting Hill – the first is Portobello Road for the classic Notting Hill stroll and shop, and the second is Westbourne Grove, where you’ll find beautifully curated boutiques from Sézane to Goop and other unique spots that you can only find in London. I’m also a fan of SHOW – the blow-dry bar next to Granger & Co., an amazing stop for brunch or lunch. Make a reservation, and go during daytime for the prettiest experience.
Photo via @donnadetox
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