Not only did I used to live in London when I was younger, I’m lucky to have visited it often over the years since my family lived overseas. It’s a quick trip from New York City and London truly is one of the most charming spots with loads of great cultural offerings, tons of good food and delightful neighborhoods that are wonderful to get lost in.
Today’s post is dedicated to all my London favorites so bookmark this post for your next trip! Editor’s Note: This post is no longer kept up to date. For Meghan’s latest recommendations – check out London, Perfected – the extension of Paris, Perfected.
Where to Eat & Drink in London
The Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley is utterly amazing. Go with a girlfriend and revel in the fashion themed menu and treats. The pastries are unbelievable! I’ve been twice and it is truly such a fun afternoon.
Press for Champagne is the other name this spot could be called. Famous for its Press for Champagne buttons at every table, this place is a delight to have a glass of – you guessed it – champagne.
It’s an upscale dining restaurant so my best tip is to go right when they open and get seated at the bar where you can just have a drink (and snap a good Instagram at a booth before they’re filled with diners for lunch!)
In addition to making amazing doughnuts, this place (there are a few locations but the one at Borough Market is the original and most famous) also has great lunch options.
My friends told me about the famed table-side martinis at Dukes and now my life in NYC is missing martinis prepared table-side. Tucked away on a cute alley near Green Park, Dukes Hotel has a storied past with the martini and its tiny but charming bar boasts big leather lounge chairs and an extensive martini menu where a man in a tuxedo will prepare your martini next to you.
Let me tell you – it is an experience not to be missed. I recommend getting there right when they open as otherwise you’ll be in for a wait for these ice cold drinks that were beloved by the author of the James Bond novels!
Speaking of table-side martinis, The Connaught Hotel also does them and they’re also great in a very cool and Gatsby feeling environment. Dark and moody rooms make it harder to spot a celebrity – but you just might. Lebron James was there when I was there last!
Leave it to Jean Georges to put together an extravagant, extra delicious and delightful afternoon tea. Be sure to book at this popular spot and set aside several hours to enjoy all the sandwiches and pastries. Absolutely my favorite afternoon tea in London!
Newly opened in 2021, this gorgeous patisserie will transport you to France. Grab a coffee in a delightful millennial pink cup and try some of their delicious and meticulous pastries.
This little spot is full of flavorful dishes and we absolutely loved every small plate you get to watch prepared here. Located in London’s famed Neal’s Yard and close to the Crown & Anchor – a beautiful pub that’s great for a pint before or after. Reservations are a must.
Spectacular martinis that are served ice cold and feel as though you’re having drinks at a fancy friend’s house. Given the stiff nature of the martinis, this spot even brings out complimentary cheese toasties to satisfy your stomach while you sip. Want to see these martinis filled to the brim? Check out this video.
I eat here at the very least once every trip I go to London. This place introduced me to and had me fall in love with Indian food. You can’t go wrong with what you order. Try and get a reservation if you can otherwise expect an extensive wait. They have several locations but they’re all super popular and therefore always packed. Lunch will be less of a wait than dinner, however.
Gymkhana has held a Michelin star since 2014 for its classic and contemporary Indian cuisine. This upscale spot is hard to get into so be sure to book in advance.
This is a chic spot to grab a coffee or cocktail and is housed in the Maison Assouline store just down the road from Fortnums.
A darling Danish coffee shop on a very charming corner of Kensington. Highly recommend you take your coffee and cinnamon bun over to Holland Park after ordering or wander down Victoria Road which has some major eye candy when it comes to shops.
Famous thanks to Instagram, this spot is totally worth it when you want a sweet treat and a place to rest your feet. Try to score one of the outside tables and order a slice of cake or one of the raspberry jam cookies. Delicious! (But skip the cupcakes – I find them not very good). Mornings are more mellow here than mid-day.
Tucked away down a little alley off a bustling Notting Hill street, this spot is great for Aussie-style fare. The service is pretty hit or miss but the food delivers for breakfast and lunch. Go early to avoid a wait.
I love these stylish coffee shops – particularly the one in Soho.
This place is just so good for brunch. It was started by an Aussie who they say was the inventor of avocado toast but the whole menu is full of delicious options. The Chelsea location is my favorite.
This hotel’s restaurant is very see and be seen but after dining there for both breakfast and dinner I would definitely recommend breakfast over dinner. It also has a great outdoor patio that’s great for cocktails when the weather is nice.
I think my mouth dropped open when I first walked into this bar that is in The Edition hotel in Soho. The space is beautifully designed and home to a very bustling scene with excellent cocktails.
I had an amazing meal at this restaurant which is one of several famed chef Ottolenghi operates in the city. Vegetables have never tasted so good! And don’t miss dessert, either.
Another Ottolenghi restaurant, breakfast and lunch here are great. Unique flavor combinations, inventive cooking and a beautiful space.
This is my favorite pub. Not only is it on a beautifully secret street with homes worth drooling over but it is cozy and chic with great food and beers.
Speaking of pubs, I think this one is the most photogenic and I always make a point of seeing it when in town.
Another great pub with a bit fancier fare but in a cool and casual environment. This one is tucked away in Kensington in a charming part of town and definitely worth it if you’re in the mood for fish and chips and a good Pimm’s cup.
This whole in the wall spot is not only the coziest but the menu – focused on decadent cheeses – is divine. Get a sandwich or a charcuterie and cheese plate. And don’t miss the shop next door where they have loads of French treats to take home.
I was so impressed with how good the croissants at this spot were.
Beloved by the Brits – you can find Gail’s throughout the city. A good spot for a catch up with a friend or just grab a coffee and pastry to go.
One of my favorite Paris coffee shops can now be found in London. It’s tucked away on one of the most charming streets in London.
Super cool interiors and delicious Italian comfort food are served up at this outpost of Paris’s Big Mamma Group.
You can’t miss the cheese toastie (aka grilled cheese) at this Borough Market spot. Only served Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays (and to a line of hungry fans), this sandwich is filled with three different types of ooey, goey cheese alongside sautéed leeks and onions. Divine doesn’t even begin to cover it.
What to Do in London
I’d go back to The London Eye again in a heartbeat. I think it is so worth it for the views!
Take a breath before you enter here if you go on a weekend as saying it is “crowded” is an understatement. That being said, you can find incredible stalls of food with an array of savory and sweet options. Highly recommend going on a weekday if you can.
While this is a massive tourist destination it is well worth it. I absolutely love the history here and highly recommend the audio tour. (The guided groups can be very large in scale and hard to hear.) Don’t miss taking a photo with one of the Yeoman Warders and see the Crown Jewels including Queen Elizabeth’s crown.
I love this nook of London which has so much history and is home to several members of the Royal Family. The gardens are not to be missed and the palace typically is hosting interesting exhibits.
This is my favorite park in London for when the weather is nice. It is expansive and there’s plenty to see.
The Victoria & Albert museum is a must-see. They put on amazing exhibitions (most you should book in advance), the building itself is gorgeous and there is truly so much to see surrounding the decorative and applied arts.
Home to a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. Fun fact: this was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1856!
I’ll admit I prefer the interiors here to the actual art on display but this free museum is absolutely worth a visit whether you agree with me or not. It’s a former home and now displays the impressive art collection from Sir Richard Wallace.
Every May in conjunction with the Chelsea Flower Show, the neighborhood of Chelsea decks itself out in floral installations that will blow your mind. They are utterly delightful to wander and see the artistry and creativity put on. Highly recommend timing your visit with this event if you can!
23 Egerton Terrace is home to the backdrop of Elizabeth James’s character in Nancy Meyer’s The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan. This gorgeous house is worth a detour to see!
Explore the various Mews
I absolutely love the charming Mews all over London and happening upon them is an utter delight. A few of my favorites to bookmark? Kynance Mews, St. Lukes Mews, Warren Mews and Wilton Row.
Where to Shop in London
This is a beautiful and historic shop that’s such fun to peruse for souvenirs. Pick up some of their famed tea or chocolates to enjoy back at home or bring to friends and family.
This organic health and beauty brand is always on my list to visit to buy affordable yet luxurious items like their bath oils, pillow sprays or essential oils.
No trip to London is complete without a trip to the iconic Harrod’s. Don’t miss their Food Hall.
I don’t do much shopping in London given the exchange rate with the pound but I always have to stop by Liberty. The department store is in a beautiful Tudor style building and aside from having a beautifully edited selection of clothing and shoes, they have an amazing beauty selection as well as homewares. And don’t miss the outdoor flower stand – it is the cutest!
This place is heaven if you love flowers & plants! It is full of people when it is open every Sunday and the blooms are truly incredible. There are some great little shops nearby as well that are worth exploring.
A gorgeous department store offering a little something for everyone.
I am always buying gifts at The White Company when in the UK. Their cashmere socks are a favorite gift to give and their baby clothes are just so cute! I also adore their candles.
Dine in, grab coffee or just shop the pantry items at this highly curated country meets city store. There are a handful of locations in London.
And of course don’t forget to wander up and down the high streets (main roads) of each neighborhood. I particularly like Marylebone High Street.
Where to Stay in London
If you’re looking for luxury in West London, in a quintessential neighborhood – look no further than this 5 star property. The rooms are beautiful, the service top notch and the entire property has been designed to be chic yet comfortable. Don’t miss having a drink in their bar – it is a new favorite of mine!
At this property you’ll be walking distance to Notting Hill, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Belgravia and the Victoria & Albert museum.
If traveling to London for the first time, I think this location is absolutely perfect. You’re close to the West End, Chelsea, Soho and major tourist attractions like The Tower of London and London Eye. I found the rooms small but it’s well priced and has a good coffee bar in the lobby as well as the Holburn Tube station just a block away making it exceptionally easy to access much of London.
I love the central location of this hotel that’s part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. It’s right off of Hyde Park and Kensington Park and Gardens. Many of the rooms feature gorgeous views of the London Skyline and you can easily walk to Notting Hill, Kensington, Marylebone and more.
Better yet? There is a tube stop just below the hotel so truly you can’t have a more convenient location. The rooms are also modern and offer gorgeous bathrooms and at-the-ready conveniences.
This chic and modern property is meant for either short or extended stays so the rooms feel just like apartments. A 5-minute walk from the Tower Bridge many of the rooms are situated right on the Thames River – our view was absolutely incredible to wake up to in the morning!
With over-sized windows, full kitchens, sitting areas, free wifi (and incredible perk while being abroad!) and laundry we loved our stay here. It was centrally located and right near a tube stop and the fact that we could do a load of laundry and make a cup of coffee made us relaxed and feel immediately right at home.
Other favorite elements I loved were the bathrobes included, the great bathroom amenities and delightful accents like a London-themed Monopoly game! And the terrace to take in the view? Perfect that morning cup of coffee.
These three charming hotels are all owned by the same parent company but each are rich in history and such delightful stays. Each room is decorated in antique furnishings and many feature 4-poster beds, claw foot tubs (made the bath experience so divine!) and cozy sitting rooms with fireplaces. Each property is in a divine location (we loved exploring Shoreditch and Soho) and the staff couldn’t have been nicer.
Each hotel also has lovely public spaces like cozy libraries for afternoon tea and plenty of bookcases should you want to unwind with a drink and a historic read at the end of the day. Each property is full of British charm and character making for memorable stays.
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Do you have any favorite spots in London I should check out on my next trip?
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