The royal wedding is only days away, so we can’t help but have jolly ol’ London on the brain! Although the “I dos” between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be taking place at Windsor Castle (approximately an hour outside of London proper), we are daydreaming of what we would do in the UK capital for the week prior to the royal nuptials. Just think: Morning walks through the Kensington Palace gardens, tea at the Ritz, facials at Cowshed Spa, shopping at Harrods, and ending the day with a Pimm’s cup at The Wolseley in the afternoon. London’s blend of Old World charm and posh sophistication are exactly why it’s one of our favorite cities in the world. Needless to say we are extremely jealous that Meghan Markle gets to call this wonderful city her new home.
In celebration of our favorite couple getting hitched, we have put together the ultimate guide to this timeless town, including where to stay, where to shop, what to do, and most importantly where to eat and drink. Enjoy!
WHERE TO STAY
MID-RANGE HOTELS ($150 – $300):
Situated in the heart of lively South Kensington, this Firmdale Hotel is a London gem. With its own tree-filled private garden, this boutique hotel gives you all the facilities of a luxury experience including 24-hour room service, valet, and afternoon tea.
Artist Residence London
Nestled conveniently between the charms of Chelsea, Tate Britain, and the majesty of Westminster, the Artist Residence London offers 10 unique rooms for a more bohemian stay in Britain. The small boutique hotel is also home to the Cambridge Street Kitchen, tucked away in the side streets of Pimlico, where you can stop in for a coffee, or settle in for afternoon tea.
One of our favorite British homes away from home is The Ned, located near the Bank Street tube stop in London proper. With a resemblance to the Soho House aesthetic, The Ned is the result of a collaboration between Nick Jones (founder of Soho House) and Andrew Zobler of Sydell Group (owner of the Nomad in NYC and Saguaro in Palm Springs). Make sure to try all of their nine restaurants on the ground floor of this luxury hotel and the Cowshed Spa is a must.
Brown’s Hotel is considered London’s first hotel, opening its doors on Albemarle Street in 1837. This distinguished hotel has hosted esteemed guests of the world, from royals to American presidents. The famous Donovan Bar is the perfect spot for a nightcap or a Pimm’s cup in the afternoon.
Located in quaint Notting Hill, on a street lined with Victorian townhouses is the small, but luxurious Laslett Hotel.
SPLURGE-WORTHY HOTELS ($300 – $500):
Overlooking the Royal Mews and Buckingham Palace, there is no better place to stay than Hotel 41 for all of your royal wedding envy. Due to its discreet location, 41 has a relaxed and exclusive feel, even though you are steps away from Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, and the Houses of Parliament.
The Dorchester is located in our favorite London neighborhood, Mayfair. Minutes away from Hyde Park, this elegant hotel is the perfect location for a honeymoon getaway or a unique destination wedding.
There is no place quite like the Connaught Hotel—think Mayfair atmosphere, Michelin-starred restaurants, and your own butler during your stay. The epitome of royal luxury.
The Ritz London
The Ritz London should be experienced at least once in everyone’s lifetime. Whether it be for a luxurious stay or just afternoon tea, this hotel is the ultimate British indulgence. We suggest booking tea months in advanced of your visit as it books up quickly!
WHERE TO EAT
COFFEE / SWEETS:
In a city where a good cup of coffee is few and far between, Attendant is the perfect location to get your caffeine fix while abroad. The inviting atmosphere and clean interior will give you the perfect setting to start your morning off before a full day of sightseeing.
Nestled in the bustling Borough Market, Bread Ahead is everything you want and need out of a classic British bakery. The smells will waft you into the small cafe, and the coffee and tea will make you pull up a seat. Be sure to take a loaf home for later, paired with clotted cream and jam makes for a decadent afternoon snack!
A small slice of Italy in London is what you will find at Lina’s Stores. The small corner store has been in London for 70 years and it is just as bustling as it was when it first opened in 1940. Stop by for an espresso and an Italian cookie, or sit down for a bowl of homemade tortellini.
DRINKS WITH FRIENDS:
Mr. Fogg’s Residence
Styled in the period of when Phileas Fog set off around the world, Mr. Fogg’s Residence is a step back in time. Its lush, eccentric interior is the perfect backdrop for cozy drinks in the winter or a tipsy tea in the spring.
Located in luxe Marylebone, the Chiltern Firehouse Hotel is the hottest place to be in London right now. The interior of the hotel is timeless, homey, and luxurious with a menu that will have you eating and drinking into the wee hours of the night. Start with drinks and see where the night takes you—you may even catch a celebrity or two in the next booth!
For a more traditional pub, The Washington in Hampstead Heath is a local favorite. The open semi-circle bar is inviting with various local beers, including Camden Town Brewery, (a local) favorite, on tap. Don’t miss ordering the fish and chips for a true taste of London local fare.
Sketch is your most Instagrammable moment in London. The five room complex including The Gallery, The Lecture Room, The Parlor, The Glade, and the East Bar offer different aesthetics for your mood. Hit the Glade for a drink in a Garden of Eden bar room or have tea in the millennial pink Parlor room. Whatever you do, don’t forget to use the loo for an unforgettable bathroom selfie—trust us!
DINNER FOR TWO:
Located in London’s iconic Piccadilly Circus, the Wolseley offers a beautiful European backdrop for dinner. Their kitchen stays open until 12:00 a.m., making it a wonderful option for a late night dinner after you’ve seen a show on the West End.
Champagne and gourmet hot dogs—what could be better? This small eatery is a local favorite; the menu only consists of bubbly and hot dogs, but the variations are endless. Make sure to get there early as a queue will begin to form and they do not take reservations.
The Covent Garden area is not to missed when visiting London. Its vast markets and covered walkways are beautiful to stroll in any kind of weather, and you can often stumble across an antique fair or vintage pop up. Frenchie is in the heart and center of it all and offers luxury cuisine with a homey, relaxed style. Think British countryside meets metropolitan cuisine.
No menu and 18 courses? Yes, please! Hunan is the ultimate gastronomical experience, from the unknowns of the next course to the lovely wine selection. Make sure to block out at least two hours to enjoy this meal and try to request the table by the window as it’s the best seat in the house!
THINGS TO DO
It’s not a trip to London without a stop at Harrods. Explore the extensive food market on the ground floor, the interesting Diana monument in the basement, and then head upstairs for afternoon tea in the beautiful tea room where you can enjoy small treats served on Wedgwood china.
Covent Garden Antique Market
The Covent Garden area is a lovely place to shop for unique gifts and home goods. On certain days of the week, the covered area hosts antique vendors from all over the UK, where you can find everything from furniture and cookware to vintage clothing.
The Mecca of teatime, this multi-floored department store specializes in all things tea and entertaining. Walk through the magical ground floor and try teas from all over the world, or make a reservation in their coveted tea room. Regardless, this is the perfect one-stop-shop for all those gifts you promised to bring home for your girlfriends.
Located in trendy Shoreditch, Aida is an adorable store where you can certainly treat yo’ self. The store’s minimalism and pastel color palette will have you feeling calm and ready to shop. We suggest you grab a juice at their cafe before you leave!
SITES AND SOUNDS:
Portobello Road / Notting Hill
If Notting Hill is in your Netflix queue, then Portobello Road is a necessary stop during your visit. We suggest going in the morning before the swarms of people inundate the quaint walking street. Start your morning at Lowry & Baker for London’s best cappuccino and a plate of avocado toast and eggs, then leisurely walk the street full of open air market vendors and antique shops for something one-of-a-kind and special.
The Churchill War Rooms
Whenever in London, one must soak up the history, and the Churchill War Rooms are a fascinating step back in time. Walk the halls of the underground bunker that Winston Churchill created at the beginning of World War II underneath White Hall and near 10 Downing Street. We suggest buying your tickets in advance to avoid any lines, and to snag them at a cheaper price.
Located on the south side of the Thames, Borough Market is a staple in London culture. Walk through the old, open air market for the freshest fruits and vegetables, cold beer, and the best grilled cheese sandwich this side of the Atlantic. The market is open during the week and on Saturdays, but closes around 5:00 p.m. Grab a bite there before heading to a production at the Globe Theatre, as they are right next to one another!
Ohhh how we love the sunshine! ☀️ For the early birds amongst you we’ve been open since 8am but don’t worry those of you who had a lie in this morning – we are here for you until 5pm! After today we’re not open again until Tuesday so make sure you stock up with loads of goodies for the long weekend! Happy Saturday all 📸 @janaarmstrong #LoveBorough #bankholidayweekend #boroughmarket #food #foodmarket #produce #sunshine #london
The Globe Theater is a once in a lifetime experience to see some of London’s best Shakespearean performers do what they do best on the “world’s stage.” You can buy a groundling ticket (standing) for only ten pounds to get the full experience of standing close to the stage. Rain or shine, the show will go on, so be prepared for any kind of weather. Grab a cold beer and hot meat pie for the show, and we promise you will have the time of your life.
The Tate Museums
Both the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern are essential stops when visiting London. Do both museums in one day or split them up based on location. We suggest starting at the Tate Britain to get your dose of Turner, Bacon, and Hockney, and then cross the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern to end your day with Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol.
With the royal wedding just around the corner, one must pay homage to the OGs of the British royal family, William and Kate. Visit the couple’s London home at Kensington Palace, walk through the incredible gardens, and into Hyde Park. Make sure to schedule your visit on a beautiful day if possible, it makes the gardens that much more magical and pristine. Once in Hyde Park, we suggest renting a row boat or lounging in the beautiful green sun chairs that are often set out in different parts of the Park’s green lawns.