Thank you for your patience as I recuperate from our very long journey to Paris and London. We spent a full 24 hours traveling yesterday through one train station, two airports, and three countries. But we saw so many amazing things, that it made the whole experience well worth it.
London was a short but perfect trip. It felt very American, oddly... But the English are so polite, and there seems a certain formality to everything, which I loved. We only had a short 48 hours in London, and I really wished I had a guide like this when we planned our trip. It was so hard to decide what we really wanted to do, and sometimes we'd get somewhere and decide it wasn't our thing but only had two days. This guide to London will prevent you from going to the stuff that feels like a time waste, and you'll be able to better enjoy your trip knowing every moment was well spent. We also like to travel on the cheap as much as possible, so these restaurants aren't crazy expensive. The museums alone are three times as expensive as Paris, so skip the trendy spots and go for the more local experience when possible.
I hope you enjoy my guide! Let me know what you think.
I recommend staying at the Rockwell in South Kensington. It was affordable, clean, and updated, and it was fairly close to most things we wanted to see.
Tower of London- If you see anything on your trip, see this. It's the most amazing medieval walled fortress complete with the only surviving Tudor style house left in all of London. Built in the 11th century, this was where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and where many other famous prisoners were held. It's huge and I could have spent the whole day here.
After the tower, walk along the Thames River and admire the view of the Tower Bridge and the city. Then take the tube over to St. James Park or the Westminster stop.
Wander over to Soho for lunch and try the Dog and Duck for lunch to experience the Old London. The sign leading to the second floor says "ladies upstairs," since women used to sit separately from the men. Have one of the delicious meat pies and try the hand pulled beer, which is served less cold than regular draft beer.
St. James Park and Buckingham Palace- Take a stroll starting from the Birdcage Walk and through the park over Blue Bridge. Then make your way up to Buckingham Palace. The park is better than the palace but the whole thing is fun. Watch the changing of the guards if you can.
Walk along Brompton Road toward Kensington. The most beautiful homes are in this area, and you can even walk by Harrod's department store, which is lit up like a Christmas tree at night.
Have dinner at Orsini, where they serve fresh pasta and delicious Italian fare, then walk around the corner to see the Natural History Museum, and admire the architecture.
Head to Westminster to visit Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Go through the audioguide of the abbey and see the graves of many famous politicians, authors, and other greats. The architecture is incredible, and this is a must-see. Cathedrals and churches are always at the top of my list when I travel.
Afterward, have a drink at St. Stephen's Tavern across the street which was first built as a Victorian Tavern. We liked the old world feel of this place. It was pretty crowded but it has a great view of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, so it's a good spot to duck in out of the rain.
Take the train to Queensway to Kensington Gardens and get lost in the beautiful walking paths. Avoid the Serpentine in Hyde Park, which is extremely crowded. Stick to the walking paths in Kensington Gardens and see Kensington Palace. As a reader, this garden was dreamy, since it's the garden from the book Peter Pan. Leaves were falling, and the whole place felt magical. Walk South in the gardens toward the Royal Albert Hall and have a look around the hall.
For dinner, head to Memories of India on Gloucester Road. I couldn't wait to try Indian food in England, and it did not disappoint.
I can't wait to share the Paris half of my trip as well. Things we weren't too fond of were Piccadilly Circus (had a touristy Times Square feel) and the British Museum (free, but you're in the UK! Do something exclusive to England).
If your'e on a longer trip, I recommend going to Windsor and seeing Windsor Castle where the Queen lives. It's a beautiful little town with lots of great restaurants and shops. Try the George pub and have the fish and chips or go to Cote Brasserie for a brunch. It's a fun day trip from England and only a quick train ride away. We stayed here for the first couple days since this is where my sister got married.
I also recommend making reservations for dinner wherever you go in England. Everywhere you go asks if you have a reservation, so it's a good idea to plan ahead a little.
What are your recommendations for London? Is there anything I missed? Hopefully one day I'll go back and catch up on all the great things I didn't get to see.