FISH AND CHIPS; antiquity and splendor; high style and charm – London is a tale of two amazing cities and I was lucky enough to visit last month to witness its high-energy and style firsthand. While there I delighted in its trendy pubs, sidewalk floral stands, and the funky bits of architecture (read: the Gherkin) – each adding playfulness to the air without drowning out London’s well-preserved, centuries-old history. Read-on to see where I went!
Regent Street, London W1B 5AH
Liberty is one of those shops that makes you want to hide your wallet the moment you enter because you know that, if you don’t, you will end up buying every beautiful thing in sight.
The scene is set before you even enter, with colorful, freshly cut blooms in unpretentious tin buckets waiting to usher you inside the doors. You’ll soon walk in to find a room filled floor to ceiling with luxury chocolates, another with vibrantly printed scarves made from sumptuous fabrics, and the most quirky, yet elegant, novelty gifts (think: gnome tea towels and decorative deer heads) — and that’s only the first floor. Don’t miss out on Café Liberty, perfect for a glass of wine or cup of tea.
THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Named after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria in 1852, the V&A has since grown to now cover 145 galleries, while maintaining an undeniable elegance. Upon entering, you’ll walk into a naturally lit, all-white room with a high, arched ceiling, creating a dramatic backdrop for ancient Italian pieces. The museum’s collection spans 5,000 years of art in almost every medium, and you’ll never tire of wandering its many halls filled with precious jewels, antique photographs, and century-old architectural doors. You’ll even find a large fashion exhibit spanning four centuries in the central wing — a must-see for any true fashionista.
THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD
Located just across the street from the V&A is the Natural History Museum of London. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens — about 80 million items in total — within five main collections (botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology). If you’re a fan of architecture, you won’t want to miss the main wing (shown below), as it was truly incredible in person and the highlight of my visit.
FERNANDEZ AND WELLS
8a Exhibition Road, London SW7 2HF
Take a girl to two museums and where will she want to go next? For a coffee, no doubt. And tucked into a row of houses on Exhibition Road in South Kensington is Fernandez and Wells — a coffee and sandwich shop with perhaps the most friendly baristas I have come into contact with (“What can I get for you, love?”). They have a wide choice of interesting sandwich combinations, without being too fancy — like the grilled chorizo or classic black pudding — and offer a plentiful selection of coffees and wines, as well. With more than five locations in London, you are never too far away from a caffeine jolt or a midday buzz, perfect for sightseeing.
36 – 38 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TT
I waited for quite a few minutes to take a seat at Muriel’s Kitchen, but the abundance of diners hinted that the food would be worth the wait. I ended up dining with two girls from China (we shared a table so neither me nor them would have to wait any longer!) and had a nice time sharing all of our dishes and exchanging city recommendations. The dishes at Muriel’s change monthly, but you can count on the chefs to prepare something innovative and satisfying for you, whether it be a classic scotch egg or stuffed english muffin, or a non-traditional sweet chili salmon with purple potato and feta mash. The sweets weren’t too bad, either.
Bankside, London SE1 9TG
The Tate Modern is located on the banks of the Thames behind the brick walls of what used to be the Bankside Power Station, converted by Swiss architects into the industrially artful space. Spend a couple of hours walking through its cavernous galleries full of modern pieces by artists around the world, or, if art isn’t your main jam, enjoy afternoon tea and a view over the Thames at its restaurant on level six (wine served too — because, duh).
THE DRAWING ROOMS
10 Harrington Road, London SW7 3ER
Aside from the Buckingham Palace, I believe there is no better place to have tea in London than at 10 Harrington Road. With such an extensive afternoon tea menu, complete with bubbly and caviar-topped finger sandwiches, you’re given the feeling of royalty at The Drawing Rooms — yet things are never too serious thanks to the playful interior and friendly waitstaff. Wear your favorite dress, clink your glasses, and smile — because you’re in London, dahling.
FORGE & CO
154 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6HD
Just meters from Box Park and in the heart of Shoreditch is Forge — a place perfectly named for its unique ability to bring people together. The Canteen on street level puts a quirky spin on classic British dishes (for example: Ox Heart Burgers and freshly pressed juices), while the adjacent lounge offers London craft beers, aperitifs, and bespoke London-themed cocktails. Great for groups, couples, and single travelers looking to strike conversation. Open from 8am for breakfast, brunch, dinner and drinks.
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3 6RD
The historic Michelin building-turned-restaurant first caught my attention while walking from South Kensington to Chelsea; its bright tiled walls were anything but ordinary and the sun-drenched dining room was so inviting. Inside is an informal oyster bar, with a mood that is relaxed and luxurious, but not pretentious; ideal for an after-work wine with a friend or celebratory lunch. Within the same building is also The Conran Shop, a stylish homeware shop offering a carefully curated collection of furniture, lighting, home accessories, and gifts from international designers.
- CARAVAN | Restaurant, Bar & Roastery | caravanonexmouth.co.uk
- Borough Market | Market | boroughmarket.org.uk
- Duck and Waffle | Restaurant | duckandwaffle.com
- St. John Bread and Wine | Restaurant | stjohngroup.uk.com
- Poppies | Fish and Chips | poppiesfishandchips.co.uk
- Serpentine Galleries | Art Venue | serpentinegalleries.org
- Fortnum and Mason | Luxury Department Store | fortnumandmason.com
- The Corner Room | Restaurant | townhallhotel.com/corner_room
- The Ampersand Hotel | Boutique Hotel | ampersandhotel.com
- Twentytwentyone | Scandinavian-oriented Homeware | twentytwentyone.com
- House of Hackney | Printed Home Accessories and Clothing | houseofhackney.com