Part two of our July adventures right this way…
Today I am sharing the second half of our trip to the UK earlier this summer. If you want to catch up, part one is here documenting our time in Scotland. As I mentioned in that post, the trip was initially scheduled around Wimbledon and from there we decided to tack on some extra time in Scotland as well as London. On July 5th, we took a train from Edinburgh to London, which I would definitely recommend as it was a pretty peaceful way to travel and I snuck in some nap time. I had not been back to London since college, when I spent a month there for a fashion course. Likewise my parents and Andrew had not visited the city in years. I remember falling in love with London four years ago and this last foray only reinforced my Anglophile self. Continue reading for what we got up to during our five days in the city including some of my favorite activities, restaurants, shops, and sites.
We stayed at the Chesterfield Mayfair and it worked out perfectly. The building is fashioned as more of an “old-timey” hotel with traditional tea, classic decor, and staff dressed in tails. However, the rooms are on the large side for London and the location simply cannot be beat. Mayfair is right in the heart of the shopping district, with plenty of spectacular dining spots all around.
As a side note – The Ned is a newer hotel in London that has been receiving great reviews. It is located in the Financial district, so it might be a bit more of an inconvenience, but possibly one to look into for next time.
This list was truly difficult to whittle down as the London dining scene has just exploded. It seems like there are outstanding new restaurants popping up all the time (many with a health-conscious/veg focus). But without further adieu these are my cream of the crop picks.
The Detox Kitchen – We popped in here right after getting settled at our hotel as we were all pretty ravenous after traveling all morning. It is a quaint eatery, just steps away from Liberty of London. All of their food is marked gluten free and dairy free, with plenty of vegan options as well. I enjoyed a cauliflower salad, while Andrew had a green smoothie that I stole a fair share of sips from. I would certainly recommend this one as a perfect breakfast, lunch, or afternoon pick me up option.
Nopi – This restaurant was on our list straight away as it is the veggie-centric concept from the chefs behind famed Ottolenghi. The food here absolutely did not disappoint and almost all of the vegetable dishes can be made vegan. Definitely try the crispy potatoes if you end up going! Also, the bathroom cannot be missed – found in the basement, it is constructed of all mirrors. (A bit hard to describe, but maybe take a friend as it is easy to get turned around in there). 🙂
Deliciously Ella – It goes without saying that I had to check out her delis in person as I am a huge fan girl. I can honestly say that the food here was even better than I imagined. (I went back no less than three times during our trip!) The menu is ever changing, but when we were there I kept ordering the cauliflower dal, it is scrumptious. Andrew had the sweet potato falafel, which were equally delicious. I also finally got to try her energy bites and ended up stocking up on them for the plane ride home. (They were an absolute savior as I am not the biggest fan of airplane food). If you are in London, I would say this is a must try – even if you just drop by for a coconut milk latte – the restaurants are adorable, homey, and welcoming once inside. (I checked out her Seymour Place and Weighhouse Street locations). Now here’s to hoping one opens in the States sometime soon.
Brick Lane – If you want authentic Indian food, we were told countless times to head to Brick Lane in East London. Thus, that is exactly what we did one night and loved every second of it. I don’t know the name of the restaurant that we ate at since we simply asked our cab driver where to go but I don’t think you could really go wrong here. The atmosphere is no frills and service moves at the speed of lightning, but the portions were generous and the flavors were on point. Whether or not you love Indian food, I would say that Brick Lane is a terrific London experience.
26 Grains – Andrew and I ventured over to this quaint little indoor/outdoor outpost in Covent Garden one morning with bright blue skies. It is a tiny nook that specializes in heaping, fresh bowls of porridge and toasts. (Almost everything can be made vegan with their homemade nut milk as well). I enjoyed their pear porridge bowl and turmeric almond milk latte – my mouth is watering just thinking about it. As an absolute oatmeal lover, this place was a dream for me. I would highly, highly recommend but go early as it fills up. We arrived around 9am and nabbed a table right outside – within 30 minutes there were no seats left.
Farmacy – A lovely spot in Notting Hill specializing in health conscious fare that still tastes decadent. We went for brunch one morning and I enjoyed everything about it – from the greenery in the decor to the adaptogenic latte and “rawnola.” The best part is that there is something here for everyone – carnivores and vegetarians alike.
Pomona’s – This hidden gem in Notting Hill is modeled after a Southern California cafe. The food is fresh and thoughtfully prepared – with health and wellness as an underlying theme. The sweet potato “toast” and avocado and vegan cobb salad prepared with homemade coconut “cheese” were outstanding. I also loved the outdoor bungalow dining featuring kitschy, bright chairs, turquoise tables, and romantic fairly lights strung about. Definitely head here if you are seeking a casual and quiet evening while chatting lazily over a couple glasses of wine.
Chiltern Firehouse – Rounding out my dining recommendations with the best meal of our trip. This place is legendary and I can absolutely see why. The food is delightful without being pretentious, the atmosphere is quintessentially British, and the chefs/bartenders are talented. I remember enjoying the freshest watermelon starter of my life as well as a cauliflower steak that I am still dreaming about. The chef specially prepared the cream sauce out of almonds for me and I devoured every last morsel. As a side note – they have the best dressed wait staff I have ever seen – hostesses donned red jumpsuits that looked straight off the Prada runway while waiters wore handsome velvet dinner jackets.
London is an excellent city for some of the best shopping in the world. During this trip, we visited a few new-to-me boutique finds that I am so excited to share with you below.
Liberty London – One of the oldest department stores, renowned for its iconic floral prints, and an excellent place to start your shopping adventure. The building itself is beautiful and full of life the second you walk through the doors. I appreciate that Liberty does not stock everything and anything as some larger stores tend to do, which can be quite overwhelming. Rather, they feature curated collections of up and coming designers as well as classics like Burberry, McQueen, and Gucci. They also opened a Maria Tash piercing bar earlier in the year, so if you are looking for a beautiful new cartilage hoop – this might be your moment!
Alex Monroe Jewelry – A charming jewelry boutique that I actually discovered through their display at Liberty. However, if you have time definitely seek out the boutique as they have a much larger selection and the shop itself is absolutely charming. I waxed on more about it in my Loving Lately post, but essentially if you a are a delicate jewelry lover, you will be in heaven.
Content Beauty & Wellbeing – Rumor has it this is where Emma Watson shops for green beauty while in London. It is a teeny, tiny store but features a large selection of some of my favorite skincare and makeup lines from Tata Harper to Kjaer Weis, and Vapour. Think of this as Credo for the UK. We only dropped in for a minute, but if we had more time on our hands, this would have been dangerous for the wallet!
Ghost London – They stock some of the most stunning and classically elegant dresses I have seen – perfect for a wedding or outdoor event. I am particularly tempted by their slip dresses, which will never go out of style. I also tried this lovely one on in store and am kicking myself for not pulling the trigger.
Neal’s Yard Remedies – We ventured in here right after our breakfast at 26 grains as they are next door to one another. One of the original green skincare lines with products that not only smell amazing, but actually deliver on promises. I picked up some essential oil roller balls for relaxation while traveling as well as their beautiful rose scented hand cream. Their range of wellness teas looked particularly intriguing as well. And happy day because Credo is now stocking some Neal’s Yard stateside!
Duke + Dexter – Andrew and I happened to stumble in here whilst out and about because we were intrigued by a woman hand painting designs on loafers. This place is heaven for any men in your life or a great idea for upcoming gifts as guys can be the absolute toughest to shop for. Essentially the cobblers here craft handmade men’s loafers in a range of leathers and designs. Andrew loved them straight away as they perfectly broach the line between casual and formal – great for work, weekend, out to dinner etc. Also, the quality is top notch and apparently Eddie Redmayne is a fan, so there’s that.
Chloe – My mom and I ventured into their Mayfair boutique one afternoon. The store is a millennial pink, minimalist dream with a super friendly staff that truly takes their time with you. A little tip – the Lauren ballet flats go with everything and really are the best I have ever worn.
The Shop at Bluebird – We came here after a recommendation by a friend and it was quite possibly my favorite store of the bunch. They have a little bit of everything – men’s, women’s, home, beauty and feature some of my all time favorites like MiH jeans, Golden Goose sneakers, and Ganni just to name a few. This one is certainly worth a wander through even just to stare at all of the beautiful goods.
Wimbledon – Obviously this is my number one recommendation if you head to London in July. Words cannot really do justice to what an awesome experience this was. I’ve been to the U.S. Open and the French Open, which are both incredible – but there is something about Wimbledon that is awe inspiring. We shared tickets for Centre Court and Court One with my parents, which was an excellent way to do it as we all got to see some of each match that we wanted. Watching Federer on Centre Court is something that I will remember forever.
Churchill War Rooms – A truly interesting exhibit that I never got to visit during my previous time in London. It is a fascinating inside look at the shockingly cramped, stuffy bunks where Winston Churchill essentially ran World War II. It is also peppered with an intricate exhibit depicting Churchill’s life. My parents raved about this one and now I can see why. Prepare to get tickets in advance – it is a self guided tour that lasts about 90 minutes to two hours. If you have the chance, this is a must see.
Primrose Hill – We hiked up here one sunny morning, post breakfast, in order to gain a spectacular view of the city. It certainly did not disappoint, with panoramic views stretching all over London. We spent the rest of the morning/afternoon just roaming around the beautiful area as well as surrounding parks. That is another aspect of London that I adore – all of the magnificent outdoor spaces. It seems that everywhere you look there is lush greenery with immaculate gardens and flowers blooming. We truly lucked out with beautiful, sunny weather during our stay and aimed to take advantage of it by walking outside as much as possible. We spent hours walking through Hyde Park as well.
The View from the Shard – We did not really know what we were in for with this one – thinking we would casually head up and grab some drinks pre-dinner. Turns out that you do pay a fee to go to the top, but actually the views were well worth it. As you walk around – all of the London skyline is visible through the magnificent glass windows. It feels a little surreal and otherworldly -especially after a glass of wine 🙂
A quick note – we did not go to too many museums this time around mainly due to lack of time and also the weather was so gorgeous that we wanted to soak up as much of it as we could. However, I remember from my time in college that The Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert were two of my very favorites and well worth a visit if you are in town.
That was quite a long one, thanks for making it this far! Hopefully this will serve as a helpful source for anyone heading to London in the near future. It truly is my favorite city in the world, constantly evolving with fresh concepts and full of life. Now just dreaming of another chance to head back, we had the best time!