London City Guide

This post is loooong over due and probably what I get asked most about. I’ve lived in London for a combined total of 2.5 years now, and while there’s always something new to do and see, I’ve accumulated quite the list of go-to recommendations! If you’re planning a trip to London, a local, or just sourcing out some inspiration, here’s some of my favorite HOTELS, SIGHTS, COFFEE SHOPS, RESTAURANTS, CINEMAS, WORKOUTS, BEAUTY RECS & more in my favorite city in the world!

HOTELS:

The Wellesley: If you’re here on a work trip, couples trip, with parents, or looking for something nice, the rooms at the Wellesley are incredible. I’ve stayed here before and felt completely pampered. Our room came with our own butler, Hermes bath products, jazz bar high tea — It’s boutiquey, steps from Hyde Park, and a nice treat whether you’re returning or a first time visitor!

The Kensington: If you’ve never been to London, are doing a mother/daughter trip, coming here after graduation, or looking for something mid range and classically charming, I’d always recommend the Kensington. The rooms aren’t giant but any means, but this will give you a good taste of London- Classic white building, adorable library, reception, restaurant, included breakfast.

Chiltern Firehouse: This is right up there with Chateau Marmont in LA if you’re familiar. I’ve stayed in one of the suites here before and the decor is incredible. There’s always a scene, so if you’re after that, at least come here for a dinner. Perks of the hotel — you get access to their stunning lounge & bar. It’s boutique, more private, and in Marylebone so a bit more local. Great for adults, couples, upscale, boutique-lovers, bar-scene.

The Edition: One of London’s more modern hotels with a great scene, lobby bar, restaurant and central location. If you appreciate contemporary touches definitely stay here. It’s a bigger property so will feel like more of a vacation and the rooms and very comfortable.

DEAN STREET TOWNHOUSE: I LOVE the vibes of all the Soho House properties. The Soho location is great and the rooms are extremely comfortable. The Showers have like 12 different soap/shampoo options, all from Cowshed’s signature collection… and they come with amenities galore — toner, tooth brushes, deodorant, skincare, nice razors etc. Good for guys, couples, creative types, work trips etc.

The Laslett: I always recommend this to girlfriends who need an affordable place to stay, but want some place with trendy decor, a classic London vibe, and central (ish) location to see the sights. I’ve never stayed here myself but have worked in the Lobby and outdoor Terrace. Good if you’re in town on a work trip, traveling by yourself, with friends, and are working with more of a budget but still after great aesthetic.

The Rosewood: As far as luxury hotels are concerned, the Rosewood is a modern classic. Think dark wood, stone buildings, very clean and elevated. The age range here is a bit older — great for couples, parents, returning visitors, or anyone looking for a central London, elegant place to stay.

SIGHTS

Buckingham Palace: When in London, this is #1. You can go for the full blown touristy option and go around 10:30am for the changing of he guards. I prefer taking friends that are visiting to do the stateroom visit (hours permitting) and doing more of a Barclays bike ride throughout London with this as a stop!

Tower Bridge/ TOWER HILL – Another must! Don’ leave London without seeing the crown jewels, the tower itself, and walking across the bridge. I’ve done this with boyfriends, my family, friends when studying abroad. Its good for all ages and another must. (Set aside at least a half day)

ROYAL MEWS – People might not be as familiar with this one, but it’s one of my favorite touristy things in London. It takes only about 1 hour – 1.5, and you can see all of the coaches used in the royal weddings, some of the royal horses, and the queen’s Bentley. It’s great for fans of the royals, visitors or locals, and just steps from Buckingham palace!

V&A MUSEUM – I’d say this is the #1 museum to visit, second to the National Gallery although it’s almost a tie. The architecture of this building on it’s own is worth the stop and they always have great exhibitions going on — definitely see the fashion, gemstones, and grab a scone near the harpist in the cafe.

HARRODS – I’m sure you know already, but a trip to Harrods is a must on any London list. It’s overwhelming, you’ll undoubtably get lost. Go for some shopping then grab pizza and prosecco at the pizzeria!

REGENTS STREET – To round off your entire London experience, visitors must go to Regents street and just take in all of the architecture and shops. Liberty is my favorite store but have a walk along — to me this street feels the most “London”.

Portobello Road Market – I always have friends asking me, “where do I go to see all the colorful houses”. Put “Farm Girl” cafe in notting hill in your maps, then head North from there. You’ll see plenty of pastel houses, trust me you can’t miss them, and there’s the cutest street market that’s quintessentially London.

HIGH TEA

Sketch (The Modern High Tea) Set aside several hours because “Tea Time” here is quite the time commitment. However, ladies, it’s everything you’d want from tea and more, especially if you’re visiting or celebrating something. You’re probably familiar with the famous pink ambiance and at tea time it’s paired with the most serene harpist. Go for the Champagne tea because why not! It’s worth it just to admire to server’s outfits. The Caviar guy is my fav… you’ll see when you go. As they offer GF/ Vegan options if thats what your after. Book out waaaay in advanced and don’t eat basically the entire day before if you go. The food keeps coming and coming and coming, but all very worth it! (Pictured Directly Above)

Claridges (The Classic High Tea) This is like the Plaza – A London Classic, particularly at Christmas. All of the tea selections, food, scones, and desserts are great. Great for a girl’s treat, with a mother or grand-mother. Definitely upscale and classic, and just a very nice Holiday treat! Book out WAY in advanced – a common theme with tea time. (Pictured 4, 5, 6)

Harrods(The Budget-Friendly Tea) I used to go here with friends when I studied abroad and took my sorority little here when she came to visit. Its great if you’re visiting because you can tack on seeing Harrods, plus it’s not as costly (budget or time wise) as traditional high tea. Their tea room is located on the 4th floor. No need to make a reservation, but you may have to wait a bit in the cue.  Pictured Second

Fortnum & Mason (The Ladies Who Lunch Tea) – If you can’t get into the others, but still want a classic high tea experience, Fortum’s is still high up on the list! The tea room is a bit more commercial — think lots of ladies sipping on Earl Grey after shopping. Another good option for visitors because you definitely want to see Fortum’s but also a nice treat for a birthday, graduation, or Holiday festivity. (Pictured First)

COFFEE SHOPS

Tab x Tab – This little local spot is my central perk. I know everyone here by name and they have the best oat lattes in all of London. It’s a great place to work during the weekdays and their all day brunch menu is delicious!! Favorites – Amaranth porridge, avocado toast (it has a spicy kick to it), and poached eggs on toast. 

Gails Gails is always great and there’s so many locations across London. You can come just for tea or coffee but will be tempted by all of their pastries. (Pictured First)

The Grind — Their decor is amazing and they also have great coffee/ light bite options. There are several locations around London. Go if if you want a weekend brunch, something before seeing the sights, need to work or just have more time to sit down. (Pictured Middle)

Monocle – This is where I first discovered my love of oat milk lattes. It’s just across the street from Chiltern firehouse in Marylebone – great for casual coffee meetings or catch ups with friends. (Pictured Last)

Fernandez & Wells at Somerset House – I always take people who visit by this beautiful London building or when I need to change things up, I’ll come work here for the day.. It’s less traditional than your typical tourist attractions, but such a beautiful space it deserve a visit, especially at Christmas.

The Tin Shed – This is a bit off the usual path in Notting Hill but it’s a great local spot if you need to dive into some work or have a casual meeting. They also have a great all day breakfast menu.

Brunch

Railhouse Cafe – My go-to brunch spot in Victoria. The decor is amazing, great central location near Buckingham palace if you want to be a touristy afterwards, and everything on the menu is delicious! Order the Shakshuka if you want something different! (Pictured Above)

EGGBREAK – This is my absolute favorite, local brunch spot in London. There’s always a wait so come early or prepare to wait outside. Everything on the menu is incredible — the eggs obviously, but also the pancakes.

Farm Girl This one is more of an Instagram hot spot. Go to the Notting hill location before walking dow portobello road. There’s always a line so get there as close to opening as you can. They have fun lattes, a good Australian-influenced menu, and a great “Instagramable scene” if that’s what you’re after. (Pictured Second to Last)

Seymour’s Parlour My Dad and I came here for breakfast when he was in town! It’s SO classic London, hole in the wall, library-style… very charming. It’s also one of my favorite places to work! Great if you’re in town with a family, and looking for something more classic less Insta-hot spot. (Although it’s outside door still makes a great ‘gram and the inside begs for a picture).

Wallace Collection I’d say technically this is more of a lunch place but if you’re visiting, especially make sure you stop in the Wallace Collection (My favorite gallery space in all of London) then grab a bite to eat (think upscale cafe food) in their beautiful pink, sky lit atrium. (Pictured 5th)

Coppa Club – This is a tricky reservation to get, especially around the Holidays, but if you’re visiting I definitely recommend booking brunch here before touring the Tower Bridge. (Pictured 2nd and 3rd)

The Ivy Chelsea Garden– The menu isn’t anything to necessarily write home about, but the Ivy is a London classic. They have several locations all across London, but I’d recommend the Chelsea Garden location if you want the most “ladies who lunch” scene. (Pictured First)

Duck & Waffle – I always tell all of my friends that are visiting to book brunch here. The food is really good, and you’ll get one of the best skyline views of London, 42 floors up! (Pictured 4th)

The Wolseley – It’s tradition for my friends and I to come here for Christmas brunch! I ALWAYS recommend anyone visiting to come here – It’s classic, beautiful, and in the perfect location to stop into Fortnum and Mason and see the shops on Bond Street/ Piccadilly afterwards.

CASUAL (ISH) RESTAURANTS

Churchhill Arms – My dad requests we go here every time he’s in town. It’s good for locals or tourists who want a pub vibe but super easy casual dinner. The front is a very eclectic, tchotchke -filled bar. The back is a Thai restaurant, yes you read that right.. Thai! It’s an easy option when you’re jet lagged and just get into town, want something chill after a touristy day, or just crave some Thai and don’t want to sit at a restaurant allll night. (tables 1 hr max, call ahead to be safe)

Mediterraneao – Located on a quaint boutique filled corner, this hole in the wall place has become one of our go-to mid week favorites. Fact: The cacio y Pepe is the best I’ve ever eaten, the environments super chill, and overall it’s just a nice, no-frills local feeling spot. Local Tip – If you have to celebrate a birthday they bring out the most delicious tiramisu obnoxiously paired with a sparkler candle and “Happy Birthday” song. I’m all for that sort of thing so even more reason to love it!

Thomas Cubitt – I’ve been to this Belgravia pub a few times and really like their menu despite England’s food getting a bad rap. 

Golden Union – If you’re strictly after fish and chips, this hole in the wall spot in Soho is quite good and quick! Go the British route and be sure to order yours with vinegar.

BUMPKIN I used to go here more than I do now, but this is always an easy option for a Sunday roast or casual Dinner. American’s in London — come here if you’re having fomo around Thanksgiving and need a home-away-from-home for a traditional (ish) feast.

TOM’S Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to this easy Chelsea spot. You usually don’t have to make a booking and it’s an all around good option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They have other locations too.

ANDINA – This one’s great for casual group dinners, low key dates, girl’s dinners, etc. I’ve only been to the Notting Hill location, although there’s also one in Shoreditch too. Their Perivian menu is delicious and they also have great breakfast.

TONKOTSU If you’re craving delicious ramen, go here! The Notting Hill location is quite small, but it’s a great casual date place or dinner with friends with a cosy atmosphere. There’s also a location in Soho, but I haven’t been to this one!

THE OAK The oak has the best pizza and is also a great place in Notting Hill to grab a glass of wine during the week. They have a restaurant downstairs and a cocktail bar upstairs if you need a cosy place to grab dinner then a drink.

DATE NIGHTS/ DINNERS:

Dishoom – Best Indian Food in London and the coolest restaurant spaces. They have several locations, but this is a must on any London List. (Pictured Above)

Temper – This place has a great date vibe. We sat at the bar but you can also get a table. Good small plates known for their barbecue and butchery. I’ve been to the Soho location but there’s also one in the City and Covent Garden

Cepages I love this local wine bar! It’s great for dates or just dinner with the girls. They have small bites for sharing, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is really date appropriate. (Pictured Third)

Mazi  The Greek Menu is AMAZING and the Notting Hill ambiance is really cosy. Everything was delicious I couldn’t recommend one thing over another. 

E&O This place has a cool bar and modern asian menu. Good for meeting up for a drink then grabbing a nicer bite to eat, or ending the night with cocktails, dumplings, and dessert!

Sticks N Sushi Sushi is my probably my favorite food and hard to come by in London! There are a few locations throughout London. Great food, nice setting, good with friends or for dates!

Yauatcha – This is my roommate’s favorite restaurant. We always do birthday dinners here – Great for groups or dates. Good sharing plates, known for their dumplings.

Kaia – This ones at the Ned, one of my favorite, go-to places near Bank. Overall the Ned’s good for everything — date nights, girls night, drinks with live music during the work week… Come here for really good sushi then grab a drink afterwards at the Nickel bar or nearby tables. (Pictured 4th)

DIN TAI FUNG – This is one of the #1 restaurants on my to-try list. It recently opened and I’ve heard great things from all of my friends who have been. Apparently they have the best dumplings!

Dean Street Townhouse – I always end up here with friends that are in town. The Menu’s quite classic – think burgers, salmon, traditional sides. If you’re here in the summer, be sure to grab a table outside.

GIRLS NIGHTS

Farmacy – When I say I go here 4x a month, I’m not exaggerating. I make a point to order something new every time I go so can vouch for everything on the menu. It’s Vegan, cool atmosphere, and has just as good of brunch as it does dinner, just expect a bit of a wait!

Bob Bob Richard – Lord knows how many “deportation dinners” I’ve had here before I finally sorted out my visa 🙂 its expensive but I love everything about it. The decor, the menu, of course the “Press For Champagne” Buttons at every table. I’ve come here several times with girl friends, and had my graduation dinner with Dad and friends here! If you’re visiting or looking for a dolled up dinner out, go here! (Pictured Third)

SKETCH If you didn’t get the gram in the egg bathroom did you even go to London? This is definitely tourist spot #1. It’s expensive, great for girls nights. Just cool one of a kind, only in London! BOOK 1 month+ advanced. (Pictured 2nd)

Berner’s Tavern – I’ve never had a night at Berner’s that I didn’t like. Grab a table in their beautiful gallery room or espresso martinis and their famous flaming dessert. It’s great for catching up with friends who are in town, dinners with the family if they want something nice, or an upscale dinner before a night out in SOHO. 

Malibu Kitchen – Also in the Ned, this one’s great for girl’s dinners because of the healthy options on the menu. I love the bowls here — great place for a Monday/Wednesday to grab a bite and juice after work!

Annabels (Members) This one’s on my going out list, but if you want a fun girls night, go get margaritas and Mexican food in their Mexican restaurant on the second floor or sushi on the patio or first floor! It’s the best place for a girls night! (Pictured First)

PUBS/BARS:

Anglesea Arms – Probably my favorite pub in London, always end up here for chill nights or before dinner/out!

Ladbroke Arms Good one for casual drinks. I’ve been here several times and while theres definitely a family vibe at times, it’s a nice local option in Notting Hill. In the colder months, grab a table in the back for a pub style dinner, in the summer, go for the outfit terrace.

Cock and Bottle – My friends and I love coming here on Sunday afternoons to play Monopoly/board games and drink some wine. It’s super cosy for a rainy afternoon, tucked just off of Westbourne Grove after a little boutique shopping.

The Ned – Can’t say enough good things about the Ned. It’s one of my favorite bars in London with a good scene and live music… and it’s home to 7 restaurants as well so its also a great option for food. (Members can enjoy the pool/rooftop in the summer and the Bank Vault in the evenings)

The Orange – It’s little out of the way depending on where you’re coming from, but I love the vibe of this Public House. It’s usually always crowded, great for a pub bite or post work drinks.

SCARFES BAR – Even if you aren’t staying there, the Rosewood is such a great spot in London. My roommates and I love grabbing a bottle of wine here and catching up after work. The settings good for a cocktail before the theatre or for a nice nightcap, especially in the winter by their giant fire. Also, If you’re here on a mother/daughter trip, I definitely recommend it for a pre-dinner cocktail!

GOING OUT

Jaks – Jaks is great! Always a fun place to end up after a few drinks or to celebrate a birthday if you want to get table service. They have a delicious restaurant, also good for group dinners, then a fun bar, dj, tables… chiller vibe than a club club but the whole thing! (Pictured Directly Above)

Soho House (Members) – I really do love the whole vibe of Soho house. It’s chill, not superficial, and they have a lot of different locations. The Bar at the original Soho on Greek street is great. Electric House has a really chill bar/upstairs space to grab a drink or bite before a movie, and Shoreditch house is really cool.

Annabels (Members) – Find yourself a member, or join yourself. Everything about Annabels is over the top. Definitely expect everyone to be on their A-game. The people watching is unparalleled. I love the outdoor terrace especially in the summer, the downstairs bar, or Upstairs room for a weeknight Mexican dinner/margaritas! Of course when you’re here you also have to see the women’s bathroom… nothing tops it. (Pictured Above first)

The Ship Wandsworth — This place isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s a fun time in the summer and right on the water. Grab a bottle of rosé and table outdoors with friends. Another day-drinking style place that has great curly fries after a few drinks in.

The Prince – No idea why, but something about this place reminds me of the Bungalow in Santa Monica if you’ve been. I feel like it has the same vibe – it’s definitely a summer place – think day drinking, rose all day, giant bottle service, and fun group vibe.

WORKOUTS

Heartcore Pilates My favorite workout studio in London. I still swear by reformer pilates. It tones the entire body plus these studios are beautiful. Notting Hill & Chelsea are my regulars but they have several locations throughout London. (Pictured Middle Above)

1 Rebel – Back in the states I was a big Burn 60/Soul Cycle fan. This is similar (Think Barry’s but less intimidating?). They offer both spin and full body HIIT style classes. I usually take the ReShape classes which include treadmill, weights, VERY loud music and lights. Its hard but I always feel SO good after. The amenities/showers are nice too.

Parks – I’m a big runner. I much prefer running a few miles outside than cardio at the gym, so for me nothing beats Hyde Park. There are SO many routes, trails, runner friendly pathways, plus you can pass by Kensington Palace, the Serpentine, The Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial so basically the views never get old.

GRACE – If you’re looking for a long term (women’s only) health spa, Grace in Belgravia is one to consider! I’ve tried their pilates, HIIT, and Circuit classes – all of which I love and nothing beats a nice post workout steam in their sauna, especially in the winter.

SOUTH KENSINGTON CLUB – SKC is another members only gym to consider on the list. For starters, both women and men can join. Their fitness spaces are a bit smaller, but very elegant, especially their Russian Spa. They offer discount memberships under 30, and also offer nice spaces to work, and a patio to enjoy in the summer!

CINEMAS

Electric Cinema – I still love a good dinner and movie night – I love coming here. Biggest flaw, there’s no popcorn, but the whole vibe is unlike any theatre I’ve seen.  They have large bed/style couches if you’re looking for something cosy for a date night and lush red leather chairs with individual lamps if you’re coming with family/friends!

The Every Man – Second to Electric, I love this theatre and its way more affordable. I’ve been to the Maide Vale location a few times, always grab a drink, and bite at the quaint bar beforehand. The seats are unique, think couches seating 2+, and they have your usual movie favs — candy & popcorn plus appetizers and “Speil-burgers” if you want a heartier meal.

BEAUTY

HAIR | LIMOZ LOGLI – I am suuppperrrrr particular about my hair. To me finding a good hair stylist is like finding a plastic surgeon… you don’t want someone to botch your whole look. Limoz is the only person in London I trust with my hair. He is so patient, genuinely does what’s best for your face shape/coloring, and is the best of the best with balayage and haircuts… plus his Chelsea salon space is beautiful.

BROWS | BLINK BROW BAR I always go to the location in Notting hill just around the corner from me, but there are blink locations all over London. They’re great for full brow threading (what I go for) and also offer other services like lashes and tinting (which I personally haven’t tried so can’t vouch for!)

BRAZILIAN WAXING | STRIP WAX BAR  Obviously no Brazilian wax is ever fun, but strip does a great job and has a few nice boutiques across London. They also offer other services.

1 Comment

  • Reply Weekend Reads, No. 89 January 30, 2019 at 5:34 am

    […] Obsessed with this super comprehensive guide to London! It includes the best hotels, sights, workouts, beauty, cinemas, restaurants (broken down into […]

  • Leave a Reply