AOK Guide to London

Cheers to Friday! I've officially been home for a week and I am mostly recovered from jet lag, but let me tell you.........I've never been so sad that a vacation is over in my entire life. Serious post-vacation blues going on over here. I'm already DYING to go back to Europe - London in particular! I've always firmly believed that NYC was the best city in the world, but London put it to shame (IMO, at least). It is somewhere I would genuinely want to live, work, hang out in, etc. The people are friendly, the accents are just as I always imagined, the shopping is wonderful and the scenery is to.die.for. Seriously! There are flowers and inspiration everywhere you look. My entire camera roll was filled with pictures of buildings, houses and greenery. London was filled with charm around every corner.

OK, enough of my rambling, let's get down to business!!

Travel Tips
Here is your official warning: U.S. hair tools WILL NOT WORK in Europe, even with a plug adaptor, due to their high voltage! No one told me this and my hair dryer literally blew up in my hands on our first night of vacation. I was stuck without a working hair dryer, curler or straightener. Don't let this happen to you! Order some European hair tools off Amazon to take with you.

Take the Tube. It is SO easy to figure out and it's relatively clean. It puts the U.S. subway systems to shame! You can pretty much get anywhere in London within 20 minutes.

Order an "Americano" for black coffee or a "White Americano" for coffee w/cream. You'll have to add your own sugar. Ordering coffee in Europe was much more difficult than I anticipated!

• Order Tap Water unless you want to get charged for bottled or sparkling water.

• Take Sleeping Pills to help your body adjust to London time. You definitely don't want to waste your day in bed or be too tired to function. Melatonin, ZzzQuil, Tylenol PM, whatever you prefer. And coffee......lots of coffee to get you going in the a.m.!

• Map all your daily routes out when you have wifi. We went cheap and didn't get international service plans while we were gone. We were told every restaurant and attraction would have wifi, so we would be able to map our routes out on the go, but we actually found it to be very difficult! Only a few of the places we went had free wifi. We ended up mapping our entire day out before we left in the mornings and screen shotting each step, just incase.

Favorite Eats
Full English Breakfast at E. Pellicci - one of our most enjoyable meals in London! I wouldn't say anything is extraordinary here - it was all pretty basic stuff in a greasy old London diner - but it was delicious, inexpensive and authentic. The staff was so friendly and welcoming - they even suggested nearby places to shop, grab coffee, and see some sights! The restaurant was originally opened in 1900 and is still run by the same family.

Honey & Co. - the tastiest dinner we had in London by far. Honey & Co. is a teeny tiny Middle Eastern restaurant run by a husband and wife team. It maybe seats 20 people, so reservations are recommended! I ordered the Pomegranate Chicken with cracked wheat, dried currant and herb salad and it was a taste sensation. Delish!

Farm Girl Cafe - the most Instagram worthy restaurant of the entire trip! We had breakfast on their garden patio and it was so quaint and enjoyable. I recommend the Berry Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs and a Rose Latte (but be warned, it has a very strong rose flavor and the rose petals get stuck in your teeth). Most of their menu is "healthy" so it doesn't leave you miserable like some vacation meals tend to do.

The Orangery at Kensington Palace - my FAVORITE part of the entire trip was afternoon tea at the palace! The light pours through the giant windows overlooking the gardens of Hyde Park and it feels like a total dream. Our waitress was probably the happiest and friendliest person we encountered in all of Europe. She helped us pick out our personal teas (five stars for the Eucalyptus Zest!) and gave us insight on all the sights we had on our agenda. Along with tea, The Orangery serves bite size sandwiches, pastries and desserts. It was by far the best tea party of my entire life and had me feeling very proper, English and princess-y. It didn't hurt knowing Will and Kate weren't too far off, since they live at Kensington Palace. I can't recommend it enough! A MUST if you're in London.

Duck & Waffle - if you want dinner at a fancy "hot spot" restaurant with an incredible view, Duck & Waffle is where it's at! It's located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower and has floor to ceiling windows giving you a spectacular view of the city. It was kind of pricey and the food was a little over the top but the views were worth it.

Borough Market - Similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle! Definitely a foodie's heaven. I had my heart set on trying Bread Ahead Donuts while we are there (supposedly the best donuts in London) but I was too full by the time we found it!

• Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese - an authentic London pub that dates back to before The Great Fire of 1666. It was rebuilt after the fire and rumor has it that Shakespeare used to be a regular! It was clearly a popular spot for the business men and women to stop off for happy hour on their way home.

Full English Breakfast at E. Pellicci

Full English Breakfast at E. Pellicci

Farm Girl Cafe in Notting Hill

Afternoon Tea at The Orangery - please note the lady behind me [insert eye roll] - Outfit Details in THIS post!

Afternoon Tea at The Orangery

Happy Hour at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Favorite Sights & Activities
• The Tower of London & Tower Bridge - our favorite sight seeing activity in London! We purchased the head set tour and it was definitely worth it. There is so much fascinating history! The Crown Jewels are also kept here on display. Major princess vibes + I made about 47 Game of Thrones references. C was not impressed. It takes several hours to make it through the ancient castle, so be sure to set aside half a day for this.

• Buckingham Palace - The Queen is away in Scotland mid July - early October, so they allow visitors to tour the 19 State Rooms of Buckingham Palace! It reminded me of the Palaces in Anastasia, The Princess Diaries or Frozen, ball room after ball room with velvet and marble and artwork everywhere you look. What I would do to be invited to a party here! The grounds were equally as beautiful and impressive.

• Walking Tour of Notting Hill - the CUTEST area. I'm not even kidding. I could have wandered the streets for hours! Luckily our AirBNB was in this neighborhood so I got my fare share of it. Every home is bright and colorful with little garden patios out front. Pretty sure this is where Annie lived in The Parent Trap? Definitely where I would live if I lived in London. There is also plenty of stores and restaurants mixed in (+ Churchill Arms, the beautiful restaurant that has been Instagrammed and Pinned 1,000,000 times). We used this walking tour that I found on Pinterest.

• Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye - they're all right next to each other so you can hit them at the same time! Pro Tip: there's a red phone booth a block in front of Westminster Abbey that sets up the perfect Insta-Worthy shot ;)

The Tower of London

The Tower of London - Outfit Details in THIS post!

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

Tower Bridge

Buckingham Palace - Outfit Details in THIS post!

Notting Hill

Notting Hill

Notting Hill

Big Ben
Where To Shop
• Camden Town - A great area for touristing! There are a ton of tourists shops on every corner selling the usual London souvenirs, but there are also a few hidden gems and boutique gift shops. Be sure to hit up Camden Market while you're there - it used to be horse stalls but now is home to many small storefronts and pop-up restaurants.

• Covent Garden - A great area with a mix of designer, boutique and flea market stores selling art and jewelry! Plus it makes for a good photo op. I would compare this to an American outdoor mall, but prettier, with market booths in addition to the stores.

• Oxford & Regent Streets - We didn't actually make it here, but it is supposedly the most prestigious shopping area in London with high-end, designer and flagships stores that rival 5th Avenue! Regent Street is actually the 1st shopping street in the world and is v. Instagramable!

• Harrod's - THE department store of London! This place is massive and you will get lost inside. It has a gazillion floors and departments. They even have their own Ice Cream Parlor and an entire "Christmas World" year-round! They do not, however, have hair curlers, in case you were wondering....

Camden Market

The cutest boutique shop in Camden Town

Shopping at Covent Garden - Outfit Details in THIS post!

Covent Garden Shops
Where To Stay
• I feel as if I need to visit London a few more times before I can answer this confidently..... BUT! We stayed in a wonderful AirBNB flat in Notting Hill and it was fantastic! I would think most people would like Notting Hill - there is a central Tube station, plus its super charming with an upscale feel. This is where I would want to live, if I lived in London!

The street we stayed on in Notting Hill

When can I move in??
If you made it to the end of this post, you get a gold star. Thanks for sticking with me!

Have you ever been to London? If so, is there anything I missed that you would recommend? What are your favorites? I WILL 100% BE GOING BACK, so give me all the deets! If you haven't been, add it to your travel bucket list like NOW - I promise you won't regret it one bit!

Hope you have a fantastic weekend! What are your plans?? I'll be cheering on my Pokes while they play TCU in Stillwater on Saturday and finally catching up on my sleep the rest of the weekend.


Courtney- A Byers Guide Blog said...

Your trip looked amazing! What a great guide

Amanda Martin said...

Thanks Courtney! Paris and Rome guides coming soon :)

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