London Travel Diary | WHERE TO EAT, STAY, AND PLAY IN LONDON

Tim and I visited London and Paris this Fall and I’m so glad we impulsively booked the trip. Since we got married in 2019, our honeymoon was our last real vacation together, other than attending weddings. It definitely sparked a new love to continue seeing what’s outside of Georgia.  I wanted to share a full travel diary on where we stayed, what we ate, where we shopped, and our overall experience in London!

London is a huge city, so unless you’re staying for a few weeks you can’t see everything. Keeping that in mind definitely make the trip overall less stressful because I didn’t try to see everything. Just focus on your top priorities first! For me, I wanted to see the pretty pink spots I’ve admired on Instagram.

How to Pack for London in the Fall?

I think this will need to be a whole separate post! But the most important thing is to pack comfortable walking shoes and layers if you’re visiting in the Fall. Stay tuned for a full rundown on packing!

Where to stay in London?

This highly depends on what type of accommodations you’re looking for, but there are a ton of options! I personally wanted to be a little outside of the city center/hustle and really loved the area of South Kensington or Knightsbridge based on what I’ve seen on Instagram. We stayed at The Bailey Hotel and it was perfectly located right next to Gloucester Station, a direct tube station into the city center. I loved the charm of the hotel, and it was easy to walk to some of the major spots in town or jump on the tube. London is massive, so there’s really no one perfect location to be able to walk and see everything. You’re going to have to take either the tube, Uber, or bus to get around at some point.

We decided to go with a hotel over Airbnb just because we prefer the accommodations. Most housing in London doesn’t have AC or elevators, so keep that in mind when it comes to the time of year you’re visiting and how much luggage you’re going to have.  I used hotels.com to book both of our rooms because I get 10x the credit card rewards and you get 1 night free after booking 10 nights. So be sure to look into your rewards as well!

Quick tip: I would highly encourage you to be aware of how far your accommodations are from a station. You won’t want to lug your luggage around the city too far, plus it shortened the overall time of our trips around the city. To do this, I looked at the location of the hotel on google maps and looked for the underground icon to make sure it was close. Also as a heads up, most of the tube stations don’t have elevators so you’ll have to carry your luggage upstairs! If you’re injured or not able to do this, you may want to do an Uber to get in/out of the city.

Where to eat in London?

I’ve always heard that the food in London is disappointing, but I didn’t see that to be the case! I had a few recommendations from friends and also referenced Hayley’s London post/restaurant guide from Alysohaley.com. She broke it down my neighborhood and we tried and love two of her recommendations!

Quick tip: Most of our meals took longer towards the end, as they don’t want to be rude and rush you out of your dinner conversations. If you’re in a rush, let the waiter know you’re ready for the bill, otherwise, you may sit there a while afterward.

Favorite Meal: Dushoom

Yes, you will definitely stand in line for a table, but it was well worth the wait! This was both of our favorite meals from the entire trip. It was such a unique food experience, making it one of the most memorable meals. Plus, it was perfect comfort food in the chilly/rainy Fall London weather. They also served Chai tea while waiting in line outside under heaters. They have a few locations, but we visited the one in Covent Garden.

We ordered: Garlic and Cheese Naan (the cheese naan is so indulgent but DELICIOUS!), chicken curry, okra fries, vegetable samosas (which tasted like a yummy fall pastry with veggies and cinnamon), and Pauh Bhaji (essentially like vegetable hummus you dip a buttered bun into). The server was very helpful in walking us through the menu since we both have never really eaten authentic Indian food before.

Best View: SkyGarden Darwin Brasserie

Even if you don’t dine here, Sky Garden is definitely worth a visit for the best aerial view of London. I would personally skip the London Eye and see the views here. Tim loves to eat at restaurants with views like this, so we booked a reservation for our last night in London.

Best quick/value meal: Pret a Manger.

These are everywhere in the city. If you’re looking for organic food that’s quick and easy to stay moving then this is where we stopped when we got into the city and the day we left for Pairs. It’s not the best sandwich I’ve ever had, but it was quick and budget-friendly!

We also ate brunch at Farm Girl in Notting Hill, which was a popular farm to table breakfast spot. I ordered the avocado toast! We also had sushi at Sticks’n’Sushi, which was one of the best sushi restaurants I’ve eaten at. They had a very unique menu! Our most expensive meal of the trip was Afternoon Tea in The Gallery at Sketch. It was a fun experience, though! I’ve always wanted to dine there and knew it wouldn’t be decorated in pink forever since they typically hire a new designer to renovate the space annually. I packed my favorite bars for us to eat a quick breakfast on the go each morning.

The easiest way to get around the city?

The Tube! It’s really easy to navigate around London. I highly recommend downloading the city mapper app if you’ll have international data to use. You just enter your destination and it tells you multiple options on how to get there, step by step! We also did a lot of walking because we wanted to see London from above. The day the photos above were taken we walked over 10 miles and also took the tube.

Quick tip: try to plan out your day based on the location you’re heading to. Before leaving an area, double-check there’s nothing else you want to see if you can. You don’t want to waste time on the tube going across London if you can just walk 10 minutes or to cross something else off your list.

How did you use your phone internationally?

With AT&T I paid $10/day to be able to use my data just as I would if I was home. It made looking up locations and recommendations super easy!

What was the most surprising thing about London?

I was shocked at just how much walking you will do. We averaged 10 miles/day! The first few days, my feet and legs were sore, and they eventually adjusted, however, I did deal with some ankle pain throughout the trip. I was thankful I packed booties, which I didn’t think I would ever reach for, but they were the shoe I was most comfortable walking in because I didn’t feel my ankle pinch! My ankles are still recovering three weeks later as I write this 😉

Quick Money Tips

  • Personally, we chose to not get currency because we never use it at home. We both have credit cards that have zero international fees, so they would do the conversion for us. If you know you will be taking taxis, or doing things that require tipping then you will probably want to get a little bit out just in case! We just thought it was safer to not have cash on hand. If your card does have international fees, I would recommend either opening one that’s more travel-friendly (I have a Capital One Venture card) or just get currency ahead of time.
  • Apple Pay! I never used it until Europe, but it made transactions a lot quicker because we didn’t have to sign. Not every single place took it, but when they did we always used it. Once it’s set up, just double click your power button and your card pulls right up with your face ID. Just hold it over their readers and it’s done instantly!
  • Speaking of readers, in Europe they do all the check out transactions right in front of you, unlike here in the states where they take your card to the back. It’s much quicker and safer that way!

Is shopping really cheaper in Europe?

If you do plan on shopping, specifically designer shopping, I would research the current price here in the States and compare it to European prices with the estimated conversion. Depending on where you’re visiting, it is much cheaper to purchase in Europe and you get their VAT taxes refunded. I waited until we went to Paris to make a designer purchase because the price was less converted than in London. I think this deserves a whole separate post as well that I’d be happy to share my experience with!

Where is the best shopping in London?

There are so many great areas for shopping! I definitely didn’t cover them all, but of course, Harrods and Harvey Nichols is a classic shopping destination that comes top of mind. I think this was my favorite area in all of London.

Regents Street is a busy shopping area with names you’ll recognize. I highly recommend browsing Liberty of London if you can because they had some unique items! I believe the closest tube station is Piccadilly Circus, but be sure to watch the time you’re heading to that area. There is a lot of foot traffic from 5-7, similar to rush our here in the states 🙂 Another great shopping area we didn’t explore is Carnaby Street near this area.

Luxury Shopping: If you want to browse luxury, walk around Bond Street and Mayfair. We didn’t make it to Selfridges

Best Pink places for photos?

I plan to do another post on some of my favorite pink/Instagram-able spots in London so stay tuned!

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Stay tuned for our 4 days in London Travel Diary + a travel vlog! I hope to get it up in the next week 🙂

Thanks for reading and if you’re planning a trip to London.. I’m jealous! I hope this helps 🙂

xo Amanda

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