YES, I went to London again. I just can’t seem to be away for too long lately. And since work has been slow (slow is a definite understatement) I’ve had to take matters into my own hands and just go to London on vacation—I know, life is hard.
But on a serious note, I headed to London to celebrate Galentine’s Day (aka Valentine’s Day sans boys) with my favorite gal Arie who studied abroad with me at Regent’s Uni back in 2014. Arie’s from my hometown and college and we had our first official Galentine’s Day way back when during our time at Regent’s over a large pepperoni pizza from Delta—the best delivery pizza in London—and serenaded by Lorde’s Pure Heroine album. We just had to recreate it three years later. But first we had a few other stops ahead…and 90% of them involved food.
I want to give you guys the lowdown on this trip (the good, the bad, the fabulous, and the absofu*kinglutely incredible) so you can learn a thing or two about London and traveling in London—that’s why I love recapping my adventures for you. I’ll bold and link important locations such as restaurants, train stations, and neighborhoods so you can skim through if you can’t keep up with my eagerness.
As usual, we rented an Airbnb beforehand. We decided to stay in Paddington as 1) it’s where the Heathrow Express terminates (so we could walk directly from the train to the flat for check in and check out) and 2) there are tons of different underground lines at Paddington, therefore making getting just about anywhere in London a cinch. Unfortunately, we ended up with a host that was a stickler about check in being at 3pm and check out at 11am, so we didn’t even get to utilize #1. The location was fab either way—it was right outside the station and was very central and easy to get to. Paddington is in west London just north of Hyde Park.
On our first day we landed around 8am. Since we weren’t able to check in to our flat right away, we had to come up with a plan that would allow luggage-friendly travel (which would likely be a total nuisance or hard to find). We freshened up and made a game plan at Heathrow’s Café Nero and Arie came up with the brilliant idea to go to the Victoria & Albert Museum (one of the few museums I actually enjoy) and drop off our luggage at coat check! It was a perfect way to spend our first few hours in the city. There are always new exhibits coming in and entrance is free! The V&A is also right next to the Natural History Museum—that’s a good one too. And just down the road from the lovely Harrods department store! Plenty to keep you busy in the South Kensington area (not to mention the gorgeous homes and restaurants nearby).
After our museum browsing, we headed back up to Paddington to get settled in our darling little flat. Neither of us managed to sleep on the plane so after a day of walking around with the beginnings of some serious jet lag, we took a mini nap (don’t you dare sleep more than two hours or you’ll be ruined!) and got dolled up for dinner.
We were both craving Indian, so I suggested the trendy and you’ll-definitely-have-to-wait-in-a-queue-here Dishoom! We headed to the one in Covent Garden—there’s also one in Carnaby, King’s Cross, and Shoreditch—and hopped in line. Now because everyone wants to eat at Dishoom, the workers keep everyone waiting outside in the cold very well accommodated with hot sherry & spiked chai! And once you get close to the door they let you in to the bar for extravagant cocktails—we had a gin & mulled wine combo! After drinks we ordered what seemed like everything on the menu, and then ordered even more. If you like Indian food (and who doesn’t like naan?!) you’ll love Dishoom.
We made sure to snap a few photos in our Paddington neighborhood and found a darling mews with colorful homes for that classic, English aesthetic. After a coffee, we just had to revisit our old stomping grounds at Regent’s Park, so we headed to Baker Street station and hit the ground running. Regent’s Park is my favorite park in London (I may be biased) but it’s absolutely stunning and the Regent’s University campus is extraordinary. After reminiscing the good times of our favorite semester of school, we walked down to Oxford Street. I had a hankering to visit Selfridge’s to check out my favorite designers & food hall, and then we were in desperate need of chocolate so Ben’s Cookies was up next. You can’t go to London without getting Ben’s Cookies and you can’t go to London without getting Ladurée macarons—so a long walk began from Oxford Street down Regent Street, across Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, all the way to Covent Garden Market—a must do walk-through for London first timers.
Apparently our sugar teeth just could not be satisfied this morning, because we had one more very important stop to make before heading back to the flat to get dressed for dinner: Yolkin macaroon ice cream sandwiches. Arie found them on Instagram beforehand, and if you know me, I’m a sucker for any trendy food item. They were just as yummy as they were photogenic and their flavors are extremely unique—something you won’t find anywhere else. I had toffee crunch and Arie had a special Valentine’s Day strawberries and cream.
Our evening plans were all about our special Valentine’s Evening Tea at Sketch—yes, I went back! If you haven’t already read my previous post London in Five Days, you can find out even more about my favorite (and every other girl’s favorite) spot in London. If you don’t already know, Sketch is the lavish, quirky, pink palace of an afternoon tea spot that doesn’t even need to advertise as it’s been blogged and Instagrammed more times than you can imagine. The food is divine, the waiters are oh so sexy, and I dare you to say no to another glass of champagne. And like mentioned before, the bathrooms are otherworldly. We spent ages in there taking photos and boomerangs of each other and everyone else in awe.
After a dream-like visit to Sketch, we wandered around Carnaby Street and stopped in at The Clachan pub just by Liberty London (another must-see shopping spot!). We weren’t ready to go to bed just yet, so we headed south of the Thames to Brixton to a club called Phonox, a place I’d been one time previously. If you’re into house music with a really casual vibe, this is the place to be. Everyone is in jeans and trainers, the bar downstairs is perfect for chatting and affordable drinks, while the dance floor upstairs is banging with a giant disco ball and lights to boot.
Yesterday was all about food, and this day was all about pretty sights and photos. We started off at the London Bridge tube station and walked to Tower Bridge to take in our favorite monument in the city. Afterwards, we headed down to Bermondsey, a darling neighborhood I stayed in last Valentine’s Day on a trip to London. While checking out the cutest shops and cafés, we found ourselves across the street from Jono Grant, one of three members of only my absolute favorite musical groups. I was completely star-struck! He was standing with Andrew Bayer, a producer and DJ under their Anjunabeats record label, and I couldn’t help but say hello. According to Arie I actually kept it cool while talking to them, which is a big deal seeing as how major they are in my eyes (imagine seeing your favorite artist on the street!). I didn’t want to keep them so I didn’t ask for a photo—although I’m killing myself for not doing so now! We grabbed espresso at Fuckoffee afterwards: a hilariously charming yet uncensored coffee shop in the SE1 ‘hood, and took in all the décor and café-goers.
Arie’s first trip back to London in three years would’ve been incomplete without saying hello to old Big Ben. We snapped some photos with my DSLR and were in awe of the outcome of the ones we took after with Arie’s iPhone 7 Plus—best camera I’ve ever seen on a phone! We then worked our way north from the river—up to Trafalgar Square to Regent Street to Oxford Street for a little shopping. I couldn’t say no to a few pieces from Warehouse—I always find something high quality and properly-fitting there.
There’s an issue when you’re in a big city that you don’t always think about until it happens though…where can you use the restroom?! Am I right? Yes, there are public restrooms here and there, but they’re not free and usually not clean. Places like Starbucks or Café Nero usually require you to purchase something. But if you are in the vicinity of a department store, your chance is there! I always hit up Harrod’s toilets or Selfridge’s or House of Fraser’s. They’re always luxurious and beat the one in the pub that doesn’t have toilet paper or a seat or a locking door…just a pro-tip!
After another ridiculously long day of walking and sight-seeing and chatting with celebs, we made our way back to the flat, of course, not before stopping for some wine for Galentine’s. We ordered pizza from Delta, the place we used to order late at night when we studied abroad, and YES, it was even better than I remember. Three years later we managed to recreate our London V-Day, garlic sauce and all.
Our final day in London required, again, some quick thinking since we had to check out before we planned to leave the city for our flight. Before worrying about that though, we walked over to Notting Hill for breakfast at Granger & Co.—another über trendy restaurant that a few local bloggers I follow rave about. The food was truly phenomenal; every plate the servers brought out to hungry Londoners looked incredible. I ordered an avocado toast with smoked salmon and a poached egg, and Arie ordered not one, but two plates because it all looked so good! She had the famous ricotta hotcakes with banana (I may have helped clean the plate) and the sweet corn fritters, which will likely be my order next time I’m there. After breakfast we wandered around Notting Hill down Westbourne Grove and took in the beautiful shops and flower arrangements being prepared for Valentine’s Day.
Since we had our luggage with us after 11am, we went where we knew we wouldn’t have a problem lugging it around—a mall! The Westfield in Notting Hill is a great mall with all types of stores, British and American classics. After refraining from swiping our cards any more, we hopped back on the tube and back to Paddington Station to take the Heathrow Express one last time.
Thanks for humoring me and reading about my travels—it means a lot! London is my second home, so I’ll be writing about it often here on Jet Set Bets.
Please comment below if you have any questions you’d like me to answer for you or if you have any requests for future posts—I’ll always get back to you.
Remember to follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter @betsyabernethy for a little more into my daily life. I post like crazy when I’m on trips!
Xx Jet Set Bets