I am a bit overwhelmed even trying to think where to start with this post! I LOVE London. Can’t get enough of it. In the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to travel there several times at all different times of the year and each time I go I just fall more and more in love with it! Many people have asked me to send them lists of things to do in London, where to stay in London, what to eat in London, etc., and each time I answer each of them with a long email or text that takes me a long time to put together…I realized the other day…duh! Why don’t I just do a post here?! That way I can update it with each trip as I find more amazing things to see and do…and eat…and share it with everyone! I won’t give in-depth info on everything here right away…it would be a book to read, but just know that if I add it to these lists, it is worth a visit. 😉 Introducing my Complete London Travel Guide! I hope it inspires your next trip or inspires you to want to take a trip! You won’t regret it! 🙂
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Complete London Travel Guide : My Favorite London Hotels
Did you know that London has more 5 star hotels than any other city in the world?! In some ways, having so many hotels makes it easier to find a place to stay in London, and in other ways having so many hotels to choose from can seem a bit overwhelming! No worries! I am here to help you! 🙂 Most all of these hotels are located in wonderful locations for setting out on foot to explore and they are all within super close access to all kinds of public transportation. Service, design and quality are always tops on my list of must haves, so here’s where I recommend you start your search for the perfect London Hotel.
The Cadogan Belmond – This is currently my favorite hotel to date. Small and understated, but totally luxurious. The staff is amazing and the location is perfect with both Chelsea and Knightsbridge at your fingertips. A beautiful old set of townhomes converted into a stunning 54 room boutique hotel with lots of history.
11 Cadogan Gardens – 11 Cadogan Gardens is my favorite place to stay if you are looking for a little more space for your family or traveling with a group while also maintaining space for privacy. Part of the Relais & Chateaux brand, they recently took over 6 apartments in a GORGEOUS brick building in Chelsea to add to their hotel property just down the street. These apartments are perfection for a longer term stay. We have stayed in both the three bedroom and a two bedroom apartment and when we were in London over Christmas is was the best place to spend Christmas Day opening gifts, lounging around and cooking a wonderful Christmas Day breakfast. Perfectly furnished and decorated, and including well appointed full kitchens, the Apartments at 11 Cadogan Gardens take up several floors of a traditional Victorian home. A luxurious oasis in the heart of Chelsea, one of London’s most charming neighborhoods.Buckingham Palace and Harrods are an EASY walk as are Sloane Square and wonderful shopping and dining on King’s Road and Pavilion Rd.
The Kensington – This is our favorite spot for the family to stay. It’s a set of beautiful townhouses turned beautiful boutique hotel right in the heart of South Kensington. (It’s also my favorite place for afternoon tea in London.) Just down the street from the Victoria and Albert Museum and Museum of Natural History, lots of great shopping and places to eat…everything is nearby. Be sure to ask about their family rooms if you are traveling with the kids. You can read more about why I love this hotel here.
One Fine Stay – This is another awesome option if you are staying in the city for at least 3 nights. A luxury flat rental is a fun experience to have in the city, and it’s especially a great option if you are staying with a bigger group. Here are a few examples of beautiful flats you can rent. You can read about our experience with renting a One Fine Stay flat in Marylebone here.
The Mandarin Oriental – The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park just went under a complete remodel after a fire in 2018. It reopened in 2019 and is stunning. The service is impeccable and the rooms are beautifully appointed. Get a room with a view of Hyde Park and watch the Queen’s horses wander through each morning.
The Savoy – Opened in 1889 as Britain’s first luxury hotel, The Savoy is perfectly located on the River Thames, in the heart of all that London has to offer. It underwent a major renovation in 2010. The service and common areas are all beautiful, and our room was very spacious and had everything we needed, but it was a little dated. For such a luxury hotel, I felt like I expected a little more “wow.” That aside, I would stay again for sure, just knowing what to expect.
The Goring – British perfection…don’t just ask me…ask Kate Middleton too…she chose to stay here the night before her wedding. 😉
Claridge’s – This place is known for being a favorite spot for the chic and most tasteful of world travelers…and you know that if they are staying here, it must live up to the hype. Old school grandeur and exquisite service sum up this gem.
Sofitel London St. James – I love the location of this luxury hotel. The neighborhood is a little quieter, but it’s still right in the heart of it all…West End night life, shopping, Buckingham Palace and more. The rooms are beautiful, restaurants are good and service outstanding.
Waldorf Hilton – This excellent historic hotel is located at the Aldwych in the heart of London’s theatre land just a few minutes walk from Covent Garden.
The Ned – If you’re looking for a super hip, 1920’s Jazz age club/hotel then the Ned is for you. It’s owned by the same guy that created the super exclusive SoHo House member’s clubs, so you know it’s awesome. Housed in a massive old bank building, the location in central London is a bit out of the norm for what I would usually recommend for first time travelers, but if you’re an experienced London visitor, check this place out! Restaurants galore, live music, state of the art gym and spa, uber cool decor and rooftop, impeccably designed vintage rooms…this place is awesome!
The Ritz – Old glamour, luxury and elegance right in the heart of Picadilly. If you can’t swing a stay here, make a reservation for quintessentially British Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court so you can experience this fabulous hotel.
The Langham – One of London’s original luxury hotels, the Langham opened in 1865, and was, at the time, the most opulent hotel in Europe. By the end of the Second World War it had closed, and was owned for a time by the BBC — but now that it’s back under the banner of the (now Hong Kong–based) Langham Hospitality Group, it’s been restored to its former glory, and is again a major player on the London luxury-hotel scene. This means it’s a fair bit less glossy and jewel-encrusted than some of London’s more ostentatious hotels, and feels much more connected to the city’s historical character. Needless to say, this is a good thing. And with a location just to the north of Oxford Circus, it places the whole of the West End, the traditional heart of London, right at your feet.
Covent Garden Hotel – Down a little side street in the bustling and chic Covent Garden district, this small hotel’s atmosphere and central location make it the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Another Kit Kemp masterpiece her use of color and pattern is amazing!
Corinthia London – Stunning hotel with beautiful rooms and a great West End location right on the river allowing easy access to the best of central London dining and entertainment.
Complete London Travel Guide : My Favorite Places to Eat in London
Food! It’s the real reason we travel, am I right? The chance to eat all kinds of pretty, yummy things and not feel guilty about it because we’re on vacation! 🙂 Here are some of our favorite spots and a few that are on my list for our next visit…everything from street food to fancy fare. Hopefully these amazing places to eat in London will help you plan your eating adventure!
Leon – Great spot for a quick bite. The Korean chicken burger is my fave.
Macellaio – Incredible Italian steakhouse. There are several locations throughout the city, but the one in South Kensington outshines them all in my opinion. The ambiance is the best by far.
L’ Antica Pizzeria Da Michele – Our favorite pizza place straight out of Naples. Margherita with double mozzarella and Cacio e Pepe are our go-tos. The Baker St. location is our favorite.
Hawksmoor Air Street – One of our favorite spots for just all around great food. The Air Street location near Picadilly is our favorite, but there are locations all over the city with slightly different (and I’m sure equally as good) menus.
Pret – or Pret a Manger as it actually named, is the most wonderful concept. It will make you wish you had enough foot traffic in your town to support one. Fresh grab and go salads, sandwiches, homemade soups, a few hot entrees, fruit cups, yogurts, bakery items etc. They open early for breakfast too.
Paul – A similar concept to Pret only even more Parisian. Baguette sandwiches, pretty pastries and all kinds of yummy Parisian “fast food.”
Original Hard Rock Cafe – A must visit for any music lover. The food is pretty decent too.
Maggie Jones – This place is so cozy and quaint I can hardly stand it! Classic British fare. Be sure to try the Chicken in creamed tarragon. Delish!
The Ivy – A swanky spot for weekend brunch. They have several locations all over the city, but I like Marylebone the best.
Jak’s in Chelsea – Cute neighborhood joint with a wide variety of yummy comfort food.
Harrod’s Food Hall – SO many yummy things here. Great place to pack a picnic and take to the park to enjoy!
The Roasting Party Hot Chocolate in Chelsea – cute little spot for a quick stop to grab a hot drink.
Petersham Nursery La Goccia – Amazing food in an even more amazing surroundings!
Bread Ahead – Donuts to die for
Balthazar – a favorite Parisian inspired spot with great brunch, steak frites and a beautiful atmosphere. Open late for a midnight bite.
Dark Sugars for Hot Chocolate – A bit of a journey but if you find yourself in Spitalfields (maybe checking out the market) it is definitely worth a stop. The most decadent hot chocolate I have ever had in my life!
The Delaunay – A beautiful restaurant in London’s West End. A perfect spot for a pre-theatre dinner.
Daylesford Farms – Notting Hill has an outpost of this famous Cotswolds farm to table shop.
34 Mayfair – Beautiful decorations…especially at Christmas. They didn’t decorate the inside this past Christmas though…only the outside, which was a huge disappointment…so check before you go if that’s what you are hoping for! 🙂
Hummingbird Bakery Notting Hill – The rainbow cake is a favorite! Get a slice while you browse the market stalls!
Seven Dials Market – Fun covered market with lots of yummy things to choose from
Brasserie Zedel – Great French Bistro and the perfect place to grab a late night, after theater bite.
Gloria – Actually, anything by the Big Mamma group is a safe bet! Some of my favorite Italian in London, Paris and beyond. The pizza…the pasta…the ambiance…it’s all fantastic!
Kingly Court Carnaby – A great hidden gem off Carnaby street with lots of food vendors to choose from.
Dalloway Terrace – Definitely one of the prettiest, most instagrammable places to eat!
Sketch London – The super popular place for tea with grammers, it is ultra modern and fun. Not just a tea spot, but a high end restaurant too. If you were hoping for an overload of pink decor you might be disappointed though…they recently refurbished the place and it’s now all yellow. 🙂
ROKA Aldwych – Incredible food and service. If you love sushi, this is a great spot.
Daphne’s – More delicious Italian food…right in the heart of Chelsea. If the weather is nice get a table on their darling outdoor patio.
Complete London Travel Guide : My Favorite London Attractions
There are too many cool things to see in London it’s hard to not have this list go on forever! My absolute favorite thing to do is just wander. If you get out and walk everywhere, you will see SO many cool things! Whether you choose to walk or hop on public transit, here are some things you definitely don’t want to miss…
Big Ben and Parliament – fresh off of it’s makeover this iconic clock tower and beautiful parliament building are a must to see and get your picture in front of!
Westminster Abbey – sight of many royal weddings and other events, this gorgeous cathedral is definitely a must see. They have a scavenger hunt for kids too to help them stay engaged.
National Portrait Gallery
Tower of London – this is worth every penny in my opinion. A tour with a yeoman telling stories is a great way to spend the afternoon.
The Tate – Ultra Modern museum
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Paddington Street – so cute to see all the colorful townhouses just like in the movie.
London Eye – great views from the top of the eye.
Notting Hill – so many fun shops and restaurants and colorful houses.
Hyde Park – I love wandering though the park like a local.
Princess Diana Park at Hyde Park – this is such a great place to take the kids. It is the best park!!
Natural History Museum – great with the kids!
Camden Yards – fun and funky shopping district
Borough Market – amazing market
Complete London Travel Guide: My Favorite London Shops/Arcades
There is amazing shopping everywhere…and I do mean EVERYWHERE in London. You cannot walk down the streets in London without running into a million great stores. Here are a few of my favorite spots to wander to shop…but seriously, you will be hard pressed to not run into all kinds of amazing things on your own!
Regent Street/Oxford Street – All the shopping you can possibly imagine from more standard mall shops like Lululemon, Vans, H&M and Zara to high end places like Canada Goose and Longchamp.
Liberty – Always a favorite stop and even more famous now thanks to Cruella. A high end luxury department store in a gorgeous old building. Their famous fabrics are divine.
New Bond Street – Incredible high end shopping. If you can make it here at Christmas time the store fronts are decked to the nines!
Cath Kidston – the cutest shop with all things English. a Great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs.
Fortnum & Mason – a must see for all tea lovers…and people that just love cute shops!
Alice’s – Love this quirky antique shop seen in movies like Paddington and many more.
Harrod’s – the iconic department store has something for everyone and is a treat to wander around.
Covent Garden – so many fun shops and restaurants in the streets surrounding the main building too.
Complete London Travel Guide: My Favorite London Experiences
In all fairness, many of these “experiences” also qualify to be in the food or shopping columns. It’s hard for me to not have an experience without it involving eating something or shopping. lol! Here are a few of my favorite things we have done in London over the years.
Tea at the Orangerie – Can’t get any closer to the royals than this! Have a beautiful afternoon tea at the Kensington Palace Orangerie on the grounds of the Palace.
Tea at The Kensington/Town House – This tea experience is one of my absolute favorites. I have had both the Beauty and Beast Tea (which is a must if you have little ones that have seen the movies) and the London Landmarks Tea. The artistry in the treats and the overall experience is magical.
Wandering around Harrod’s…but especially the food hall in the basement.
Seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London – Even if you’re not interested in the Medieval history, taking the time to stop at the Tower of London for a look at the Crown Jewels is pretty awesome.
British Museum – See the Rosetta Stone and a bunch of other cool stuff here.
Watching a Chelsea soccer match at Stamford Bridge – for any true football fan, catching a match at Stamford Bridge is a really fun experience. If the team isn’t in town, you can take a tour of the stadium and don’t forget a stop at the Chelsea Mega Store!
The Changing of the Guard – Every day rain or shine in front of Buckingham Palace.
Tour of Buckingham Palace – If you are in town in the later part of the summer, Buckingham Palace opens it’s doors for a few weeks for tours.
Christmas Lights all over the City – If you are lucky enough to visit London at Christmas you will be amazed by the light displays everywhere!
Take in a show at a theater in the West End – Matilda at the Seven Dials theater is a favorite.
A ride on a Double Decker Bus – This is the perfect thing to do when you want to see the city but the weather has taken a turn or your feet need a break. Be sure to get an Oyster card if you plan on being in town for a few days and riding public transit. It will help you save money and make navigating London’s tubes and buses much easier! Here’s more information about that…
Walking Across the Tower Bridge
A visit to the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. There’s a Paul nearby so grab a baguette and feed the birds Mary Poppins style.
John loved the Churchill War Rooms…me…not so much, but I’m not a huge museum person.
Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4 – I admittedly haven’t been on the studio tour, but word on the street is that merch here is even better than on the tour!
Leadenhall Market – One of the oldest markets in London it is a beautiful covered market full of places to eat and shop…and another great stop for Harry Potter fans.
A walk through Trafalgar Square and the West End…so many great picture spots.
Portobello Road Market – If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a market day it is definitely worth a stroll through!
The Sherlock Holmes Museum – it’s right down the street from L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele so you can grab some pizza after!
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – if you’re in town at Christmas, this huge festival/carnival is a fun place to visit…especially if you are there with kids!
Well, there you have it! My Complete London Travel Guide! I hope this London guide is a helpful place to start planning your dream trip to one of my favorite cities! I will continue to update this London travel guide as I visit more fun places. Until then, here are a few more posts I’ve written about London that go a little more in depth on some of the places and experiences I’ve mentioned above incase they can be a help too!
A few Tips for Traveling in London
These are posts I have written over the last few travels to London that might come in handy…
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- Things to Do in London: Afternoon Tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace