Whenever I go to London now, I am more interested in revisiting my favorite spots than seeking out the trendiest places. That’s not to say that I didn’t put a few of those on my list this time, but what I love most is staying in my favorite neighborhood (South Kensington), and pretending like I live part of my life there. I have stayed in many different neighborhoods and have been lucky enough to lay my head down in five star hotels, and many different boutique hotels all over the city. But I always find myself returning to The Kensington. It’s on the right side of town for easy access to Heathrow, the neighborhood is amazing, the tube is close, and George, their valet, smiles when I arrive in recognition. “Welcome back!,” he says. But I think what he really means is, “Welcome home.”
While this is not a list of hot spots—there’s Just Opened London for that—it is a list of different things to do in London after you’ve done most of the touristy things.
Liberty: A trip to London would not be complete without a visit to this legendary department store. Located off Regent Street, they have incredible clothes + accessories, but it’s the home department that keeps me coming back.
Daylesford: I will do a whole post dedicated to the Mecca that is Daylesford, but for now, I’ll just tell you it’s a beautiful cafe + market, and home goods shop in the heart of Pimlico. As a quickly expanding organic lifestyle brand, I predict it’s going to take over the world!
Wild at Heart: One of the best florists in town, and an adorable little boutique in Pimlico.
Summerill & Bishop: fine goods for your kitchen and home
Moolan Beauty: This is THE PLACE to get your nails done in South Kensington. They also offer a full range of other beauty treatments. Pro tip: get a manicure and 20 minute massage before you get on the plane back home.
*See my Design Lover’s Guide to London for lots more shops!
The Laslett: A gorgeous and stylish stay in the middle of Notting Hill. Read about my stay here.
Number Sixteen: Though this hotel is really small, even by boutique hotel standards, it is a great option if you are traveling alone and want to be in South Kensington. Amazing location and gorgeous decor.
The Kensington Hotel: Though the ultra luxurious hotels are great for a special occasion (or when someone else is paying!), my favorite home away from home is the luxury boutique hotel, The Kensington. I love the area, I love the decor and it’s quiet with great beds and bathrooms–I especially love the top floor studio suite. I also recommend doing the breakfast package.
The Artist Residence (Pimlico): A very cool and stylish hotel in Pimlico (near Knightsbridge). Read about my stay here.
EAT + DRINK
Ottolenghi (Belgravia): I always make time for lunch at Ottolenghi. It’s very casual with only a few tables, so I’ve gotten takeaway several times. The food will blow your mind.
The Fine Cheese Co. (Belgravia): The perfect place to put together a picnic, my friend Mrs. O Around the World and I came across this shop after lunch at Ottolenghi. We vowed to go back for lunch.
La Fromagerie (Marylebone): We stumbled upon this darling little cheese shop while on a walk, and came back for after dinner drinks and a cheese for dessert.
The Marylebone Bar: After cheese at La Fromagerie, we stopped in for a night cap(s) and made fast friends with the bartender.
Bumpkin (multiple locations): I don’t care that this British brasserie isn’t new. It’s consistently delicious and around the corner from my favorite hotel, The Kensington. I almost always eat here my first night in town. Order the chicken pie!
Blanchette (Soho): Highly recommend for pre-dinner drinks, but I hear the food is also great.
Dishoom (multiple locations): If your budget doesn’t include Gymkhana, come here to get your Indian fix.
Gymkhana (Mayfair): We were lucky enough to be treated here for dinner by a chef friend and every time I mention the restaurant name to anyone who knows London says the same thing—it’s the best Indian restaurant in London, which is saying a lot. It’s located in fancy schmancy Mayfair and they fit right in with their tasting menu and Michelin star.
The Connaught Bar (Mayfair): After dinner at Gymkhana, you can mosey over to The Connaught hotel bar for a little nightcap. Order a martini, which will be delivered on a trolley and put together tableside.
Chiltern Firehouse (Marylebone): A place to see and be seen, I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed our dinner. As famous as the people who visit, it wasn’t the annoying scene I expected, but rather quite lovely and low key. *This is also a hotel.
Tate Britain: I loved visiting a new museum on this trip, and this houses a national collection of mostly British art.
Pimlico Design District – I loved walking around window shopping in the galleries and high-end interiors shops.
Windsor Castle: To say this was cool to visit a week after the Royal Wedding is an understatement. My biggest advice is to purchase tickets online in advance to avoid crazy lines, and make a lunch reservation at Cote Brasserie over looking the River Thames in Eton. It is an hour outside the city, but so worth it.
*See my other Travel Notes for London for other suggestions on places to stay, eat, + do.