Hubster and I lived in London for one magical year, and it was the best year of our lives. If I had to describe London in a few words, I’d say it is a genuinely diverse, bustling, fun, beautiful, and historic city. We lived in Central London in Zone 1 in the gorgeous neighborhood of Notting Hill, and my husband worked in Covent Garden. We made the most of living in Central London by traveling, exploring, and walking everywhere! If we weren’t walking from Notting Hill, we took the tube. I have a cheeky expat’s tube etiquette post you can check out too. I hope that this expat’s guide helps you get a real sense of London’s personality and that you enjoy that city as much as we did. Cheers!
RESTAURANTS IN LONDON:
The Palomar – Located in Soho, this restaurant is where modern fare from Jerusalem meets eclectic international influences aka super – flipping – delicious. You definitely need to make reservations for this restaurant.
Dishoom – There are four locations in London, so find the one that is nearest you! Expect to wait anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half. WORTH IT. Other delicious Indian restaurants include Tamarind Kitchen and Cinnamon Club.
Masala Zone – Their black dhal and biryani y’all. That’s what you need to order! There are multiple locations with this one, and they are all so good.
Granger & Co – Incredible brunch. Their whipped eggs and ricotta stuffed pancakes are the way to go. Expect a wait.
Aqua Shard – We went to brunch here on my birthday and my oh my what a view! You can’t dress super casually, but that’s not a big deal.
Market food at Camden Market – Take a break between perusing the market goods to eat!
The Champion – This is my favorite pub in London! We went here all the time. Get a classic English breakfast here! Or go in for a quiz night. Or just a pint!
Monmouth Kitchen & Leicester Square Kitchen – Both of these fusion restaurants are worth dining at. We took friends and family to both of these restaurants, and they always loved their experiences.
QUICK BITES IN LONDON:
Pret-A-Manger – I always get the halloumi falafel wrap and honestly, I’m waiting on the day that wrap makes it to Texas haha. Great juices, salads, and bites here too!
Rooster’s Piri Piri – This is like the falafel version of Chipotle lol. The flavors are too good, I’ve heard the meat is excellent (from my husband lol), and I personally love the array of vegetarian options!
Westfield Mall – This mall in Shepherd’s Bush has a huge food court that’s perfect for a quick bite. I always got the Indian food (obviously) but many stalls in the food court are great.
Taqueria – If you’re craving some Tex-Mex and you’re in London, this is the place to go. They make their own tortillas and supply tortillas to most other Tex-Mex places in London! Since we lived here for a while, we definitely missed tortillas and were ecstatic when we found this place.
HIGH TEA IN LONDON:
The Orangery at Kensington Palace – I like to think I’m basically having tea with royalty when I’m here! I went here multiple times and took a walk in Kensington Gardens afterward.
The Dorchester – Want a fancier experience? The Dorchester is for you.
Brown’s Hotel – The most beautiful high tea we had was at Brown’s hotel. We went with family friends, and it was a total treat!
Whittard of Chelsea – If you’re wanting a more casual high tea, this is the place to go. I love that the exterior sort of looks like a home from The Hobbit lol.
COFFEE SHOPS IN LONDON:
Monmouth Coffee – This is my husband’s favorite coffee shop. There is no wi-fi here because they want you actually to interact with others and drink coffee haha.
Continental Pantry – This is my favorite coffee shop! I went here at least once a week. Also, CP hosts wine nights, serves fantastic avocado toast, and offers many treats you can buy!
Farm Girl – Healthy and flavorful food paired with delicious coffee make for the perfect brunch spot! This place gets packed fast so I recommend getting here early!
Timberyard (TY) Seven Dials – This is the first coffee shop I ever went to in London! Located in Covent Garden, you can stop by while you’re checking out one of the most fun parts of London. Their lattes and peanut-butter banana bread are scrumptious!
The Wren Coffee – This coffee shop is in a church. Yep, it’s gorgeous. Stained glass and a good cup of coffee. What more could you ask for?
SHOWS IN LONDON:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – This five-hour show is worth every minute (and penny). We were waiting in line for “day-of” tickets for a few hours and actually did get two tickets! In between part 1 and part 2 is a break of an hour and a half I think, so we walked over to Tamarind Kitchen for delicious Indian food. It was one of my favorite nights ever!
Motown – You will leave this musical with so many classic hits in your head. The talent is unreal too!
Mouse Trap – Oh that Agatha Christie, she knew how to keep us on the edge of our seats! This show is, and apparently, there are multiple different endings, so that’s exciting!
SHOPPING IN LONDON:
Primark – I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated by this store. Maybe because everything is so inexpensive or perhaps because they have so much Harry Potter gear? It is worth checking out though!
Portobello Market, Borough Market, Camden Market – I recommend going to these markets earlier in the day so that you can beat the crowds! Each market is in a different part of London, and they are pretty similar. Borough Market, in my opinion, has the best food while I think Portobello Market has the best views. Camden market has gorgeous items to shop though!
Fortnum & Mason – Nothing like a visit to classic Fortnum & Mason.
FAVORITE TOURIST THINGS IN LONDON:
London Thames River Boat Cruise – We took a river boat up to Greenwich for a day. These boats are comfortable, easy to get onto, and affordable.
Abby Road – Yes there are a lot of tourists here during busy times, BUT as Beatles fan, I was excited to be in the same place they were at years ago. Kind of crazy to think they walked on this road and last minute decided to use that image as their album cover.
Warner Brothers Harry Potter Park – I mean…………. give me all of the Harry Potter things always!!!
Platform 9 ¾ – You’ve got to do this. I did this when there was no crowd, and the business wasn’t charging for it. I’m not sure if you have to pay now, but try to go when there’s no crowd so you don’t feel rushed and can actually enjoy it!
Lorde’s Cricket Stadium – Do you even “London” if you don’t go to Lorde’s? Cricket may not be your thing, but it indeed is a thing for the English. Learn more about this fascinating sport and try to watch a cricket match if you have time!
Wimbledon Stadium – Classic. Obviously, you enjoy this space most when Wimbledon is happening, but it’s still cool to go to!
WALKS IN LONDON:
Walking from Covent Garden all the way to Notting Hill – During this walk, you’ll pass theatres, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and so much more!
Walking down the Street of Embassies – This on the outside of Kensington Palace and one of the coolest streets. As you walk down, you’ll see flags from each country represented on Embassy Row. You can’t take pictures, but it’s fun just to walk through.
Walking around on Oxford Street in the middle of the shopping chaos – I wouldn’t be able to do this more than once or twice, but if you want to see a real crowd in London, this is where to go.
The secret road of colorful houses in Notting Hill – Not many people know about this road because it is a little hidden. Walk onto Uxbridge Street from Notting Hill Gate and enjoy!
HOTELS IN LONDON:
The Stafford – Hidden in central London, The Stafford London is the perfect blend of classic English elegance and modern style. We spent Christmas here with our family and had plenty of places to walk around to or dine nearby.
The Laslett – I went to this hotel all the time for a cup of coffee or brunch. This boutique hotel is in the heart of Notting Hill and the hotel I recommend all my friends and family to stay at when they visit London!
SIGHTS IN LONDON:
Hyde Park – Love this park! Especially during the warmer months because then you can enjoy some soft serve ice cream! It is the largest of four Royal Parks.
Kensington Palace – Maybe you can sneak a peek of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan! When you are walking into Hyde Park, you will also see Kensington Palace.
Japanese Garden in Holland Park – This space is gorgeous! The koi fish and cherry blossom trees transport you to Japan for a few minutes. Apparently, the Beckhams live in Holland Park, so I am always on the lookout hehe.
British Museum – Access to this museum is FREE, and there is so much to see! Go go go!
Seven Dials in Covent Garden – This space is beautiful and filled with so many good stores. You can walk around here for a while and pop into any of the delicious eateries when you get hungry!
The Shard – This 95-story skyscraper is home to some of the best offices, restaurants and hotel rooms in London – along with breathtaking views.
Sky Garden – This is London’s highest public garden. You can go here for drinks, brunch, lunch, or dinner! Make sure to make a reservation at least two weeks in advance though.
Tate Modern – It is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and one that you definitely want to check out!
Kew Gardens – I loved exploring these gardens! Kew Gardens is a botanical garden in southwest London that houses the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world. This is fun for the whole family!
Hubster had a long list of buildings to see in London, but these were a few of my favorites! Each one is so different, and once you know a structure, you can easily recognize it anywhere.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
DAY-TRIPS FROM LONDON:
Dover, England – This coastal town has a ferry that can take you over to France! The White Cliffs were my favorite part of this town. Check out my Dover Guide here.
Oxford, England – This historical English town is home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world and so much more. I can’t believe C.S. Lewis and Tolkien would hang out here! Check out my Oxford Guide here.
Cambridge, England – This town is the number one city for English people to live according to opportunity, income, and education. Check out my Cambridge Guide here.
Greenwich, England – This is the most relaxed day trip from London on this list. Go the market while you are there! We took a ferry from Central London to Greenwich and loved that.
WEEKEND TRIPS FROM LONDON:
Edinburgh, Scotland – We took a train to Edinburgh from London, and that view was gorgeous! We went to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and saw so many great comedy shows. Edinburgh country-side is also beautiful. Check out my Edinburgh Guide here.
The Cotswolds, England – The collection of quintessential English towns that make up the Cotswolds are so quaint and lovely. The oldest tavern in England is located here too! Check out my Cotswolds Guide here.
Dublin, Ireland – We flew to Dublin but then rented a car and drove all around the country-side. Check out my Dublin Guide here.
Bournemouth, England – What a classic and lovely English town. The water again is the jewel here. See if you can go check out the colorful beach huts.
Birmingham, England – Home of the original Peaky Blinders, Birmingham is a fun and diverse English city. I recommend heading there during the Christmas markets! Check out my Birmingham Guide here.
Cornwall, England – Enjoy the historic beach town of Cornwall! Walk around, get on a boat, and go in the water. For some reason, the pubs in this city are fantastic!
Brighton, England – This happy beach town is filled with great coffee and historical architecture. I think we checked out like 13 coffee shops here haha. This city also has excellent Indian food! Check out my Brighton Guide here.
I’m going to keep adding to this guide as my memory reminds me of gems in London! In the meantime, comment below with your favorite Central London space, eats, shops, and treasures!