Travel Guide: London


A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to go present a paper I wrote in London, England. I was super excited because a) Someone other than my mother wanted to hear about the research I'd been pouring my heart into for the past year, and b) I could try out ALL THE BRITISH FOOD.

I've been to London before, during my fall break while I was studying in France in 2014, but this time I had a better idea of what the city had to offer. 

I used Excursion, my all time favourite free travel app, to save 135 restaurants and sights on an offline map (seriously, that app is a LIFE SAVER!!) and then narrowed it down depending on my location and mood. Now I want to share my list of the best things I did while in the city of double decker buses, high tea, and the Spice Girls.



EAT

26 Grains ・ Trendy Breakfast
This teeny tiny gem of a place is located in Neal's Yard which is a little courtyard filled with flowers and brightly painted buildings nestled into busy central London. Even if you aren't looking for something to eat, you should go have a look around. But if you are hungry, 26 Grains does one thing really really well... porridge! They serve sweet and savoury porridge that will have you wondering why you haven't been eating a bowl of grains for every meal of the day. I got the Matcha Cacao Coconut bowl and I was in heaven, not to mention full for a whole day of walking and sightseeing.

Bea's of Bloosmbury ・ Afternoon Tea
My friend Morgan studied abroad in London and she recommended this cute little tea shop that has tea pots hanging from the ceiling!! So if you're looking for a delicious afternoon tea that won't break the bank but will surely make the most instagram-worthy outing then Bea's is for you. 

Dishoom ・ Indian-Fusion
My sister, my mom and I went to Dishoom when we were in London a couple years ago and it was so fun to split a bunch of small indian dishes with a modern twist.  It's really popular (like Yelp's Best Restaurant in the UK kind of popular), so if you want a spot you should really reserve. They take reservations 24hrs in advance. I haven't been for breakfast but apparently it is one of the best in London!


Bread Ahead Bakery ・ Sweet Treats
I had one of Bread Ahead's doughnuts and thought I had died and gone to heaven. They are located in the Borough Market, which means they won my heart among the hundreds of other stalls offering warm baked goods. They also offer a ton of baking courses so you can make yourself freshly baked croissants, bagels, pizza, middle eastern flatbread, or doughnuts for the rest of your life. I don't know about you but I would book a trip back just to learn how to make those doughnuts!

** side note: Go to Borough Market. Just do it and you will thank me later. You will be in food heaven and they even have chefs giving live cooking demonstrations!!


Pizza Pilgrims ・ Wood-Fired Pizza
One thing that really surprised me about London was how many restaurants had good quality wood fired pizza. After one of the conferences I attended, I walked through the rainy streets in a trench coat and grabbed myself a Filetti pizza and a window seat at Pizza Pilgrim and watched all the people spilling out of happy hour. I totally felt like a local and I was so unbelievably content.

Cafe in the Crypt ・ Cool Cafeteria
This was another one of Morgan's recommendations and she didn't lead us wrong! This cafe is actually in the basement of St Martin-in-the-Fields church which is right smack dab in the middle of London, just across the street from Trafalgar Square. Most of the other diners are in their eighties but the food is good and the price is right!

Granger & Co・ Lunch Date
OH MY YUM! I had to go to Granger & Co. because every blog I read before leaving on my trip said that all the cool celebrities go there for brunch. I ended up going for lunch at the Notting Hill location and had the courgette fritters. I was making mental notes the whole time because every aspect of the meal was perfect! It's a bit on the expensive side but so worth it for a classy date.


The Mae Deli ・ Vegan Cafe
Okay I wouldn't be lying if I told you that I half went to the Mae Deli to run into Ella Woodward from the crazy popular vegan food blog Deliciously Ella. The deli is a hop scoot and a jump from Hyde Park which makes grabbing a smoothie and a salad for a picnic super easy. 

Book and Kitchen ・ Charming Cafe
You know when two things you love come together in the most perfect way possible? Yes, well that was what I happened at this little bookstore meets ├╝ber cute coffee shop/garden terrace. It's off the beaten path in Notting Hill but it gives you the perfect reason to stroll through the streets of a lovely neighbourhood, visit the Portobello Road market, and dream of  Hugh Grant coming around the corner. 


Ben's Cookies ・ Cookies
After I presented my paper to a bunch of really intense academics I was in full on celebration mode because it officially meant I was done school and summer was here!! My professor and good friend, Denise, and I headed to Covent Gardens to devour a WHOLE BOX of Ben's freshest, most chocolate-filled cookies. Covent Gardens has some really cute shops and market vendors too, so it's worth it to go walk through.

Harrod's Food Hall ・ Fancy Treats and Eats
I think when I die, I will wake up and be in Harrod's Food Hall. The place is so extensively decorated with every type of luxurious food you could imagine. Even if you just go to look at the piles and piles of tea or chocolates, it's well worth it. If you want to treat yourself there are many restaurants in Harrod's or you can do what I did and grab a sandwich to go eat nearby in Hyde Park. 


Get Moving

At this point you're probably thinking I left Heathrow about 20 pounds heavier than when I arrived. But you'd be (somewhat) wrong about that, because although I ate a ton of great food, I made a point of walking everywhere and staying active while away. Here are a couple of things I did to exercise (slash sightsee #multitasking) while in London.

Both times I was in London, I rented a bike and set out on two wheels to discover London's many parks. If you want a good starting point and a way to get used to biking on the wrong side of the road(!!) then your best bet is Hyde Park. There are ton of docking stations all over the city that are super easy to rent a bike from and all you need is your credit card. This was definitely a highlight for me and it didn't hurt that I got to ride right past Kensington Palace and have a look for a certain prince while I was out and about. 

This was probably the most fun I've ever had at 6:30AM in my whole life! Project Awesome is a free exercise class that takes place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at some of London's most iconic sights. I went to a class at the base on the Tower of London Bridge and it really was surreal to show up and be greeted by a crowd of neon spandex-clad londoners suuuuuuuuper pumped to get their sweat on just as the sun was rising. Everyone was super friendly during the class and then afterwards most people go out for coffee to get to know each other.   


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