city guide: london
“A man who is tired of London, is tired of life” Samuel Johnson once said. The man speaks the truth!
I’ll never turn down an opportunity to visit London… no matter how many times I’ve trotted across the pond to this gem of a city through the years.
What keeps me coming back? A trailblazing food scene, my persistent hope that I still have time to finagle my way into the royal family, the genetic makeup of the city’s rich history, deep rooted tradition and British humor… just to name a few.
Whether it’s an summer holiday, city break or some R&R time to visit family, I’ve stayed in my fair share of London neighborhoods and have narrowed down my top picks!
Marylebone/Mayfair: If you’re only in London for a couple of days and want to make the most of your stay, then this is the area for you! Super walkable (which is something I always look for) and right in the middle of all the action. The Marylebone, part of the Doyle collection, is very well known for its beautiful interiors and award winning restaurant right on Marylebone Lane, 108 Brasserie. Another gorgeous property, Chiltern Firehouse, has been repurposed from an 1800s firehouse to one of Europe’s most renowned hotels nestled right in this quaint neighborhood.
Notting Hill: This is the best in my opinion for traveling in a large group or staying for 7+ days. Notting Hill is a great home base to have due to the big(ish) apartments and houses in the area. Airbnb and One Fine Stay have the most beautiful flats in this neighborhood that give you a sense of what it’s like to live like a Londoner! It’s not in the closest proximity to the thick of it in the city center but if you are looking for a quiet place to hit the hay at the end of the day, Notting Hill is for you. Rows of colorful homes and darling little coffee shops aplenty 😊
South Ken/Chelsea/Knightsbridge: These three neighborhoods are all part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Yep, you guessed it… fit for a royal and very posh. The Berkeley and The Lanesborough are worth the splurge if you’re looking to treat yourself — both a stones throw from Harrods and Sloan Street.
EAT + DRINK 🍴🍸
La Fromagerie: The perfect place to pick up some provisions for a picnic in Regents Park.
Frenchie @ Covent Garden: As if the stunning design by Amira Hashish isn’t enough to lure you in, their Lamb Ragù gives Italy a run for it’s money.
Chiltern Firehouse: Andre Balazs is the name behind Chateau Marmont in LA and the Mercer in NY, with Chiltern now added to his portfolio of iconic eateries. Glam and always a good time. I love Chiltern for pre-drinks before a fun night out on the town. Make sure to visit the basement lounge for a touch up on your way out… you never know who you’ll bump into ;)
Sketch: More on this down under ‘Things to Do’, but this is without a doubt my favorite afternoon tea in the city. Unconventional in the best way possible!
Farm Girl: British food (and drink!) is heavy. Come to Farm Girl to detox with delicious green juices with some killer grain bowls and salads. I particularly love the locations in Notting Hill and Chelsea, but they have a location above Sweaty Betty in Soho.
Bob Bob Ricard: Infamous for their ‘Press for Champagne’ button, this restaurant’s luxe dining space is the perfect place to tuck in on a rainy London night.
Dehesa: While Covent Garden can get packed with tourists, Dehesa is a tapas spot tipped to me by a local a few years back. It gets bustling during happy hour with the après-work crowd, so if you’re looking for a table make sure to book early. I love ordering a glass of cava or a spritz with their five year aged jamón ibérico and manchego.
Arket: Described as a ‘modern day market’, this store has a little bit of everything. I seriously can’t get enough of their home stuff and clothing basics… all with a touch of the Scandinavian minimalism I love. I always make sure to leave extra room in my carry on for the amazing glassware!
Liberty of London: Manor turned department store is at the heart of Liberty. There’s a flower shop, sweets shop and paperie as well as the 7 floors of amazing shopping. You can find most of your favorite designers here along with some smaller labels on the rise. The Maria Tash piercing salon and Blinc brow bar are not to be missed!
Dover Street Market: This well known concept store is always a must do while in London for me. Comme des Garcçons, APC and Isabel Marant galore! DSM changes with the seasons and always has the most thoughtfully curated collections.
SEE + DO 📸
Once you’ve seen the big guys (London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace etc…) do be sure to set some time aside to discover the real London. With museums and parks in abundance, my favorite day to spend a day in Londontown is to have no set plan. Mark a couple things on your ‘must do’ list and leave the rest up to chance… see where the day takes you!
Chelsea is a fab neighborhood that has all of the London charm (see: townhouses, perfectly trimmed gardens and charming Brits) that you’re looking for. I love blocking off a day during my stay to wander around this area and visit my favorite shops and restaurants. Take a browse down Kings Road in Chelsea all the way down to the Saatchi Gallery just after Duke of York Square. This gallery has some of the my favorite works of contemporary art and gets a refreshed installation every few months or so. For lunch, you can’t beat the roast chicken with a glass of sauv blanc at The Ivy. If weather permits take a seat outside by the brick fireplaces in the leafy gardens.
If you’re in the hustle and bustle of the Piccadilly area, opt out of the touristy restaurants and shops on the circus and sneak into the quiet streets of Mayfair. There you’ll find some of the best independent galleries in London, sans queue!! My top recs are: Haylon, The Redfern, Maddox and Sadie Coles. Afternoon tea is a must when in London, and Sketch happens to be right in the neighborhood. Come for the instagrammable bathrooms, stay for the caviar waiters in quirky tophats. Portions are quite generous and endless at Sketch, not something very traditional to an afternoon tea. You can ask for as many helpings of the to die for coronation chicken sandwich and Queen Victoria sponge cake your heart desires! Walk the scones and jam off to Berkeley Square just a few blocks down for a stroll through the gardens ask dusk falls.
More to explore…
Day trip to… Soho Farm House in Oxfordshire, Brighton, Bath, Jurassic Coast off of Dorset