London in 72 Hours
Updated: Feb 13
London: the European New York City, if you will. Except there's no rats, the people smile a lot more and say things like "cheers" and the building that the neighborhood Costa Coffee is in is probably older than America. It's quite swell.
I've now gotten the chance to do London in 72 and 48 hours, so it can be done, but if you're not a rapid fire traveler like myself, you should definitely build in more time.
Best restaurants in London
Dishoom—If you like Indian food, you 1000% must stop at Dishoom. We went to the Carnaby location, and you definitely need a reservation to get in, but the service is amazing and quick, which makes it the perfect place for dinner if you're trying to catch a show after. Everything here is fantastic (I loved the lamb samosas, Colaba Colada, chicken tikka, chicken ruby, basmati rice and garlic naan), but I especially loved the chocolate pudding—don't ask any questions, just order it and you'll thank me later.
Bun House—Wow. If you like buns, you've got to stop at Bun House. We got the pig, lamb and custard buns and a noodle dish, and they were all absolutely incredible. This is a hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown, so it's conveniently located as well.
Duck & Waffle—Looking for the best brunch view you'll ever find? Duck & Waffle. Located near the Gherkin, this is where you go when you're craving a waffle breakfast. I got the salmon waffle (which was good), and Bobby got the "duck & waffle," which was absolutely incredible!
Shoryu—A few years back, my sister and I stopped in a cute little ramen restaurant called Shoryu, and it was delicious! I got the Origin Tonkostu (£10), which was probably the most basic type of ramen they had, but it felt very authentic.
Farm Girl Cafe—Sara and I made sure to get to the west side of London, so we went to Farm Girl Cafe in Notting Hill. We wanted to start off as far northeast as possible so we could make our way down and around—making Notting Hill a good place to start. I had the Rose Latte (£3.7) and the Coconut BLT (£9), and surprisingly, the coconut on the BLT made it taste like a completely different sandwich than I had ever had in America. The rose latte was pretty darn good too. Sara had the Latte Black (£4) and the tacos, which also turned out to be a pretty good meal.
Ballie Ballerson—Going on a Friday night would make tickets a lot more expensive, but Sara & I actually won free tickets from an Instagram contest, so keep your eyes peeled for those! The drinks are so fun; check out the menu here! They might have changed since we went a few years ago, but I got "The David Bowie" (£10), a lavender blackcurrant flavored drink that literally spilled with smoke when they made it, came with my own sparkly lipstick and was covered with sparkles itself, not to mention, it was really yummy. Sara got the "Hit Me Baby One More Time" (£11), which came with a cute little scrunchie and tasted like bubblegum, and the "The Salt Bae" (£8), which, to be honest, did not taste very great, but it came with a flaming marshmallow on top!
Hung Drawn & Quartered—Sara & I were extremely tired from all the walking that day, so we wanted to have dinner somewhere close to the hotel. We ate at a pub called Hung Drawn & Quartered and shared the sampler pictured. We weren't expecting much, but it turned out to be really good!
The Victoria—Located in Paddington, The Victoria pub is a beautifully decorated corner-pub that serves a mean fish & chips, though, if I'm being completely honest, I recommend heading to the pub that looks best to you and trying their fish & chips!
Best cafes & tea in London
English Rose Cafe—This is one of (if not the) best bang-for-your-buck tea in London. English Rose is located just a few blocks away from Buckingham Palace. We paid £40 for high tea for two (most nicer places in good locations like this will charge you that per person), and the lemon drizzle cake was not to be forgotten.
Monmouth Coffee—Right next to Borough Market, Monmouth Coffee is a staple and well-loved by locals. I definitely recommend stopping here before perusing the rest of the market; you can't go wrong with a cappuccino, cortado or espresso.
Swan Globe—While it's definitely not the best tea I've had in London, Swan Globe definitely a good one and it's in a fantastic location on the river right next to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. We spilt tea for one because we weren't very hungry, but this place is also a great spot to grab a quick drink!
Cereal Killer Cafe—My sister and I visited the Cereal Killer Cafe a few years ago, and they had some truly wild things on the menu. Their drinks were fun, but the thing I remember most were the corn flake chicken tenders.
Best things to do in London
Borough Market + Portobello Market—At the very least, Borough Market should not be missed, but I recommend visiting both the Borough and Portobello Markets if you have time. If you can't tell by my photos, one of my favorite stops in the Borough Market is Bread Ahead's donuts—do not miss this.
Shakespeare's Globe—Truly a site to behold, Shakespeare's Globe is walking distance from Tower Bridge and Borough Market, so best to plan visiting those things together. My sister and I got lucky the summer we visited and stumbled on tickets to see As You Like It in the theatre, which was amazing, but terribly hot for an outdoor theatre in June. On the contrary, I can't imagine watching a show in early February. Nonetheless, you ought to visit!
St. Paul's Cathedral—Catholic or not, this cathedral has a beauty I can't even begin to describe in words. I went to mass here one day and took the liberty of testing some photography skills on the varying lighting throughout the cathedral afterwards. I'm telling you, my photos don't do this place justice. Just visit!
Buckingham Palace—A London icon, Buckingham Palace can't be missed. My recommendation is to stop by English Rose Cafe before or after visiting the palace as it's close by and really gets you in the British spirit.
London Bridge—Clearly one of these photos was taken in the winter and one in the summer, but either way, this British staple is a beautiful landmark! If you're looking for the best shot, I recommend getting on the bridge as the water is gross and usually blends in with the sky.
West End Shows—Not Broadway but pretty darn close, the West End has the best shows London has to offer. We saw the famous Wicked, which is known as one of the best shows on West End, and it definitely did not disappoint.
Best way to get around London
I recommend downloading the app Citymapper more than anything. It'll help you judge how long it'll take to get from one place to the next and exactly how to get there: what mode of transportation (bus/underground), what platform, what time, how long it'll take, how many stops, etc.
Best way to get into London
There are two major airports to get to London: Heathrow and Gatwick. Heathrow tends to have more options (it's a lot bigger), but it also tends to be a bit more expensive. Gatwick makes it easy to get into town, there's a train that'll get you into the center of town in ~30 minutes, but with construction usually going on, it's a bit harder to get from the city center back to Gatwick.
Best places to stay in London
Apex City of London | Affordable—Located near the Tower of London on the north side of Thames River, Apex City of London is an affordable and nice hotel in a decent location.
The Dixon, Tower Bridge | Moderate—Located a couple blocks from Tower Bridge on the south side of Thames Rives, The Dixon is an excellent autograph hotel by Marriott. The rooms are great and the hotel has a breakfast area and a bar underneath the grand staircase showcased above.