In a city as large as London, one is sure to get lost. Navigating the streets in search of the best of what the city has to offer can seem impossible. Don’t worry, I’ve done all of the dirty work for you. So relax, I hope to put your mind at ease and lead you to some of the… best of London.
The Best Area to Stay
I admit. Finding the perfect place to stay in any city is an incredibly difficult task. With cost, nearby attractions and safety all a factor, selecting the perfect place can be a bit daunting. No need to get overwhelmed, I have found it. By far, the best area to stay in London is Mayfair. It is a quaint, rather wealthy area that is located within walking distance of just about everything. Numbers of designer shops are located in the area and almost every site I wanted to see or shop I wanted to visit was at most a 30 minute walk away. If too far to walk, cabs in the area are plentiful (as they are throughout the city) and cost no more than 10 pounds. If public trans is your thing, the tube station is centrally located. Not only did it hit all of the above checkboxes, I felt completely safe in this area whether exploring solo or even late at night.
The Best Place to Shop for the Designer Obsessed
I’m a sucker for a bargain but more importantly, I love designer- especially bargain designer. I’m always looking for great vintage designer finds. Thankfully, my mom introduced me to consignment shops, vintage shops and thrift shops at a very early age. How could I forget her scoring me a pair of Manolo Blahniks as a high schooler for under $30? When I travel, I use it as a unique opportunity to get great exclusive pieces and London did not disappoint (even my AmEx bill agrees)!
Pandora Dress Agency
Have you ever felt like you were dreaming while awake? I definitely thought I was when I walked into Pandora. Off the beaten path from Harrod’s on an unassuming block not far away sits this designer paradise. Think racks of vintage and current consigned Chanel suits, skirts and blazers, Burberry trench coats, Louboutins, Yves Saint Laurent blouses, and so much more. Designer handbags hang from the ceiling and inside of the glass display case lies an assortment of Hermès from handbags to jewelry to silk scarves. While the prices range greatly here (average clothing price is about 132 pounds-1,500 pounds) you can bet you will find a unique piece worth every penny. The second I walked in, I spotted an orange, leather Roberto Cavalli jacket that had to be mine and it soon was. Leave room in your suitcase, you are certain to find at least something here that you can’t leave without.
Think true vintage. Think designer exclusive. This is exactly what you’ll be walking into. Well curated, William Vintage has a small but jaw-dropping collection of vintage, designer pieces. Here, you may find anything from a purple velvet coat from the 1930’s to Dior runway dresses from the 1970’s. Be prepared to spend a pretty penny (at least 700 pounds) but your hard to find pieces will be found here. Even if you’re just going to browse, the employees could not have been nicer which is always a plus.
The Best Market to Stuff Your Face
I can’t be the only one who craves pierogis, smoothies, pasta, oysters and cookies…at the same time! London is known for having some of the best markets in the world and with so many to choose from and limited time, how do you choose? Allow me to answer that question for you- Borough Market! This market was huge and bustling with so many different smells, colors, and sights to reel you in. Come with an empty tummy and you will for sure leave satisfied.
The Best Place for a Fancy Spot of Afternoon Tea
As you probably know by now, I’m a sucker for afternoon tea. It is the quintessential girly girl activity and by far one of my favorite things to do. I knew my trip to London would not be complete without a traditional afternoon tea and at what better place than Sketch? Sketch is a cool restaurant/bar that has separate rooms for dining and tea. The dining room/bar area has a cool, green forest-like feel and I would love to come back for that experience but let’s be real, I was here for the tea!
Ultra sexy yet playful, this plush pink room is what dreams are made of. Lost in this beautiful blush sea I almost forgot what I was there for. But okay, back on track, the, umm I’ll call her tea connoisseur, has come to offer her assistance in selecting a tea from the over 30 options they had on the menu. Shortly thereafter I was served caviar! Pause. I have NEVER had caviar at afternoon tea. I was in love before the sandwiches and pastries even came.
I have food allergies and I am a pescatarian so I always feel like a burden with all that I can’t/don’t eat but the team at Sketch was more than accommodating. With just an email sent ahead of time, I had a “Nut-free Afternoon Tea” menu tailored to me. After scones, tea service ended with a giant slice of sponge cake. I could not eat another crumb! While pricey (about $180 USD for 2 people without champagne), Sketch cannot be missed.
The Best Bookstore for Any Bibliophile
With a book collection that would make Belle fall to her knees, I found a magical place that could be ripped from even the best fairytale. So much more than a bookstore, Daunt Books in the hip Marylebone area of London has captured my heart and has refused to give it back.
Have you ever wanted a book about India or Germany or Tanzania? I don’t mean the guidebooks that your local Barnes and Noble supplies, I mean books literally from those countries written by authors telling tales of life, joys, sorrows, and triumphs of the people living there. You can find those here. The great thing about Daunt not only is their ridiculously expansive collection but their grouping of books by continent, then by country or region. Have you ever seen over 100 books from South Africa, about South Africa and written by South African authors? I hadn’t either until I came here!
The Best Live Music Venue for the Jazz Lover
Dimly lit, cool and a classic establishment, Ronnie Scott’s is by far the best venue for jazz music, heck, any kind of music in London. Around for nearly 60 years, this venue has been bringing quality jazz to the city for generations. A favorite spot of my mom’s in the late 70s/early 80s, I knew I had to make the visit. I purchased the most expensive seats in the house which were about 50 pounds per person. While I had the technical “best seats,” they certainly were not necessary because literally every seat in the house is perfect. Dinner and drinks are flowing as you sit back and listen to the mellow sounds of the piano, trumpet and bass with a group of friends, on a date or solo. A completely mixed group can be found in Ronnie Scott’s and everyone is able to come together for the great, great sounds of jazz.
The Best Department Store for the Foodie in Us All
After visiting Harrods and Selfridges, I decided that I hated London department stores. Fortnum and Mason, however, is different, oh so different. An upscale department store specializing in fine foods, any foodie is sure to go crazy in this robin’s egg blue colored treasure. Grab a cart or basket at the door (this is a grocery store remember!) and stock up on preserves, biscuits, tea and fudge. Don’t stop there that’s all on just one of many floors. Be sure to hit the lower level for deli salads and sandwiches. I’m quite sure I had the best sandwich I have ever tasted from their deli. You will not be able to get enough of this treasure.
The Best Place to Snap the Perfect Photo While Enjoying a Delicious Treat
Alright I’m sensing a pink theme here but Peggy Porschen Cakes cannot be missed. The cutest little pink bakery draped in florals, Peggy Porschen has quickly become an Instagram favorite. Order a pot of Floral Rose tea and a lemon loaf cake dripping with pink frosting and sprinkled with colorful, edible flowers and then grab a seat at a table outside. Sit back, enjoy the day, and relish in people-watching all of the girls dressed in pink posing perfectly at the entrance to get the perfect photo in front of this Insta-worthy bakery.
I hope my London faves quickly become yours too. They are not to be missed and are truly, the best of London…