I’ve been posting bits and pieces of our London trip on Instagram, and wanted to share a little more info behind the photos! Nick and I have visited a few times before, so with some touristy activities out of the way, we planned to just wander and take in the beauty of the city during this time of year!
What We Did
Exploring on Foot
I packed an old pair of faux suede OTK boots (reviewed here) and these rubber rain booties in preparation for lots of walking in damp conditions. This was basically my same uniform while visiting last year! For both of these boots, you can size up and put in thicker insoles from the drugstore, since they don’t come with much cushioning.
We rode the London Eye during a previous visit – as someone wary of heights, once was enough for me! We did enjoy views of it while strolling along the Westminster Bridge or Royal Air Force Memorial (where the above IG was taken), especially at sunset! Last year we also enjoyed strolling through Belgravia with its grand homes and cute storefronts like this cheese boutique and this floral shop.
The one “must-do” on my list was ice skating at either the iconic Natural History Museum or Somerset House. We visited the Museum last Christmas and it was magical, but Somerset House was closer to us this time and lovely nonetheless (book your tickets online in advance)! Our session was a little crowded but so much fun, even for two un-coordinated people. Lots of skilled little kids zooming by us, and fellow adults circling the rink railing with white knuckles : )
There’s two UK-based brands that Nick and I try to check out when we visit – Ted Baker and Topshop! Both are priced a little better there compared to in the US, plus you can potentially get a VAT refund.
A long plaid jacket has been high on my list – it’s very on-trend right now, yet the style itself is classic. This jacket (the weight is like a jacket and not a heavy coat) was one of my favorites at Topshop but a little roomy on me in 0 regular and the sleeves would need shortening. However, it just became available online in petite sizing (with free shipping & returns)! A 0 petite should suit someone my size without alterations.
While shopping at Ted Baker, we ran into none other than founder “Ted” (Ray Kelvin) himself who was quite the quirky one! The story of how he built the brand from the ground up is nothing short of impressive. I seem to have some random luck while traveling encountering founders of brands that I shop at!
I love Ted Baker’s sleek wrap coats, and think the longer length can actually be very flattering on petites. Note their signature wool-cashmere style (pictured above) available year after year is on the thinner side, however I own a seasonal version of that coat in a thicker, nubbly textured fabric (pictured below). This thicker version comes in navy wool as well as a burgundy plaid!
I kept one eye open throughout this trip for a little handbag souvenir. I’ve been coveting a small or medium Chanel Boy bag for years, but the right leather, hardware, and color combo has always escaped me! With Chanel’s global price adjustments last year, the prices in EUR are no longer as favorable compared to buying in the US (just a slight difference, factoring in the VAT refund). Based on exchange rates when we visited, prices may have been a little better in UK pounds than EUR. Out of the various Chanel boutiques we browsed around London and Paris, Harrods actually seemed to have the best selection across their two floors of Chanel. For those interested, I’ll be doing a separate review post of the styles I tried on!
Where We Stayed
We had a great experience renting an apartment last visit, but this trip was last-minute so there weren’t many rentals left. We booked the Rosewood London hotel in Holborn – the building architecture is beautiful and the location is convenient, although I felt our room was a little pricey for what it was.
Nick loved the hotel bar, “Scarfes,” and there was another bar decked out in a cozy lodge vibe that we didn’t get to try! We got several recommendations for afternoon tea at Rosewood, which is supposedly very sculptural and modern, but we ended up doing a more traditional one this time.
Where We Ate
On the topic of tea, those interested should check out the extensive list of suggestions we received, and book your reservations in advance! We got a last-minute slot at Fortnum & Mason around 7pm. Their blue china sets are gorgeous, their tea list lengthy, and we loved the choice of traditional sweet versus savory only (I am all about the savories). The savory scones were scrumptious and you can typically get refills on whatever you’d like (which seems to be the norm for tea in London; not the case in the US)! However, they did not have enough for seconds on certain items since we were the last seating of the day, so I’d recommend an earlier slot at any tea place for that reason. We also loved browsing the F&M department store afterwards and picked up several souvenirs and little food items!
A lot of you recommended Dishoom, which we did enjoy before, but the wait was hours long so we went to Masala Zone for a quick Thali fix. We love Thali-style meals where you get several little Indian dishes + bread or rice served on one platter. We also ate at Hoppers, a bustling Sri Lankan restaurant. We tried the bone marrow curry and lamb roti dish, which was roti bread cut up and stir-fried like noodles. Both were very flavorful but on the heavier side.
It was cold and damp our entire visit, which had me longing for hot noodle soup! We came across an Ippudo which didn’t look busy, however the little Kanada-Ya ramen shop across the street had a line down the block! Cold be damned, we got in line and the ramen turned out to be delicious … flavorful with good noodle texture, and didn’t leave us bloated with sodium like ramen usually does.
We also loved warming up to the simple goodness of udon at Koya Bar. They serve hot Japanese breakfast, too!
We had to visit the decked-out Peggy Porschen cake shop after seeing it all over Instagram, but made the mistake of going mid-day. It was swarming with ladies trying to get a good ‘gram of their adorable snowflake lattes and cakes, so I’d suggest going earlier to avoid a crowd!
In the winter, this terrace restaurant (opens early for breakfast and serves afternoon tea) gets decorated into a cozy little wonderland with heat lamps. It’s in The Bloomsbury hotel, which also has a sharply-decorated bar (The Coral Room) and a darling lobby sitting area!
After a few days in London, we hopped on the train to Paris for a couple of nights. Can’t wait to share some more photos and shopping reviews from the trip!