London Guide

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, I’ve created my ultimate London guide to share my favorite London travel guides, hotels, restaurants and other must-see attractions. I have lived in London since January 2015 and this guide will be updated periodically as I explore and review new places in London.

Please note that all of the reviews are my own. I created this guide as a result of friends and family asking for my recommendations and would never endorse or post about a place unless I think it’s worth it!

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Trip Roundups
A 7-Day Itinerary For London – Very comprehensive!
A Long Weekend In London
December in London

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The view of the London Eye and Big Ben from Embankment Bridge

Hotels

Bayswater Hotels
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Hyde Park – My parents stayed here while visiting London and the rooms/hotel are great quality and not too pricey with very easy access to Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park

Fitzrovia Hotels
Melia White House Hotel – I’ve stayed multiple times and it’s been perfect – not as fancy as others, but still good quality and value for the price and easy access to Regent’s Park

Marylebone Hotels
The Marylebone – I’ve stayed here multiple times – lovely and great service and a block away from the oh-so-lovely Marylebone High Street, Oxford Street, Mayfair, etc.

Mayfair Hotels
Hilton Park Lane – My parents stayed here when visiting me for my Mother’s birthday and they were just wonderful to them – a very upscale Hilton with awesome perks – especially if you have Hilton Honors status like an executive lounge with free food/beverages throughout the day and free breakfast

South Kensington Hotels
The Kensington Hotel – Also a Doyle Collection Hotel like The Marylebone – great location in South Kensington, service and rooms

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The fantastic view of London from my parent’s hotel room at the Hilton Park Lane

Restaurants
*In general…London is very much a reservations (or bookings) city. If there’s somewhere you really want to go, make a reservation in advance!

Clerkenwell Restaurants
Modern Pantry – For a nicer brunch, lunch or dinner, The Modern Pantry is amazing and serves fresh, mostly healthy food with seasonal produce.
The Artisan of Clerkenwell – A classic gastro pub for lunch or dinner, but also a good place for after work drinks
The Fence – Arguably my favorite in the area, the cuisine is gastro pub small plates with a middle eastern influence. A touch pricery, but so well done!
Polpo – Venetian small plates with locations all over the city, but I like the option of sitting outside at this location.
Iberica Farringdon – Also one of my favorites – the ambiance is great in here for a date night and the tapas is delicious.
Ask for Janice – British seasonal / lots of produce. Really good mix of small and larger plates, but menu is more limited, so just check in advance.
Clerkenwell Cafe – J&A Cafe, awesome gastro pub spread over two buildings and kind of hidden in an alley, but the space is beautiful.
Sosharu – Really good, but pricey Japanese restaurant from Jason Atherton with a Japanese inspired cocktail bar in the basement that I really want to try :).

Covent Garden Restaurants
Meat Market – Super casual burger and ‘cheat meal’ type food for lunch or dinner. Locations around London.
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi – Stylish sushi restaurant with trendy drinks, delicious sushi rolls and other Japanese-inspired dishes like grilled yakitori skewers.

Fitzrovia Restaurants
Berners Tavern – Don a stylish outfit and come to this hip yet proper British restaurant and cocktail lounge.
Burger & Lobster – Great for lunch or dinner, but not for vegetarians/vegans. Locations all over London.

Islington Restaurants
Ottolenghi – With a number of locations around London, the food and atmosphere is just divine. If you can snag a seat, go for brunch!
The Pig & Butcher – Awesome gastropub for lunch or Sunday Roast – the food – and sticky toffee pudding – was divine.

Kentish Town Restaurants
Carrots & Daikon – Healthy Vietnamese place for lunch or dinner takeout, smoothies.
The Bull & Gate – Our “local” back when I worked nearby. Classic pub food, but they re-did the interior and it’s much more elegant inside now. There’s also a fun cocktail bar hidden upstairs!

Marylebone Restaurants
Coco Momo – Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner – classic gastro pub food with locations all over London.
Chiltern Firehouse – One of the poshest places in London at the moment, but FYI it is expensive and hard to get a booking at. But, try anyway! I went for a friend’s birthday and it was worth it.
Le Comptoir – Described as serving Mediterranean dishes, but the vibe to me is more French with a nice mix of small and larger plates, good cocktails. I had the scallops with a pea & pint puree and they were incredible.
OPSO – Delightful small plates and mixed drinks with Greek spirits in a trendy, chic space. In the warmer months, there is also a great patio.
The Ivy Cafe Marylebone – Fantastic for any meal with a gorgeous interior and posh crowd to match.
The Providores – Brunch, lunch or dinner with Antipodean fusion menu, tapas and New Zealand wine list. Definitely sit downstairs, but FYI they do not take bookings.
Social Wine & Tapas – One of my favorite Jason Atherton places – tapas style food, great wines and ambiance.

Mayfair Restaurants
Cecconi’s – Venetian inspired Italian cuisine in a stylish Mayfair setting. Not too expensive, especially for Mayfair, but the crowd is always elegant and nicely dressed. Make a reservation.
Coya – Super chic Peruvian small plates. The food is delicious, but a touch pricey.
Delfino’s – Affordable (yes, really!), casual pizza, salad and pasta place. Great for lunch or dinner.
Hakkassan – Incredible, upscale Chinese food in a sexy setting. Sit downstairs and thank me later.
Little Social – French-inspired food in a cozy setting from Jason Atherton, one of my favorites. Definitely reserve in advance.

Shoreditch Restaurants
DF/Mexico – Casual place with the best tacos I’ve had in London so far. Two tacos + side + beer is about 15 pounds. Kinda hard to beat!!
Dinerama – Come here for a late lunch and day drinks. It’s an outdoor/indoor food stall type market venue in Shoreditch. Not fancy at all, but fun, especially after wandering around to take in all the street art. They do charge for entry in the evenings, I just forget when that starts.
Dishoom – Best Indian food I’ve had in London so far and this is my favorite Dishoom location. They have this really charming lounge area in the front that’s a separate building. Sit there if you can. And, don’t be afraid to order the Chicken Tikka, it’s divine.

Soho Restaurants
Comptoir Libanais – Casual Lebanese Breakfast, lunch, dinner with locations all over the city. Not fancy, best for a quick lunch or snack.
Flat Iron – Simple, casual steak place. No reservations, but inexpensive and pretty good for the low prices.
Jackson & Rye – Described of bringing the ‘flavours’ of America to the UK, I’ve been to Jackson & Rye for brunch and enjoyed it.
Little Italy – A lively Italian restaurant in the heart of Soho with delicious, if not a bit decadent Italian cuisine. Great for groups and special occasions on a night out!
NOPI – Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired sharing plates from Ottolenghi in an upscale atmosphere. Go!!
Polpo – Venetian small plates, so delicious and one of my go-to spots with locations all over the city.
Wright Brothers Soho – Delicious, fresh seafood in a charming brasserie like setting. There are other locations around the city, but this one has all of Soho on your doorstep for after. Make a reservation.

Southwark Restaurants
Baltic – Dinner – Eastern and Central European cuisines, good for larger groups too. There is also an entire vodka tasting menu if you’re feeling bold.

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Incredible small plates at The Providores in Marylebone

Bars/Lounges

Chinatown Bars/Lounges
Opium – A little hard to find amid the craziness of Chinatown, the interior is really cool and try to score a seat at Peony if you can.

Clerkenwell Bars/Lounges
The Clerkenwell & Social – Lovely cocktail pub (they also serve pints!) with 2 for 1 cocktail specials and gourmet pizzas, plus outdoor seating.
Bird of Smithfield – Good restaurant, but the hidden gem here is the nice roof deck if the weather is good.
The Slaughtered Lamb – Classic pub, but they have good food, mini sliders, etc (the lamb ones not surprisingly are awesome).

Maida Vale Bars/Lounges
The Waterway – Great outdoor ‘beer garden’ space for cocktails, pints, pimms along the canal – also indoor space too.

Marylebone Bars/Lounges
Coco Momo – Also a gastro pub, but a great place to get a drink.
The Artesian – Pricey but in my mind THE BEST cocktails in London.
The Marylebone – Lovely cocktail pub.

Mayfair Bars/Lounges
Mayfair Bar – Always a super random crowd, but a good meeting place for a drink if in the area. The bar menu apps are also decent.
The Connaught – A proper cocktail bar. Very low key setting – a classy place to meet someone for a fabulous drink and conversation to match. Bonus points: they have a custom martini cart experience in the back room.

Notting Hill Bars/Lounges
Trailer Happiness – A charming basement tiki bar just off of Portobello Rd. The drinks are awesome!

Shoreditch Bars/Lounges
Ace Hotel – There’s something about the bar here that reminds me of NYC. Lounge-y, good cocktails, good crowd, but low key.
Callooh Callay – Fantastic cocktails in a hidden location. Low-key lounge vibe.
Shoreditch BBB – Cool bar and lounge upstairs. Downstairs you can dance – fun for a night out if you don’t want to go full throttle club.
Shoreditch House – If you’re lucky enough to know a member, go! Super fun.

Soho Bars/Lounges
Aqua Kyoto – Also a restaurant, but they have a lively bar and roof terrace, which is great on a nice night. Trendy vibe!
Basement Sate – While unassuming from the outside, this trendy basement bar is worth a visit. Do book a table in advance if you can, it’s more lounge bar in nature, but they do also let people stand at the bar. Another spot for creative cocktails.
Ham Yard Hotel – Another gorgeously designed hotel bar that spills out into the courtyard around it on a nice day. Bonus? They have a bowling alley downstairs. I’ve been before, so much fun with a group!
Milroy’s of Soho – Don’t let the ground floor of this shop specialising in single and rare malt whiskies, fine wines and champagnes fool you. There’s a secret door in the back that takes you downstairs to a really cool basement cocktail bar.
Refuel at the Soho Hotel – Beautifully designed hotel bar. Great spot to meet a friend, business meeting or date for drinks, a true multi-tasker :). It’s never overly crowded. Also serves food.
Social Eating House – Also a good restaurant, but they have a nice bar area with very imaginative cocktails. The kind of place where they only let you in if they have enough seats for you.
100 Wardour Street – Trendy, incredibly spacious cocktail lounge in Soho that also has a restaurant. Upstairs is very relaxed, with a bar and lounge areas. Downstairs has a second bar, stage/dance floor for live music and a restaurant. Trendy, stylish crowd.

Southwark Bars/Lounges
Hutong at The Shard – Fun Asian-themed restaurant/bar with great views of London

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Creative cocktails at the Chelsea Prayer Room in Chelsea

Coffee Shops

Dunkin’ Donuts – Baker Street, Marylebone – I would be a bad Bostonian if I didn’t point out that Dunkin’ Donuts is in London WOOOHOO!!!!

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Yes, Dunkin’ Donuts is in London!

Yumchaa – Locations around the city, but I especially like the one by the Tottenham Court Road tube station. Quite possibly better known for its tea than coffee, but I’ve tried the coffee and it’s good! The assortment of cakes, scones and other pastries is also divine.

High Tea

The Ritz – Posh yet pricey, but if you want the ultimate fancy London High Tea experience, go here!

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High Tea at The Ritz

Attractions

Barbican Attractions
The Conservatory Garden at The Barbican – Cool ‘secret garden’ in one of London’s ugliest buildings

Chelsea Attractions
Duke of York Square – Nice spot for shopping and restaurants (like Polpo), with a cute farmers market on the weekends
Saatchi Gallery – Contemporary art gallery, which mixes between being free entry and completely taken over by special exhibits that you have to pay for (e.g. that awesome Rolling Stones exhibit!)

Marylebone Attractions
Regents Park– Aka my happy place, located in Marylebone with entry points in Camden and St. John’s Wood

Hyde Park
Hyde Park – Not as fabulous as Regents Park, but worth a stroll or bike ride through, especially by The Serpentine

Kensington Attractions
Kensington Palace & Shrunken Gardens – The palace itself makes for a lovely tour, but you can also visit the adjacent shrunken gardens for free, plus the nearby Orangery restaurant
Victoria & Albert Museum – Described as, “the world’s leading museum of art and design,” there’s always something exciting to discover at this free museum

Knightsbridge Attractions
Harrods – I mean…you kind of have to pass through Harrods. It’s veeeery crowded on the ground floor, but if you go up a few floors it calms down. The card and book shop is actually very nice and reasonably priced and they have a gift shop for souvenirs.

Notting Hill
Holland Park – Gorgeous park with a Japanese garden, beautiful classic English gardens AND…wait for it..actual live peacocks roam the grounds
Portobello Market – I personally find it a bit overcrowded, but of course it’s worth a wander through – especially if you want to stalk out a few of the real life places from the Notting Hill movie.

Southwark Attractions
Borough Market – Awesome Friday – weekend food market
Tate Modern – Great (free) museum filled with modern art along the South Bank
Tower Bridge – What many think of as London Bridge, but great for a photo opp and easily walkable from Borough Market

Trafalgar Square Attractions
*The square itself is a destination with the fountains, Nelson’s Column and iconic stone lions
The National Gallery – Another amazing free museum that houses a robust collection of paintings from around the world

Westminister Attractions
Big Ben – The nickname for the famous Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London
Buckingham Palace – One cannot come to London without waving hello to the Queen. Open during July – September for tours and definitely worth going to!
Green Park – True to its name, this vibrant green park sits between the palace and Mayfair
Palace of Westminister (Parliament) – The meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament
St. James’s Park – Charming Park adjacent to Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abbey – A gorgeous gothic abbey that is rich in history. Also the location of Will & Kate’s wedding!

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Trafalgar Square

Seasonal Things To Do

December in London – What to do for festive holiday fun
Polo in The Park – Parsons Green, early June annually
London’s Christmas lights 2016 – photos from a few of my favorite festive spots!

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Christmas Tea at The Ritz

Have questions? Want to see an attraction featured or reviewed here? E-mail me at savvybostonian@gmail.com