Kyle recently went on a work trip to the UK and I was lucky enough to be able to meet him after his work travel to spend a long weekend together in London.
This trip kind of snuck up on me. Usually before I leave for a trip, I’d spend hours researching on Google and Pinterest what to do in London, what to see in London, how to spend 4 days in London! And I didn’t have time to do any of that!
The only thing Kyle did spend time researching was restaurants. While we were in London we had the pleasure of dining at two restaurants, each of which had two Michelin stars.
With that said, I think we still hit all of the high points of London.
So here is a rundown of what we think you should make sure to see when spending time in London!
Buckingham Palace – Changing of the Guards
The first thing we did when we arrived in London was head over to the palace to watch the changing of the guards. It’s a ceremony that is performed outside the palace by the guards at 11:00am. You basically just watch the guards changing shifts at the palace, but there is a band and it is definitely entertaining to watch!
Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
These parks are right next to each other and perfect for an afternoon stroll! For a quieter afternoon, grab some lunch to go and bring it to the park for a picnic, just watch out for the bikers!
Kensington Palace, known as the home of the young royals, where William and Kate live, is located within the grounds of Kensington Gardens. Kyle and I did purchase tickets to go inside, however I don’t know that I would recommend it. It was a bit pricey and there isn’t a whole lot to see. I would however, recommend taking a stroll outside the palace!
If you are a fan of the royal weddings, you wont want to miss Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate were married. I had so much looking around comparing it to how I had seen it on TV during the royal wedding!
We opted to do a self guided tour here. It was free with the tickets and very informative! Make sure to purchase your tickets in advance to save yourself some time in line.
Tower of London
We had a guided tour of London Tower, through Context Tours which I would highly recommend. The Tower of London is large, and there are many things to see while there. Our guide made sure we were able to see all the high points.
If you opt out of a guided tour, one suggestion we have is to make sure to go in the morning and see the crown jewels first. Our guide said by the end of the day, the line to see the crown jewels can take hours, and it is something you will definitely want to see while you’re there!
One thing Kyle and I did not get to do was visit the museums, of which there are many to chose from!
There is a Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Science Museum, Design Museum… You name it! And what’s even better is that most of them are free! Can’t beat that.
Things to do in London
While in London, make sure to visit Notting hill to see the beautifully colored row homes that you envision when thinking of London. Its easy to get to by taxi or the tube (London’s subway), and while you’re there you can grab lunch at one of the many restaurant options
If shopping is more your style, make sure to head to Soho, where you can find a variety of shops and restaurants. A perfect way to send an afternoon.
I think afternoon tea is a most when visiting London! We received many recommendations to have tea at the Ritz Carlton hotel, but by the time we got around to booking it, they were full. So we had tea at our hotel, Rubens at the palace.
While tea ended up being a bit pricey ($130 for the two of us and two glasses of champagne) we really enjoyed it! Tea included tea (obviously), finger sandwiches (of which you could order more if you were really hungry for no extra charge), scones, and a variety of desserts!
Filled with stalls where you can go to purchase various food options, this is a great place to go to around lunch! You can grab some things to eat as you walk around or even pickup lunch to bring with you for a picnic in the park.
While in London, we decided to get some professional pictures done. We did this in Bora Bora and they turned out to be some of my favorite pictures, so I thought why not do it while in London too! We ended up booking an hour long session with Ewa Horaczko through Localgrapher.
Localgrapher is a website that will connect you with local photographers. You can view some sample images on the website before booking a photographer and they have set packages and rates to choose from. We found the site very easy to use and had a great experience with Ewa.
London Restaurants & Pubs
The Wolseley was the perfect spot to enjoy brunch or lunch. While I would recommend making a reservation, we popped in for lunch without one. After a short wait, they were able to seat us. With a variety of local English cuisine and the perfect ambiance, I would highly recommend it!
Sun and Splendor
Sun and Splendour Pub, located in Notting Hill, is the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch while out exploring the area.
We spend a majority of our afternoons at pubs, either for a drink or lunch, and enjoyed them all! I couldn’t believe how many there were. And there wasn’t a single one we didn’t like! Here are just a few of the pubs we stopped at…
- Sherlock Holmes
- Bag O Nails
- The Market Porter
London Fine Dining Restaurants
Pied a Terre
I found Pied a Terre to be a very unique dining experience. Once seated, we were brought a variety of appetizers, each one better then the next. I felt like the menu here was a bit more earthy than the Ledbury, featuring appetizers such as Beats in an olive pure and Eggs Kayiana with oregano and feta.
Pied a Terre offers both a tasting and al la carte menu, which we opted for. Kyle and I both ordered the smoked quail, which came with an impressive presentation, served under a smoky dome. I ordered the dover sole, cooked to perfection, while Kyle ordered the Essex Fallow Deer, which he thoroughly enjoyed. They also offer vegetarian and vegan options, should that be more your style.
The meal concluded with a tower of delicious deserts, the perfect ending to a delicious meal!
Listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, with two Michelin stars, I felt very lucky to have been able to dine at The Ledbury. The Ledbury only offered a tasting menu complete with 8 courses. Each one was better than the next!
I must say however, two of the courses that I enjoyed most were the White asparagus soup, served chilled and had an amazing flavor that I am dying to try to recreate. Followed by the cod, which was just scrumptious and cooked to perfection!
The star of the dining experience however, would be the Aged Pigeon, which they bring to the table whole, in a beautiful Staub Cocotte which they return to the kitchen to carve before serving. While I was not the biggest fan of the pigeon, Kyle did enjoy this British delicacy.
By the time the desert came, I was almost too full to have any, but of course made room. Every course that we had was amazing from start to finish!
Where to Stay in London
Rubens at the Palace
When we decided to go to London, Kyle started to look at hotels that we could stay at using our credit card points and Rubens at the Palace Hotel came up as an option. I wasn’t too sure about it, as I had never heard of the brand before, but I must say, I was impressed.
Located directly across from Buckingham Palace, our room had a view of the Royal Mews (which basically means driveway), so we got to see everyone who came in and left the palace, which I found to be quite fun!
The hotel was also within walking distance to many of the main attractions as it was within the Westminster neighborhood, which was very convenient!
Getting Around London
Taxis are readily available throughout the city and at the airport. We found that you can prebook your taxi from the airport, which was less expensive that grabbing one when you get there (which I did).
The Tube (subway) was something we were a little intimidated by and did not end up using until the last day. We were finally forced to learn the Tube when a protest shut down much of the main city streets, making traveling by Taxi not a viable option.
Once we got down there and figured it out, this is a much more efficient way to travel around the city (and less expensive that cabs). You can also take the tube from the Heathrow airport!
We found London to be very walk-able. I mean, we walked EVERYWHERE. Just be careful when crossing the street because you have to look right, not left. But don’t worry, they have reminders at many of the cross walks!