Member Travel Tips: London

AWCA members are an adventurous bunch! Many of us are frequent and enthusiastic travelers, so this new series aims to share travel tips each month. Each recommendation below comes from the real-life experiences of people you know and trust. Do you have suggestions for our members? Please fill out our short survey.

This month's destination is London!

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." — Samuel Johnson

You can find so many lists of recommendations for what to see and do in London — the options are endless, and the information can be overwhelming. Here are just a few tips from your fellow members on how to make the most of your next visit. Cheers!

Lodging:

  • The Montague on the Gardens - a very nice hotel, great for special occasions. It's right by the British Museum. https://www.montaguehotel.com
  • Harlingford Hotel - Also by the British Museum, but less expensive/fewer stars. Perfectly pleasant. http://www.harlingfordhotel.com/
  • The Grosvenor Hotel - nice place, good breakfast buffet, *very* close to the Hamilton theater 🙂 https://www.guoman.com/en/london/the-grosvenor.html
  • Hotel Cafe Royal - sounds like a cafe but it was a beautiful hotel and it's a sister hotel to the Conservatorium. Very beautiful and has a spa. There is a famous tea room with a traditional English tea.
  • Chesterfield Mayfair - Very convenient location walking distance to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Eye and the South Bank.

Restaurants:

  • You can't go wrong with any of Ottolenghi's restaurants. I've been to two: The Notting Hill location is quite small so great for takeaway salads and pastries, but the Islington location is more suitable for dinner.
  • Borough Market has endless stands and restaurants.
  • Vegan/vegetarian friendly list I've put together: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZHXoGo9dRB94n3FlOEbwSUtKkACkBSPp&usp=sharing
  • We particularly love Tibbit's, which is a buffet style, vegan/vegetarian restaurant with excellent food and drinks. It's open all day, so if you're hangry at a weird time, they will probably be able to feed you! https://www.tibits.co.uk/en/
  • Cocotte https://www.mycocotte.uk
  • https://www.cevichefamily.com/andina/andina-notting-hill 
  • There are several locations, but we went here: https://bananatree.co.uk/maida-vale/
  • Have brunch on a Sunday morning and then walk around the organic open air market: https://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/marylebonew1/
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a favorite pub of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain
  • Afternoon Tea at the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens
  • balabaya.co.uk is tucked away near Southwark Station, worth seeking out. Ottelenghi influence.
  • Arabica Bar & Kitchen in Borough Market. +442030115151 Middle Eastern, baklava to die for!
  • Tapas Mariterra, family run and authentic. 14 Gambia St. SE1 0XS +442079287628 Don’t be put off by the cafe appearance.
  • www.oystershed.co.uk on the Thames bang in the financial city.
  • Hawksmoor - turns out there are a few of these restaurants but don't worry, it's not a chain atmosphere. Food was delicious. Go for the steak -which sometimes in the Netherlands, good steak is hard to find. The mac n cheese and a yorkshire pudding. Also the caesar salad - haven't had a good one since California but this one was remarkable!
  • Eat authentic Chinese food at Lin’s, 134 Southwark St SE10SW, it looks like a cafe but is always filled with Asian business people looking for a taste of home.

Activities:

  • Hamilton!!!!
  • London Eye is great, as long as the weather is decent so you can appreciate the view.
  • Tower of London is quite interesting.
  • The Roman Temple of Mithras is an archaeological site made into a tiny, free museum.
  • Hampstead Heath park has beautiful walking paths and a great view of the city.
  • The ceremony of the keys: You need to book well in advance: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/ceremony-of-the-keys/#gs.bl8scu
  • Visit bookstores: Daunt's https://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/
  • Artsy movies: https://www.everymancinema.com/ or https://www.picturehouses.com/cinemas
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, look at what is on for the special exhibits.
  • Tate Modern
  • While in the neighborhood of the above places visit the Tate Modern, walk along the river and see the Globe. Maybe you’ll even find the original location of the original one that was moved! Walk across the Millennium Bridge and admire the art painted on discarded chewing gum on the floor.
  • Portobello Road Saturday flea market and wandering through the Notting Hill neighborhood
  • Spitalfields Market in East London
  • Shopping at the food and home sections of Fortnum & Mason
  • Explore Lower Marsh, just outside Waterloo Station. Weekdays lunchtime lots of food stalls.Small Independent shops.
  • Seek out The Arches, Isabella Street. South Bank. SE1 8DD, a few restaurants tucked away. Nice Turkish food at Ev. Also a Thai restaurant here. Very hidden.
  • Take a tour via uk.funzing.com called Southwark’s Saucy Secrets and discover where ladies of ill repute are buried plus lots more!
  • If you watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, you will see something from any vantage point but you will not see the guards, except for the tops of their heads unless you are up close at the gate of Buckingham Palace. We could only see the top of the guards' fuzzy hats from where we were standing.
  • Windsor Castle
  • Westminster Abbey - book in advance
  • Kensington Palace
  • Hyde Park
  • Afternoon Tea At Fortnum and Mason
  • Churchill’s War Rooms

Other Tips:

  • Bring good walking shoes! The tube is great, but so is soaking in the sights.
  • The CityMapper app (which is great for getting around Amsterdam!) includes London and works very well
  • If you can, avoid Heathrow. It's huge and a huge pain.
    • Second this! City and Gatwick are much smaller and easier to fly in/out.
  • You can now use your PIN pass/smart card for public transportation instead of buying and topping up an OYSTER card.

Do you have tips you'd like to add? In our member's only Facebook group, there's a lively conversation!

When Tulip Talk returns in September, we'll be sharing tips for Berlin! Please help fellow AWCAers by sharing your experiences in our our very short survey.