“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life: for there is in London all that life can afford.” Samuel Johnson’s quote rings especially true for me after a magical five day stint in jolly old London. And let me just say… if I could change that quote to include ladies like us here at Dame Traveler, I would do just that. Samuel, if you’re open to criticism, let’s include the ladies!
London, Great Britain’s stirring, buzzy, hustling epicenter, calls. And I’m so glad that I answered. Thanks to Visit Britain and Air New Zealand, I was able to tour the sparkling gems of London-town’s Soho and Shoreditch Neighborhoods, Windsor and Buckinghamshire. The perfect itinerary for fully enveloping yourself in London’s arms.
Iconic London Sights & Central London To-Do’s
When exploring London, there are some absolute must-do, must-see cultural sights. Here are some of our favorites.
- Buckingham Palace
- Kensington Palace
- Tower of London
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- River Thames
- Millennium Bridge
- Westminster Abbey
- Savile Row
- Royal Parks (Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James Park)
- London Eye – If you can, book a Champagne Experience on the world’s tallest cantilevered wheel. Watching the spanning cityscape below when in a glass capsules showcasing spectacular views of London is a dream!
Where Sip & Savor In The Central London Area
- East End Food Tour – London’s food culture is astounding. Thanks to Eating London, the diverse cultures and cuisines of Great Britain are yours to savor. Feed your belly and your mind, while also viewing Ancient Roman burial grounds, mansions, hidden synagogues, street art, perusing markets, shops, bakeries, pubs and restaurants in the East End.
- Sky Garden – Sip on cocktails, enjoy live music and take in some of the best views of the city, flanked by impressive gardens.
- The Ned – This hotel that was once the headquarters of the largest clearing house bank in the world. Now it houses 9 restaurants, bars and event spaces. We recommend Millie’s Lounge for classic dishes, wine, ales and cocktails.
- SipSmith – A classic Londoner’s must-do… enjoy learning about the history of gin and whiskey distilleries. Boozy lessons learned, you’ll be sure to take away some great respect for this place’s commitment to making amazing gins in their iconic copper pots!
Best Sunrise/Sunset Snap Locations Around London
To get the best photographs of classic London sights, be sure to go out during sunrise and sunset. You’ll catch a glimpse of London’s quieter side while also capturing some gorgeous photographs. Here are some of our highly recommended sunrise/sunset snap locations:
- River Thames
- Tower of London
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Millennium Bridge (from Southbank)
- Aviary Rooftop Terrace
- The Heron Tower
- Primrose Hill at Regent’s Park
- Parliament Hill
- North Greenwich & Greenwich Park Royal Observatory
London’s most fetching neighborhood. A stone’s throw away from Mayfair’s stylish and lavish courtyards and the West End’s rich history, Soho is the perfect spot to call “home” when in exploring the city.
- Courthouse Hotel Soho – This five-star luxury hotel is quite literally in the perfect location, smack dab in between Mayfair and the West End. Plus, its close proximity to all of London’s classic attractions is a bonus not to be overlooked! The Courthouse Hotel Soho feels incredibly contemporary, but intentionally preserved in its historical features (it was once an old Grade II Listed Magistrates Court). So cool!
- The Bloomsbury – Stop in and get yourself some cocktails and small plates in The Coral Room, a vibrant coral-walled bar inspired by the 1920s. Or have the most fabulous afternoon tea, like we did! The Prêt-à-Portea’s legendary, fashion inspired couture cakes and tea is so beautiful!
- Sketch – This Instagram-famous eatery known for its spanning menu, drink and entertainment styles. Imaginative, bold, delicious, a feast for the eyes.complex and unique. Conceived by French master chef and culinary genius Pierre Gagnaire and restaurateur Mazouz… you must see it to believe in.
- Carnaby Street – Right off of Oxford Picadilly Circus tube stations, this street is stocked with Instagram famous restaurants, cafes and boutiques. We’d recommend:
- Farm Girl
- Breddos Tacos
- Bread Ahead
- Kingly Court – Another great spot to grab a bite in between snapping all the beauty your eyes can take. Looking for a great lunch? Stop at:
- The Good Egg
- Le Bab
- Life Goddess
- Dirty Bones
- Whyte & Brown
- Newburgh Quarter – You guessed it, a trendy location to snack and explore through. Recommendations include:
- Ugly Dumpling
- Kua ‘Aina
- Department of Coffee & Social Affairs
Soho’s Instagrammable Hidden Gems
- Carnaby Street
- Berkeley Square
- Fortnum & Mason
- The Royal Institution of Great Britain
- West End Theatres
- Churchill Arms
- Liberty Department Store
Shoreditch/East London Area
Lovingly titled “the hipster” neighborhood of London, Shoreditch is the perfect location for experiencing London’s cooler, edgier side. It’s a gem of a place to book a hotel if you’re interested in art, multicultural foods, niche shops and nightlife.
- Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch – Located in the center of the buzzying and eccentric Shoreditch neighborhood, this Baroque-style building is stocked with laid-back yet attentive services.
- Street Art Walking Tour – See London’s hippest neighborhood’s vibrant lifestyle, trendy bars, independent boutiques, quirky cafes, vintage markets, contemporary art galleries and a ton of amazing street art on this amazing walking tour.
- Hawksmoor Spitalfields – When dining here, there should be two things on your midn. Steak and roast beef. As The Observer once said there is “no better place for classic roast beef with all the trimmings than this London steakhouse.”
Recommended Lunch Spots in Shoreditch Area
- Boxpark – Cookdaily, Bao Bao, The Breakfast Club, Poptata, What the Pitta, The Athenian
- The Attendant
- Pizza Pilgrims
- On the Bab
- Ozone Coffee Roasters
- George & Vulture
- Monty’s Deli
- Shoreditch Plus
Markets & Shops in Shoreditch Area
- Backyard Market
- Old Spitalfields Market
- Exmouth Market
- Camden Market
- Rokit Vintage Shop
Arts & Activities in Shoreditch Area
- White Chapel Art Gallery
- Old Truman Brewery
- Blitz London
- Columbia Road Flower Market
- Regent’s Canal
Nightlife in Shoreditch Area
- Queen Of Hoxton
- Bounce Ping Pong
- Ballie Ballerson
- The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town (speakeasy)
- The Magic Roundabout
- The London Shuffle Club
- Flight Club Social Darts
- Junkyard Golf
- The Discount Suit Company (speakeasy)
- The Palace of Humbug
Windsor & Buckinghamshire
A quick ride away from London’s central area, Windsor and Buckinghamshire are the quaintest little towns. Filled with country inns, cozy little pubs and loads of history, it’s an obvious choice for a day trip or overnight stay when in Great Britain.
- Danesfield House – Learning about the rich history of this hotel was a highlight of my time in England. What was once the home of Robert William Hudson and a resting place for nomadic tribes 4,000 years ago is now one of the coziest and most special of hotels I’ve stayed in!The hotel’s interior is a stunner. But perhaps my favorite aspect was strolling through its stunning grounds featuring the River Thames as a backdrop to Italian and water gardens, lawns and croquet courts. It’s a dream to walk through the impressive 65 acre property. Each corner is filled with tree-lined drives, waterfalls, topiaries and more. It is a photographer’s absolute dream.There are hotels that add so much to a trip, and the Danesfield is certainly one of them. The loveliness of the land, the quaint interiors and the sprawling history of this place will definitely call me back if I return to the Windsor/Buckinghamshire area.
- Bel & The Dragon – Lunch at this cozy restaurant with the warmest atmosphere is filled with dishes that offer a twist on classic British dishes.
- Windsor Castle – The classic sight to see when in the area. See Windsor Castle and imagine yourself to be a royal member of the course. As the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, Windsor Castle is a relic to experience first hand. Since being founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has housed 39 monarchs and is the Queen’s preferred place for private weekends. I mean, can you just imagine meeting the Queen here for tea and gossip? Or even being an attendee at Price Harry & Meghan Markle’s soon-to-be wedding ceremony? When visiting London-town, missing the Windsor Castle should be a sin!
- Boat Trip On the Thames – A perfect afternoon might be rolling down the Thames River on a boat, viewing Eton College, Mill House, the Windsor Racecourse and Brocas Meadows. A perfect little afternoon jaunt on the river is a great experience!
England is calling. Will you answer? For those of you who have visited jolly ol’ England, what were your favorite findings?