Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, red double-decker buses, and afternoon teas top our list on the…
“The Best of London”
London is one of the most popular cities to visit in the world. We’ve traveled here dozens of times and are still discovering more places to see. With a history dating back to Roman times, visitors first head to see the Tower of London, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
Across from Big Ben is the London Eye observation wheel with 360 degree views of the entire city, and new skycrapers. There are plenty of markets like Portobello or Covent Gardens to pick up souvenirs. The parks – Hyde Park, Green Park and Kensington Gardens are the ideal place to take a long walk or go for a run. Theatre goers have a lineup of top musicals and plays to see.
On our recent trip, we visited in January after the holidays and the city wasn’t as crowded with tourists. We also loved visiting early in December when you can see the Christmas decorations lining the streets, stores, shops and hotels. You can feel the festive spirit and merriment that abounds during this time of year.
Sharing our list of favorites things to do, places to stay and dine in London. Click here to look at photos from this trip on our Global Adventuress Instagram account.
Where to Stay?
11 Cadogan Gardens is a 5-star boutique hotel based in the heart of Chelsea and Knightsbridge in a quiet neighborhood. Hotel guests are fascinated by the myriad of hallways, staircases from what was formerly four Victorian town houses built by Lord Chelsea in the late 19th century.
General Manager Soliman Khaddour shared, “This property was a much-loved home away from home for traveling Victorian aristocrats and politicians of the era. Today, 11 Cadogan Gardens is a member of Relais & Chateaux and part of Iconic Luxury Hotels, a collection of England’s finest iconic hotels.”
There are high-end shops, restaurants, fashion boutiques, museums and art galleries nearby. Be sure to visit the Food Hall at Harrod’s and spend a couple hours at the V&A Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design or the Saatchi Gallery with contemporary art collections.
Get tickets to hear the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at nearby Cadogan Hall. Stroll the Chelsea Physic Gardens, the third oldest botanical gardens in Britain. Go on a run through one of London’s nine royal parks – Hyde Park with 350 acres of gardens, 4,000 trees, a lake and trails. Attend the world’s most prestigious flower and garden show – the Chelsea Flower Show.
We arrived by the Underground at Sloane’s Square Station, and walked down Pavilion Road, a beautiful mews street with a Chelsea village vibe, lined with artisan food shops, boutiques and cafes.
Rooms: There are 56 rooms, including 25 suites. We stayed in the spacious Junior Suite with elegant furniture and beautiful fabrics. Our suite had an entryway to a living area with a comfortable sofa and chairs, a desk and comfortable Hypnos king size bed with luxurious bedding.
The marble bathroom included a separate shower and tub, towel heating racks and plush robes.
Dining: We had our breakfast in the Hans’ Bar & Grill, open for all-day dining. Head Chef Luke Phillips creates a seasonal menu, rooted in British produce and influenced by his classical skills. Afternoon Tea is served in the afternoons in The Drawing Room. For cocktails, visit the intimate Chelsea Bar with its dramatic décor.
TIP! Guests have access to the Cadogan Gardens, opposite the hotel – be sure to enjoy!
What to Do?
- Ride the London Eye: We suggest riding the London Eye to get oriented to the city. We had spectacular views of London and could see the city in every direction.
- Sip Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London: Experiencing Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London is on many people’s “life bucketlist” – it’s the quintessential British tradition. You can choose from a selection of 16 different types of loose leaf tea, savor finely cut sandwiches, and freshly baked scones with strawberry preserve and clotted Devonshire cream, along with tea cakes and pastries. Note: be mindful of the hotel’s dress code – this is a place you want to get dressed up!
- Check out the art collections at Tate Modern, National Gallery, Royal Academy of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. We visited the Tate Modern, where you find contemporary art and exhibitions, located on the south bank of the Thames. Tate first opened its doors to the public in 1897. Today it has four major sites and 70,000 artworks.
- Buckingham Palace – State Rooms Tour: A definite must on our top 10 things to do in London! Visit the Buckingham Palace and State Rooms, not usually open to the public, but open at various times throughout the year. On this tour, visitors get to see some of the greatest Royal treasures and the State Rooms that are used by The Queen and Royal Family to entertain guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions.
- Walk Green Park, Regents Park and Kensington Gardens or stroll the Queen’s Walk along the Thames.
- Shop at Harrod’s, Selfridges, and Fortnum & Mason. Some of our favorite shopping streets? New Bond Street, Regent Street, South Molton Street, Kensington High Street and the Nottinghill area.
- Go to the Theater and see a play and/or musical
- Walk the narrow alleyways in Soho and shop at Covent Gardens
- Visit the Tower of London and London Bridge
- Last on our top 10 things to do in London! Walk the Thames to Big Ben and visit Westminster Abbey
- Private Tour of Kensington Palace: Had to add this one since the experience was extraordinary! Find out more, click here
Where to Dine and Tea?
Our “Top Eats” for our top 10 things to do in London:
- The Ritz London for Afternoon Tea: Make a reservation to experience one of the most famous traditions in Great Britain – afternoon tea at The Ritz London. The sandwiches, scones, pastries, scones combined with superb service and opulent surroundings are everything you’ve ever dreamed of for an Afternoon Tea.
- Indigo: We dined at this Covent Gardens restaurant central to the theatre district. Courtesy of Executive Chef Dominic Teague, this healthy and delicious menu introduces the finest seasonal ingredients sourced from the British Isles (gluten and dairy-free). Our favorites included the beet salad and the traditional fish & chips on a bed of fresh peas.
- HKK London: One of the most unique dining experiences we had was at HKK London on Worship Street in Eastern London. The new HKK boutique kitchen is where Executive Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee and his team showcases a diversity of Chinese cuisine. We were presented with an excellent “Duck & Champagne” menu with the chef’s signature dish – the Cherry wood roasted Peking duck with steamed black truffle mantou and imperial caviar. The grand finale was the champagne sorbet topped with cotton candy with flecks of gold.
- Long Bar: If you’re looking for one of the hippest places to dine in London, step into The Sanderson Long Bar. You can sit in the famous Philippe Starck eye chairs lining the 80-feet of glowing onyx bar or get a table in the stylish side rooms and courtyard near the Long Bar. The cuisine is excellent and fantastic service.
How to Get Around?
There’s always the Tube (Underground) and the iconic red double decker buses to help get you around London.
We took the Tube a couple times, but traveled in style with these car services.
We highly recommend these car services:
The Executive Car Service provides excellent chauffeur services for 1 person up to many with their fleet of cars and buses. Second generation owner Julian van Marle of van Marle Limited greeted us at London Heathrow. Professional, punctual, and experienced drivers. For reservations, call #00442077351073
Car Rentals Service
Sixt offers car rentals throughout the UK, Europe, and many other countries. We wanted to enjoy the views and not worry about driving directions, so Sixt arranged for a private chauffeur, Tanzeel, to drive us to the Highclere Castle, Stonehenge and throughout the English countryside.
For reservations, visit: Sixt or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Adventuress thanks the following who hosted us during our stay – 11 Cadogan Gardens for a wonderful stay!
Restaurants Indigo, HKK, Long Bar for the delicious meals, and The Ritz London for inviting us to an unforgettable Afternoon Tea. We thank the Coca Cola London Eye and Tate Modern for hosting our visits.
Also, we want to thank Sixt and The Executive Car Service for chauffeuring us to our destinations in London and the surrounding area.
As always, we appreciate DK Travel for providing us with the Great Britain Eyewitness Travel Guide Book with 1,635 photographs, 135 detailed maps, and 159 illustrations to help us plan our trip, as well as the London Guidebook with 890 photos, 140 illustrations and a pull-out city map.
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