London, a city with a wondrous heart and modern appeal. The architecture screams historical secrets but the city itself has a new and lively atmosphere, something that was oddly similar to home. London is not like the other places I’ve been, it’s something that stands alone in awe and beauty. It is a city that must be visited to be understood.
The U.K had been at the top of my bucket list for a few years now and I was beyond thrilled when I finally just pulled the trigger and bought a rather last minute ticket to London. This past year I watched person after person go to London and I just couldn’t wait any longer, you could say the FOMO was real! From the infamous Sketch bathrooms, to the over instagrammed red telephone booths, to the elaborate cocktails at the luxurious bars, I was hooked just by looking online, typical millennial for ya, huh! It would be a safe assumption to say I spent days creating the perfect itinerary of places to go, see, stay, and eat. I was determined to not miss any of the highly recommended places and I can say with confidence that I think I hit many of them within my short 5 day stay. Traveling abroad is something that is always daunting no matter how many travel guides you read, people you ask, or hours you spend researching. That is why I am creating this Instagram friendly, millennial approved, London travel guide that hopefully touches on everything that you might need to know before jetting off.
Before Your Trip
Build your budget + know the conversion rate. London is very expensive, especially right now coming from the US. The conversation as of July 2017 is about $1.30 USD to £1. Keep that in mind when planning your budget and know that when you go to buy a £15 cocktail you are really paying about $20 USD.
There are ways to fly for cheap. I made the decision to fly budget airline, WestJet, out of Vancouver and I was SO impressed. My ticket cost less than $250 and I had no complaints. Look into budget airlines that service your area or consider going up to Canada to fly one of theirs as they are known for cheap flights to Europe.
Plan your transportation from the airport you fly into. I flew into Gatwick and took the Gatwick Express into city center which cost me about $25. Super easy to have ahead of time.
If traveling to other countries within the UK or other parts of Europe via airplane know the weight limits and size of your carry on (if you choose to carry on). This will ensure you are not having to pay $60 to check a carry on bag like me (that was for a Norwegian flight whom I highly suggest not flying with)
Make sure you get pounds. I found it easier to pay with cash in some instances.
Make sure your credit cards have no foreign transaction fees! This will save you a huge headache and money.
Make sure your Uber or Lyft App is connected to a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. I made that mistake by having my debit card connected.
Talk to your phone carrier what options there are for aboard travel. I have T-mobile so I have free texting and data aboard which comes in handy SO often.
Don’t forget to bring a converter for all things that plug in, specific for the UK.
Where to Stay
Staying near city center is pretty important as you have the option to walk a lot of places. It is also important to note however that the city is pretty spread out. I stayed at CitizenM Bankside which was a great location. Easy walking distance to The Eye and Big Ben. You will have to Uber, tube, or walk long distances from anywhere you stay, but Bankside is a great central location.
How to Get Around
I would highly suggest buying an Oyster Card during your stay to use the Tube. I made the mistake of only using the tube one day since most days I was running late and ended up racking up a lot of Uber charges. Plan your days ahead of time if you have obligations at certain times. If you are going out at night though I would suggest using Uber as it is a bit safer and if you are like me, I would wear heels and walking long distances and heels are never the best combo.
What to Do
Get a Blow Dry at Duck & Dry-Get your girls day started by booking an appointment on a Thursday for “Bottomless Prosecco Thursdays” at Duck & Dry. You get a blow dry + unlimited prosecco for just £40. You know I took advantage of that, especially after spending the whole day traveling!
Afternoon Tea at Pret-A-Portea-Afternoon tea is a London must! I had the best experience at Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel with their fashion inspired afternoon tea. Each of the pastries are inspired after the most reason season of fashion week designs. Gucci, Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Pucci, and Mulberry were all represented! It was completely decadent and the atmosphere was perfect for afternoon tea as I sipped on tea and rosé and nibbled on finger sandwiches and the adorable treats. See more of my experience at Pret-A-Portea.
Ride The Eye-I heard mixed opinions about The Eye, but I thought it was totally worth it for the view! Make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time online and spend the extra money for the fast pass to save yourself hours of waiting in line.
Shopping in Oxford Circus & Regent Street-This is where you will find most of the shops. There is a lot of people but if you are in the mood for shopping this is where to go.
Harrods-This place is like a museum and you can’t miss it. Seriously incredible and a must when in London.
Hop on Hop off bus-This is actually not something I did, but almost wish I did to hear more of the history of London. Get a ticket for the day, and it will take you all over, perfect for that day’s transpiration too!
Tour Tate Modern-What a unique museum. During my time there, they were showcasing the art of the voice. Throughout the whole museum it was literally just different voices making different sounds. If you are looking for a unique experience make a stop here! Make sure to dine at their level 9 restaurant for some amazing views and cuisine. See more of the restaurant.
Create a fun game throughout the trip-We decided to steal menus from the restaurants we went to. Some of the menus were too cool not to take. One was in the form of a magazine and I plan to frame some of the pages as art. Shhh…don’t tell!
Places to Go
Where to Eat
If you follow me on instagram you saw I spent more than half of my time eating in London. See my in depth London Eats + Drinks post to really get a feel for brunching, light bites, dinners, drinks, and more!
What to Wear
London is usually pretty grey year round (for the most part) so don’t forget to pack a good jacket. This jacket was perfect and I wore it literally every single day. A comfortable shoe is also a must. I made sure to get a cute pair from River Island before going. We did however find ourselves warm at points during the day when walking around so layers were our friends. Everyone dresses really well, so step up your game a little to not look like too big of a tourist. 😉
I hope if you haven’t been able to experience London yet, you will be able to in the near future. If you have been to London I would love to hear your favorites! I definitely will be going back so I love to have a running bucket list of places to go and obviously, things to eat 😉