Travel

London Calling

June 24, 2016
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I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to put this travel post together, but with several of my friends travelling to the UK I thought it was the perfect time to revisit the wonderful five days I spent in London earlier this year.

2013 was the first time I visited London and as you do the first time you go somewhere Mr P and I did all the touristy things. This time around I discovered a completely different side to the bustling city, we spent most of our days in Notting Hill and neighbouring suburbs simply wandering around the cobbled streets and pastel coloured houses and getting a better feel for the London life – which I instantly fell in love with. Read on for my recommendations and see a virtual tour of my London trip!

the-essentialist-blog-london2the-essentialist-blog-london15the-essentialist-blog-londonthe-essentialist-blog-london18Breakfast and Lunch:

Monocle Cafe – This cute cafe/bar is a spin off from the global affairs and lifestyle magazine Monocle. Think Scandinavian interiors, great chai lattes, nibbles and Happy Hour cocktails! It’s also very Instagramable – so win win!

Sketch – I am most devastated that I didn’t get a chance to go but everyone says it is a must-see! Have afternoon tea and cocktails surrounded by the most impressive and OTT interior!

Nordic Bakery – Gorgeous little Scandinavian bakery that has amazing pastries, they describe themselves as “a space where visual clutter and noise is eliminated from your café experience.

Borough Markets –  If you love cheese this will be your heaven! I have never seen and tasted so many different types of cheeses in my life! My advice is to grab a cup of coffee and take the time to visit each stall, if you’re staying in a self contained apartment this is the perfect place to pick up some gourmet ingredients! After some tastings grab some freshly made pasta from La Tua Pasta – I had the best truffle ravioli.

the-essentialist-blog-london5the-essentialist-blog-londonthe-essentialist-blog-london4the-essentialist-blog-londonDinner:

Ember Yard –  Located in the heart of Soho, this Spanish/ Italian restaurant specialises in cooking over charcoal! We had tapas and cocktails on the cosy lower ground floor and it was incredible!

Drakes Tabanco – Another great tapas bar inspired by Andalusian cuisine with an intimate setting. Here you’ll find innovative tapas, Spanish craft beers and homemade sherry – great for a small group!

The Prince Edward – A traditional English pub with a historic feel but a contemporary menu, a great place to have a pint, a chat and a good meal.

the-essentialist-blog-londonthe-essentialist-blog-londonthe-essentialist-blog-londonDo:

Hyde Park: Grab yourself a coffee and take a walk around Hyde Park. It’s a great opportunity to walk off all those pints and pastries and if you’re like me and adore squirrels well you might be spending most of your days here!

Skate at Somerset House: Every Winter London’s centre of the arts and culture hosts an ice rink in one of the most beautiful locations; the courtyard of Somerset House. The Neo-Classical building makes for an incredible backdrop and after your spin around the rink enjoy some creamed tea or a cocktail at the lounge. Skate at Somerset House will return for the Winter season in November.

Walk and Wander: One thing I love about travelling around Europe is the amount of walking I do, and I find the best way to explore a new place is by simply wandering on foot – plus it’s a great excuse to eat and drink more!
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Stay:

We stayed at Vancouver Studios a historic London townhouse on the picturesque Princes Square, that combines the convenience of a hotel with the privacy and warmth of an apartment and best of all they have a resident ginger cat called Zeus – making it the perfect home away from home. Situated in Bayswater, a five minute walk from Notting Hill and Portobello Road it was the perfect location for our second visit to London.

The neighbourhood was quiet, safe and absolutely charming with historic town houses and private parks lining the streets. A few other things I loved about it was its eclectic interior – especially the amazing bamboo wall paper in the sitting room and the gorgeous courtyard where I patted Zeus many-a-times.

the-essentialist-blog-london16Neighbouring Favourites:

Farm Girl – Beautiful organic and healthy cafe on Portobello Road, they have the most delicious matcha lattes!

Gail’s Artisan Bakery – As the name suggests here you will find delectable pastries, freshly baked bread, sandwiches and fantastic hot chocolates!

Stumper and Fielding – A superbly British store showcasing some beautiful traditional threads, including tweeds, amazing cashmere and wool tartan scarves – like the one I picked up in photo 11.

Alices Portobello – The iconic antiques and vintage store was founded in 1887 and is a treasure trove for all things old and interesting, I could have spent hours in here and brought a container of things back with me!

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Visit: Oxford

Mr P’s step sister studies at Oxford so every time we go to England we go visit her and I’ve fallen in love with this historic town. The day is best spent going on a walking tour of the many beautiful colleges and their courtyards, punting in Summer, resting for afternoon tea and scones at The Grand Cafe followed by a pint or Pimms at one of the many cosy pubs!

the-essentialist-blog-londonRecommendations:

The Grand Cafe: The Grand Cafe is a true Oxford institution and stands on the first ever Coffee House in England, which opened in 1650. The interior is as gorgeous as the exterior with gilded mirrors, chandeliers and the most delectable afternoon tea delights – tea and scones is not to be missed!

Christ Church College Visit: As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, last time I was in London I dragged Mr P to The Making of Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studios tour. This time around I was not allowed to visit it again, so instead while we were in Oxford I got to visit Christ Church College which served as sets and inspired several sets in the Harry Potter series. see the real dining hall that the movies were inspired by.

Bridge of Sighs: Hertford Bridge or The Bridge of Sighs is a skyway that joins two areas of the Hertford College. The 100 year old bridge is an iconic Oxford landmark and makes for beautiful photos!

The Turf Tavern: This well hidden – but very popular pub is found by walking down a narrow winding alley. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a Guinness World Record at this pub for sculling a glass of ale in 11 seconds.

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I hope you enjoyed my London travel diary and that it inspires you to visit this beautiful city! I still have a Parisian travel diary to post so stay tuned!

Xx Nadine

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