Wooaahhh is jetlag a real thing. After 24 of some of the most amazing days on the road, Moses and I are finally back home in Los Angeles with our favorite little sausage, Vienna and hi, we are also the newest members of the early bird special club. We are unable to stay up past 8:30 pm and we wake up in one-hour intervals from 4:00 am, and by 6:00 am we give up, get out of bed and start our days. The only "person" who seems to be loving this new schedule is Vienna, who is more than happy to eat her breakfast as early as possible. Despite the jetlag, I've edited all my photos from the trip, dipped into almost every snack we've brought back, and have begun to binge watch all the shows we missed while we were gone. Side note, how fricken good is This is Us?!
On October 3, we hopped on a British Airways flight and made our way all the way across the US and North Atlantic Ocean to kick off our three-week adventure through London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Copenhagen, starting in LONDON! However, Moses will tell you that I kicked off the trip long before we ever left because I was busy researching our cities, planning our itinerary with the help of Google Spreadsheets and Google Maps' stars feature aka "Saved" button, hitting up all friends, family, and you guys for any and/or all recommendations. Basically, by the time we reached London, I was pretty familiar with the city, despite the fact that it was my first time visiting. I spent a fair amount of time planning our itinerary, factoring travel times and routes, opening and closing days and times, and while Moses may have thought I was a tad bit obsessed leading up to the trip, I think he appreciated my compulsive need to schedule every last detail when we got there ;). Below you'll find a video, filmed and edited by Moses, of all our highlights as well as a detailed day-by-day recap of our amazing eating, drinking, and seeing adventure through London!
We stayed at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, so it's worth noting this itinerary was tailored to that. Starting our first morning in London at Dishoom, a Bombay style cafe located just a couple blocks away from our hotel, involved what was probably one of the best breakfasts I've ever had--everything from the spicy house chai, to the masala beans, bacon naan roll, and akuri eggs. Not to mention, the musical stylings of George Bruns was on point. After that, we took the tube over to Kensington and picked up some of the prettiest and tastiest eclairs from Maître Choux and then strolled over to the Victoria & Albert Museum to check out their Records and Rebels 1966 - 1970 exhibition. If you happen to be in or heading to London in the near future, I highly recommend checking out this totally immersive and highly engaging exhibit. After the V&A, we hoofed it over to Knightsbridge and "browsed" Harrods before making our way over to lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental (what a mouthful). The slow cooked pork belly, tipsy cake, and made to order liquid nitrogen vanilla ice cream were our personal highlights, along with the epic view of Hyde Park (don't forget to request a window seat!). After that, we spent the afternoon walking to various must-see sights like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, and the London Eye before catching the tube back to Shoreditch. Since we had a pretty big day of dining, we took a seat at The Clove Club bar for some light bites and a few cocktails before heading back to the Ace for Maître Choux eclairs and instant coffee in our room for an evening nightcap!
Breakfast at Dishoom
Dinner and drinks at The Clove Club
Coffee generally rules all my mornings. I need a cup or the day is pretty much guaranteed to be a legit headache, so when countless people told us to check out Brooklyn Coffee, we did. And it was, of course, great and the barista turned us on to our new fave vegan-milk, oat milk! After a bit of life blood, that's my nickname for coffee, we walked down to St. John Bread & Wine, where I had my very first bacon sandwich (the very cool salesclerk at London Undercover later told me that they make his favorite one) and an apple cider doughnut! I felt like a proper Londoner for about a minute, until I said I felt "super proper" and my friend Tremaine told me I undid all my Londonness. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ After breakfast, we strolled through Old Spitalfields Market, which is right across the street from St. John Bread & Wine, and then made our way back up to Shoreditch for more shopping. I pretty much wanted to buy everything from Labour and Wait, which was filled to the brim with all the Riess enamalware you could ever want or imagine, as well as rad hammers, Opinel knives, and lots of striped shirts (love). Modern Society and Aimé were very well curated boutiques with names like Isabel Marant and Acne. O'Dell's was a cute, tiny menswear shop that also stocked cute homewares. And Le Labo. Although they aren't exclusive to London, they do make a very exclusive scent that you can only get in that city, so I'd say it's worth a stop and a smell.
Post shopping, we dropped off all our bags in our room and took the tube to the National Portrait Gallery in St. Martin's Place. Since we had to transfer lines at Kings Cross Station, I took the opportunity to hit up Platform 9 3/4 and pick up a wand, because I'm definitely a Harry Potter nerd at heart. Bless Moses' heart for indulging me. After our magical pitstop, the Picasso Portraits at the NPG blew us away. A much needed afternoon pick-me-up was had at Rose Bakery in Dover Street Market, where the peanut butter cookie stole the show. Feeling refreshed and probably buzzing on a sugar high, we walked up Regent Street for window shopping before meeting our friend Tremaine at Bao in Soho. We waited about an hour to enjoy some of the most amazing and interesting dumplings I've ever had, but spent that time catching up and pretending we weren't cold. About 45 minutes into our wait, we realized we could grab beers from John Snow Pub (not named after GOT John Snow, though I pretended it was anyway), and ended up chugging them, yes, legit chugging them, before we grabbed our seat in the restaurant. So pro tip, grab a beer at John Snow and then get in line at Bao!
Quick stop at Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station
St. Martin’s Place
We kept it easy and grabbed a quick coffee downstairs at Bulldog Edition before we headed out to the Tate Modern in Bankside, via the tube. The architecture alone is reason to visit, but the permanent collection, which happens to be free, is also worth a trip. Lorna Simpson's Photo Booth and Five Day forecast were great to see irl, as was Salvador Dalí's Metamorphosis of Narcissus. We could have stayed all day and checked out the various Exhibitions if it wasn't for Borough Market calling our name. My personal favorites at the market were Monmouth Coffee, Kentish Cobnuts, vanilla bean doughnuts from Bread Ahead, paella, and roast beef butties! After wandering around the market, which was the best market we visited this trip, we tubed it over to Soho for an afternoon at the whimsical, pink everything tea room at Sketch. While the tea towers were beautiful and the room was filled with eye candy galore, it is worth noting that we really had to ask for service. So if you find yourself waiting for your tower or battenberg cake for quite a while, just flag someone for help! After tea, we checked out the Christmas floor (!!!) at Liberty London before heading back to Shoreditch on a very crowded Friday evening tube! Craving a little comfort, we hit up Cây Tre for some pho and crispy spring rolls before turning in for the night!
Coffee from Bulldog Edition at the Ace
Dinner at Cây Tre Hoxton
On our last and final day, I broke my public transportation only rule, thanks to a line being down for construction, and we Ubered over to Notting Hill to meet up with my USD classmate and fellow Hawaii girl, Tiffany and her husband Kim for some morning cinnamon and cardamom rolls and coffee at Fabrique Bakery. We were joined by the cutest dog, who patiently waited for his owner to pick up some really tasty looking bread. After our morning fuel up, we all walked through Portabello Road Market before saying our goodbyes and taking our own little stroll through the rest of Notting Hill while en route to the tube station. The afternoon was spent back in Shoreditch where we walked through Brick Lane Market, checking out all the local artisans, food vendors, and various nearby art galleries. We also picked up a couple of umbrellas at London Undercover and befriended their very hip salesclerk before meeting up with my friend Erika Rax at Cereal Killer Cafe, home to about a gazillion cereals from around the world. Moses and I settled on "The Lion King" and "Unicorn Poop" from the menu while Erika got peanut butter milk and something wonderful I can't quite recall. Post cereal, we met up with Tremaine again, this time joined by his lovely gf Susannah, for some beigels, aka bagels, with salted meat and gerkins, aka pickles. After beigels, Tremaine grabbed a doughnut that looked absolutely sinful at Crosstown Doughnuts and Susannah and Moses grabbed some chocolate truffles over at Dark Sugars.
After all that eating, we decided a trip to see the Tower of London and walk across the London Tower Bridge was in order, so we hoofed it over for some afternoon sightseeing. That lead to a couple of half pints (and full pints for the gents) under the bridge before a walk back to Shoreditch for a farewell meal. I somehow managed to convince everyone to wait for an hour so we could experience Dishoom's dinner offerings and all I can say is that I'm still thinking about how good that meal was. I'll definitely be trying my hand at making their black dal, crispy okra fries, and chicken ruby murray very soon!!
City of London
Dinner at Dishoom
A few random tips, facts, and bits of info before I go...
- We walked an average of 7.25 miles a day, so pack your walking shoes.
- We picked up Oyster cards and purchased 7 day zone 1-2 travel cards, which came out cheaper than buying day passes.
- If you're trying to conserve data, you can input your address into Google maps, and get the route then switch your phone to airplane mode. Somehow, I'm not sure how, the phone retains gps capabilities for around 30 minutes, and you can conserve your precious data.
- You don't have to tip in London.
- You can download our itinerary here!