Founded by the Romans, the capital of the United Kingdom is over 2000 years old. Today’s city rests upon ancient layers of civilization, a network of rivers and the rubble of The Blitz. While there is much to love about London, its prevailing medieval structures, winding streets, village-esque neighborhoods and diverse population are especially charming. #LondonIsOpen
If arriving into Heathrow, there are a few options for getting to the city. The first is via the Heathrow Express, which is a 20 minute ride into Paddington Station. Purchase round trip tickets in advance to get the best price. If you are traveling in a twosome, the DuoSaver is a great deal at £55 for return tickets. Another option is to take the Piccadilly Tube line (purple), which will get you to central London in about an hour. You can also take an Uber or taxi, which may make sense if you are a group. However, unless you are staying in West London this may take the longest and be the most expensive.
Traffic is notorious. London is far reaching and while it can take time to get across the city, the Tube is efficient, clean and extensive. Purchase a £5 blue Oyster card for easy tapping into London’s Tube and bus network.
Dishoom Delicious Indian in trendy locales. Hot tip: the Kensington and Kingly Court locations are often less crowded.
Ergon Deli Greek deli and cafe in Mayfair. Get the sesame bagel with eggs.
Fabrique Bakery Scandinavian bakery with locations in Shoreditch, Notting Hill and Covent Garden. Try the cardamom buns.
The Good Egg Healthy Jewish and Middle Eastern food in Kingly Court.
Gymkhana Michelin-stared Indian in Mayfair. One for special celebrations.
Leong’s Legend Unassuming Taiwanese dim sum in Chinatown.
Mildred’s Tasty vegetarian restaurant in Soho.
The Palomar Modern Israeli fare from the same group behind Machneyuda in Jerusalem. Book two months in advance for dinner.
68 Wine Bar Soho wine bar with an NYC vibe. Long list of bottles for £20 each.
The French House Small pub in Covent Garden that used to be a gathering place for the literary crowd.
Gordon’s Wine Bar London’t oldest wine bar. This Embankment spot is located within subterranean vaults, and has a lovely outdoor patio for sunny days.
Milk and Honey Fancy cocktails at a Soho speakeasy.
New Evaristo Club Tiny dive bar in Soho that was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. Try to go before 11pm.
The Wolseley Old World European bistro near St. James. Go for tea and book ahead.
Big Ben and Parliament
The British Museum. Free and open every day.
Buckingham Palace Changing of the guards is at 11am every day.
The Churchill War Rooms An excellent way for history buffs to spend a few hours.
Marylebone High Street A cute spot for shopping with trendy boutiques, quaint cafes and dreamy book stores.
The National Gallery A national treasure with works by Vermeer, Titian, Cézanne, Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many more.
St. Paul’s Cathedral This Anglican cathedral has been a worship site for over 1000 years.
Tower of London A medieval castle, founded in the 11th century, that sits in the center of the city. Visit the crown jewels and notorious Tower of Terror.
West End Catch one of London’s many Broadway shows in this part of town.
Westminster Abbey Get tickets online if you fancy viewing Poets Corner and the Tomb of the Tudor sisters inside.
If work is paying and proximity to the sites, restaurants and nightlife is important, we recommend choosing a hotel in Soho, Covent Garden or Westminster. The Courthouse Hotel in Soho is lovely and close to everything.
For a more authentic experience, consider an AirBnb in one of London’s many “village-esque” neighborhoods. See more below.
EAST + SOUTH
Borough Market A foodie haven near Tower Hill with fresh produce, craft drinks and gourmet food stalls. A market has operated on this site since the 12th century.
Cay Tre Authentic (and cheap!) Vietnamese in a BYOB setting in Shoreditch.
10 Bells Traditional pub near Spitalfields that is rumored to be the lcoation of a Jack the Ripper murder.
The Bermondsey Beer Mile Craft beer breweries on a mile long strip.
Callooh Callay Speakeasy style cocktail bar in Shoreditch. Make a booking.
Martello Hall Industrial style pub in South Hackney that is open late on the weekends.
Netil360 Relaxed roof-top bar in South Hackney.
NT’s A hip loft bar with a deck in South Hackney.
Brick Lane Historically home to a South Asian immigrant community, this neighborhood is sadly gentrifying. The immigrant community has left their mark behind in the mosque, Indian restaurants and sweet shops that dot Brick Lane. There is a street market every Sunday.
Columbia Road Flower Market East London flower market held every Sunday, rain or shine, before 2pm.
Greenwich Home to the Prime Meridian longitudinal line, this historical borough on the Thames River is known for its rich naval history, the 19th century Cutty Sark ship (now a museum), Royal Naval College and Royal Observatory. Catch a ferry from Westminster to Greenwich and enjoy the view.
East London is younger, hipper and a bit more of a party scene. Check out Shoreditch, Hoxton or Hackney.
On the south bank of the Thames, look in Bermondsey.
La Creperie de Hampstead Tiny crepe cart on the Hampstead high street. Try the mushroom, cheese and tarragon.
The Spaniard’s Inn This 16th century former inn is great place for a pub lunch.
The Flask Historic and cozy Hampstead pub.
Camden Town The old rock and roll neighborhood, Camden is still gritty and its Camden Market is great for eating and shopping.
Hampstead Heath Wilderness in the city. This large park has great views of the city, hiking trails and natural swimming pools.
Primrose Hill This hill in Regent’s Park has an excellent view of the city.
In the north, we love Islington, Angel and Kings Cross. There will be lots of Airbnb options in all of these neighborhoods.
Bluebelles Delicious and adorable brunch spot on north Portobello Road in Notting Hill.
Lisboa Patisserie Perhaps the best Portuguese bakery in all of London, this Notting Hill institution usually has a line outside on the weekend.
Pizza East Quality pizza. Locations in Shoreditch, Kentish Town and Portobello Road.
Bluebird Posh cocktail bar in Chelsea.
Candella Tea Room This tiny, Alice in Wonderland-type tea shop is an adorable spot for tea in Kensington.
The Churchill Arms The most Instagram-able pub in London.
Electric Diner Hip bar open late on Portobello Road.
The Orangery Take tea at Kensington Palace!
Union Tavern Canal-side pub north of Notting Hill with outdoor seating.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Chelsea Trendy part of town with cute shops, restaurants and beautiful, old Victorian pubs. Take a walk down King Street.
Little Venice Three canals meet in this lovely neighborhood just west of Paddington Station. From Little Venice take a 45 minute canal boat through Regent’s Park up to Camden Town.
Portobello Road Market A Notting Hill street market held every Friday and Saturday. Great for antiques, artisanal gifts, food stalls and eclectic bric a brac.
V&A Design Museum One of the world’s leading museums on decorative arts and design.
In the West, both Notting Hill and Kensington are close to the park and have easy access to the city. Check out AirBnbs in both neighborhoods.