If you follow me on Instagram (or know me in person!) you’ll be fully aware that my fiancé, Euan, turned 30 last week and we had a whole week (just over!) of celebrations… Starting with London. So here’s a little London low-down post about the places we visited & some recommendations etc.
London Low-Down – Where to stay?
Usually when we visit London, we stay in the Hub by Premier Inn hotel on Goodge Street (near Tottenham Court Road). Which I would highly recommend if you want somewhere relatively central, fairly cheap, and compact & clean. However, this time we stayed in the Thistle Hyde Park Hotel, situated opposite the Lancaster Gate entrance to Kensington Gardens.
Although slightly further out, it was actually a fantastic location. You could either get the tube from Lancaster Gate to Bond Street (or wherever!), or take a stroll through Kensington Gardens & Hyde Park (takes about 35-40 mins to get to Oxford Street on foot).
It is a gorgeous old building and they’ve kept the old-school feel inside, whilst still modernising. It wasn’t 5* luxury, but the room was spacious & had a lovely marble bathroom. Plus the entrance & lounge area was impactful but comfortable. All in all, we had a brilliant stay here and would definitely go back!
Breakfast for Kings & Queens
Next up on the London low-down is a quirky little breakfast place… We actually didn’t do any fancy evening meals this time around as we were mostly drinking (and I had fancy meal plans lined up for the rest of the week…). But I did want to do a nice breakfast one day. I’m not actually sure how I came across it, but somehow I discovered the Pavilion Restaurant at Kensington Palace.
I’m a shameless Royalist, so I jumped at the chance of having breakfast at Kensington Palace. And as it happened we were not disappointed! The Pavilion building itself is nothing special, but they have made such an effort with the interior. Classical music was playing, there was fancy china on the tables, and the decor was modern but could equally have been from the late 1800s (the Indian influence of Queen Victoria’s taste).
The food was actually brilliant, and the staff & service was attentive and polite. We had views looking out to the Palace itself, and Euan says he’s going to tell our grandchildren that Kate & William were eating breakfast at the next table… (they weren’t, but they do live at the Palace so it’s only a slight fabrication….!).
Bring on the Cocktails
Now for the best bit of the London low-down… The cocktail bars! I really did my cocktail bar research for this weekend, and I absolutely pulled it off (if I do say so myself…). On Saturday night we met friends for drinks in Cahoots, a favourite of ours and an absolutely must if you’re into cocktail experiences.
Not only are the cocktails brilliant, the bar itself is actually a war-time remake of the London Underground. All the staff are in character as if it was the early 1900s, and there is even cockney rhyming slang playing in the loos. You’re definitely paying a little more than other places (£12-£15 a cocktail) but it’s honestly worth it, and you needn’t stay for more than an hour or two! (Booking is essential, especially on weekends).
Next up was a hidden gem (also on Saturday night), where we met my cousin & her boyfriend. Supposedly one of the top 10 cocktail bars in London (according to google), and it did not disappoint. Barely noticeable from outside, and semi-ordinary upstairs, you head downstairs to the coolest basement bar. Live piano music & booths to sit in, plus a menu including over 350 whiskies! (Euan was a happy chappy). Again, attentive table service, mood lighting, and delicious drinks. Swift Bar – highly recommend!
Bring on the Cocktails (night 2)
For Sunday evening, I changed things up a bit (literally…). It was just Euan & I for the evening this time, and I wanted to surprise him with a couple of places he’d never think of going (mission accomplished, just sayin’).
Firstly, we headed to level 32 of the Shard where you can have drinks at the Oblix bar. There are two restaurants here – Oblix East & Oblix West. We had some cocktails in Oblix East, with night-time views down the Thames and towards East London. It was an amazing experience, and definitely worth the higher prices (get it…). The Shard is always somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for drinks (despite being afraid of heights) and I’m really glad we did it! The vibe in the Oblix East bar was really cool as well, which added to the atmosphere.
I then took Euan to the Sky Pod Bar in the Sky Garden, which is on the top floor of the walkie-talkie (also known as 20 Fenchurch Street). If you know London well, you’ll know that these two buildings are directly opposite each other (on either side of the Thames). So it was quite cool to quickly hop from one to the other!
The Sky Garden was even cooler than the Shard, and we enjoyed a quick stroll around the building before sitting in a roped off area at the edge of the bar space. We sat with more rooftop views of London and had a brilliant waiter who was happy to recommend cocktails. They even left blankets for you on the chairs which I was more than buzzed about!
London Low-down – Conclusion
Having grown up near London, I know the city pretty well. And Euan & I love to go for the odd weekend every so often to visit some of our fave places. Now we have a few more to add into the mix!! Do you know London well? Perhaps you have some top-spots to share too? Let me know in the comments!
For more city recommendations, take a look at two slightly older posts below!