The Basics: A Guide to a UK Trip

This post will feature all of my London recommendations, which I hope to continually update as I do more fun things & recommend them. I am hoping to do different posts for different cities! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions, or suggestions of your own.

xx

j

General London Tips

  • Going there, the jet lag is WAY worse than on the way back. They say try not to nap, but I usually end up napping for an hour or two because then you can be productive later on in the night. You’ll feel better in two-three days. Alternatively, try an all day flight! I find I am a lot less jet lagged.
  • You don’t need to tip a lot on services such as restaurants, cabs, etc. I usually just round things up so if it’s 18.20, I’ll hand them a 20 pound note and say keep the change. A lot of times, tip is included at restaurants, it’s called a “service charge” and it’s usually around 12.5%. Dave thinks it’s becoming the norm to tip around 10% but I find that this varies.
  • The public transportation system is AMAZING, albeit expensive. But worth it. My favorite London apps for travel are citymapper and tubemap. Definitely get an oyster card. If you are there for a few days, I would recommend putting 20 quid on, because you can always top up & put more on. They also have weekly/monthly passes available, but you have to know what zones you want to travel to.
  • Quid and pound are interchangeable
  • Are you alright=how are you? (it doesn’t mean are you okay in the American sense it’s like a casual greeting)
  • Most museums in London are free! I really liked the Jack the Ripper museum(not free cause it’s tiny and in like a random house in Whitechapel), the Victoria and Albert, the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum
  • Chips=fries, crisps=chips
  • Lift=elevator
  • Queue=line

Things to Book In Advance

  • If you want to do an afternoon tea-use the website afternoontea.co.uk
  • If you’re there for a Sunday have a Sunday Roast. Pubs and restaurants serve roast dinners (dinner can be eaten any time from 12pm on and is usually more of a late lunch around 3pm)-you probably don’t have to book in advance for this depending on where you want to go, but worth checking out some pubs and seeing if you can do!
  • Westend shows are cheaper than Broadway and it’s a great experience. I have gotten a lot of last minute tickets for a good price! Also I highly recommend Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, a unique show not playing in the US (or anywhere else).

Bars/Clubs

  • In my heyday, my favorite clubs were Cargo, XOYO and Ministry of Sound
  • Most of them have small covers, it’ll say on their website
  • Fabric is a really well known club as well, but the cover is mad expensive (like 20quid)
  • Good casual bars (they’re chains) are be at 1 and all bar 1
  • Definitely stop into local pubs-Dave recommends The Market Porter in Borough Market.

Food

  • London’s “fast food” is amazing. They have so many good grab and go places. In the morning, you can stop at a Greggs, Café Nero, Costa, Pumpkin, or of course Starbucks (the menu is different!) and I definitely recommend getting a sausage roll for breakfast one day (best when hungover but fantastic all the time really).
  • For casual quick food, there are some good places like Pizza Express (get the dough balls!!!) Wasabi which is grab and go sushi,  Pret a Manger (sandwiches etc.) Upper Crust (not my fave but again, they have sandwiches) Nandos (ABSOLTUE FAVE MUST GO) which is like buffalo wild wings but healthier-it’s peri peri style grilled chicken you can get wings and burgers and stuff it’s really really good. I also love Cornish pasties
  • If you fancy (this means like) Indian food ( a curry as they call it) go to Brick Lane near Shoreditch-we went to Sheba in May and it was good. Just double check your bill, they tried to upcharge us 50 pounds but we caught them, apparently it’s all part of the scheme because there are 5/10 Indian restaurants on Brick Lane and they try and lure you in.
  • For a nice dinner, you can book it at the Shard which has amazing views of London, it’s quite fancy though-definitely not necessary but a cool thing to do. Book in advance if you think you want to go! They have a few different cuisines.
  • Also good food is the Swan at the Globe (Shakespeare Theatre). We ate there in the private dining room it was gorgeous (and not like crazy expensive). Also have heard Sketch is great- it looks very fun inside! Have also heard good things about Duck and Waffle.
  • Would recommend checking out Insider Food on facebook for fun food things- I know there is a cereal café, and a famous bagel place etc.
  • Drunk food: Kebabs. Every kebab shop is open till like 5 am. My favourite is cheesy chips (fries) with ketchup (and sometimes hummus if I was really wasted)

Touristy Sights

  • There are some definite sites that you’ll want to hit like Big Ben(currently under construction I think!) and Houses of Parliament, The eye (not worth going on in my opinion-but cool to look at), the Shard, Tower Bridge (and Southbank in general), Tower of London, Buckingham Palace
  • They’re all really close together and you can see them all in a day or two
  • There are red telephone booths everywhere, but some really nice ones outside Westminster Abbey and in Trafalgar Square.

Shopping

  • Shopping in London is legitimately my favourite activity. I usually spend $300-500 every time we go. Which is bad since we’re there like every other month.
  • The best shops to go to I think: New Look (my absolute fave) Primark (cheap AF) Topshop (nicer than new look, kinda like nordstrom quality in the US) River Island (a little nicer than New Look but not as nice as Topshop) Bershka (similar to New Look)
  • Stop into Harrods!!!!! Must do. I personally wouldn’t eat there, although they have every kind of food you can imagine.
  • Other department stores that are fun: Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis, Peter Jones

Areas to Go

  • Embankment, a bunch of the touristy stuff is there on the South Bank. It also has really nice views of the Thames and Tower Bridge.
  • Shoreditch, my old stomping grounds, and where the music video I was in in May was filmed! Check out spitalfields market, boxpark, pizza east, Roadtrip and the Workshop and some of the clubs I mentioned before are there.
  • Camden Lock-HUGE market, very artsy with lots of fun food, really cool little area to walk around. There’s also the black stallion market next door which does a billion different types of food. There’s usually also a pub crawl you can sign up for that goes around Camden
  • Covent Garden-shopping, but pretty to walk around! I used to walk from Covent Garden through Piccadilly Circus (which is like Times Square) to Oxford Circus (which is more shopping) It’s about a mile walk but you pass through a lot of the main sights.
  • Trafalgar Square-has some monuments that are famous and some nice museums!
  • Borough Market is one of my fave places. They had fresh food for grab and go or little stalls to buy fish, cheese, chutney etc.
  • If you have a little time, Richmond on the Thames and it’s so nice if it’s a little warm out you can go to the Pitcher and the Piano or the Slug and Lettuce (both pubs) and sit out by the river. Also fun to just grab a cup of tea and sit on the wall.
  • If you wanted to see any of the other palaces they’re all easy to get to (Kensington, Hampton court or Kew Gardens, Windsor )
    • Kew Gardens is actually a huge botanical garden and it’s right by Richmond
    • Windsor is an amazing little town anyway and you should definitely go. I’ve actually not be in the castle but the town is cute to walk around!
  • Notting Hill/Portobello Market-really nice market during the week only I think!
  • Harry Potter fans:  In King’s Cross Station, there is a photo shoot set up for Platform 9 ¾ and it’s quite cute, you get to pose with the scarf of your house. Also for the diehard fans: Warner Brothers Studio does a Harry Potter tour which was awesome, but has to be booked well in advance.

Parks

  • There are a ton of gorgeous parks to visit if you end up having nice weather (which happens more often than one would think, especially during spring & summer months!)
  • The best part is that you can drink in them! Totally recommend picking up a bottle of wine from one of their grocery stores Tesco, Co-Op, Sainsburys etc. or an off license and having a picnic!
  • Some of the best are Hyde Park, Regents Park, Kensington Gardens, Greenwich Park, St. James Park,  and Richmond Park.

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