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Travel | Jan 16, 2020

MGD Guide: London


Years ago after my freshman year in college, I traveled to Europe for the first time on a “backpacking” trip with one of my best friends, and London was one of the first cities we visited. I loved it then, more than I expected I would, and couldn’t quite put my finger on why it was so special to me.

Even after being lucky enough to go back and study abroad in Cambridge after that trip – visiting so many amazing European cities along the way – there was just something about London that I really loved, and it remained at the very top of my list of favorite cities. Fast forward a decade or two, and it still doesn’t disappoint. London has only gotten better, and perhaps, I appreciate it all the more as an adult!

When I was planning our trip to England this past fall, I was surprised at how few travel guides exist that give a good overview of highlights by neighborhood. After all, that’s how I really love to travel – scouting out the best neighborhoods, and then looking for the best eats, shoppes and sights within each area so you have a destination of sorts and can wander around each neighborhood knowing you won’t be disappointed.

I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on the area, but as someone forever smitten with this lovely city, I thought it high time I jot down many of my favorite spots throughout London for any of you who may be planning a first-time trip, or returning after many years and wanting an easy reference of highlights. We’ve skipped noting all the major sights here, and put together a little capsule of our favorite ‘hoods in London.

South Kensington


Where to Eat


Muriels / Best place for casual breakfast and right by the South Kensington tube stop. After stopping by this cute spot, wander the streets for lots of picturesque homes. King’s Road dining & shopping is about a 15 min walk from here.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred / A local pastry stop with all the drool-worthy croissants and brioches.

Ben’s Cookies / Take the tube to the South Kensington stop and you’ll find this tiny, unfussy bakery right off the station. Definitely worth the hype if you’re a cookie connoisseur!

Daylesford Farm / A great stop for local produce, yummy sandwiches and snacks. Quite possibly the prettiest little market of sorts. We stopped in just about all of them, since they have several locations all over the city. If you can’t make it out to their main Cotswold’s location, this is worth popping in to see and grab a treat!

Dishoom / This (very popular) Indian restaurant deserves all the praise! We came here on our first night for dinner and it lived up to all its hype. Be sure to get there early to beat the crowds too. They have a few locations around the city, but I loved this one.

Pimlico Road


Things to Do


Design Shops / Spend an afternoon and walk through London’s design district, lined with the cutest shops featuring local artists, inspiring interior pieces and lots of one-of-a-kind collectables.

Soho


Where to Eat


Dean Street Townhouse / Nestled in the heart of Soho, this is the most charming spot for fish and chips and fun drinks. We loved this place for dinner with the entire restaurant candlelit with possibly the most perfect, cozy vibe.

Cecconi’s Pizzas Bar / We’re still dreaming of this pizza. Pop by for lunch or happy hour and you’ll leave happy.

Covent Garden


Where to Eat


Lamb & Flag / This is one of the oldest pubs in London, tucked away on Rose Street, and filled with locals. A fun place to grab a pint and an English bite to eat.

Din Tai Fung / Funny enough, even though we have one of these at home, we’d never been before. Expect a bit of a wait, but let me tell you… those fresh dumplings won’t disappoint. While you wait, you can take a stroll through charming Covent Garden and wander the cute streets and shoppes.

Petersham Nursery & Delicatessen / A little Italian cafe with freshly baked pastries and the most gorgeous sandwiches. Shop their darling store or grab a bite to eat for lunch.

Venchi / The tastiest gelato in the heart of Covent Garden.

Where to Shop


Whittard / A local tea shop with the cutest packaging. I loved wandering through here, and even picked up a few goodies to bring back home.

The Abnormal Beauty Company / There are so many darling shops here in Covent Garden, but one noteworthy stop was this beauty shop. It’s a great little boutique filled with the most beautiful and luxurious beauty products.

Marylebone


Where to Eat


Chiltern Firehouse / Such a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner – or all three. This gem is a must-see during the day and night, namely for its design and laid-back luxe aesthetic and company. So much beauty and detail! After you finish here, take a stroll around the surrounding streets for some of the best shoppes, cafes, and charming little homes.

Sourced Market / This is an itty bitty Dean & Deluca, and a great spot to grab a coffee as you walk around.

Delamina / Another charming dinner spot. This is an Israeli-Tapas style restaurant and has the coziest vibe. Perfect for a date night.

108 Brasserie / Perfect for grabbing a drink or staying through dinner.

Ole & Steen / A modern bakery, ideal for a quick coffee and breakfast.

The Marylebone / A quaint little bar with fun modern drinks. Great stop before dinner!

La Fromagerie / The cheese shop of my dreams! Stop here for snacks or for a casual breakfast or lunch.

28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen / Great little wine bar for a quick drink or dinner.

Daylesford / Again, my favorite. You can pick up a few souvenirs from here if you’re a Daylesford admirer like I am. These are my kinda souvenirs: fresh produce, perfectly packaged food, totes, and cookbooks. Some may or may not make it home!

Where to Shop


KJs Laundry / Cute shop for ladies.  

The Conrad Shop / Great home goods store.

And so much more… / Wander and you’ll find more spots to love.

Notting Hill


Where to Eat


Granger & Co / A popular spot for breakfast. Keep an eye out for their tasty granola and pancakes! If you’re in the mood for a proper sit down lunch, we loved their lunch menu too. After a very long day walking around the city, we stopped in here for a late lunch and then walked it off, getting lost in the neighboring colorful streets. I love this neighborhood.

Ottolenghi / This is my ideal lunch when you’re on the go. Walk in and find fresh salads, ready to scoop and take to-go. You may recognize this name from their fabulous cookbooks. It’s a must.

Where to Stop


Mini Rodin, Boton, La Coqueta / All darling spots for for the kiddos!

Sezane, Jigsaw, Reformation, Heidi Klein, Toast / Lovely women’s boutiques.

Goop, Onda Beauty / Unique home, beauty and wellness goods.

Borough Street Market


Things to Do


A must-visit spot around lunch time. Perfect for walking around and grabbing a few different things to try for lunch. We loved the Kappacasein cheese sandwiches, which one of our Client’s told us about! After lunch, you can walk off all those eats with a stroll to the London Bridge & the Tate Modern.

Shoreditch


Where to Eat


Burger & Beyond / Stop here to grab lunch or dinner. Be sure to try the Cauliflower Cheese Balls! And their burgers are some of the best we’ve had.

Dishoom / I already shared about my love for Dishoom. Shoreditch has another one of their locations, and it’s the perfect stop after a day of strolling through Shoreditch.

Wander around… / In general, depending on where you’re staying in the city, Shoreditch for me is a bit of a trek from the rest of the city. So if you’re venturing out here to explore this urban neighborhood, bring your best walking shoes and an appetite. We pretty much just walked around here and ventured into a few spots to eat and chill (The Ace Hotel is here and has a cool lobby). After a a few hours, we’d had our fill!

Where to Shop


Aida / The cutest housewares and clothing shop!

Labour & Wait / A great stop to collect a great few pieces for your studio or home!

Modern Society / A clothing boutique with a great little collection. Great for both the ladies and the gents!

House of Hackney / A good interior design stop with the most fun wallpapers and textiles!

Luna & Curious / Another quaint clothing (kiddos too!) and housewares boutique.

Last Details


Where to Stay


And now, the best part. One of my favorite things about getting to travel is where we get to stay. I typically prioritize the all-around design vibe and location as my deciding factors. I also love the hospitality factor that these places offer, but sometimes its hard to know what you’ll get unless you’ve stayed in a place before, and really, it’s all personal preference for me. I love the smaller, boutique hotels and that most cater to the guests and make you feel right at home.

Below are some of my favorite places in the city. Some are location driven, some design driven, and some just all-around lovely.

01 / The Kensington Hotel

02 / Dean Street Townhouse

03 / The Edition

04 / Chiltern Firehouse

05 / The Ned

06 / Shoreditch House

Things to Do


Ride Bikes / To see all the major sights, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Royal Sights and Parks, consider seeing them by bike if you haven’t tried it before. It’s so fun. We used Tally Ho and loved their bike tours. Such a great way to see the city, and helps you get all the big sights out of the way if you’re wanting to pack a little more into your stay.

St. James Park / This was my favorite park. It’s a a lovely spot to stroll, and is a less crowded option to beautiful Hyde Park.

Museums / London is known for their museum & art scene, which is a bit of a given. You could honestly spend a few weeks taking in all these sights, but just to name a few… our favorites are the Churchill War Rooms, Tate Modern, and the Victoria & Albert.