This week I’m sharing insight on one city I have fallen in love with…London. It’s easy to put on your list to visit top destinations as Buckingham Palace, the London Bridge, Windsor castle, etc. But what about where the locals go? Here is some inside scope from three trendy globe trottin fellas I know, Vojta, Sean& Devon… that have seen, been and done everything. Their top takes on where to stay, dine and go is a special treat for those planning their next destination to this posh Metropolitan city.
LH: What two hotels do you suggest your visitors to stay at when visiting London?
Because I live in London I don’t use hotels here very often so I can’t tell you from my own experience, but I would recommend searching on Expedia, Booking.com
. I would recommend staying with zone 1 or 2 (the city uses zones to describe how central things are with zone 1 being most central). There are a number of boutique hotels worth checking out as well such as the Charlotte Street Hotel
and you may even want to check out serviced apartments (www.sacoapartments.co.uk
Sean & Devon: One of our most recent favorites for London Hotel is The Mayfair in the Mayfair section of central London… The Mayfair is as central as you can get in London andwalking distance to Hyde park, Regent Street, Oxford Street, Green Park, Buckingham Palace and Picadilly Circus. Its a newer Hotel, 5 star, but you can often get good rates (sometimes as low as a 150 pounds sterling)..It’s a sleek modern hotel with a BUMPIN bar (http://www.themayfairhotel.co.uk). A more affordable hotel, yet trendy and central, We would recommend the Cumberland. The Cumberland is near Oxford street, also with a sleek modern interior and decent sized rooms.
Although, we must let you in on a closely guarded secret… There are serviced apartments (beautiful one bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchens, washing machines) at 9 Hertford Street, also in Mayfair (http://www.9hertfordst.com). Rates hover around the 200 pound per night rate- These apartments definitely beat out any hotel and the staff is amazing- Once you stay at 9 Hertford Street, you will never want to check in to a London Hotel ever again- Not to mention it is truly at the center of London.
E A T
LH: What are 2 top places you recommend for breakfast:
Wake up, have the full English breakfast and go back to sleep. If done properly you really need to rest afterwards. OK, I am exaggerating a little bit, but it is a lot
of food (eggs, sausages, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, beans, toast). I like Joe’s Kitchen(http://www.joeskitchen.co.uk/
) near the Borough Market (which I highly recommend you visit) and Raoul’s Cafe
on the other side of town (in Notting Hill). Enjoy!
Sean & Devon: Giraffe on Kensington HighStreet, opposite Kensington Palace. The food is eclectic and they offer a lot of GOOD vegetarian options.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Restaurant- The best English breakfasts in town!
LH: Where do you partake for lunch?
I’M putting my two cents in as well! Check out Arancina in Notting Hill: SUPER cute pizzeria! Can’t miss the window front with it’s vintage orange car displayed. Below is a pic of me, Vojta & sis freezi’n our patookus off while strolling through Notting Hill. LOVE that place! http://www.arancina.co.uk/location.html
Vojta: Again, you are in London, so let’s eat English food. I recently went to The Saint near the St. Paul’s Cathedral and it is a really nice place with great British cuisine. Or, try one of Marco Pierre White’s restaurants. You can’t go wrong there.
Sean & Devon: Again, The Mandarin Oriental! With a wide range of Asian infused dishes and beautiful views of the park, lunch at the Mandarin is a must on Summer’s day- Don’t Forget to order Mogue’s Signature Drink at the Manadarin- Guava Juice, Passion fruit Juice and 2 shots of GreyGoose!
LH: Dinner recommendations?
Vojta: If you want to try one of the most popular cuisines of the UK, Indian food, go to Lahore Kebab House (http://www.lahore-kebabhouse.com) in East London. Don’t expect anything fancy! It is cheap, loud and really good! Alternatively, I would recommend one of my favorite restaurants Alounakin Bayswater. That’s where you’ll get the best Persian meals in London.
Call us corny, but we also LOVE the tacky 1960s Polynesian themed Trader Vics at the Park Lane Hilton. The food is good, the drinks are GREAT! http://www.tradervicslondon.com
Sean & Devon: ZUMA! People often head straight to one of the Nobu’s when they desire a Japanese influenced meal- But hidden ‘in the cut’ in Knightsbridge around the corner from Harrods is ZUMA- Book in advance! It’s always full. (http://www.zumarestaurant.com/zuma_uk.html)
LH: Now to MY main interest…Any off the beaten paths for shopping or stores you like?
Vojta: London has the biggest shopping mall in Western Europe, the Westfield, but I rather shop on High Street Kensigton not far from there, pick up some food from WholeFoods (I haven’t seen one like this in the US!) and then head over to the Kensington Gardens.
Sean & Devon: SELFRIDGES is a fashionnista/fashionisto’s PARADISE. It is massive….MASSIVE. If you want to do some serious shopping, one must take a Selfridges adventure. Selfridges is on Oxford Street. Camden Market is also a dope spot for the most random finds. We Highly recommend taking the tube here and just wander in and out of the hundreds of little shops: You’d be surprised how much unique home furnishings from all over the world you will see.
LH: To experience the local culture for entertainment/or music, where are your top 2 recommendations?
Vojta: I really like jazz, so I would definitely recommend going to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar in Soho (http://www.ronniescotts.co.uk). You can either go for a more formal concert and dining experience downstairs or more relaxed atmosphere in the upstairs bar. There is always so much going on all over London. Just checkout the TimeOut magazine and you’ll find something you like.
LH: FYI I noticed on Ronnie Scott’s Jazz website, there is a link for “Ronnie Scott’s radio” at the bottom of the page (http://www.ronniescotts.co.uk). I loved listening to it while doing the blog! GREAT music!
Sean & Devon: Notting Hill is a great area to kind of just sink into a Londoner’s life. Just pick a pub, any pub- and you’ll be sure to meet the locals and feel a little less touristy. Picadilly Circus also has quite a few Jazz & Live music Spots. They are everywhere, just follow the neon signage!
The Clapham area has become a really cool, fun area. Restaurants, bars, shops and clubs dot the High Street….Certainly an area few tourist go to.
LH: What are a couple of must-sees that only a local would know (museums, parks, etc.)?
Vojta: When my friends visit, I usually take them through London in a way that most tourists don’t experience it. I start in the Portobello Road market, have a breakfast there, go for a coffee on the way to Kensington Gardens and then walk for most of the day through parks (Hyde Park, St James Park, Green Park...) and then walk along the river. You can walk for hours without leaving a park and experience non-hectic side of London.
Sean & Devon: The Regent Park Zoo. A very beautiful zoo that cares for its animals well. Nothing like a stroll through the zoo with a glass of moscato (There is a bar at the Zoo!)
LH: Outside of London, where has been your favorite place to visit in the UK?
I really enjoyed visiting Bath which is about one-hour train journey from London Paddington. It is a small beautiful town with great spas that I recommend visiting if you go.
Sean & Devon: Every 2 years we are Fortunate to attend the Prince OF Bruneis lavish 3 day birthday party at Stapleford Park- About 2 hours outside of London near leceister, This area of England is breathtakingly beautiful in the Summer – we HIGHLY recommend taking a one or 2 day trip to this area. Certainly a throwback in time.
LH: And lastly… any tips or info. for those coming to London for the first time?
Vojta: Enjoy the atmosphere, have a day when you don’t take photos of Big Ben, walk through crowds on Oxford Street or tour museums. Instead, spend a day outside, have a full English breakfast, then a cafe in a nearby park, stop by one of many markets, have a pint of beer a couple of hours later, maybe cycle a bit through London and end the day having a dinner at one of the restaurants I recommended. You’ll experience an entirely different London. The London that I love.
Sean & Devon: Don’t feed the squirrels!!!! Just Kidddding, feed them! Use the Undergroud system! by far the best in the world, and much cheaper than a black cab, a weekly pass is about 22 pounds. Also, the next tip of advice goes for Americans going anywhere in the world- Tone down your “Americanisms” a little and people seem much more obliged to help you out and guide you through your adventure!
A SPECIAL Thank you to my guys Vojta, Sean & Devon for this GREAT info. for those heading to London!
If you fancy MORE London recommendations, you can also check outVojta’s site at: http://vojtech.yelp.co.uk
Founded by Sean Phillip and Devon Summerhayes, Mogue Entertainment is a Creative Consultancy firm operating primarily in both the Fashion and Entertainment Industries. http://www.MogueEnt.com