London is one of my favourite places to visit, and after a childhood of frequent Monopoly games I still get a buzz everytime I walk down one of the streets from the board. We recently spent a week there in preparation for Stuart running the London marathon so I had quite a bit of time to revisit some old favorites and discover some new ones.
Regent St might be a familiar name from the Monopoly board, but I much prefer Carnaby Street and its quirky mix of shops, tucked just a block behind the hustle and bustle of Regent St. I love a good wander around Liberty of London, even more so after watching the Liberty of London documentary series showing all of the behind the scenes action.
London has so many beautiful parks, and with this visit coming in early spring they were looking so pretty with trees in bloom and stunning displays of spring flowers out. I don’t think a single day passed without me spending time in a park, with the most repeat visits being to my favorite St James Park. It ticks all the boxes, stunning floral displays, a gorgeous lake with lots of swans and ducks swimming serenely around, plenty of squirrels and of course close proximity to Buckingham Palace to catch any action that might be going on there, including the daily changing of the guard ceremony.
Another park I love is Regents Park, although it was a little too early for its famous roses to be in bloom. There was still plenty of colour from spring bulbs, and the shades of green alone made for a pretty display.
Hyde Park is my least favourite for floral displays, it’s a bit skimpy on that front, but I do love Kensington Palace and the gardens there, especially this year where they are planted out in a tribute to Princess Diana to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. There’s also a spectacular exhibition of Diana’s dress on display there at present, more about that here.
All that walking through parks definitely makes you hungry and thirsty, so we found a few new spots to deal with that to add to our list of favorites.
Anyone with an Instagram account has no doubt seen the ‘press for champagne’ button images, and when I discovered that button exists for real in London at Bob Bob Ricard we had to try it out. Stuart was in the final stages of marathon training so I had to take one for the team and push the button twice as often on his behalf, but I’m happy to report it is super effective and the champagne arrives very promptly! The details are here if you want to push the button yourself when next in town.
After seeing gorgeous pictures of the restuarant Sketch on my friend Megan Hess’ Instagram account I was keen to visit there, and it looks just as good in real life as it does in her pretty pics, with its quirky illustrations and cool fold out fork menus.
The food was delicious too, and I discovered Megan had left the possibly the best part unphotographed – the loos were amazing, each toilet enclosed in an individual egg like structure complete with a nest perched on top. I’ve never seen so many people taking pictures in a bathroom in my life, so I joined in with gusto.
The day before we left I discovered something via Twitter that I absolutely had to try, a virtual reality cocktail. The article I read showcased this as part of the newly unveiled Showtime cocktail menu at The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych, and I thought it would be irresponsible for a lover of wearable tech not to investigate further. Happily this was post marathon so Stuart could join me, and we donned our headsets and took a tour of the Scottish Highlands, including the distillery where the whisky which formed the base of the cocktail was brewed. While we were enjoying the scenery the cocktail was being prepared under our noses, so the smell combined with the visual to deliver an enhanced experience – and the taste definitely delivered on the promise created, it was sensational!
This was definitely one of the most inventive cocktail menu’s I’ve ever seen, so went back with friends after dinner to work our way through a few more of them including this beautiful Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired drink – the presentation was just extraordinary and they tasted as good as they looked.
It would be remiss not to include the place where we ate most often during the week, the dining room at the Ham Yard Hotel where we were staying. It was our first time staying here, and we absolutely loved it. The service was outstanding, the decor and comfort is stunning, and the food fantastic. It’s tucked in behind Picadilly, and formed a great base for us for the week, close to parks, shops and restaurants – everything listed here was an easy walk away, other than One Aldwych. It might have been our first stay, but it definitely won’t be our last.
I couldn’t resist including this last picture, not because it was on our list of places visited but because the signage made us laugh every single time we walked out of the hotel. I’m always curious about why anyone would include the word ‘probably’ in their descriptor, but have you ever seen anything that looked less likely to be the most exciting men’s club in the world??? It seemed like the majority were in agreeance with us, in a busy, vibrant part of London this was about the only place that seemed to be attracting absolutely zero patronage.
The Windmill aside, we found plenty of things to do, see, eat and drink that meant we had a fantastic week in London. As is the case for all my posts, we paid for all of the experiences described here (other than the walks in the park obviously) and all descriptions relate purely to our experiences with those vendors and locations.