England Travel Guide: London

hailey gardiner london england travel guide tower bridge tower of london

PIP PIP CHEERIO! This past spring my husband and I checked off some MAJOR bucket list items during our road trip through the UK.

Did I base our London itinerary off of my favorite Mary-Kate and Ashley movie “Winning London”?

Possibly.

Did I buy said movie on DVD so that we could watch it before we embarked on our trip?

I most certainly DID! JUDGETH THOU NOT!

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Even if you’re not as big of a fan of that early 2000’s classic as I am, I hope this post will help you get excited about some of the best eats, sights, and experiences that London has to offer!

Getting Around England:

On our first trip to Europe a couple of years ago, (read my Italy posts here, here, and here), we traveled around Italy via trains and taxis. Last year while in New Zealand, we drove on the left side of the road and loved the flexibility of being able to pull over and stop whenever we felt like it.

Even though Great Britain’s public transportation system is fantastic, we decided to do a road trip instead! We rented a car from London Heathrow but didn’t pick it up until we were ready to leave London city for the countryside.

While in London, you can get around pretty easily using the tube, but we mostly used Uber and walked as much as we could!

We took an Uber from the airport to our hotel, but you can also take the Heathrow Express train directly to the city center for around the same price.

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Where to Stay in London:

While in London, we stayed at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall which was highly recommended by my in-laws. It’s located on the south bank, right near the London Eye on the other side of the Westminster bridge and Parliament Square. We loved the central location and the hotel itself is gorgeous!

We had a nice view of Big Ben from the hotel, but unfortunately he was under construction, bless him.

Our Favorite Things to Do in London:

OHOHOHO. Where do I BEGIN?!

If you’ve got more than a few days to spend in this beautiful city, London has an awesome all inclusive pass that will get you in to many of their biggest attractions.

After we planned out our itinerary, we found it was cheaper to buy individual tickets rather than the pass, but it’s worth checking out!

hailey gardiner london england travel guide st. johns lodge gardens regent's garden

The best way to get acquainted with a new city is just to get out and WALK! Good news! Walking is FREE 99, FOLKS!

We started our first afternoon in London off with a walk through the lush Regent’s Park and St. John’s Lodge Garden. We quickly learned that London weather is a little wild- one minute it was sunny and warm, the next we were caught in a downpour.

Luckily we carried an umbrella around with us, and that sucker sure came in handy!

hailey gardiner london england travel guide abbey road studios crosswalk the beatles

I’m a big Beatles fan thanks to my Grandpa, and so of course we had to make a stop at Abbey Road! Crossing Abbey Road and seeing Abbey Road Studios was epic!

Being the Harry Potter obsessed girl that I am, one of the top things I wanted to do in London was the Warner Brother’s Making of Harry Potter Studio tour.

Sadly, we waited too long to buy our tickets and they sold out! Buy your tickets well in advance if that’s something you’d want to do!

We did make our way to King’s Cross Station to get that HARRY POTTER PIC, but discovered that you have to wait in a LONG queue and pay to get a professional picture taken at Platform 9 ¾. It was kind of a bummer…but it still fun to see!

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DShailey gardiner london england kensington palace and gardens queen victoria statue
DShailey gardiner london england kensington palace and gardens queen victoria statue

We kicked off our second day in London with a tour of Kensington Palace. We explored the gardens and hunted down the iconic Peter Pan statue!

Big fan of that guy. Big fan.

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After our visit to the palace, we wandered through Kensington, Hyde Park, and ended up at Buckingham Palace.

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The Queen was unfortunately not in, but we happened to be there on the day that little Archie (Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal baby) was born! We got to see his little birth announcement just inside the gates. So sweet!

hailey gardiner london england travel guide tower of london

The next morning we did a tour of the Tower of London. Our family had recommended hopping on a Beefeater tour before exploring the rest of the compound, and I’m so glad we did! Our guide was HILARIOUS!

hailey gardiner london england travel guide tower of london beefeater tour

I’m not gonna lie, as soon as this homie started telling the story of Anne Boleyn’s beheading, I felt my knees start buckling and thought I was GOING DOWN! Ha! Pretty gruesome stuff.

I’d recommend setting aside a few hours to experience the tower. There was so much to see!

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After our tour, we walked across the Tower Bridge over the Thames and made our way back to South Bank to Shakespeare’s Globe.

hailey gardiner london england travel guide shakespeare themed afternoon tea a midsummer night's dream the swan the globe theatre

While in England, one must experience a proper afternoon tea! We chose a whimsical Midsummer Night’s Dream themed tea at Swan – the restaurant adjoining the theatre.

hailey gardiner london england travel guide shakespeare themed afternoon tea a midsummer night's dream the swan the globe theatre

CHEERS! Scones are officially my new favorite food group.

And of course we had to tour The Globe Theatre itself! My teenage, Shakespeare obsessed heart was so happy. We happened to catch part of a rehearsal of the one and only Shakespeare play I’ve ever performed in – A Comedy of Errors.

Coincidence? I think NOT! (Name that movie…)

Though we weren’t able to see a play at the Globe, we did get tickets to Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre! Quite an ironic place to see a musical about the American Revolution. Ha! I highly recommend catching a musical or a play while in London!

hailey gardiner london england westminster abbey wedding royals

The next morning we toured WESTMINSTER CRABBY.

And there you have it. A “Winning London” reference.

Anyone?

No but really, Westminster Abbey was gorgeous and so rich with history. We decided to just tour the abbey, but you can also visit the nearby Houses of Parliament!

hailey gardiner london england westminster abbey wedding royals

That afternoon, we picked up our rental car and drove to Windsor Castle, which is really close to London Heathrow.

We just happened to be there the day after baby Archie was born, so all of Windsor was celebrating! It was adorable!

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After exploring Windsor, we drove to the Cotswolds for the next part of our stay! Check out this post to read all about that magical part of medieval English countryside!

Places to Eat in London:

hailey gardiner london england travel guide shakespeare themed afternoon tea a midsummer night's dream the swan the globe theatre

Out of all the meals we had while in London, these were our favorites:

  • Borough Market – Do yourself a favor and get a Kappacasein grilled cheese. To die for!
  • Dishoom – There are multiple locations of this Bombay inspired restaurant in London. We ate at their Edinburgh cafe twice because it was THAT GOOD. They don’t take reservations, but I promise it’s worth the wait. Get the chicken ruby, murgh malai and garlic naan. OHOHO I’M DROOOOLING.
  • Go for a traditional English Sunday roast at Maggie Jones’s – We booked a table a couple weeks in advance. I got the salmon with hollandaise and it was INCREDIBLE! And you’ve got to try their yorkshire pudding!
  • Nando’s – This is a more affordable chain that was recommended to us. I love a good peri peri chicken plate!

If you have any more food recommendations, please send them my way! I feel like we barely had time to scratch the surface of London’s food scene.

I can’t wait to go back to this amazing city!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my posts on the Cotswolds and the Lake District!

CHEERS!

Author: Hailey Gardiner

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