As all of you probably know (especially if you follow me on Instagram) I was fortunate enough to spend a week in London over my spring break. I had an incredible experience absorbing the history, arts and culture of the city. We did a ton of stuff every single day of the trip and I’m still incredibly exhausted from it (even almost a month later!) but I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat. Head below for photos, thoughts and more from my adventures in London!
We did a lot. Our itinerary was packed almost every day from morning to night with sightseeing, tours, events and shows. It was definitely a bit overwhelming. So to give you a better look at the trip, I broke down our week into the day-by-day events.
We arrived at Heathrow Airport around 9am (London time!) on Sunday. In other words, it was 4am Chicago time and I had not slept enough on the flight. That lack of sleep came back to bite me, as we jumped right into things on Sunday.
First, we went on a walking tour of the arts and architecture of the city. We started off in Islington (the borough where we stayed) and wound our way through the City itself and to the outskirts. By far my favorite part of the tour was when we got to Brick Lane. It’s a vibrant street in the eastern part of London with a huge flea market, lots of restaurants and incredible street art. After wandering around the market place, we headed to Picadilly Circus for dinner at Brasserie Zédel.
Monday morning we got an early start and headed to Camden. We started off the day with a well-rounded breakfast of Nutella hot chocolate and Unicorn Poop cereal cocktails at Cereal Killer Café. Shortly after, I crashed hard from my sugar high.
Cereal Killer is located right in Camden Market, which is a huge flea market with everything from handmade jewelry to kitschy souvenirs. After we had our fill of the market, we headed to Oxford Circus. This area is known for amazing high street shopping, with stores like Topshop, Miss Selfridge’s, Zara, River Island and many more. I was in heaven, to say the least.
After our retail therapy, we stopped at the British Museum for a guided tour. The history and culture was incredible. Then, we headed to Westminster for even more tourist sights. We saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. (I took tons of photos, of course).
We ended our very, very long day with dinner at MEATliquor in Marylebone. A London native told us about this popular restaurant before we even got to London, so we were really excited to check it out. Not going to lie, it didn’t live up to expectations. The burgers were yummy, but the cheese fries weren’t the “fries, NOT chips” that we were promised.
Tuesday morning was a mess. London is confusing for a foreigner who’s only been in town for two days, so finding out way to the Tower of London was embarrassingly difficult. We finally made it, though, and it was so cool. My favorite part was most definitely seeing the Crown Jewels, which were just stunning (I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures here, though).
Next, we had a guided backstage tour at the Royal National Theatre. We got to see how the props, costumes and sets are made firsthand, which was incredible for a makeup and fashion nerd like me. We had a break before our next scheduled event, so a few of us headed to the National Gallery for a bit. I loved the chance to see some of the artwork at the museum.
That afternoon we had high tea at the Villandry on Great Portland Street. I ate so many scones, finger sandwiches and macarons that I felt even worse than I had after Cereal Killer. But it was worth it.
The Villandry was pretty close to Oxford Circus, so we walked back to do some more shopping (and to burn the calories from tea).
We rounded out the day with an alumni dinner at The Admiralty in Trafalgar Square. The food was authentic British pub fare (think fish & chips and boar & apple sausage rolls) and so delicious.
On Wednesday we popped out of London and took a bus to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare.
I have a confession: I didn’t know my Shakespearean history, so when I saw that we were stopping for a tour of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, I thought that meant the American actress, not Shakespeare’s wife. Whoops.
But the history was really, really cool. Even though it was pouring rain on and off all day, we got to see Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, the New Place garden & the Nash House and Shakespeare’s resting place at Holy Trinity Church. The food in Stratford was pretty great, too: we went to the Garrick Inn (the oldest tavern in Stratford) for amazing fish & chips and “Shakesbeer” and Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen for dessert.
Thursday was one of my absolute favorite days in London. We started off at the Club for Acts and Actors for an unarmed stage combat class. Then, we headed to Covent Garden for Ben’s Cookies (yum!) and the Armani Beauty Box store (possibly my favorite shop in London).
That evening, we saw “Les Mis” at the Queen’s Theatre. It was incredible. I cried. A lot.
We spent our last full day in London at the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. I was dumb and forgot my camera that day so I have no pictures to show for it. It was cool, though, I promise! We also saw “Ugly Lies the Bone” at the National Theatre. Not gonna lie, the show wasn’t my favorite, but it was cool to see a show at the theatre after taking a backstage tour.
For our last day, we finally got to sketch near Picadilly Circus. This restaurant is so cool. If you’re in London, you’ve got to stop by. They have a beautiful brunch room, an all-pink dining room and a super-modern bathroom that’s perfect for selfies (I know it sounds weird, but here’s a pic of it for reference). We weren’t allowed access to the pod toilets (apparently, they’re only open after lunch) but we ate in the Parlour and Glade Room (pictures below) for brunch. I had the refreshing Winter Blush juice (shaken strawberry and orange juice) and the poached eggs with crab & celeriac remoulade and toasted brioche. It was so good.
Then it was off to Heathrow for a 9-hour flight.
I had such an amazing time in London and I already wish I could go back. Where do you want to travel?