If you follow Eat Play Love Travel on Instagram you’ll be quite familiar with the fact that I’ve spent the past few weeks reluctantly traipsing around two highly mediocre cities – London and Paris – given I’ve been completely spamming your feeds with travel porn.
And while it’s difficult to capture in a picture what a completely average time I had, here goes, with 11 days in London in 11 photos:
11. Hotel Russell, A.K.A. my London home
When I was 10, I kicked and screamed until Mum gave in and made me a castle cake for my birthday (you know the one out of The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book that every 10-year old desperately needed). I feel like Hotel Russell is a spitting image of Mum’s cake creation. Although it’s not made of chocolate and ice cream cone turrets, this circa-1898 hotel is a pretty awesome place to spend 11 days in London. A chandelier-clad lobby and West End location made up for the lack of confectionary.
Update: Hotel Russell now goes by the name of The Principal London.
10. Shopping in London
Despite the fact that cashing in my Aussie Dollars was like peddling potatoes in Russia, one can’t come to London without trawling the shopping strips, particularly Regent and Oxford Streets. Alas, there was much shopping to be had. The highlight? Definitely Harrods, if nothing more than to gawk at the gaudiness. I’ve never seen so much indoor sunglass-wearing in my life.
9. Squirrels. Oh, and Buckingham Palace
After elbowing my way through an AFL Grand Final-esque crowd, watching Buckingham Palace’s ‘changing of the guard’ was a little bit of a let-down. I dare say you need to get there 90 minutes early (not 15) to stake out a spot by the palace’s fence, to be able to get direct line of sight into the marching ground. That or borrow some stilts from a circus clown. Fortunately, I had some alternative entertainment in the form of fascinatingly-adorable squirrels chomping on their acorns, which was way more entertaining than marching men in big furry hats.
8. Commanding the high seas of The Serpentine in Hyde Park
By some miracle, my 11 days in London were accompanied with sun and cloudless skies. Combine these two factors with a Sunday and you have yourself one heaving Hyde Park, full of sun-deprived Londoners. Given the amount of paddle boat traffic The Serpentine was accommodating on this particular Sunday, I’m surprised we weren’t charged a congestion tax. Which I would have happily paid.
7. Hampton Court Palace
Walking in the footsteps of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace and transporting myself back to Tudor-time definitely channeled the history nerd in me. And if the palace and it’s 500-year-old history aren’t enough to get your head around, the 60 acres of gardens, complete with a hedge maze, are hard not to be impressed by. Pleasingly I left with my head in tact.
6. Selfies at Ministry of Sound
I died Jude’s hair, hid his walking stick and some how we got past the bouncers at London’s super club Ministry of Sound. This photo was part of a series, in that I insisted every dance floor needed a separate selfie. Officially ‘captured’, we then slinked out feeling super old and out of touch, Jude with his impossible to hide baldness and me, the dumbo wearing heels when sneakers and shorts were clearly the dress code of choice for the Gen Z trendies.
5. Sun and scallops in Brighton
Although not technically in the London vicinity, the seaside resort town of Brighton deserves a mention given it’s an easy and worthwhile 90-minute day-trip from London. I also had one of the best meals of the trip here, a total seafood gorge at champagne and oyster bar Riddle and Finns. Please note: this sky is real and not a product of Adobe.
4. An oddment-adorned London pub
One can’t come to London without drinking warm beer in a character-filled London pub, and The Cross Keys scratches this itch pretty damn nicely. While the outside of the Covent Garden boozer might look super pretty with its foliage and ornate facade, the inside is a clutter-filled contradiction, with a collection of pots, road signs, Beatles memorabilia and other ornaments all competing for wall space.
3. Borough Market, an adult’s version of Hamleys
I’m a little bit embarrassed that a few fresh juice cups, sizzling vats of chorizo-filled paella and eating blueberries until I spewed made me deliriously happy, but I was practically skipping around the Borough Market in cheese-induced delight. I consider myself a market know-it-all and this all-things-food market in Southwark is deeply impressive.
2. The most expensive, but best, egg sandwich in the world
While the $140pp (Australian Dollar) price tag is quite horrifying, I’d happily porn my wedding ring (don’t tell my husband) to have afternoon tea at The Ritz London again. The opera singer, piano playing, ‘Madame’-referencing waiters, coat check, mind-blowing egg sandwiches (and chicken and salmon and a delightfully good cheese and chutney combo) all made it such an enjoyably extravagant experience. And then there were the bathrooms, AMAZING. Almost as good as the egg mayonnaise and shallots sandwich.
1. Sushi Samba, a bathroom with a view
With my rabbit-sized bladder, I did spend a good 4.5% of my holiday loitering public bathrooms, so I feel I became quite an expert (I definitely knew where the foul smelling-free and toilet paper-stocked gold mines were). Aside from The Ritz London, another bathroom highlight of mine was at Japanese cocktail bar Sushi Samba, located on level 38 and 39 of the Heron Tower. Not long after arrival, when your husband insists that you need to go to the bathroom you know that it’s a BIG deal, given most of the trip the word ‘bathroom’ was accompanied by some serious eye-rolling. Upon entering the ladies, my bladder was instantly distracted, sucker-punched by this almighty view out across The Gherkin and London’s skyline. On a side note, Sushi Samba’s cocktails aren’t bad either.
There, that’s it. eight days condensed into 11 photos. There you go Mum and Dad, now I don’t have to bore you with the 989 other photos that I took.
Given the accompanying itinerary to our London holiday was so comprehensive it had a table of contents, I figured it’s only fair I share. Here it is – how to spend eight days in London.