Oct 5, 2018

12th Fan Guide: Where to Stay, Eat & Shop in London

London is one of my all-time favorite cities in the world. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there back in 2009 and we've made it a point to visit every year since. London is a city filled with art, history, and culture. Travelers will find that there's something for everyone to enjoy including music, food, historical tours, of course, shopping. For Seahawks fans heading to London for the game next week, here's our style guide on how to spend quality time in London.

Most travelers will spend excessive amounts of time trying to decide where to stay in London. If you prefer to be central to the city, stay in South Kensington where you'll be within walking distance to Hyde Park and have easy access to several London Underground stations.

We've stayed at several hotels in this neighborhood on various trips to London including the Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt and The Crowne Plaza, but our favorite by far has been The Kensington Hotel (shown above) because of the quality of the guest rooms and the service. They were also great with kids and spoiled our children with nightly cookies and milk during our stay. They even put up a small kids tent in our hotel room so that the kids would have a secret hideout.

It's easy to eat your way through London because nearly every department store has a food hall offering everything from light snacks to sweet treats and full meals. There's also street crepes, croissants at cafes, and traditional pub classics like mushy peas and fish and chips. Here are some of my favorite places to eat in London:

Kensington Crepes - This restaurant is my favorite in London because I'm obsessed with French crepes. Kensington Crepes is located just steps away from the Victoria & Albert Museum and they do both sweet and savory crepes. My favorite crepe is Le Compl├Ęte with turkey, brie, and a free range egg.  My kids love the classic crepe with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. 

Garfunkels- If you check the reviews on TripAdvisor you'll find that many tourists stop here for their first meal in London. Why do people love it? Well for starters Garfunkels serves classic fish and chips, there's never a wait and it's completely family friendly. Yes, it's absolutely a tourist trap, but that's kind of the point. If you're hungover after the game, you should definitely stop by Garfunkels for a traditional English breakfast. 

Pret a Manger - These cafes are basically the "Starbucks of London" and serve coffee along with a variety of food options. They have a great assortment of sandwiches and soups that are easy to grab on-the-go or when you need a quick snack.

Best Burgers - If you're homesick and craving a burger, check out Honest Burger in South Kensington. Their classic cheeseburger pairs perfectly with rosemary fries and chipotle mayo. For those that like burgers but also want an expanded menu that includes salads, check out Byron Burger

Selfridges Rooftop Restaurant - If you like al fresco dining make time to visit the Selfridges rooftop restaurant. It features rotating themes and is currently serving traditional Italian food including crostini, scallops with white wine, fritto misto, and spaghetti carbonara. 

Hummingbird Bakery - Famous for its red velvet cupcakes, Hummingbird Bakery is an institution in Notting Hill and serves up delicious made-from-scratch cakes and cupcakes. If you visit the Portobello Market in Notting Hill stop by the bakery for a taste of heaven. 

Biscuiteers - If you love cookies and have "cookie monsters" at home, stop by Biscuiteers in Notting Hill. They do hand-iced cookies that are Instagram-worthy and delicious to eat. Biscuiteers offers single cookies and gift boxes for every occasion. They also do cookie icing workshops and private classes. 

Electric Diner - Located on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, Electric Diner is a great place for date night. In fact, my husband and I had dinner here on our honeymoon. The food is great and the desserts are not to be missed. This restaurant is next door to The Electric Cinema, the oldest working cinema in London. They also offer dining specials for guests going to see movies (terms and conditions apply). 

Pizzeria & Canti Prosecco Bar - Located in Harrods, this pizzeria is a great place to recharge after a day of shopping. They serve Neopolitan-style pizzas and also offer rocket (arugula) and parmesan salads and classic minestrone soup. 

Nag's Head - For a classic London pub experience while visiting Covent Garden stop by Nag's Head. They offer a modern take on traditional British classics. Everything on the menu is great! I loved the Beef & Rioja Pie with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and red wine gravy. It's a hearty meal best served with a full-bodied wine.

There's amazing shopping in London any time of year, the question is, what kind of shopping experience best suits your style? For a classic London shopping experience head to Oxford Street to hit all the British faves. Start at Marble Arch near Hyde Park and work your way down the main shopping row. If you love more of an indie scene, head to Shoreditch to shop Boxpark. If you're looking for boutiques, head to Notting Hill. And for a great mix of art, fashion, and food, there's Covent Garden. Don't forget, there's also pretty incredible shopping at museums and art galleries if you exit through the gift shop. Here are some of the "can't miss" places to shop in London:

Primark - This store is crazy big and can be a bit overwhelming so go early if you can to avoid "black Friday" style lines and crowds. The deals are good, almost too good, so it's fairly easy to go crazy here. Primark carries everything from women's fashion to kids clothing, men's merchandise, and home goods. This is a great store to stock up on clothing for kids. They have fashion-forward styles and really, really good pricing for budget-friendly moms.

Harrods - It's natural to be at a loss for words when it comes to describing Harrods. After all, it's the world's most famous department store and occupies a 5-acre site, garnering more than 330 departments. At Harrods, you'll find everything from fashion to food, shoes, gifts, souvenirs, on-site restaurants, a champagne bar, a giant toy store called "Toy Kingdom", and even a spa. Up until 2014, there was even an on-site luxury pet store where you could purchase animals.

River Island - Fashion fans may be familiar with River Island because of its past capsule collections with singer Rihanna. The brand has stores across the UK and stocks bold, colorful merchandise for the entire family. River Island has great pricing and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with a body positivity campaign for fall.

Selfridges - Hands down this my favorite department store in the world. Selfridges is fun, innovative, and always working on something new. The store was named the "Best Department Store" in the world by the Global Department Store Summit and also has a focus on sustainability. The Selfridges Oxford Street store occupies a full city block and has multiple restaurants, beauty departments, and a 35,000 square-foot shoe hall. Selfridges is also known for exclusive merchandise from cult brands, so if you love limited-edition merchandise you can't get anywhere else, chances are you'll find it at Selfridges.

Liberty of London - Best known for its signature floral graphic prints, Liberty of London is an iconic British department store that is well worth a visit. Located in a beautiful Tudor-style building in London's West End, Liberty carries fashion, jewelry, beauty, accessories, home goods, and gifts.

Miss Selfridge - UK high street brand Miss Selfridge has more than 250 stores worldwide and is also available through partners like Asos and Topshop. The store is aimed at teens looking for affordable, on-trend fashion and is fun to shop for seasonal must-haves. They also carry a full range of fashion in petite sizing.

Topshop Oxford Circus - The flagship Topshop store at Oxford Circus is three full floors of fashion including vintage pieces you won't find anywhere else. The store has a basement cafe, a Hershesons Blow Dry Bar, a nail salon, and even a piercing parlor. I usually go here multiple times on my trips to London either for blowouts or to shop the petites section. There's always a DJ spinning music on the main floor and a healthy line at the cupcake kiosk on level one.

Yes, this is a marathon blog post, but if you're still reading, chances are you're looking for a few things to do in London. I highly recommend visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum to see the current fashion exhibit "Fashioned from Nature". The Tate Modern is another great museum that is worthwhile if you have the time as is the National Portrait Gallery. If you only do one thing while in London, don't miss the Princess Diana fashion exhibit at Kensington Palace. It features her most iconic outfits and includes audio and video components to round out the fashion story.

Enjoy! Oh, and Go HAWKS!


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