Last Minute London

Last weekend one of my favourite travel buddies (my mum) and I booked a last minute flight down to London! We just flew with Ryanair for £50 each including a bag to share between us. I know….I know you are thinking why did you pay for a bag when you are just away for a few days! But….as RyanAir have changed their luggage policy since last November the days are gone that you can bring along a hand luggage bag for free.

Our flight was early so  we arrived in London (slightly bleary eyed) at 7am. We booked train tickets in advance to get us from Stanstead Airport into the centre of London (Liverpool Street Station). Getting to the station was quick and easy as it is right by the airport.

We were only in London from the Thursday morning to the Saturday night so we made a plan of what we definitely wanted to do! As we had both been to London before this blog post will not contain the main attractions but definitely a few cool suggestions! So keep reading 😉

What To See

1. The V & A Museum

To be honest, I’m not a huge museum/gallery fan but I heard that this one was worth a visit! As it was close by our hotel in Kensington we just walked to the museum. It’s the biggest art and design museum in the world and is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in some culture. My personal favourite was the Asian sculpture section. If you fancy the exhibition that is on remember to book in advance! We really wanted to see the Christian Dior exhibition but by the time we arrived at the museum they were sold out.

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2. See a show!

As this was a last minute trip we did not have a show in mind that we wanted to see….BUT…that’s how you get the CHEAPEST tickets!

Head to the Leicester Square box office and see if there are any shows that sound good! We were lucky enough to find good priced tickets to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time, which we wanted to see for a while.

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3. Take a walk in the park

London is full of gorgeous parks! Last July I fell in love with Regent’s Park which you can see in this blog post.

This time we explored Kensington Gardens, found the Peter Pan statue and admired the Prince Albert Memorial.

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I also enjoyed spending time in the beautiful Holland Park and discovered Kyoto Garden!

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4. Covent Garden

No matter how many times I visit London I will always go back to Covent Garden. I love the buzz, the flower arrangements, the shops and of course…. the Instagramable benches!

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Where To Wine and Dine

1.  Lunch at The Aquashard

Okay, lets start with the big one! I booked lunch at the Aquashard (32 floors up) as an early Mother’s Day gift for Mum. She loved it, I loved it and not gonna lie…..my purse quite liked it too!

We had the seasonal 3 course set lunch menu and cocktail which came to £34 each! Honestly, we could not fault it and it’s definitely not an overrated or overhyped venue!

Just take a look at this….

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2. Lola’s Cupcakes

At almost every tube station in London sits a Lola’s Cupcake cart! On the last day we gave into temptation and bought some….#noregrets

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3.  Le Petit Sud

As many of you may have seen from my insta stories we found the CUTEST French restaurant just a few minutes from Kensington Gardens! Le Petit Sud served the freshest French dishes which we ate as we drank our wine and people watched.

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My kind of chandelier….

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If you are looking for a cosy evening venue this place also has a romantic downstairs area!

Top Tips

Okay, I am definitely not a London expert but there are a few things I have picked up during my visits.

  1. Use your contactless card on the bus and tube lines. It only costs £7 per day (you get automatically capped)!
  2. Acknowledge that from whatever airport you fly into there will be a longish journey time into London City
  3. This goes for all big cities, but never leave your bag open or unattended
  4. Bring comfy shoes!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend in London – Day 3

My last day in London was a bit of a whirlwind and unfortunately I spent a lot of time in transit as I had to be at the airport for 5pm.

However I did manage to eat and drink my way though Camden Market before my departure…

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Camden Market is such a cool place to visit, it’s situated in Camden Town which is easy to reach by tube if you get off at Chalk Farm station.

It is London’s largest and most varied market that really has everything on offer. If you fancy some tasty street food, freshly squeezed fruit drinks, boutique clothing stores and vintage vinyl records hit up Camden Market! If I was a Londoner I would make this my Sunday lunch spot, you would never get bored….

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS….

We spent a couple of hours indulging in the markets offerings before wondering down Regent’s Canal towards Primrose Hill.

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Regent’s Canal

Primrose Hill is another beautiful green space in London with one of the best views of the city’s skyline. This calm space is the perfect spot to spend to a sunny afternoon with a picnic, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

On my journey back to Edinburgh, I spent some time planning what I would do the next time I visit (which will be a lot sooner this time)! A weekend in London is certainly not enough time to do even half of the things you would want to do, but it was a great flavour of the city that left me wanting more. I am genuinely surprised about how much I enjoyed roaming London. Maybe it was the company and the good weather, but I have a feeling that is was because it was full of life! At every turn there was something different to see. Whether that was a historical site, a street-performer or newly invented version of the ice cream cone (Milk Train)…..London has it all.

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Weekend in London – Day 2

I hope you all enjoyed reading my Day 1 post about London but if not click here!

We started off our second day in London by flying high on the Emirates Air Line  which gives you a unique view of the River Thames and the skyline. It’s a cable car experience that only opened in 2012 around the time of the London Olympic Games. The ride only costs £4.30 and can be paid for via the contactless machine (just like the underground stations) or you can purchase them from the attraction’s ticket office.  It definitely felt like the first class experience  minus the champagne unfortunately. However, they did make up for the lack of fizz by offering us a free souvenir photo at the end of the trip. You can pop into the photo booth, pick your destination (eg Maldives) and magically your photo looked like you were enjoying your holiday at the other side of the world!

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After our long flight to the Maldives we decided that we needed some brunch to recover from the jetlag. Sophia knew of this gorgeous garden cafe that sits inside Regent’s Park, Regent’s Bar & Kitchen. I can honestly say this was my favourite place we went for food in London, it was perfect! Just watch out what time you go because we wondered in at 11:30am and apparently breakfast was no longer being served and their lunch menu didn’t begin until 12pm! We said that was fine and enjoyed a muffin and an iced coffee in the garden while we waited patiently….

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Al Fresco Lunch in Regent’s Park
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Regent’s Bar & Kitchen
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Regent’s Park

Our next stop was the Rose Garden within the park and it did not disappoint! This area was beautiful and had quirky names for all the types of roses….ice cream was my favourite….

Like I said we came to London in a heatwave, so it was ideal weather just to lie amongst the roses for a couple of hours!

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Rose Garden ft SandCloud Wanderlust Towel

If you love the look of my towel use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

After enjoying the rays at Regent’s park we headed towards the crowds in Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Piccadilly Circus reminded me of what I imagined a mini Times Square to be like….hectic, touristy and full of large screens!

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Piccadilly Circus 

We didn’t spend much time in Piccadilly before moving onto Chinatown! This is such a cool area of London, especially the decorated gateways. If we were’t so full from the pizza we would have grabbed something from one of the takeouts, everything smelled AMAZING! 

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Chinatown

After walking through Leicester Square we went to a quirky courtyard area that Sophia knew about called Neal’s Yard. I would have quite happily stayed all evening discovering the independent eateries and bars in this little garden space. Not far from Covent Garden and just off Monmouth Street you will find this secret little alleyway full of colourful buildings and places that you wouldn’t want to miss!

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Nearby Neal’s Yard we found a pretty little bar called Boki

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We found seats at the botanic-styled cocktail bar and chatted to the bartenders as they created our recommended concoctions….

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We spent the night partying at a rooftop club called Queen of Hoxton, which was in the up-incoming Shoreditch area of London.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my second day in London, stay updated for my final instalment!

Weekend in London – Day 1

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” (Samuel Johnson, 1777)

As you may of noticed from my Instagrams you will have seen that I spent my weekend in London. I’m sorry for the spam pics but London is soooo INSTAWORTHY, especially Covent Garden! I had been to London once before when I was younger so I had done the major attractions but not the “real London”. It was amazing this time to explore the city with my best friend because she could show me hidden gems, as she has lived in London previously.

Somehow all my salary ends up in EasyJet’s pocket…..this time it was to fly from Edinburgh to London Luton. I knew that all the airports were outside London centre anyway so it didn’t really matter which one I flew to and Luton was the best price. I started off my day with a croissant and chia latte from Cafe Nero (pre-flight ritual) and was in London before I knew it (1 hour flight). From the airport I had already pre-booked my bus transfer to get me towards my Airbnb in Canning Town through EasyBus. The bus was £10 per journey and took my to Baker Street station (40 minutes) where I could get a direct tube to Canning Town.

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By reading this you may think I was clued up on London transport prior to my arrival…that would be incorrect. I had already asked for transport advice from my lovely Airbnb hosts and they were more than happy to help! That is one of the aspects of Airbnb that I love most, the hosts local knowledge. This is my 5th Airbnb I have stayed in so far and I have been blown away by the friendliness of each one of the hosts! For my trip to London I booked myself into Amir and Helena’s home which was only 20 minutes from the centre and had everything I needed. Fresh towels were laid out upon arrival and I was able to have a flexible check in as there was a key safe – very convenient when arriving early!

Click here for £25 off your first stay! 

After unpacking I headed to the Temple area to start my Hidden London Tour with Fun London Tours. Danielle the tour guide was excellent, especially when she sang  the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme at St Clements Danes Church! I thought this tour was particularly cool because it showed you areas of the city that the average tourist wouldn’t pay attention to.

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Gringotts Bank in Harry Potter
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St Bride’s Church – Inspiration for the tiered wedding cake!
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Printing Press Mural – Magpie Alley

After walking around the Temple area I walked 15 minutes to Covent Garden to soak up the atmosphere with a cocktail in hand…

 

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Royal Blush at Tuttons

To be honest, London is NEVER EVER going to be cheap but it really wasn’t anymore expensive than Edinburgh. Obviously it depends where you go, but a cocktail in the centre of Covent Gardens ranged from £8-£13 which is pretty standard.

 

Covent Gardens is such a beautiful area in the Summer. It’s buzzing with street performers and dressed with gorgeous flower displays. I went a little Insta-mad here but it would just be rude not to make use of all the perfect picture opportunities….?!

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By late afternoon I thought it was time to visit all the touristy places that I knew Sophia wouldn’t want to spend time seeing! I walked along the Hungerford Bridge enjoying the London Skyline featuring the London Eye and Big Ben.  After taking a few different wannabe photographer angles of the London Eye I ventured over to take in the view across the River Thames.

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Hungerford Bridge
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London Eye
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View from the Hungerford Bridge

After spending some time chilling in my Airbnb (recovering from my 22,000 step day) Sophia and I took the tube to Canary Warf. Unlike the rest of London that is continuously hectic we headed to the business hub for a more relaxing evening. As Canary Warf is the home of glittery office skyscrapers it’s a lot more chilled after office hours end!

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It was just after 10pm and the Crossrail Place Roof Garden  caught our eye. Unfortunately the garden closed at 10pm and they were just locking up…after a little persuasion we were allowed in to explore by ourselves!

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Crossrail Place Roof Garden At Night

After our private garden experience we headed towards the Giant Robot, which is a rooftop bar filled with lots of cool street food stalls. I would definitely encourage you to check out out this cool place! Rooftop, DJ and burritos….what’s not to like?!

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about my first day in London…stay tuned for day 2!