A few months ago, approximately August 25, my old roommate Sarah and I flew reunited in London after 3 years of living there. The name of this blog, It began on Baker Street is influenced by hers and my friendship and mutual love of travel. We first met in our flat, which was off of Baker Street when we were randomly paired to live together. Now to bring you back up to par, Sarah was accepted in to a Publishing program at Oxford University and was going to be living in London from August until October, so we decided it was the perfect opprotunity to be reunited in our favorite city in the world.
So on August 24, I flew out of Chicago O’Hare on an eight P.M. flight to Dublin, Ireland for a layover before flying to London Heathrow. My flight cost a little over 700$, which I find a bit pricey but the dates I had to be in London were set. The trip was a rough one, I flew Aer Lingus and when I felt the wheels touch the tarmac I smiled to myself, I am back in my favorite city… that is until the plane took straight back up in to the air. “I’m going to die.” That is all I could think over and over in my head. The plane was having difficulty landing, I don’t think I finally breathed again until I was off of the plane safely.
I met Sarah and her cousin, Kristina in the airport, from where we rode the tube to our hotel, The Pembridge Palace Hotel – which was decent, and an affordable price, but not in the most desirable location or desirable room – but, it is London, a reasonably priced hotel is never that nice, and vice-versa.
Places to Go & Things to Do :
Harry Potter & The Cursed Child: Sarah and I were lucky enough to score tickets to see J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Cursed Child performance and it did no disappoint one bit. It was probably one of the most amazing moments of my life and we were in very high up balcony seats! The play has two separate acts which usually take place on two separate days and for two different prices. We, however, found tickets to both parts of the play within the same day! It came out to about 300$ USD, and the play was somewhere around eight hours including intermissions and the break between the two acts. This was probably one of the most memorable things I have had the privilege of experiencing and highly recommend it to Harry Potter or Theater fans. I would tell you what made it so great but they encourage viewers to keep the secrets of the play. #keepthesecret
Camden Market: Whenever I visit London it is imperative that I make a visit to Camden Town. I worked in Camden when I lived abroad and this eclectic part of London is something that every visitor needs to experience. There is a food market with affordable, tasty, meals and you can accomplish much of your souvenir shopping here. When you are done you can head over to World’s End for a drink or drink at the Weatherspoon’s pub near the canal.
The Natural History Museum: Even if you’re not a fan of museums, you need to visit at least one while in London – I mean, they are free to the public! I am a fan of the Natural History Museum because it includes many different cool special effects, such as moving dinosaurs and an earthquake simulator. Definitely visit on a rainy day!
Hampstead Heath: A good friend of mine recently moved to Hampstead Heath and was kind enough to show Sarah and I around. We bought a bottle of Champagne at Tesco and made mimosas in the middle of the park, while soaking up the sun and the scenery. You could spend an entire beautiful day exploring this park.
Buckingham Palace: Okay, I know most tourists already have Buckingham on their list of sites in London, however, I recommend going in the summer to visit so that you can tour the inside of the building. I have seen the palace from the outside at least 20 times but this was the first time I had a chance to see the inside and it was SO COOL. No photos allowed unfortunately.
Regent’s Park: I love Regent’s Park, I would say it is my favorite park in all of London (even after visiting the beloved Hampstead Heath!) My favorite part of the park is the paddle boats one can rent and take out on the lake. There is so much to do in this beautiful park, and friends of mine have even run in to Russel Brand walking his dog here!
Harrod’s: This is a good place to buy your loved ones souvenirs or if you are not a millionaire it is a nice place to just browse and perhaps grab a tea or some food. I love going to Harrod’s to look but some of the items are ludicrous. They have clothing by almost every designer there is, and furniture items you would never imagine needing. This truly is a store for the rich, but it’s always fun to imagine, isn’t it?
KOKO: A nightclub with a pretty cool past, that is open late and a good place for drinks, music, and dancing. Just make sure to check the schedule online.
Where to Eat & Where to Drink:
Sketch: I am sure most of you are familiar with Sketch – famous for it’s all pink tea room. I decided I had to give it a try. This place is not cheap by any means, however. I loved the experience but I would recommend trying a high tea at a more traditional placed before Sketch. They start your meal with some interesting hor devoures, and then give you unlimited tea and sandwiches/scones/pastries. The sandwiches were eclectic flavors that were perhaps too acquired of a taste for my liking, I loved everything else though! The venue in itself was an experience, especially the pod bathrooms. If you have the money to spend, I would say give this place a visit for lunch or tea.
Camden Town Brewery: I love breweries in general and I love Camden so this was the ideal place and combination for me. They have plenty of seating indoors and outdoors, so I chose to sit outside. The offer food and the staff is super friendly and helpful on assisting you to find a beer you would enjoy a pint of. I sampled a few different beers before deciding on a pint of their porter. Awesome experience.
Cahoots: GO GO GO! You need to book in advance and this place is very difficult to find, it is located in SoHo, but it is SO worth it. I cannot stress enough how adorable this speakeasy was. It is 1920’s themed and a bar which looks like the tube. All of the staff is in character and the drinks are fucking delicious. Please visit, you won’t regret it.
The Garden Gate: This is a pub located walking distance from Hampstead Heath, they have an outdoor patio and offer drinks and snacks. I enjoyed a few pints after the Heath at this pub and would recommend it to others looking to grab a drink.
Borough Market: I attempt to visit Borough Market every time I am in London. There is so many different types of food and I have never tried anything not delicious here. Most recently I had a pork belly sandwich from ROAST togo and it did not disappoint. It had my mouth watering from the minute I purchased it. They also have great fish and chips in the market along with brats, pies, cheeses, and food from anywhere imaginable.
Tom’s Kitchen & Bar: I discovered this gem the last time I visited London in May and had to re-visit. It is located off of the pier in the middle of the Thames near Tower Bridge. This place is great to grab a coffee or a glass of champagne and has the most amazing view imaginable of the Thames and of Tower Bridge! Go for a mid-day pick me up!
The World’s End: My favorite bar in London – this bar has a punk rock feel to it (of course, it’s centered in Camden) The layout of the bar is really cool with an upstairs over-looking the downstairs, good music always playing, and funny bartenders who don’t take any shit. I love visiting this place, and when I visited with Sarah she loved it too, perhaps a little too much. (haha, she got pretty drunk, it was a great time.)
The Shard: The Aquashard and Oblix are two bars located on the 31st floor of The Shard, you could buy some drinks and are provided with a breathtaking view of London at both of these bars – much cheaper than buying the ticket to the top of the Shard for a view! Added bonus: the cocktails are pretty damn good.
The Prince Edward: REALLY good fish and chips! but the best are from Poppie’s Fish and Chips.
Bottega Prelibato: Some of the best pasta I have eaten outside of Italy, honest! Located near Shoreditch.