Five Things To Do In London Town
London is only a stone’s throw away from Dublin, conveniently enough; and isn’t too different from Dublin, weather-wise. Less than an hour on a stunky Ryanair flight for an average of sixty bucks and you’re in Europe’s most exciting city, if you ask me.
I’ve been in London before, a quick jaunt here and there, but fourth run around, I seemed extra eager on covering as much as possible in such a short burst. Never too interested in typical tourist spots like Buckingham Palace and sailing high on London’s London Eye, I came in hot with a packed itinerary - and an itinerary for that itinerary. Understood before even arriving, a weekend isn’t near enough spend in Britain’s ultimate powerhouse; you could devote a year in London and not do it all. While I half accepted that, I also had my glitter socks pulled up, Chanel shades on and was ready to walk a solid marathon in a day.
Now, I could get down to business and tell you about how we breezed through London’s bustling streets for three days (in 34° degree heat, I’ll add), hoovering up every Shake Shack we came across, picnicking with vegan Philly cheezesteaks, sunbathing in Green Park, and ordering £40 worth of KFC when drunk by accident, but I know I need to give you more than that.
So here’s five things I did (and didn’t do, you’ll see) when I hit down in London Town:
Dior Afternoon Tea | The Berkeley
I’ll be honest, I’m a good ol’ roll your sleeves up, extra cheesy pizza kinda gal, but I do love a boujee afternoon tea when it’s going; especially if it’s designed after Dior Couture. Unlike many of the lavish eateries and quirky coffee houses I find, my boyfriend actually discovered this one. I know, I raised my eyebrows too. Although it was through recommendation that he conjured up any idea of such a place to bring his ~wannabe~ Dior girlfriend. I could waffle on forever about how chic the interior was at The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea: like a breath of minimalistic fresh air, a silvery energetic design and marble tables. Let’s be more clear, if Instagram were a café, this would be it.
First things first though, if you’re not prepared to splurge on Dior’s iconic pale pink Montaigne calfskin bag, but instead on a miniature edible version, you won’t save much $$$. Obviously, I’m joking. I wish I could afford an afternoon tea worth £3,000. But for £200 for both of us, it wasn’t cheap. I’ll paint you a pretty picture though: Dior embroidered coffee (or matcha latte in my case), pink Miss Dior perfume bottles made of fluffy Victoria Sponge, succulent red velvet cake inspired by the Lady Dior handbag, an edible J’Adior shoe made into a vanilla biscuit encrusted with a sugary iced ribbon, and a white velvet chocolate mousse version of the classic Miss Dior 1949 dress that was too chic to eat, but did anyway.
Before you even devour the above, you’ll graze over fancy finger sandwiches, elegant canapés, and bite-sized pastries *almost* too pretty to eat. Honestly, I’m not big into tea brews, other than a good ol’ Barry’s, but the tea selection is vast (!!) and bottomless (!!) and perhaps slightly overwhelming for some. So why not begin your afternoon with the Bollinger Rosé Champagne while you decide? It’s perfection, although not bottomless. Damn.
Treat yourself for £58 per person; £68 including a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, or £74 per person including a glass of rosé champagne. To make a reservation for Prêt-à-Portea, I’ve included the link here.
Dior Exhibition | Victoria & Albert Museum
It’s hilarious that I’m even mentioning this as when we arrived, the whole flipping thing was sold out. Honestly, I slightly died inside. Especially since I made my boyfriend walk over an hour in sweltering city heat to see it, and was one of the main reasons why I was dying to skip on over to London for a weekend. So basically what I’m saying is that if you’re in London before September 1, get yourself a ticket to the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A Museum, in advance (!!), for what I expect and heard is an exquisite show. It showcases some of Christian Dior's most iconic looks from 1947 to today. Some of which include the cream chiffon-sleeved gown Princess Margaret wore in 1951, Charlize Theron's Swarovski crystal-encrusted gown from the 2008 J'Adore campaign, Jennifer Lawrence’s sequinned ensemble worn at last year’s 2018 Oscars, among others. I may not have seen the threads of Dior’s iconic white “Bar” suit in person, but I sure did eat it; in shortbread form, and it was delicious.
Not all was lost though. After wearing down our badly-made shoes post our half-marathon walk there, we were determined to see something. So as dedicated foodies, sometimes health-focused, sometimes not, we ended up in Victoria & Albert’s latest exhibition, Food: Bigger Than The Plate. This was all about gastronomic experiments to urban farming, which brought together the politics and pleasure of food to ask how the collective choices we make can lead to a more sustainable, just and delicious food future. It was good, you know, maybe only okay. But I was probably just pissed because I would have preferred to be soaking up Christian Dior’s work, obsessions and inspirations in the Sainbury Gallery space below me. Fail.
Christian Dior tickets can be purchased here for £20-24
Food: Bigger Than The Plate tickets can be purchased here for £17
I Inhaled So Much Shake Shack
Listen, I’m a foodie, and eating good food is an important priority for me, and thankfully a priority for my boyfriend too. But by good food, I don’t necessarily mean organic green vegetables. Look, I’m basically an avo and toast fanatic, love a glowing fruit bowl more than anyone and make overnight oats religiously so don’t @ me when I say this, but I’m talking soul food. I’m talking serious comfort food, the greasy stuff; the type oozing so much cheese you’re worryingly giddy for being so bold.
Now, I’m no Shake Shack virgin. As many who are reading this would know, I lived in New York City for four years and before that spent almost every summer there until I was over it and wanted to be unconsciously a few daiquiris deep while partying at music festivals in Croatia and Belgium. So over the years, I had become well accustomed to a good ol’ Shack burger, with their cheese fries on the side, and washing it down with their ~unbelievable~ strawberry milkshakes. I’ve been there enough times to know that their vegetarian burger is life’s ultimate mushroom-patty culinary masterpiece. Trust me, the mushroom literally oozes cheese. So after introducing my boyfriend to the excellence that is Shake Shack in NYC last year, he was well up for a weekend full of it in London Town. Hallelujah.
I know what you’re thinking. Of all the gorgeous restaurants available in London, you went to Shake Shack? Twice?? Honestly, I hear ya. But it’s been over a year since I moved back from NYC and honestly, I was gagging for it. Sorry, not sorry. If you haven’t been to a Shake Shack before, whether that’s in New York, London or elsewhere, then it’s basically a hungry burger lover’s idea of paradise. Plus, they’re reasonably-priced and basically calorie-free.. wait, no.. what?
Yankees x Red Sox Baseball Game
According to himself, the reason for our visit was the Yankees x Red Sox London Series baseball game. While he may have tried to ditch our weekend in London last minute for a Limerick hurling match (touchy subject), he seen the light, we became friends again and look, he’s handsome so, I’ll let that one slide. The London Series is a two-year arrangement for MLB to play in London Stadium in 2019 and 2020, and I would highly, highly recommend it for next year; even for the atmosphere alone.
Before the game you MUST apply for free tickets at MLB’s London Yards. Here, there’s crazy unique batting cages, a giant screen for those who didn’t manage to snatch game tickets, and you can gorge on mouth-watering street food, inspired by the culinary heritage of Boston, New York and classic stadium snacks. We had Jake’s vegan Philly cheezesteaks paired with wine for myself and a one-off London Series brew for himself. And wow, heavenly. There was also exclusive, iconic merchandise from MLB and fantastic music. In fact, we found it difficult leaving for the actual game.
Being an Irish baseball fan in London felt like a secret obscure fetish, but I’m sure the Brits felt the same. Baseball, let’s be honest, can be a bit of a drag (*five hours latah*), so love who you’re going with. Thankfully, like myself, mine’s a talker. But if not, you’ll enjoy singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame and YMCA zestfully. There’s also alcohol, and plenty of it. This is where the ordering of £40 worth of KFC when drunk came in, don’t ask.
H10 Sky Bar Rooftop
The Sky Bar was actually a part of our hotel, H10 London Waterloo, which was smack you in the face fantastic if you ask me, or anyone. By sunset, the beautiful hidden gem rooftop was complete with London’s addictive city skyline views, orange sundown skies, twinkling fairy lights, and far enough away from a city’s typical weekend parties. It’s small, cosy, and absolute perfection for pre-evening cocktails.
I’d stay there again purely for the rooftop, and possibly for the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in. But location-wise, we’d probably stay closer towards the River Thames, much more central; as we found ourselves fairly far from places like Kensington, Tower of London, Oxford Street, and most importantly, Farm Girl, who I’ve been following on Instagram for far too long and eyeing up their buckwheat pancakes on a daily basis.
If you’re interested in knocking back a fancy cocktail, rooftop style, you can book your stay here
So there you have it, our whirlwind weekend only allowed for brief fling, but was fantastic. So plan yourself an overly enthusiastic itinerary like myself and hop on over to London Town, whatever side of the pond you lay.