London Basics: Where to Stay, Afternoon Tea, & more.
London is one of the most chic and sophisticated cities I’ve ever been to. It is aristocratic and elegant and shows off it’s timeless beauty in the most humble ways. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t imagine myself as a distant cousin of the royal family while strutting down the streets of Belgravia. There is plenty to see and do in London so lets jump right into it. Here is a guide for your upcoming trip to London as well as some helpful tips to perfect your itinerary.
Getting Around London
London has one of the most simple transportation systems: take advantage of it! It’s relatively easy and affordable to get from any of London’s airports to the city center by using the bus or train. Depending on the airport you are coming from, tickets range anywhere from ~$2 – $25. Some airports offer express service to the city center (ie. Gatwick). Always double check at the information desk how much faster the service is (in Gatwick, the express train is only 7 min faster than the regular train but costs a lot more). Sometimes, under the pressure of arrival and the eagerness to get to our final destinations – we make silly financial decisions.
The London Pass
To stay on the topic of financial decisions – the smartest one you can make is to purchase The London Pass. The London Pass is the holy grail of sightseeing packages: The London Pass gives you free entry to over 80 attractions, tours, and museums (many of which include the Fast Track option – London has over 19 million yearly visitors so skipping the line is a great value prop). The London Pass also gives you access to 160+ page guidebook, exclusive offers, and a 1-Day Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour. The Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour is one of my personal favorites whenever I travel because you can see all the vital sights from the comfort of a seat with wifi and the luxury of a free audioguide. The only caveat with the Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour is that you risk the chance of standing in quite a bit of traffic, especially in London – so I would recommend it for a partial duration of the day or for longer if you have more time to spend in the area!
Do the names Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ring a bell? Just recently the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were among the prominent stars on the guest list for the annual WellChild Awards which took place at The Royal Lancaster Hotel. The property, which recently underwent an a £85 million (~$100 million) renovation by Studio Proof, is no stranger to the public eye. The Royal Lancaster Hotel hosted the after-party for The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film premiere and it served as the backdrop when Michael Caine was filmed for ‘The Italian Job’ … among many other notable features. The property has a rich and celebrated past and present: in 2018, the hotel won silver at the London Venue Awards. The Royal Lancaster Hotel offers sweeping panoramic views of London and Hyde Park. Besides the prime location, the hotel is surrounded by relatively short buildings so guests enjoy the incredible views from 18 floors! The rooms are spacious and equipped with the latest technology. The hotel is also a two minute walk from the Lancaster Gate Station and five minutes from the Paddington Station. The service, mirroring the culture of the hotel’s Thai owners, is friendly and impeccable. In fact, at breakfast, I couldn’t find enough synonyms for the words “thank you” to express my gratitude to the staff. The best part? Despite its noble status The Royal Lancaster Hotelisvery affordable, with rooms starting as low as $170 a night.
The Dorchester London
London and tea are synonymous like Paris and croissant. Afternoon tea is an activity that simply can’t be missed in London and what better place to experience the tradition than at The Dorchester Hotel? The Dorchester is one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, famously known as the venue that Queen Elizabeth II attended when she was a princess on the day prior to the announcement of her engagement to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Afternoon tea at The Dorchester is a royal experience, rich with tradition … an a lot of sweets.
The Langham Hotel
The Langham Hotelis one of the most well known, upscale properties in London. The hotel was notably featured in James Bond (GoldenEye), Winning London, and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties among others! Afternoon tea at The Langham Hotel is particularly special because it dates back over 150 years. In fact, Palm Court is famed as the place where the tradition of afternoon tea was born. If you can have afternoon tea anywhere … it should certainly be in the place where the tradition began. The Langham Hotel also shows its support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by selling “The Pink Lady” mocktail, from which a portion of sales will be donated to a breast cancer fund. The Langham Hotel is known as the brand that favors light pink, which creates a perfect alignment between the cause and the hotel.