Tuesday, August 05, 2014

London Calling - Things to See & Do in the Bigger Schmoke!

If you were watching our Instagram feeds (Mine & Sue's) over the last few days you would have seen that we jetted off to London for some rest & relaxation, but when we got there we did anything but!!

Up, up & away

We flew Ryanair & would you believe they are a hell of a lot better than they ever were? Who Knew?! 

I had sworn a long time ago, never again. It seems all the time they spent doing market research has paid off. Gone are the quaking knees as you queue up hoping & wishing your bag will fit into the cardboard sizer that they used to march up & down the queue with, randomly picking out people to measure. 

Many a time I used to say a silent prayer & promise that I’d never again pack as much if I could get through this time!! Did you know you can now take a handbag and your carry on case? We couldn’t believe it as people were allowed on with a wheelie case, backpack & a duty free bag. Gone is the scrum for seats too, as now all seats are allocated. You don’t even have to bother joining the humongous queue at the airport, just sit & wait for the queue to join you & hop on the end. Glorious.

The London Underground (tube)

First things first, the best way to travel in London is the tube. You can buy all day passes in the stations that are £8.90 for zones 1-6. That's pretty much everywhere in central London. Grab a tube map while you're there & pretty soon you’ll be jumping from the Bakerloo line to the Northern Line like a pro to get to where you want to go!

The Bentley, Kensington, London

As it was my birthday treat CherrySue splashed out on one of the most opulent hotels in London. The Bentley Hotel is in a fabulous location in Kensington, just a hop, skip & jump from Gloucester Road tube station. It’s one of the only hotels in city with an authentic Turkish bath. Unfortunately we had too much to see & do so we didn’t get a chance to try it out (this time)!

Selfridges Restaurant on the roof with Q

There are many rooftop bars & restaurants popping up all over London, we decided we'd try out a few to see which was our favourite. First up was Restaurant on the Roof with Q at Selfridges, where you can have afternoon tea for £19.50 per person. 

Just be aware that most rooftop bars & restaurants add 12.5% service charge to all bills though that's a discretionary charge - if your service is rubbish, don't be afraid not to pay it. 

The selection on the day was great, the service was good but the views were limited. I loved that they had an SPF selection alongside the condiments for scorching days like the one we chose to pop by. Well played, Selfridges. 

(Sue here, be sure to check out the Charlotte Tilbury counter if you're in Selfridges. SWOONworthy doesn't even begin to cover it, we were thrilled to meet Dublin lass & beauty pal SJ Wai there, killing it!)

Harvey Nichols, Fifth Floor Cafe & Terrace in Knightsbridge 
(Sue here - Oiiiiiiii!!!!!)

As it was such a glorious day we finished up quickly & headed for Harvey Nichols rooftop bar & restaurant. Here the view is much better, a veritable suntrap in central London. Although, again, there's a 12% service charge, prices are a little less expensive than others & the service is fantastic. We will definitely be back to this gem.

Peroni Bar & Sky Lounge at Double Tree Hilton, Tower of London.

Next up was the Double Tree Hilton near the Tower of London. Here you can get an amazing view of both Tower Bridge on one side & the Gherkin on the other (though Sue insisted on calling it The Pickle for the duration). 

Prices here are more expensive than others, with afternoon tea coming in at £25pp but with a view like that it’s worth it! The service was great & it’s definitely on our list for a return visit when the surrounding works are finished.

Vista Bar at The Trafalgar, London.

We actually left The Trafalgar, just off Trafalgar Square, without sitting down as the attitude of one staff member was horrendous. We decided to spend our money elsewhere with better service & by the looks of it, a lot of others did the same. Only a couple of tables were in use. 

Also, just to be aware, there's a cover charge of £5 to go up after 4pm - basically you pay them so that you can give them your money? Yeah, no. 

Whole Foods Market, Kensington.

We’re moving in!! We found our new happy place in Whole Foods Market on Kensington High Street . The selection was vast & so fresh. The colours & smells were amazing. The prices? Were actually quite good, though we had heard horror stories. 

Truth be told, they're on a par with Irish supermarkets - yes, we are ripped off here. I loved the vast cookie bar for only 50p each & artisan breads, baked in store, starting at just a couple of pound. If I lived near here I’d be shopping in Whole Foods morning, noon & night.

The West End

We took in a show at the Apollo (Let The Right One In) while we were there but Jeez Louise I’d love to know who writes these amazing reviews. We, along with half the theatre, left at the interval as we were just too polite to walk out in the middle of a scene. As Jane (@BritBeautyBlog) noted, it was like being made to watch a really poor school play and Sue chimed in 'and our kids aren't even in it!'

Next time I’m picking the show CherrySue!! 

All was not lost though as we went just around the corner to the gorgeous Ham Yard and had a Moscato night cap out in the balmy London air.

Free walking tours of London (make sure to have your walking shoes!)

We finished our last day in London with a free walking tour, we've done them in most other European cities & they're a great way to get to know a City & its history. We took in Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St James’ Park, Buckingham Palace & Trafalgar Square on the 2 & 1/2 hour walk. 

Our Aussie tour guide, Linton, was great craic & told us a few funny stories along the way. He also gave a few tips for London on a budget. For instance: instead of paying £18pp to see Westminster Abbey wait until 5pm mass everyday & it’s free in and you also get to hear the world famous Westminster Boys Choir perform. Bargain!

Also wait till just after 6pm & go to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square to get cheap West End tickets. Though there are scouts and touts citywide, all of the unsold tickets everyday go back to TKTS, so you're sure to find a genuine deal. 

Hey kids, it’s Big Ben!

Even with all that flitting about we still found time for a few meet & greets with some of the UK’s loveliest bloggers & brands. What can I say, London other than we heard your calling and we will be back...yet again!

Have you been to London? 
What are your top tips for getting the most out of the City?

Psst Check out
some extra photos 
here too!

1 comment:

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