LONDON LIKE A LOCAL
Our mission here is to help you have the best weekend imaginable, so pour some tea and settle down with our tips for making your stay in London unforgettable.
Like a small child at Christmas, I am currently bursting with excitement about this Bank Holiday! I’m checking the weather report every three hours and already have a contingency of perfect summer outfits planned.
I am the unashamed Monica amongst my friends - the organiser, the one with a firm belief there isn’t any situation that wouldn’t benefit from a military precise plan.
As such, today I’m going to show you my perfect Bank Holiday. We’re gonna talk about everything from where to grab the perfect coffee, to where to soak up the best of London’s rays. So grab a notepad and settle on down…
Stop number one and there is only a single place I can think of going and that is The Booking Office at St Pancras Renaissance. Please everyone just go and Google it now. The decor is just to die for. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time. The room is organised around the most amazing 29m-long bar that just screams old school English elegance. It’s decadent without being stuffy, and the drinks menu is one of the best I’ve ever read. Personal recommendations include the Chambers Club and the Vignerons de Chablis. You won’t leave with much change, but use it as an excuse for an early night; you’ve got a big day ahead of you tomorrow.
Now is the time you thank me for that early night. If there is one thing I love to do in London above everything else it’s swimming in the Serpentine. Open water swimming is one of the best ways to get those endorphins pumping - that's the reason the Danes swear by it. So don your best swimming cap and get stuck in, just mind the local wildlife that’ll probably be swimming alongside.
Anyone who has ever been on Instagram will almost certainly already be in the know about the next place we’re going. Sketch is a London institution and it’s easy to see why. If I were describing Sketch in one word ‘quirky’ would be it. The once 18th-century townhouse tearoom has been spectacularly transformed into the boldest, imaginative, delicious eatery in London. Eat in the Parlour and order the homemade pancakes but stop by the Gallery and the bathroom (don’t ask, just trust) to get those insta’ snaps in before you leave.
Now that we’ve made you a social media star mosey on down to Somerset House. The once home of London Fashion Week is the perfect place to stop and sit and let the best of London pass you by. Snag yourself a seat in the courtyard or indulge in one of the countless free events on offer.
If anyone has ever told you Londoners are lazy, they’re lying. The thing I love most about the city is the fact that almost everything in central London is within walking distance. From Somerset House head across the bridge at Blackfriars and wonder along the South bank. There is so much to take in, it never gets old - take your time but make sure to pop into the Southbank Book Market. Pull yourself away at Westminster Bridge and head to St James Park to soak up the last of the afternoon sun.
I could live and die by a good Martini. In London, there is nowhere better than DUKES. My top tips? Get there early, there is a strict no reservation policy, and order from the trolley. An evening at DUKES makes you feel as though you’ve stepped head first into a black and white movie. Hailed as “the world’s best Martini” and said to have inspired Ian Fleming for Bond’s signature drink it’s one definitely not to miss. Dress code: smart, casual.
You can’t have Sunday morning without coffee, so get up early and make your way to Exmouth Market. Being off the tourist trail means you can brunch ‘til your heart's content without someone hurrying you out of your seat. Go to Caravan for the best coffee you’ve ever tasted, trust the barista and go with the daily roast. Unfortunately, no matter how delicate you’re feeling and how good you imagine it to be, avoid ordering a Bloody Mary at all costs. I have, several times, and I’ve been overwhelmingly disappointed at each and everyone. From here pop to Gail’s and gorge on freshly baked pastries.
Walk off breakfast at the flower market on Columbia Road. Take cash and aim to get there about 15:00. By this point, the morning crowds have died down ever so slightly and you’ll be able to deck out your entire house for £5. Any later than 16:00 though and you’ll be going home empty handed - you’ve been warned. Blooms in hand head to The Peasant and get fed like a queen. They serve up the best Sunday roast I’ve ever eaten and I go back time after time, after time.
I’ve been saving the best ‘til last. Wake up early and head to the 40th floor of Heron Tower, your end game? Duck and Waffle. Open 24/7 you want to get there early and watch the sunrise over London. Insiders tip? Book in advance and request a table by the window. The views from here are unbeatable - trust me I’ve put a lot of other spots to the test.
In the afternoon pull on your walking shoes and take the Central line out to Epping Forest (nearest tube: Theydon Bois). Easier to get to than Richmond, and just as lovely, the crowds don’t usually persists this far and you’ve got the place to yourselves. Pack a picnic and keep your eyes peeled for the herds of deer that live amongst the trees.
So go forth and enjoy yourself.
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