It’s not often that I get an entire weekend to myself, let alone a whole 5 days! So when I do, I really like to make the most of it. For this trip I jetted off to London, with the intention of seeing everything that the capital city had to offer. I’ve written up a quick run down of most of the places I visited, the hotel I stayed in and, of course, the food I enjoyed. If you’re planning a trip to London then be sure to take some notes, because it was an action packed few days.
Stay at The Rookery
I always love staying in a hotel with personality and, luckily for me, in London there are many. The Rookery is the hotel that I chose, partly for it’s brilliant central location, in Clerkenwell, not too far from the magnificent Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The other part of my decision was made when I stumbled across the photos of their stunning decor on a late night Pinterest binge. The rooms here are like something from another era. So often hotels that try to emulate another time period can feel a little like a pastiche or a pantomime, but The Rookery creates a feeling of times gone by with total effortlessness. The setting is beautiful, the decor is opulent, but every inch believable, and it made a beautiful base for my long weekend.
The interior of the property is faithfully restored to it’s former grandeur, with wood panelling so dark and polished that you can almost see your face in it. The floors are flagstone, the furniture is genuine antique (not nasty reproduction) and there are several roaring fireplaces; there’s nowhere I’d rather be on a rainy English evening. There are rooms for various budgets, but expect to spend at least £120 per night; for this you’d be staying in one of the Club Doubles, as I did. My bed was an enormous Georgian four poster bed, with luxurious heavy duvet and thick feather pillows, which made every night’s sleep absolutely blissful.
Although my budget couldn’t quite stretch to it, The Rook’s Nest is their very exclusive suite. This gorgeous room features a hand painted four poster bed, from which you can look out of the large windows to the cathedral and the Old Bailey. I was lucky enough to be allowed a peek at the incredible sitting room though. At the top of a spiral staircase you’ll come to the lounge which rests underneath the original 40 foot spire – it really is like something out of a fairytale.
Eat and Drink at Trader Vic’s
To celebrate my luck with finding such a beautiful spot to call home, I made my way into town. I’d been recommended Trader Vic’s by my taxi driver and I was not disappointed. Here, unlike The Rookery, authenticity is not key, for the decor at least. The furniture is entirely in a hilariously over the top ‘tiki’ style, with a large bar in the centre of the dining room flanked by bamboo poles. However, one thing that is truly authentic about Trader Vic’s is their cocktail selection. They’re famed for their rum cocktails here, so I decided to treat myself whilst I waited for my food – I was not disappointed. My cocktail came in a wonderfully kitsch vase, decorated with a mermaid, of course. The food was also just the kind of comfort food I needed after a long journey. I chose an Indonesian beef stew, which was warm, hearty and just spicy enough to blow the cobwebs away. I returned to the hotel totally satisfied and excited for what the next day would bring.
Watch the Football at Stamford Bridge
For the first time in a long while, England have found themselves favourites to be the Euro 2020 winners. Although I don’t follow soccer in America, I couldn’t help but get sucked in to the idea of watching some football whilst I was in the UK. There’s something that I thought would be so much more charming about English fans than American. Anyway, a good friend of mine said that I could come with him to watch his team, Chelsea, play at their home ground of Stamford Bridge. On the day, it turned out that Chelsea wouldn’t be the winners, but experiencing the atmosphere in the stadium was truly electrifying. It also turned out that English fans and American fans, are pretty much equals when it comes to charm.
Anyway! Afterwards we bundled into the pub that a selection of other fans had also made their way to and enjoyed a drink and a chat. It’s spending time with someone local to the area that makes you realise just how wonderful a British pub can be, whether your team has won or lost.
Be Wowed by The London Eye
I know it’s a cliche to have a trip on the London Eye, but things are cliche for a reason. One of the things I always make sure to do when visiting a new destination is to find a way to orientate myself, that’s also fun. The London Eye was the perfect way to do this, as you get an aerial view of the city, which is not only beautiful, but really informative. I was able to spot the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, they’re more or less directly in front, but I could also work out where most of the bridges were. Getting familiar with the geography of an area is a great way to make the most of your trip and I’m delighted I did.
Eat at Daylesford
On the Monday morning I decided I’d like to take a leisurely brunch. One of my favourite things about travelling solo is that you’re not held to anybody else’s clock. So, I treated myself to a lie in, in my wonderfully squishy bed and then made my way over to Pimlico, to eat at the Daylesford Farm cafe. I really wanted to treat myself that the best Britain had to offer, so finding an organic kitchen was high on my to do list. Daylesford were the answer to my prayers.
Their entire farm is devoted to totally organic farming, both animals and vegetables; they even make their own bread and cheese. They have a few cafe’s around London, but at this one the menu offered a breakfast that I just couldn’t resist – a proper vegan breakfast. Although I love to indulge in meat and cheese from time to time, sometimes my body just needs a burst of vitamins. The breakfast included grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, so far so traditional, but then came the twist. Broccoli? For breakfast? It really worked. They served it alongside some smashed avo on toast, with zingy lime and a touch of chilli. Delicious.