London travel tips from a true brit!
As many of you know by now, and because my blog name pretty much gives it away, my love is a Brit. Gavin was born and raised in London, and on a recent trip to visit the family, he gave me the gift of the true London experience! There is no better way to tour a part of the UK then when you go to London, travel local with your one and only love who happens to be a true brit! From the best spot for high-noon tea, wine, and cheese pairings in an ancient hidden cellar, to seeing the sites on a Venetian boat on River Thames, here are all the things you MUST DO on your next trip to London to have the true Brit experience.
London Travel: Visiting Places The Locals Love
Gavin and I arrived in London Saturday around noon and got one of those super cute black cabbies to take us to our hotel. We stayed at the centrally located Governors House, JW Marriott. Since we had a jam-packed schedule, being in a prime location was important, and this hotel was classy, comfy, and located in just the perfect spot!
We put our bags down and since the weather was so nice (and the sun was out – rare for October in London) we decided to go for a stroll down some infamous London streets. Local London Travel must include this. We walked down Bond street, Carnaby street, and Regent Street. All of these spots were fab for shopping and people-watching. The building’s architecture everywhere was stunning, a striking contrast from our hometown of LA, and a nice breath of fresh air.
Invigorated from our walk we headed home to the Grosvenor House to get ready for dinner. Little did Gavin know his whole entire family and a few of his closest oldest friends were about to surprise him for his birthday!
We took a cab around the corner to The Arts Club, a members-only club, which Gavin’s father, Ashley, belongs to. London is known for its member clubs. It’s the city that basically started them all! We walked into the bar of the Arts Club and turned the corner to see everyone yelling “SURPRISE!” Gavin was floored! After lots of hugs all around we sat down for a lovely meal. The food was delicious, great wine and cocktails, and the energy of this spot was lively and fun. And all the Brodin brothers (Darren, Gavin, Simon, and Marcus) and dad Ashley were together for the first time in 5 years! It was such a memorable night.
You Must Take In A Variety Of Activities When You Are In London and Traveling With A Local
The next day was our only full day in London, so we arose early to get a head start on a busy day. We met our friends Andres and Jackie for a quick bite downstairs and then headed to Canary Wharf Pier to meet Mariana, of Thames River Limo, and our captain for the River Thames tour.
The Venetian boat was gorgeous. Polished wood floors, a full panoramic glass roof, plush leather seats – so classy! We traveled up the river and saw the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and other famous sites. Seeing these iconic sites from the river was such a unique and special experience. I can’t recommend it enough!
Following our tour, we headed to Gordon’s Wine Bar, the oldest wine bar in London established in 1890. This Local London travel spot is a gem that every visitor must see. This super cool hidden spot is located in an ancient cellar, so old you can’t even stand up straight. We sipped wine and tasted some delicious cheeses as we could feel the whole cave shake as the underground went by. The candle-lit cave was somehow both romantic and eerie at the same time, and just right!
Next stop, they took it from the underground to the rooftop at The Ned. We met our friend Suzie there who gave us a tour of this old bank now rented into a hotel/lounge/rooftop hip hang-out hot spot. There was a jazz band belting out blush tunes in the restaurant lobby while patrons were cheering prosecco. The energy was fun and light, and we opted to head upstairs to the views.
The rooftop was splendid and the perfect spot to take in the sun while we dined on oysters, burgers, triple-fried chips (aka French fries aka my fav food), pints, and Aperol spritz. The food was outstanding, and we had such a lovely time. A true Sunday brunch experience if you want a tasty local London travel experience.
A Trip To London Wouldn’t Be Complete Without A Local Tea Experience
Just when we thought we could eat or drink much more we headed to meet some of Gavin’s Family for high-noon tea, a truly British experience. And there is no better place for tea than Claridges. Once step into this place and you know it’s a proper tea house. Plastered in pastels, with polished metal and glass details everywhere you look, it feels like you’ve shrunk and stepped into a chic dollhouse of sorts.
We sat down for a leisurely tea session involving earl grey, English breakfast, dainty little finger sandwiches (the cucumber ones are the best), and of course scones. The entire table had a debate on the most proper way to eat your scones. Any guesses? Well, there is cream (which looks like butter to me but don’t be fooled, apparently it’s cream), and marmalade. Gavin’s brother Marcus insisted it’s the marmalade before the cream, but Gavin seemed to think it was the other way around. Were they just pulling my leg? I’m not sure, it’s entirely possible as most of the Brit humor goes right over my head lol. And they have a good laugh making fun of the American girl who doesn’t understand their crass humor.
Well, you may think we must be done eating now, right? Haha no. After dinner, we headed back to the Grosvenor House to get changed for dinner. We happened to score some hard-to-score reservations at the newly opened Nusr-et/Salt Bae (@Nusr-et). This steakhouse has locations in all the big cities around the world and is made famous by “the guy who does the salt thing.” Have you seen him on IG? Luckily for us “the guy” was there and gave us one of his signatures shows table-side, cutting the meat with such passion, artistic license, and furry, then sprinkling the coarse salt with his signature move, where his arm and hand more into ostrich’s neck and head and project a healthy spattering of salt over the steak. Of course to get “the guy” was like winning the lotto and what we were there to see, but the food was also very very good. Another bucket list item checked off the list!
The next morning we had a few hours to spare before heading to the airport so we met Gavin’s step mum, Shelly for a proper English breakfast at the most proper English breakfast spot The Wolseley. The pancakes looked oh so good, but I knew I had to order THE English breakfast- poached eggs, beans, sausage, and grilled toe—MAAAAAH-toe (not toe-MAY-toe). It hit the spot after having one too many glasses of wine the night before.
Bellies full, and hearts even fuller from the time we got to spend with the family, we headed to Heathrow for the flight out. I loved every minute of London and I can’t wait to do it all over again!