London has always had some sort of dreamy allure to me that doesn’t seem to fade over time. Growing up, my parents had always wanted me to go to university in the UK, and while they were supportive of my decision to do otherwise, I did spend all of my schooling life studying British curricula and preparing for life in the UK. I realize I have been to England at least once a year since 2015 for some reason or another, and it is a joy and a pleasure every time. I love seeing old friends, discovering new haunts, and feeling inspired by how Londoners dress. As I wrote in a reflection on my most recent visit, “London feels more familiar than Hanover ever has”. It is honestly a dream of mine to move to London some day. And with that, behold, some favorites from one of my favorite cities in the world:
- Eat: Ethos
Ethos is one of those places you don’t think you’d buy into until you try it with a friend and suddenly find yourself going back to again and again. Although the price point is steep, its location makes it an easy lunch stop on a day out, and the buffet-style vegetarian options are so fun to pick from. The interior is beautiful and many of their desserts are vegan-friendly, which is great for all of us lactose-free humans out there (lol). The last time I was in London I had lunch here to-go, and the flavors were just as delicious as I remembered!
2. Visit: Victoria and Albert Museum
The V&A Museum is a beautiful collection. The museum prides itself on celebrating thousands of years of human art and design, and it shows in the quality of visitor experience. Unlike many other renowned museums in London, the size and variety of the V&A is not overwhelming and feels very “do-able” in a day. Perfect for a rainy afternoon or those days you just feel like wandering and learning.
3. Do: Shop on Oxford Street
Growing up in a large Asian metropolis, shopping is in my blood. Mall culture in Asia is here to stay and shopping in London is too. I love browsing in stores unique to the UK or less available in the US, like Jigsaw, Arket, or honestly any high street department store in London. Pictured above is my friend and I trying on fun winter gear at & Other Stories right before our dinner reservation. Such fun memories. 🙂
Oxford Street is also beautiful at Christmastime! Although it can be a little too much with the tourists and Christmas shoppers, I can’t stay away and also love exploring Carnaby which is just around the corner from here. Would do anything to roam around this part of London right now.
4. Night out: Heaven on a Thursday
Heaven is an institution. Although I haven’t tried every single one of the relevant clubs in London, this is hands-down my favorite. I remember the first time I went was on a Thursday and I didn’t really know what I’d signed up for, but was not at all disappointed. Pornidol is another institution and without spoiling it I will just say that being part of the audience made me feel a mixture of awe, disgust, and elation. This place is just so much fun and my gay best friend and I constantly talk about how much we need to go together. Bucket list this!
5. Eat: Duck & Waffle
Duck & Waffle is one of those places you don’t expect to be very good because it is just that hyped up. It honestly feels a little weird writing about it just because the internet does not need another Duck & Waffle review, if that makes sense. Regardless, the swanky views from the Shard are really nice and the food is ridiculously umami in a terribly awesome way. I would LOVE to go back and would go at any odd hour of the day to have this meal again. Tip for those who haven’t been before is to make your reservation at least 2 weeks ahead of time for a regular mealtime.
6. Pamper: LB Nails
Yes… those hands in the photo… are mine…
I literally felt like a hand model while having those pictures taken and to this day still feel like a low-key celebrity because of that manicure. Leysan behind LB Nails is the most talented and creative nail artist I have ever met and she honestly changed my perspective on what can be done with nails. As a child I never understood why anyone would care about these small bits of enamel that grow out of the top of your fingers but Leysan honestly was a game-changer for me and I have since been looking for someone who knows nail art like she does. This Kandinsky-inspired manicure will always remind me of good times in London.
7. Eat: Tonkotsu Ramen/Bone Daddies
I absolutely love ramen and will go to great lengths to find the best spots in any city for these delicious bowls of carbs. In fact, I’m pretty sure my Hinge profile says something about how much I care about ramen. Tonkotsu was a place I frequented because their Notting Hill branch was the closest to me for a period of time, but I also was surprised at how much I enjoyed the spicy bowl at Bone Daddies (weird name, great creamy tonkotsu broth). 5/5 stars!
8. Explore: Long walk around Notting Hill and Chelsea
London is such a huge and expansive city with plenty of variation in its architecture. Some parts of the city don’t look like next whatsoever and it is part of the confusing and exciting reality of it all. One of my favorite places to waste a whole day is in the Notting Hill and Chelsea area, as it’s full of lovely places to stop for coffee, gorgeous boutiques, and unique charity shops! I could spend hours and hours just walking around and soaking up the beautiful rows of homes in this area. Walking has this oddly therapeutic effect on me and so I’d also recommend a walk by the Thames (around Westminster for nice views) and also potentially around Old Bond Street and Hyde Park.
9. Drink (or basically eat): Hot chocolate at Said dal 1923
I stumbled upon Said dal 1923 with a friend on one of our last nights in London together, and we just had to go in despite our already lavish sushi dinner prior. I remember being blown away by how rich the hot chocolate was—you almost want to eat it with a spoon—and wishing we’d discovered the place sooner! The flourless chocolate cake was simply excellent and the cosy space is often packed on weekends. I genuinely think that every person who visits London should try Said dal 1923 out, even if you don’t love chocolate the way I do. I dream of this place.
10. Buy: Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles from Charbonnel et Walker
The first time I ever bought chocolates from Charbonnel et Walker was actually in Heathrow Airport when I realized I was flying across the Atlantic for my boyfriend-at-the-time’s birthday and I really didn’t have much to show in the way of gifts. I picked up this pricey box of truffles and hoped that it would pass for a birthday present, and when I gave them to him he pretty much ate the whole box in one sitting (I managed to sneak in one or two to “taste” them). Long story short, these truffles are phenomenal and I have yet to find other chocolates that compare. The store on Old Bond Street is lovely and the royal family supposedly eats these too! The price point is pretty steep but I promise these little balls of love are worth it. Without sounding too much like a Tripadvisor ad, these are “must try”!
Written to the sound of: