Monday, June 19, 2017

London Travel Guide

Ever since I started watching Made in Chelsea five years ago, I instantly became obsessed with the luxurious British culture that was portrayed on the show. I really didn't think that making a trip to London was in the cards anytime soon, but when Sean said we could go anywhere to celebrate our two year anniversary, that dream of mine soon became a reality. Originally we had planned on going to New York or Montreal, but when we figured out that London really was an option, we decided to book a spontaneous trip overseas less than a month before our departure.

From 'Made in Chelsea' travel guides, to recommendations by bloggers, to some googling and Pinteresting of my own, I really feel as though we maximized our week long vacation as best as we could. Before we left, I made a list of all the places that I thought would be fun to visit, and even I was impressed with how much we were able to cross off of the list.

Where to Stay

If you haven't ever seen a map of London, let me tell you - it is huge. There are so many different areas to stay in, so if you have nothing to go off of it's hard to know which one to choose. Luckily, I had narrowed down our search to hotels in Kensington and Chelsea, which is a much quieter area than Covent Garden or City of London (where all the tourist attractions are.) In terms of distance and atmosphere, I would say South Kensington, where our hotel was, would be the London equivalent of Bloor and Avenue in Toronto.

We stayed at a boutique hotel called The Bentley. Throughout our week long stay, we could not believe how calm and quiet it was - it was so nice not to have to deal with any noise! The overall atmosphere was elegant and sophisticated, thanks to the attentive staff who were there to assist us at all hours. Our king-sized bed was incredibly comfortable, and the beautiful washroom made getting ready in the morning a relaxing treat. The furniture in our room was a little dated for my taste, but that was really my only complaint.

Getting Around

Believe it or not, we did not take the tube once while we were in London. The Manchester attacks had occurred the weekend before, so we were a little weary of going to crowded areas or underground. We ended up taking Uber for our entire trip, which was obviously more expensive than taking public transit, but what I loved most about it is that it gave us the opportunity to see the whole city.

Where to Eat

I remember years ago when I talked to people about travelling to London, so many of them said that London doesn't have the greatest food. Whoever said that clearly didn't know where to eat, as we were thoroughly impressed with almost every restaurant we ate at.

Bakeries and Treats 

Given my love of pink, it was inevitable that Peggy Porschen Cakes was our first stop for a sweet treat. Many British celebrities and royals are fans of Peggy Porschen, and it is evident why. Their cakes and desserts are just as tasty as they look, and the outdoor seating makes it the perfect spot to indulge at on a sunny day. While you are in the area, I would also recommend checking out the Dominique Ansel bakery which is just down the street. It broke my heart that I was too full of cake to try one of their chocolate chip cookie shot glasses, but I knew I would have the opportunity to do so in the future at their original New York location.

Sean has never been a big chocolate lover, but he loves sugary treats like cotton candy and ice cream. When I discovered that there was a place called Milk Train that combined both, I knew we had to go. The line-up was around 20 minutes long, but we both agreed that it was worth the wait. 

Being so close to Paris, you can find many the french macaron boutiques over in London. Since I've been to Laduée so many times, I opted to try out Pierre Hermé and I loved the eclectic, fruity selection they had to offer. Plus how beautiful is the storefront? I picked up a box of macarons, as well as some savoury goods from the Fine Cheese Co. right around the corner, which made for the perfect late night snacks when we were too tired to go out and grab something to eat.

High Tea

Even though I've had high tea here in Canada, nothing could have prepared me for the unique and flawless high tea experience at Sketch. They have a few different rooms, but we chose to dine in the Gallery - a pink-themed room with hundreds of custom-made sketches covering the walls. We were able to choose two different types of tea each throughout our meal, with the option of adding champagne or a non-alcoholic cocktail (I chose the non-alcoholic raspberry drink and it was divine.) For food, were served an egg and toast, a tray of mini desserts and sandwiches, followed by scones and two different types of cake for - you guessed it, more dessert. I had no idea high tea would leave me this full, and despite the fact that it was a splurge, I truly felt we had gotten our money's worth. From the stylish man who came around to offer caviar, to the string quartet that started playing at noon, this was an experience I will never forget.


Our first lunch in London was at a Peruvian restaurant in Chelsea called Chicama. I don't think either of us had ever eaten at a Peruvian restaurant before, but when we looked up the menu we knew we had to go once we found out it was mainly seafood. The dining experience is tapas style, which I love because it means you get to try out so many different things. Though we were impressed with everything, the octopus won my vote hands down. I've eaton octopus at many different restaurants, and whether it was because of the flavourful sauce or the fact that it was cooked to the perfect texture, this was easily the best octopus I've ever tasted.

It was so nice to be in Chelsea for a whole weekend, because it meant we had two days to brunch as Londoners. For our Saturday brunch we ate at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. Since it was a little chilly, we sat inside right by the window, but the terrace was stunning, especially the back half which literally looks like the Secret Garden. Sean ordered the lobster eggs benedict and I requested to order off of a build-your-own waffle menu which I had seen online. The waffle was so delicious and with the combination of berries, ice cream, caramel sauce and meringues, I clearly chose a dessert rather than a breakfast as my meal. We didn't find this out until the following day, but apparently the Queen had eaten there the week before, so we can now say that we truly ate like royals in London! 

On Sunday, we went to Bluebird which is known as a popular spot where the Made in Chelsea crew are always hanging out. Even though I'm a huge fan of the show, I wasn't actually expecting to meet any of the stars from it, which is why I was in total shock when we found ourselves sitting just feet away from Hugo Taylor and Spencer Matthews. Even without the complete Made in Chelsea experience I would still go back, as the atmosphere out on the patio was sophisticated, relaxing and hip, but it felt truly authentic being in the presence of some of the shows most notable characters. We found out that Hugo was there to promote Taylor Morris, his sunglasses line, and I decided to pick up a pair which I'll be featuring in an upcoming post.


On our first night, we ate on the patio at The Phene, which is a little pub off of King's Road commonly featured on Made in Chelsea. Though we went for the experience, we left seriously impressed, as the lamb was so flavourful and was easily one of my favourite meals of the whole trip. We returned a few nights later for drinks, and it was evident that this is a popular place for locals to go for drinks between 6-12 p.m.

On our second night we had dinner and drinks at a chic pub called The Blind Pig, which is on top of the company's Michelin-starred restaurant, Social Eating House. Even though the menus are different, the food is made in the same kitchen, which was evident when we took the first bites of our food. We loved the truffle mac and cheese and the chicken sandwich, but what was equally impressive was the cocktail menu. The storybook themed cocktail lists consists of drinks inspired by classics like Harry Potter, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Alice in Wonderland. I knew I had to try the Winnie the Pooh inspired Hunny Pot, as it looks just like the jar from the books and is even topped with an adorable piglet candy. In terms of taste it was my second drink, The BFG inspired Dream Jar, that left me wanting to drink the night away. It was perfectly sweet and flavourful, and on top of that, it even had ice cubes that lit up. If you're looking for impressive cocktails with good food and atmosphere, The Blind Pig is a must.

On Friday night we ate at Bob Bob Ricard - a luxurious all booth restaurant that serves a combination of both English and Russian dishes. Though I was originally planning on ordering champagne just so I could hit the 'Press for Champagne' button (they actually work!), I decided to get a rhubarb gin and tonic, and it ended up being another one of my favourite cocktails this trip. To start we ordered the truffled potato and mushroom dumplings. We liked them so much that Sean decided to try an order of the lobster dumplings, but we both agreed that the mushroom ones were significantly better. For our mains we were both craving lobster mac and cheese so we each ordered one to ourselves. It was good, but in retrospect I wish I had ventured out and tried something more adventurous. Sometimes though, you've just got to fuel your craving!

We were lucky enough to get a reservation at Sushi Samba on Saturday night. Right after we booked our trip I made all of our reservations right away, and I was very thankful that I did. If you plan on going to Sushi Samba, make your reservation as far ahead of time as you can - we had a hard time getting a table even three weeks in advance. Since London is not full of skyscrapers like Toronto is, eating on the 38th floor of a skyscraper made for the most stunning view of London. The menu is a rare combination of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian dishes. We had an array of unique sushi rolls, seafood, chicken heart and gyoza, and our taste buds were going insane. This was Sean's personal favourite out of all the restaurants we visited! They have locations in New York, Las Vegas, Dubai and Miami, so I can guarantee you we will be making another visit next time we are near a Sushi Samba.

Where to Shop

London is obviously one of the fashion capitals of the world, but I don't think anything you could have told me would have prepared me for the quality of shopping that is to be found there. Oxford Street has most of the same stores we have over here in Toronto, plus ten times more. Places like Primark and & Other Stories are perfect for shopping on a budget. For luxury shopping, Harrod's, Selfridges and Liberty London are all must-sees, regardless of whether you are buying or just window shopping. I swear I could spend all day in those stores and still not get bored. And don't even get me started on the Shoe Heaven at Harrod's - it is basically a whole wing devoted entirely to designer shoes!

Sadly I did not pick up one of the beautiful pairs from Harrod's, but my first purchase of the trip was a pair of Alice in Wonderland themed loafers from a British shoe store called French Sole. They had so many pretty designs on all their shoes that it was hard to choose just one, but I was so happy that I settled on the pair pictured above.

Sloane Street in Knightsbridge has some wonderful stores, such as Red Valentino, Chloe and Chanel, to name a few. As nice as it is to see the iconic department stores, I prefer going in and out of stores on the street, as I find I get less tired that way.

After we went to Sketch, we wandered around some of the high end stores in Mayfair. I am a huge fan of Elie Saab gowns, so when we passed the boutique I knew we had to take a look. Though we obviously weren't buying, a kind sales associate showed us all around the store, and even took us into the bridal room when I asked if Elie Saab designed wedding gowns. 

Things to Do

Get a blow-out

When I was planning our itinerary back home, I knew that Sean was going to want to sleep in on our first day there. To keep myself entertained (and also refreshed!) I decided to book myself a blow-out appointment at Duck and Dry (otherwise known as on of the most Instagrammable salons in London.) To say I've had a lot of blow-outs in my life would be an understatement, and I can honestly say that this was one of the best. My hair felt soft and shiny for days, and aside from a few touch-ups each morning, I really didn't have to do much to my hair throughout the entire trip. I would highly recommend them, and if I ever return to London I'll be making Duck and Dry a first stop tradition.

Go to the markets

For anyone who loves Notting Hill, going to the Portobello Street Market is a must. There are so many vendors selling everything from vintage boxing gloves to records to old Disney storybooks. At first I had to convince Sean to make the trek here from our hotel, but in the end he were both happy we went. We ate at Farm Girl, a healthy cafe with the most unique lattes, and also stopped at an adorable cookie shop called Biscuiteers.

Sean loves to sleep in, so most mornings I would venture off to do girly things and take pictures. On Sunday morning, I went to Columbia Road Flower Market which consists of a huge block full of flower vendors. For any photographer or blogger this is heaven because there are so many opportunities to build content. On my list as well was a bakery called Lilli Vanilli, which was just off of Columbia Road. I stopped in to get myself a little treat, and the lemon tart I had was as delectable as I was expecting it to be.

Go to a Museum

Though I'm not the type that likes to spend all day going to museums and galleries, I do like to visit one or two whenever I'm in a big city. We heard great things about the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was right down the street from our hotel, so we knew we had to pay it a visit. Luckily for me, there was also a Balenciaga exhibit on, which was an authentic reminder that fashion truly is one of the greatest forms of art. Sean actually loved the museum, as he is a huge history buff, and I was so happy every time I heard him say "This is so cool, take a picture of me!" as I knew he was truly enjoying the experience.

Visit a tourist attraction

Though we didn't end up going inside Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey like we had originally planned, the one tourist attraction we knew we had to see was the London Eye. The giant ferris wheel type structure takes you high enough to get an incredible view of London, and see the city and some of it's many sights from up above. I was really glad that we decided to go up, as it was relaxing, fun and worth the price. I recommend getting the fast track tickets, as we did not wait more than five minutes between the time we arrived and the time we got onto the ride.

Visit the colourful homes

For any blogger or instagrammer, regardless of your aesthetic, you will be nothing short of houses for photo ops in London. Some mornings I went farther to find colourful strips of houses, but there were also some in Notting Hill, and just off of King's Road in Chelsea (pictured below.) The houses above were part of a strip I found in Primrose Hill on a detour I took to Selfridges one morning.

I knew I had to take full advantage of all the pink houses and doors that were to be found around London. I swear everywhere we went I found a potential dream home. The house below on Trevor Square is actually just around the corner from Harrod's, and the house with the 'Love' sign was right around the corner from The Phene.

Overall, we had a fabulous trip, and I am so happy that my dream of visiting London finally came true. For anyone who has questions about London that go beyond what I wrote here, feel free to leave a comment below and I will answer everything you have to ask!

With love,


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