London – April 2013

London is my favorite place in the world; it is home to me. That’s why I try to visit as often as possible. I know some people think it’s strange that I take so many trips back to the same place, but being there makes me feel alive and as if I truly fit in somewhere. These visits are primarily about spending time with my friends, but I also get the chance to continue my exploration of a city that manages to recapture my heart each time I return. What follows is a short summary of some of the restaurants and bars I visited on this trip and the new hotel I chose to stay in.

Restaurants

Queen Anne’s Orangerie: Located next to Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, this 18th century Orangerie is a lovely place for afternoon tea. We opted for the ‘English Orangery Afternoon tea’ which consisted of an assortment of sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, an assortment of tea pastries, and served with a range of loose-leaf teas. Everything was delicious and it was a great place to catch up with a friend and indulge in a traditional English pastime.

Aubaine [4 Heddon St.]: A friend and I met here for brunch on a Saturday morning. There are a number of locations in London, but we ate at the Heddon Street restaurant (which is located just off Regent Street). I quite like this location because it is tucked behind the busy street and offers a number of eateries that make for a perfect escape from a day of shopping. I ordered a croque monsieur and a glass of freshly pressed apple juice, while my friend had an egg white omelet with vegetables and an orange juice. Both meals were delicious and I enjoyed the French shabby-chic atmosphere.

Bars

Bourne & Hollingsworth [28 Rathbone Pl.]: This was the first time I visited this bar and it was fantastic! This basement bar looks like grandma’s living room but serves up wonderful prohibition-era cocktails in funky glasses such as teacups and mason jars. We were able to find a spot at the bar and I particularly enjoyed interacting with the bartenders and watching them make the intricate cocktails. This is truly a charming bar with a cool vintage feel that is just far enough off the beaten track to remain hidden from the crowds.

London Cocktails

Piano Bar [106 Kensington High St.]: I love, love, love this bar on Kensington High Street! This elegant piano bar has a good wine list (our favorite bottle of the night was The Chocolate Block), a full menu and great music. We tried to book a table earlier in the week and it was already completely full. So we went early, around 7pm, and were able to snag a table before the place got busy. The staff told us we would have to move once the party who reserved the table arrived, but it turned out we were never asked to give up the table (maybe that is because my friend was in a walking boot from a recent surgery and they felt bad asking us to stand, I told her working the boot would work to our advantage!). My recommendation is to definitely make reservations early here, the place is very small and having a table is an advantage. Be sure to give the pianist plenty of recommendations, they play a mix of contemporary and classic songs that keeps the whole place singing and dancing all night long!

Hotel

Melia White House Hotel [Albany St. Regents Park]: I stumbled upon this hotel while looking for a good deal online. What I liked most was the location just off Euston road. Three tube stations accessing 6 lines were within a few minutes walking distance. The staff were super friendly and while the room décor was a little dated, it was clean and a decent size for London. There was also a 24-hour Tesco express across the street, which came in handy for late night snacks. I will definitely stay here again for the location and price alone.

While this is certainly not a complete list of all the places I visited on my recent trip, they are places I would recommend. In the future I will add to my list of places to go in London as I am just bursting with suggestions for anyone wanting to visit London.

I’m sure it won’t be too long till I visit again, but my hope is that my new career in Tour Directing will give me the opportunity to spend more time here, and maybe, if I am very lucky, give me the opportunity to live here once again…We’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for me…