I lived in London 8 years ago. Only for a year but it was THE best year of my life. I fell in love with the place about 20 minutes after arriving in the city centre. I moved there with my boyfriend at the time. He got a transfer with the international company that he worked for so getting visas and bank accounts was pretty easy for us. We also had the first weeks accommodation for free. Andrew’s work put us up in a flat in Marylebone. I dare say this is why my experience of living in London was so good. Because of where we lived. We found a flat to rent just around the corner from where our free accommodation was and it was literally a 5 minute walk to Oxford Street. It was a tiny little flat but I loved it.
I got a job in Mayfair which was a 15 minute walk or 3 minutes on the bus and loved everyone that I worked with. Andrew’s work was two streets across from our flat. It was the perfect set up. We were right in the heart of London and we had the best time.
I have always in some ways regretted leaving London after only living there for a year but the GFC had just hit and Andrew’s job was getting axed so we bit the bullet and moved back home.
When I was planning this Europe trip I was most excited about going back to London to see if I still loved it as much as I used to or if I was just romanticising about the time we had spent there.
We spent 5 days in London on this trip, just doing all the things we loved to do when we lived there so let me show you my guide to the best city in the world: London.
The first day spent in London was after arriving off a 24 hours flight from Brisbane. After checking into our AirBnB flat we went straight down to Oxford Street to buy scarves and gloves because it was absolutely freezing, windy and raining in London. We were very jet lagged and by the afternoon we really couldn’t keep our eyes open so we had a nap and ended up sleeping though our alarm for sunset. We woke up at about 6pm and decided to go and do some night photography.
We caught the Tube over to Westminster station to get out at Big Ben to take some shots, then we walked to the London Eye to get a shot that I have wanted to capture since the day I left London.
It was starting to rain so we found an awesome little Indian restaurant for dinner. London is renowned for good curries and this place was up there as one of the best. It was just outside the Waterloo tube station – The Thames. I highly recommend the Chicken Tikka Masala which is my favourite Indian dish.
The next morning we were up early to do sunrise at Tower Bridge. It was absolutely freezing again but it was a nice sunrise and worth the cold and early start to the day. Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous bridges and one of many must see landmarks in London. You can climb to the top for amazing views and it has a glass floor that looks down onto the cars below.
It was nice being around Tower Bridge again because I used to work at a beauty salon right there and I loved walking out of work at night and seeing this amazing view of this gorgeous bridge.
We also photographed The Shard which is newly built since we were last in London. The Shard is home to some of the best offices, restaurants and hotel rooms in London – along with breathtaking views.
We grabbed some breakfast at POD. I was really impressed with the food scene in London. It has really stepped up it’s game and it was so easy to eat healthy delicious meals.
After heading back to our flat and showering we headed back down to Oxford street for some more shopping. I really needed to buy a warm jacket before flying to Norway. We had a look down Regent Street and Carnaby Lane. Two of my favourite shopping areas in London. I’m not usually a big shopper but I can’t help myself in London. The fashion is the best.
Eating Out – London
Then it was lunch at Pret A Manger. I never really liked this place when I lived there 8 years ago but it has had a major tranformation and now serves healthy, fresh, chemical free food. The Thai Chicken Soup is the absolute bomb and they have freshly squeezed juices which I was so happy to see. I was starting to feel a bit under the weather from our fast paced travels the previous four weeks. The Ginger Shot was a life saver.
Then it was time to fly to Norway but we came back for four days at the end of our trip to continue our London love affair before flying home to Australia.
Arriving back in London we stayed at a brand new hotel in Gloucester Place, Marylebone which was the street we lived in 8 years ago. I couldn’t bring myself to stay anywhere else as I loved this area so much.
We arrived back in London late in the afternoon from Paris after catching the Eurostar which is a high speed train and it takes an hour between Paris and London.
We went and had dinner at our favourite burger place just around the corner from where we used to live GBK – Gourmet Burger Kitchen before heading off to photograph sunset.
All the flowers were out in bloom in London and I couldn’t resist but to get a shot of Big Ben with some gorgeous daffodils in front of it.
The next day I was meeting up with a girl that I had become friends with on Instagram – Paulina. We had met through being moderators together on @ig_shotz. After finding her in the street we headed of to a cute little cafe called Gail’s Artisian Bakery on Portobello Road. After a lovely catch up with Paulina we headed off to explore Notting Hill which is famous for its colourful buildings and the markets along Portobello Road. The architecture in London is so beautiful especially when the cherry blossom trees are out in bloom. I could spend hours wandering around the streets and looking at the beautiful old buildings.
We had lunch at Pret A Manger again and then caught the tube over to Chelsea.
Chelsea is an affluent area in Southwest London right on the River Thames. It is home to some of the wealthiest and most famous Londoners. It is filled with more beautifully coloured Victorian buildings and lots of brand new shiny cars. Chelsea’s Kings Road is the main strip through Chelsea with all the best high street shops and the best place for some celebrity spotting. We saw Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear driving his Porsche 911 as we were looking for the LOVE door.
I mainly came to Chelsea because I wanted to see and photograph this door. I would love to meet the people that live here!
After exploring Chelsea we found the Sloane Square Tube station and headed back to Westminster station for sunset at Big Ben and the London Eye and it was an absolute cracker.
After photographing the London Eye (above) I turned around and saw the sky started to explode so I ran like a crazy person along the bridge with my camera still on its tripod to get down to the water before it all disappeared.
As you can see I made it! ? Then I went back up onto the bridge for blue hour.
Then we found a fantastic Italian restaurant called Locale right near the London Eye. I had Lasagne which is my favourite meal of all time and I have to say it was pretty good. Every time I order Lasagne at a restaurant I am usually disappointed because I make a mean lasagne and it usually doesn’t compare!
After an amazing dinner we walked back to the London Eye because I saw that it was lit up in pink and I just had to get a shot of it looking so pretty!
Then we walked back to Tower Bridge to get some night shots around that area.
In my opinion Marylebone is the best suburb in London. It’s central to everything, it has a quaint little high street and it’s a 5 minutes walk to Oxford Street. Baker Street tube station has all the major lines to take you wherever you need to go.
We found an awesome organic cafe just off the high street for breakfast that was so good we went back again the next day. Daylesford is a farmshop and cafe in the heart of Marylebone. Daylesford’s 30 year dedication to organic food means using all produce from their farm. Over the past three years Daylesford farm has claimed a wide range of accolades for their sustainable practices and environmental approach. The food was amazing and nice to know its good for you too!
The next stop you that need to make in Marylebone is to Daunt Books. The 25 year old Daunt Books is an original Edwardian bookshop with long oak galleries situated in Marylebone High Street. This is my favourite book store in the entire world. Just walking into this shop and breathing in the heady scent of paper and ink makes me giddy.
Just walking along the high street feels like a haven in the middle of a frantic city and it has some of the cutest bespoke shops. It is my favourite high street in all of London.
Regents Park, Marylebone
Everyone thinks that Hyde Park is the best park but I disagree. Yes, its a beautiful and very large park but the best park in my opinion is Regent’s Park in Marylebone. It has beautiful gardens, ducks that swim in the stream that circles the park, squirrels running all over the place in search of nuts and the most magnificent Rose garden I have ever seen.
Unfortunately the Rose garden wasn’t in flower when I was there this time but it’s a must see in Spring and Summer.
Being a tourist in London is pretty cool because most of the touristy things to do are free. The majority of the big museums are free like the British Museum. This museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture. It’s permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
It also has an very cool foyer that is just begging to be photographed!
The Natural History Museum
The Natural history museum is my favourite. I’m not a huge fan of museums. I would rather be out in nature but I find the natural history museum fascinating. I guess I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to the universe and how things work.
The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture—sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature.
It also has the coolest entrance into a museum ever!
You can’t come to London and not visit the massive house where the Queen lives. This place is so damn impressive. I find it so cool that she lives in the middle of London (sometimes).
Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every summer.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
Changing of the guard is pretty cool to watch and happens at 11:30am most days. You can check date and times here.
There is always something going on around Buckingham Palace and the day that we were there, there was some sort of march which was quite impressive.
St James Park
St James Park is another lovely park right in the heart of central London and right next to Buckingham Palace. This is a great place to grab a deck chair and hang out on the grass on a Sunday afternoon or anyday during the week for that matter.
There are loads of squirrels running around this park too. They are the cutest.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican church and dates back to AD 604. The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London. The dome is among the highest in the world. The paintings on the inside of the dome are so impressive and you can do a walk up to the dome and outside for stunning views over the city.
This is where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married and is definitely worth visiting.
Sunset at Tower Bridge again…
After visiting St Paul’s Cathedral is was straight back to Tower Bridge for sunset. I was determined to get a good shot of this gorgeous bridge. It is a known fact that you don’t really get much colour in the sky in London at sunrise or sunset but everyday that we were there the sky went nuts. I think maybe it was trying to convince me to move back.
The Borough Markets
Borough Market is London’s most renowned food and drink market. It is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London and celebrated 1,000 years in 2014. Since I was last in London there are a lot more restaurants around this area and I was excited to meet up with one of my high school friends and her new boyfriend for dinner at the brand new Italian restaurant that had opened a few weeks earlier called Padella. We were really lucky to get into this place as it was so popular and after eating there I can see why. The food was amazing! We had an awesome night eating, drinking and laughing at Hayley’s English boyfriend as he had the traditional dry English sense of humour that I love.
This area of London is a must see if you are a foodie.
Do I still love London as much as I did 8 years ago…
I had an absolute blast revisiting and experiencing all my favourite places that I used to visit. I do love London just as much as I did all those years ago. It still is that amazing city that I had so much fun exploring. But I have changed, I am different now. I prefer nature over cities and as much as I loved my time here, I don’t think I could live here again. I am happy to just visit on holiday every now and then. London will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always remember it as the best year of my life but I am happy to leave it as a sweet memory. I don’t want to lose those memories by moving back and recording new ones over the top. It’s still the best city in the world in my opinion. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed my Secret Guide to London. Have you been to London? What was your experience like? I would love to know so leave a comment below.