Where to go & what to see…
Those who follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook will have seen that it was my birthday on Saturday. Being so heavily pregnant, I fully expected a quiet one with the hubby. Maybe see a few friends, catch up on some work… Especially as the rugby was on and anyone who has an ex-rugby playing partner will know this means goodbye for the majority of the day.
To kick off the celebrations Dan surprised me with a pregnancy massage at The Rosewood Hotel in Holborn. For anyone who hasn’t visited, it’s a must. The treatment itself was one of those where you’re truly upset that it’s finished. The following morning I woke to cards, gifts and a lovely pressie from the husband. Later that day, he surprised me by taking me in to the West End for dinner. “Dress smartly” he said. Hard when you’re a pregnant person, even harder when you don’t know where you’re going.
As our car passed by Fischers (a favourite) and headed in the opposite direction to Gaucho on Swallow Street (another favourite), we pulled up outside The Ivy. There are a few new, small Ivy cafés that have popped up in London (sorry to say but each quite disappointing and I’ve complained each time) but there’s only one original Ivy restaurant and that’s on West Street. One that’s truly stand out, steeped in history and celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year. Famed for the raucous partying by super models (Kate Moss is a regular), arty creatives and film stars it’s a place I’ve wanted to visit since I can remember but never had the opportunity. The waitlist is also sometimes quite big for a Saturday night.
As we sat waiting for our drinks to arrive, I confessed to Daniel that now we were at The Ivy, I wasn’t sure there was anything left in London that I really, really wanted to do. It was the last unchecked item on my London bucket list, a list that’s taken me almost nine years to get through. Could I really have finished my London bucket list? Are there really no other iconic restaurants, no landmarks, nothing left to see or do? The Ivy totally lived up to my expectations. From the service to the food to the ambiance, everything was ten out of ten. It was one of those dates where you’re having such a good time you purposely take two and half hours to eat your three courses (thank you, Daniel)!
I admit, having worked in media for such a long time, taking clients and agencies out to lovely restaurants was a big part of my day job and one I spent many years doing. It meant that I’ve been really fortunate to go to places that are not only postcard perfect but are sometimes so expensive it’d be difficult to do it out of my own pocket, (ever heard that story about the media professional who landed a £00,000 dinner bill? Not me I hasten to add…). It was a time I look back on with such gratitude and appreciation. So I’m not for one second saying this is something that everyone will want to do but it’s certainly food for thought when it comes to special occasions and unique things to do in London.
London Bucket List
#1 Stay In A Plush Hotel
There are so many hotels to choose from in London. In the past, I’ve had some incredible stays at London hotels (and some equally disappointing stays). It’s good to do your research, ask for recommendations and read reviews online. A few of my favourites include Claridges, Four Seasons Park Lane, Bulgari and The Savoy.
#2 A Decent Afternoon Tea
There’s nothing quite like the quintessential English sandwich washed down with a cup of delicious English Breakfast tea. There’s so much competition to own the label of the ‘best afternoon tea’ in London so often you’ll find a good (bottomless) afternoon tea for a reasonable price per person. Expect to pay around £45-50 each for a good quality tea. My favourites are The Sanderson, Café Royal, Balthazar and for the fashion obsessed, Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley.
#3 See A West End Show
There’s always something new to see on stage in the West End. From The Lion King which has firmly established itself as one of the top performances to see right through to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Sienna Miller. I prefer to always buy tickets in advance and pay to upgrade to the stalls.
#4 Go For An Elaborate Picnic
A picnic blanket with a good bottle of bubbles and a few bits to nibble on make most of my Summer days complete. Head to some great food halls like Selfridges and stock up on some quality food or leave the hassle to the likes of Fortnum and Mason and just grab yourself a picnic hamper pre made. With so many parks to visit, you’ll be stuck for choice.
#5 Walk Along Regents Park
If you want to see insane wealth, try a walk along Regents Park. Only the other day we saw a £400,000 car pull up in a ‘no stop’ zone and leave the car there. Obviously without any care or consideration for the parking fine too. London’s opulent culture can often be found in various places – including Knightsbridge too.
#6 Bishops Avenue (Billionaires Row)
Down the road from our home is London’s Bishops Avenue, a.k.a. Billionaires Row. It’s where houses sell for in excess of £80 million and boy are they impressive. Justin Bieber rents one when he stays in London and the house parties, well, lets just say they’re pretty epic.
#7 Fortnum & Mason, Liberty & Harrods
These are well established luxury department stores that are typically English and very iconic. Expect to find lots of tourists here spending big bucks.
#8 Location, Location, Location
I lived in South London for around 6 years before moving to North London. In that time I’ve enjoyed everything that Clapham and Brixton has to offer as well as Putney. It’s worth checking out each of these places as well as the trendy East London’s Shoreditch and North London’s Angel. Right now my favourite places to visit this Summer for hanging out and brunching are Notting Hill, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath.
#9 Take The Eurostar to Paris
As I sat working in St Pancras the other day after a meeting at German Gymnasium, I had a quick look online to see how much a ticket to Paris would cost. £58. Yes, really that cheap. The only thing stopping me from going to Paris that day was that I’d left my passport at home.
#10 View From The Shard
The view from The Shard is pretty spectacular and going around 6pm means you get the best of both – daylight view and evening view. It makes for an awesome date and there are plenty of gorgeous restaurants there should you feel peckish.
#11 The Social Kitchen Supper Club
The lovely Dani at The Social Kitchen puts on some pretty impressive supper clubs. If you haven’t been to one then definitely keep an eye out for the next. Follow her on Instagram too, you’ll get so addicted!
#12 Open air cinema screen or Everyman Cinema
There are some great open air cinemas in London. Take a friend and a bottle of wine and some snacks and kick back in the heat and enjoy a film. Right now the Grosvenor Film Festival are taking bookings. If sitting on your bum on the ground isn’t for you, try the luxuriousness of Everyman cinema’s instead. Dinner and wine brought to your own couch whilst you enjoy a film.
# The Rest
- Sports Grounds (Oval, Wimbledon, Wembley); See A Concert at the O2: Battersea Power Station; Piccadilly Circus & Red Phone Boxes; All Star Lanes Bowling; Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park; A Sumptuous Sunday Roast; Breakfast at Claridges; The London Eye; Gordons Wine Bar; Nobu
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