Wednesday, July 5, 2017

One Night In London


Alright, I'm finally doing it. 
I'm finally taking the time to sit down and blog about our AMAZING Europe trip. (These are the toughest & most time consuming blog posts to do, so bare with me!) 
So where do we begin!? Let's start in London.

We decided this time around to only do one night in London mostly because we had visited before. Now, don't get me wrong. We LOVE London. But with the timing of our trip, we wanted to use a couple of extra days to visit a city we hadn't been to before. We couldn't just skip London all together so we decided on at least breaking up the travel with one night there. We have always had pretty good luck with finding really affordable flights in and out of London Heathrow, so that is usually our port of choice. (Also, it's a direct flight from SFO which is super nice). 


Where We Stayed:
Another one of the main reasons for us stopping in London for the night was because we were headed to Paris in the morning via the Eurostar. Now, if you've never done the Eurostar from London to Paris before, I highly recommend it. Affordable, easy and gets you to Paris in about 2 hours. We always stay in the same area when we go to London...anywhere walking distance from the St. Pancras Train Station. To us, this has always been super convenient as we can wake up the next morning and just walk to catch our train to Paris. There also is a tube station right in this area that we can jump on and get to anywhere in the city in less than 10 minutes. Pretty awesome!


 This time around, we stayed at the Jesmond Dene Hotel. Would I recommend it?! Hmmm. Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what you like & what you are looking for. 
Was the location convenient? Totally.
Was the hotel beautiful? No.
Did it serve as a great place for us to stay for one night. Yes.
You get the point. Everyone was there was super friendly, but it just wasn't the most beautiful hotel. Need a room for only one night & don't want to pay a fortune?! This is your place.


Where We Ate:

Such a fun menu at Sketch London.


Sketch London
 I'm not going to lie, this was another reason we decided to stop in London for the night. I've wanted to visit and eat at this restaurant for the longest time so when we saw we could book reservations online, we were all over it. We sat in the Gallerie which was gorgeous, funky and covered with all pink decor. Make sure you don't leave without visiting the bathrooms and ordering the pink burrata! Oh, and their wine list & cocktail options were exceptional.
(To get there from our hotel, we took the tube to Regent Street - got off at Oxford Circus, and walked a couple of blocks. Easy!)

St. Stephen's Tavern
Talk about a traditional London pub. We stopped in here for a drink and couldn't have felt more of a fun British vibe. If you are going to visit Big Ben or Westminster Abbey, stop in for a pint.

Caffe Nero
Nothing fancy here, but a great spot to grab a coffee and pastry before you hop on the Eurostar to Paris. Located inside the train station, it's ideal to pop in before you board and grab some food and drinks for the ride.



Where We Explored:

Since we were somewhat short on time & had seen most of London already on previous trips, we decided to visit Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and just walk along the water after dinner.  
If you are visiting London for the very first time and need more of a recommendation on what you should do and see, here's a little tip: The Hop On Hop Off bus tours are an amazing way to see the city for the first time and it's a good way to see all of the main tourist attractions in a day or two.
I also love researching travel blogs & websites before I go and I found this onethis one, and this one very helpful!
(To get to this popular location from Sketch, we took the tube to Westminster station. Right when you walk out of the station, you will immediately see Big Ben. Such an amazing view!)


Other Tips:

*** London hotels are like every European hotel; small. If the front desk asks you if you would like a bigger room on the third floor instead of the first, say NO. We learned this from experience and laughed about it later. No elevator and climbing over 100 VERY SKINNY stairs to get to the room with two large luggage was no joke. 

*** Take the tube. It's so easy to learn and can get you all around the city in a small amount of time.

*** If you have time, go to Oxford Circus and go shopping. Some amazing stores!

*** When you go to take the Eurostar to Paris, make sure you go to St. Pancras train station, NOT King's Cross (they are right next to each other).

*** If you are going to take the tube, buy the all day tube pass. Saves you money in the long run.

*** Try and research your food & meals out ahead of time. There are so many options but if you just walk around looking for something, you are most likely to end up eating at a pub.

*** If you can watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, do it.

*** Pay the fee to ride the London Eye. We rode it at night on our last trip and the views were spectacular.


London is a MUST visit if you are planning a trip to Europe & I hope this post has given you some good tips and inspiration if you decide to take the plunge and book a trip. As my hubby and I always say, "Just book it and go - it's always worth it!"

xo
Ashley

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