TRAVEL GUIDE: How To Spend The Perfect Day in London
another gem from EDP Contributing writer Marissa
London is a treasure trove of places to explore, take Instagram worthy shots and most importantly, eat incredible food. With no shortage of things to do, it can be overwhelming if you’re only headed there for a week or less. I stumbled upon the perfect day in the city by accident and I’m pretty confident when I say perfect because of the circumstances I found it in.
I was a few dates deep with this guy when it clicked that it wasn’t for me. I set up coffee to have a chat about it and he was the kind of person who liked having a plan. (As a chronic planner, I couldn’t argue.) A coffee turned into a 4 part date. Sweet. When he met me at the top of Borough Market, he could tell by the pained look on my face that I was holding in the feels. (A poker face is not my strong suit.) I’ll spare you the details, but we ended up having ‘the talk’ after lunch and he was so kind and respectful about it - so much so that he still wanted to go through with the date. I can confidently say this is a perfect day because I spent it with someone I just broke it off with and still had the best time. Add it to your itinerary the next time you touch down in London Town.
Photo opps at the London Bridge. Commonly confused with Tower Bridge, this underrated cousin gives you a great view of Tower Bridge to take all the pics. If you don’t want to miss out on walking across the aforementioned famed bridge, then start there and then walk to London Bridge after you’ve nailed the shot.
A pint at The Barrow Boy & Banker. This pub is well known for its Gin selection but I remember it for its upbeat, chic decor/vibe. A quick pint and you’re ready to take on the day. Depending on when you’re starting your day (and If you’re not into the beer before 12pm life), head over to London Grind for a fresh coffee. Take it to go and enjoy it with the view from stop number 1.
Borough Market. Time for lunch. I could’ve visited this market every day and still not have tried every place in it (I was there for 3 months). Take a walk through and find what suits your fancy. My suggestion: Furness Food Hut - they have the best chicken curry dish you’ll ever eat and after testing the paella, you can’t really go wrong with either. (Bonus: They excitedly give samples of both.) Make sure to keep your belongings close - with so many people in a small space it’s a pick pocketer dream locale.
Ready for dessert? Without question, walk over to 3Bis Gelato. Dessert is an absolute necessity for me. The shop is in direct view of Furness Food Hut and most notably, the best gelato I’ve ever had. If it’s not your thing, you can skip this stop. The employees have heavy Italian accents, which is always comforting when ordering gelato. If you’re still not convinced, they fill the cone with a creamy layer of melted chocolate. You’re welcome.
Bonus stop: Say you’re an ice cream fan and the person or group you’re with aren’t here for it (unfortunate, but common). Have them stop at The Market Porter, the pub next door, where they can stand outside on the ledge and wait for you to acquire the goods. While you’re daydreaming of eating gelato in the streets of Italy, they can stand and enjoy a cold pint.
The Riverboat. Here’s where it gets goooood. We’re heading on public transport and it’s a treat. The Riverboat is London’s premium public transport, taking you on a “private” tour of all of London that you didn’t know you needed. Hop on at the London Bridge Pier stop and for 8 pounds, you can see Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and The London Eye up.close.and.personal. When I was in London, Big Ben was still covered in scaffolding, and will be for the foreseeable future, so this saves you from a run in with tourist central for pictures that may not be worth the trip. Truly, coast along the river with a beer (or snack.. or both) in hand and send me a DM when you’ve impressed the entire group. It still gets better though.
Battersea Power Station. The most underrated place in London might be borough of Battersea, and to be honest, I’m okay with it. I lived there for my entire 3 months and it was a dream being away from the hustle and bustle of the city and tourist traps. The Battersea Power Station is a new development, soon to be full of more shops and apartments, but right now is home to some of the greats. No matter what time you dock at this stop, you’ll have whatever you need: breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Time it right and you can hop off, head to Battersea Brewery for a pint and finish right in time for happy hour (pound oysters) at Wright Brothers. Truly, a treat. If you’d rather forego restaurant vibes, head to The General Store around the corner and stock up on picnic favorites and walk over to Battersea Park around the corner. The two together gave me a dreamy first time picnic experience, so you can’t go wrong with either option.
From here, the night is yours. Hop the bus to the other side of the river and head into Chelsea, grab an overpriced drink there to soak in the posh vibes and then jump the metro back to your place to enjoy a night on the town.
I went all over London: Shoreditch, Kings Cross, Whitechapel, Mayfair… etc. etc. This was by far one of my favorite days and you get a little taste of everything.
Other ‘Can’t Miss’ Spots in London:
Circolo Popolare - So good, I wrote a 1200 word review about it on TripAdvisor. Hands down the best Italian you may ever have in your life and the service cannot be beat. Order the churros and the £16 sundae for dessert and slap whoever objects to this fantastic idea.
Mortimer House - Stumbled upon this restaurant when I was staying in a hotel in the area and the decor alone inspired me to start planning for my future home (even when I have no idea where that will be.)
Sophie’s Steakhouse - The best chicken sandwich (ever), a wall full of plants and a speakeasy bar in the basement. What else do you need for a #vibe?
Swan - If you’re in need of a moody glass of wine by the river, do NOT sleep on this bar. It’s right next to Shakespeare’s Globe and has the most romantic glow at nighttime. I don’t know if I was just swept up by the romance of it all, but it also may have been the best glass of wine I’ve ever had.
The Anchor Pub - If you’re looking for more of a pub vibe by the river, this one is right next door. (It’s also right near the Riverboat pier station if you want to add another pint to your itinerary.) I’ve been in the dead of Winter and in the height of Summer and this bar withstands whatever weather you’re dealing with. If I had to pick a season, the rooftop deck in the Summertime can’t be beat.
Sketch - This is likely on every ‘Must See’ list on the internet, but it’s for good reason. I went in skeptical as hell that I had to pay such a pretty penny (£57 per person) for a mug of tea and some crustless sandwiches but GOOD GOD - you get unlimited of everything, can taste virtually every rose petal used to brew their tea and get serenaded by the sweet sounds of violins in real time. Truly a magical experience that I exploited the hell out of for the ‘gram.
Efes - A Turkish restaurant that I stumbled upon after finding out I was going to survive my nightmare Airbnb situation. It was the celebration I knew I needed.. and they delivered. There are two other locations in London that I can’t speak for, but head to the Whitechapel location and have some of the best bread of your life. I simply had to lift my head and someone was by my side to check to see if I needed anything else. If you’re by the financial district, this is your lunch spot.
Duck & Waffle - A smidge on the pretentious side due to their reservation policy, but if you’re all set there, you’re bound to enjoy breathtaking views of London and (again) some of the best bread in the city. (I swear I ate other things besides bread..) This could cancel out your need to pay for any of those look out points while also satisfying your hunger. A two-for-one special, as they say.
Kerb Food Markets - A phenomenal food market that has multiple locations. I became close with one of their social media managers while I was there and had my fair share of samplings and lemme tell you… these street vendors do not disappoint. I recommend the King’s Cross location so you can also check out Canopy Market (A Pie Party for dessert - you’re welcome in advance).
Gail’s Bakery - With over 50 bakeries around London, you have no excuse when it comes to stopping into Gail’s. I’ve tried most of their pastries, breakfast sandwiches, loaves of bread, coffees, porridges and I was not once disappointed. They give you a frequent customer card (a favorite perk of mine) and you never get any of those bleh ‘chainy’ vibes from any of their bakeries. Just reliable wifi, good service and better food. I was thrilled to find out they had a location right outside my front door.
Fresco Deli - The coffee in London is subpar at best. I said it and I stand by it. The coffee at Fresco Deli makes up for every bad coffee I ever tasted in London. Yes, it’s worth the trip to Battersea.
The Churchill Arms - Don’t be like me and only go here for the photo opp. The second time, I stopped in for a pint and realized how much time I had wasted without having this as my weekend go-to spot. The third time, I tried their Thai food and the only thing I can do to make up for time wasted is to let you know to go here for lunch and a pint before even thinking about just stopping by for the ‘gram.
Dishoom - The only thing I will say is this place is absolutely worth the wait in line, no matter what weather you’re facing. Bonus: They hand out the dreamiest, most delicious chai tea while you wait. I’m well aware the EDP fam are UNaware of what cheese naan is (still bitter), but order it here and you won’t be upset.