You all might remember I went to London a couple of years ago with my Mum (using the British term feels apropos here) for New Years, and that kicked off the luckiest year of my life – I met my darling husband Mark that year. Turns out he’s a huge fan of English soccer so we went back together for New Years this year. I left my SLRs behind, and just took a Holga and an iPhone this time. These are my Holga shots – I’m clearly having fun with double and triple exposures. London was lovely as ever, but cold and grey in winter.
Having been a few times now, I have a couple of standout recommendations should you go:
For staying: rent a flat. I’ve booked both times through One Fine Stay and had a lovely experience. They leave you hotel linens and towels, toiletries and have a number of additional services like grocery shopping and child care.
For tea: Make yourself a reservation at Sketch London. It’s a modern/60s looking tea room with tons of David Shrigley illustrations and a bathroom not to miss (seriously). The atmosphere is modern and hip, but the tea is traditional and perfect. And comes with unlimited tea sandwiches.
For theater: We loved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Tickets are hard to come by but can be found on the secondary market. We also loved seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company perform. They were doing Much Ado About Nothing this last time, and it was performed to perfection. This former user of Cliff’s Notes to get through English was riveted.
For eating: London is interesting in that it embraces “local chain” restaurants and chefs in a way that would never fly in San Francisco. Here, even if a restaurant group owns a few restaurants, they will all have different names and concepts. There, if it’s successful, they put it in a few neighborhoods. We loved Ottolenghi’s places – we cook out of his books all the time and it was a treat to eat at the original spots, Dishoom for Indian was fantastic – note that they don’t take dinner reservations and lines can stretch for hours, but they do take lunch into “linner” – grab a 4:30 spot and enjoy a long pre-theater meal, Polpo was a wonderful casual Italian spot. We stayed in Hampstead Heath, and also loved The Wells, a charming gastropub in the neighborhood. I have to say, food in London has gotten really good and a far cry from what it used to be.
For cocktails: overall, we think London has a different palate than we do on the cocktail scene – their drinks are all a lot sweeter than I’m used to, so I don’t have a recommendation for a great drink, but for a wonderful atmosphere, The Connaght Hotel was the epitome of old London.