By Colette Fitzpatrick
Full disclosure: I’ve never been in London and not been there for Fashion Week. However, as I go twice annually, I think I know a thing or two about the city and I make a point to do things between shows; meet friends for drinks, try cool eateries and take in some culture. So, while I’ve never spent 48 hours simply touristing in London, I still feel that I can put together a nice 48 hour guide to the city…
Where to stay?
I always stay with friends but there is endless choice in hotels and various rental options. And, of course, there is Airbnb, as well. The main thing that I would keep in mind is booking a place close to a tube station as the underground really is your best friend and the easiest way to navigate the city. Extensive and pretty easy to use, it is fast, cheap and will get you all over London.
Where to eat?
Eating is my number one priority no matter where I travel and no matter for how long I am visiting. Therefore, I do my research in advance and look forward to trying the menus that I look up and carefully examine ahead of my trip. Each time I’m in London, I try and visit different places but here are some of the best that I have ever tried.
Yori is a great Korean restaurant that has a pretty big menu of lots of different types of Korean dishes. It’s the type of place you can go with a pal and share a bunch of different items, which is always good. I can personally vouch for their rich kimchi jjigae, flavoursome pork belly bulgogi, and perfectly soft and crispy pajeon and my childhood bestie – who was being introduced to all of the above dishes for the first time – was totally into it too. A perfect place to break bread with a loved one and really share a meal together.
Post shows one day, I was wandering around Brick Lane and Shoreditch, when I stumbled upon Boxpark, a collection of shipping units that have been placed together to create a shopping centre with stores, eateries and bars. The very first of the restaurants that I spotted was Coqfighter and, though it was only lunch, twice-fried chicken and a beer sounded perfect. And I was right. It was perfect. With a menu that includes burgers, wings, baos, fries, sides and more, there is just enough variety but, really, it’s all about that chicken. The crunch of the skin is utterly satisfying, the sauce burns exactly the right amount and the prices are pretty spot-on. What more could you want?
Look, it’s a gimmick, a complete and utter gimmick but, sometimes, you have to just give into these things. Go for the novelty. Go to pay to eat cereal on a bed in a cafe. Go and admire the nostalgia-inducing toys on display. Go to try obscure, bizarre and wonderful cereals from all over the world. Or, if you simply want Coco Pops because you don’t really buy sugary cereal for yourself, do that. Don’t order a mad, pink, marshmallowy concoction that you know you probably won’t like. Overly sugary cereals are not like olives or wine, your palate won’t grow to like them. But do go, just order wisely.
This Swedish-style chain of bakeries in London is chic and produces seriously tasty cinnamon buns and is the perfect place to grab a quick pastry and tea/coffee for breakfast in the morning or between activities to restore your energy.
Another lovely bakery, with two locations in the city, these guys specialise in delicious little Insta-perfect cupcakes and also make mini versions that are a perfect little sweet treat and won’t leave you feeling ill or overly stuffed.
Where to grab a drink?
As meeting pals is one of my main engagements while in London, I always have people scheduled for evening drinks. I’ve tried plenty of fine places but the only one that lingers in the mind is Disrepute (4 Kingly St, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW, UK). The elegant decor, perfectly made cocktails, impeccable service, and relaxing atmosphere all endeared the place to me and, best of all, it isn’t somewhere that seems like it is normally overly jammed with people so you can have a civilised drink and catch-up with your companion without shouting to be heard and that’s all I really want in life. I also, between appointments and at the recommendation of a pal, went for a glass of wine on the terrace of the Rooftop St James (Trafalgar Hotel, 7th Floor, 2 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2TS, United Kingdom), which offers wonderful, twinkly views over Trafalgar Square.
Where to shop?
Selfridges (400 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB, UK) and Harrods (87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, UK) are, of course, a must, particularly the dramatic and historic interiors of Harrods. Even if you can’t really afford anything, it’s worth having a wander and both have quite nice places to grab a coffee (I recommend Aubaine’s in Selfridges and the Laduree in Harrods). For more budget-friendly shopping, the incredibly cool Hot Futures (178C Brick Ln, London E1 6SA, UK) on Brick Lane boasts a wild selection of sunglasses, some nice hats and a small vintage edit. One O Eight (Unit 16 Boxpark,, Bethnal Green Rd,, Shoreditch, London E1 6GY, United Kingdom) in Boxpark is also pretty damn awesome but a little more on the cute side with adorable socks, pretty earrings and a beautiful curation of Asian-style trends and clothes.
Where to culture?
The V&A (Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL, UK) is always a good idea and especially if their legendary fashion department have a special exhibition on; there is a reason why they are world-renowned. The Tate Modern (Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK) is also an excellent idea with lots to see and much of it free of charge, except for certain exhibitions (as is the case with the V&A). At the moment there is an exceptional showcase on display of feminist artists and another of the ouevre of American artist Jenny Holzer, which is open until the 31st of July 2019. Do yourself a favour and check it out and then pop up to the roof of the massive museum building to take in the extraordinary city views. But simply wandering around London is also a cultural pursuit in its own right. One can stumble across amazing things entirely by chance. I happened by two Banksy originals without even trying on my last visit! Oh, and a sunset along the strand is a must.
London is a city I adore but in a holiday romance kind of way. Our affairs are brief but fiery and filled with excitement and adventure. I don’t think I would ever like to live in the city but I love to visit and there is always an endless list of things to see and do. I only hope that this guide to some of the best seeing and doing I’ve done might help you out in planning a weekend in the city.
For more travel articles, check out our guide to Bath and 5 things to know before planning a trip to South Korea…