72 hours in London is definitely not enough time to become an expert, but it was the perfect amount of time to fall in love with one of the world’s great cities through this can’t miss London City Guide.
Since this was my first time to London, I wanted to get an overall feel for the city without trying to cram too much into each day.
Even with the limited time, we managed to see most of the major sites, explore a few iconic neighborhoods and get a taste of the local dining and cocktail scene.
London City Guide
When we originally started planning our trip, we wanted to stay near Michael’s cousin and The Corus Hotel Hyde Park is just a few minute walk from his flat. Even without that connection, the location is ideal for exploring London’s great neighborhood scene.
It’s situated right across the street from Hyde Park (which means morning runs could lead you by Kensington Palace, Prince Albert Hall, or Buckingham Palace) and is close walking distance to Notting Hill, Chelsea, Kensington and Belgravia.
This is a mid-range option that you will be more than happy with. Looking to splurge? Check out The Kensington for some more upscale digs with more amenities.
Dotted with some really cute shops (some known, some not), homes with pastel fronts, and lots of cafés, Notting Hill is the perfect location to grab a coffee and some breakfast.
We chose Granger & Co., an Aussie take on comfort food, and were not disappointed. The warm space is bright, comfortable, and always packed (especially on weekends).
They are known for their ricotta hotcakes (and for good reason). Fluffy, slightly sweet, and the perfect indulgence. We paired these with an açai bowl for a healthier option but if I had to do it again I wouldn’t share!
Other standouts in the Notting Hill/Portobello Road area are Farm Girl Café and Biscuiteers for a sweet treat (and a photo op!)
There’s no shortage of places where you can grab a pint, some fish and chips or a steak and ale pie, but if you want to pretend you’re in Paris for the afternoon head over to the Mayfair neighborhood and grab an outside table at La Petite Maison.
Order a bottle of white burgundy, the burrata starter, and the lamb chop and let the afternoon melt away.
If you are on the hunt for healthier fare, head to Farmacy in Notting Hill which focuses on vegan and vegetarian dishes.
The stretch of King Road from Chelsea to Sloane Square is some of the best in London. Reward yourself for showing restraint (or celebrate that new purchase) with a cocktail at The Botanist.
House made shrubs, smoked ice, and other modern riffs on classic cocktails are worth the trip, but the location bordering Sloane Square and the bustling scene around the fountain in the center of it all makes this an absolute must.
If you’re staying near Kensington and want to escape the hustle and bustle that is the area surrounding Harrod’s, I would pop into Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental.
Sit at the bar, enjoy the warm gougères placed in front of you, and enjoy a glass of wine or perfectly crafted martini. If you’re hungry, share one of Chef Daniel Boulud’s takes on the hamburger. They’re worth every calorie.
Normally, we would pick a special spot for a really nice dinner when we travel to a new city. This time, we skipped the higher end of the spectrum since we are on a travel budget and opted for longer, leisurely lunches or small plates during happy hour at night.
We liked The Marketplace Restaurant at Chelsea Farmer’s Market for 2-for-1 glasses of wine and the dukkah-spiced hummus or The Shed in Notting Hill for small plates on their seasonally-changing menu.
The best-part: wool tartan blankets at your seat for when the sun goes down and it starts to cool off.
We like to start every day with coffee and our favorite spot turned out to be Lido Café across from The Serpentine. You can watch the swans, swimmers, and paddle boats share the waterway or take it to-go and wander around the Queen’s Rose Garden on your way through the park.
If you’re interested in a proper afternoon tea, check out Sketch or The Orangery. For a touch of royal treatment, The Orangery is an open air patio facing Kensington Palace and Gardens. They serve a full afternoon tea.
For something a little more hip, try Sketch. Pink velvet chairs, artwork-adorned walls, and a full assortment of afternoon tea experiences abound, champagne optional.
Sure it’s touristy, but booking one of the hop on/off bus tours is one of the most convenient ways of seeing the major sites, learning some interesting facts along the way, and gaining familiarity of where the neighborhoods are located and which you may want to explore later.
Ours included a short cruise down the River Thames from the Tower of London to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. You can book an English-only tour which gives you a live guide, but we found the multi-language bus (with headphones) gives much more info about what you’re seeing.
When you see an area or place you want to see more of, just hop off and explore. Buses come by every fifteen minutes.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit Tate Modern but I am definitely adding it to my list for my next trip to London.
Saying Harrod’s is a department store is like saying that a cruise ship is a boat. While technically true, it doesn’t really do it justice.
Floor after floor, and room after room, is filled with every designer you can think of and more. Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, and Hermès are just the start.
You’ll find seemingly whole collections divided into their respective categories across multiple floors. It’s amazing and bewildering at the same time.
Knowing my backpack was at its limits kept me in check, but I can’t guarantee the same for you. Even if you’re not looking for clothing, Harrod’s delivers when it comes to gourmet food options too.
Their “food court” puts all others to shame as you’ll just as easily find Ladurée macarons next to a champagne and caviar bar as you are to find a steakhouse next to high end chocolates. Explore at your own risk!
Even if you don’t make it to one of the iconic department stores (Selfridge’s and Harvey Nichols are other options similar to Harrod’s) you won’t be lacking in high-end shopping options.
We came across Chanel, Dior, and Hermès in multiple neighborhoods but there are lower-priced recognizable brand stores in almost every neighborhood you walk through.
Our favorite was Sloane Square, but don’t take my word for it. Check them all out!
Since I know this is a city I will visit again, please let me know if you have any suggestions to add to my London City Guide!
And make sure to follow our entire Round the World trip on the blog and Instagram!