I’m willing to bet that most of us have a pretty long bucket list when it comes to visiting London. The city is huge, vibrant and full of exciting things to experience. Given that I probably won’t be travelling abroad this year (cue the smallest violin in the world), I figured that I would make the most of my time on home soil and explore some places nearer to me. I think we are so set on seeking the sun overseas that we often overlook what is right on our doorstep, and the UK has some amazing locations which are well worth the trip. I’ve been lucky enough to get to London three times so far this year, and when I travelled to the Eco Tools Spring/Summer launch had a full day in the big smoke solo before the event got underway. After much research, I decided to steer clear of the bigger tourist attractions and head to some of the city’s ‘hidden gems’. If you’re planning a little jaunt to London, these are a few things worth adding to your itinerary.
First stop was quite possibly the cutest little cafe I have ever set foot in. I was introduced to the adorable Peggy Porschen through VV Nightingale’s equally adorable Instagram account. Situated in the stunning Belgravia area of London, this is a girly girl’s dream come true. Pastel pink exteriors with seasonal flower displays adorning the windows, outside seating for when the weather plays ball and of course, the most delicious selection of cupcakes. Kate Spade were onto a winner when they said ‘Eat Cake For Breakfast’. I went for the Strawberry and Champagne option with a side serving of cappuccino to give me life after the long drive, and a seat in the sunshine. Each bite was mouth-wateringly good, and the perfect accompaniment to a spot of people watching. Inside, the parlour boasts the same feminine style of decor, with shelves stacked full of goodies for sale. Bakery books, pretty little cake stands, an array of different teas and even bottles of pink champagne. If I wasn’t driving, and it wasn’t 10.30 in the morning, I would have happily washed my cupcake down with some bubbles!
Notting Hill And Chelsea
From there, you are a short tube ride away from Notting Hill and Chelsea. I recommend taking a stroll around the streets to walk off that cake, whilst taking in the sights. It is without doubt one of my favourite areas of London, with it’s relaxed atmosphere and picturesque streets. There’s everything from the infamous Portobello Market, quaint little book shops (obviously, because ‘I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy’…you know the rest), the Biscuiteers base and an Instagram-worthy street every corner you turn. If colourful houses are your thing, head on over to Bywater Street or Saint Lukes Mews for those all important shots. There’s always a real hustle and bustle around these areas; I plan on returning to spend a full day rifling through the vintage treasures and snapping the street art before the year is out.
Kensington Roof Garden
Hop on the tube to Kensington, and hard as it may be to by-pass the high street (oh hello Space NK, Reiss, MAC, Guru Make Up Emporium and Oliver Bonas) you need to head straight for the Roof Gardens. This hidden gem is a real blink and you’ll miss it fixture – you have to enter via a lift in a pretty standard, for Kensington, building. You need ID to enter, so make sure you are carrying your passport or drivers licence as it would be a shame to be turned away. Up on the top of the building is a magical open space which transports you worlds away from the rushed London life. There are flamingos strutting their stuff around the ‘English Woodland’ section of the gardens, against a backdrop of trickling brooks, beautiful blooms and Mulberry trees. Wander through a set of romantic stone arches and enter the Tudor gardens, complete with greenery that would have thrived in Tudor England enclosed within classic red brick walls. My favourite part had to be the Spanish gardens, where you may as well be sunning yourself in the Mediterranean. A mixture of bright pops of colour, a series of pink terraces and a choice of comfy sofas, basket chairs or sun drenched benches to sip your cocktails in comfort from. Although I didn’t eat there, I did pass through the Babylon restaurant, which boasts amazing views of the London skyline and seasonal British menus.
Given that I managed to avoid the temptation to shop, I thought it would be the perfect way to end the day to have a little mooch. There are so many places to choose from – Harrods, Oxford Street, Mayfair for window shopping at Tiffany’s (a girl can dream) – but the store I made a bee line for isn’t exactly little known. Of course, it had to be Liberty. Six floors of lavish fashion, beauty, homewares and accessories in such a stunning building. The iconic, outdoor flower display alone is worth the visit and is well publicised on Instagram. Walking into the beauty halls is like walking into my own personal heaven. Aesop, Bella Freud, Diptyque, Hourglass…a beauty addicts dream. You can get up close and personal with a pair of Valentino Rock Studs or an Anya Hindmarch Smiley Cross Body Bag, and as much high fashion as your heart desires in the middle floors, and fantasise about creating your Pinterest-perfect home on the upper levels. Even if you aren’t planning to get spendy, a couple of hours in Liberty will have lusting after the luxury lifestyle that comes alive within its walls.
Have you been to the big city before? What are your favourite places to visit? I’d love to discover some more places out of the tourist spotlight next time I go to London, so leave any recommendations in the comments!