The hubs and I recently went on an absolutely fabulous trip to London together. While it was a short trip (a long weekend, three full days and nights), we managed to do a lot and have an awesome time. Today I am sharing reviews of what we did to hopefully inspire you for your own quick, romantic London getaway.
First, some background. My husband and I have a tradition of taking an international trip together each year (without the kids). This began with our honeymoon in Thailand. We had such an incredible experience that we decided we'd always prioritize travel. In order to do that, we are always saving for our next trip, and have a practice of not getting each other big gifts for birthdays, Valentine's, anniversaries, or Christmas, as we'd rather gift each other with the experience of a trip instead. After having children, these children-free trips together became even more important to us. It is a chance, even if just once a year, for us to connect with each other as a couple and have adventures of our own. We miss the boys like crazy when we go, but cherish the time together where we are not worried about bedtime routines, restaurant meltdowns, and age restrictions.
Don't get me wrong, we absolutely love traveling with our kids too. In fact we usually do a road trip and a few long weekend getaways with the kids each year. We love experiencing travel through their eyes. This year we even brought them along on their first big international trip (to The Netherlands and Kenya), and it was awesome. But since we took the boys with us on what would have been our week-long couple's getaway, the hubs and I decided to plan a quick getaway for just the two of us. After seeing a great European flight sale a few months ago, we were able to snap up some direct flights from Texas to London at a decent price!
In addition to finding direct flights (which allowed us to maximize our time there without having to take too much time off from work), the other big reason we decided on London was the chance to see some friends of ours that live there. On our trip to Turkey and Greece last year (through Sun, Fun, You: Mediterranean Voyages; see my review here), we met some kindred souls that we connected with immediately. Katie (of Kalanchoe) and Ben (Twenty First Century Gent) became instant friends, and we were so fortunate to have them as hosts in London, sharing a bit of their fabulous little corner of the universe with us.
London ended up being the perfect destination for a romantic couple's trip.
Where to stay
We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton London Hotel - Westminster. The price was great considering the location right on the Thames, within walking distance from almost anything you'd want to do in Central London. We enjoyed the hotel's complimentary breakfast each morning, as well as the hotel's Millbank Lounge each night. The service was friendly, and the rooms were comfortable.
Food and drink
We had some incredible dining in London. Since dining is half the fun of travel for me, this was a prerequisite that was happily met.
How lovely is this rose latte from Farm Girl Café on Portobello in Notting Hill? We had a tasty brunch there as well.
We went on a mission to find great fish and chips, and struck gold with Rock and Sole Plaice. In addition to being famous for its fish and chips, the restaurant also has a long history, being founded in 1871.
Katie and Ben introduced us to LIMA Floral in Covent Garden one night.
LIMA Floral is a Peruvian restaurant that delights all of the senses, with ceviche as good as I've had since our trip to Peru a few years ago.
The most romantic meal we had while in London is courtesy of my husband's own research. I am usually the planner, but was feeling lazy on our final evening in London. I am grateful that he convinced me to go out one more time and try Rules.
Rules, London's oldest restaurant, had a fantastic ambiance. Before grabbing dinner, we had some cocktails in their upstairs lounge. My husband says it was "the best measured Old Fashioned" he's had in his life. When our table was ready in the dining room, it was worth the wait. We had the Rib of Beef for Two, which was served with dauphinoise potatoes, spinach, and (my favorite) Yorkshire Pudding. Bonus for my fellow Downton Abbey fans: the restaurant was featured in a few episodes of the show!
In the evenings we also found ourselves trying out some local pubs. Always a good time, and always good conversations. What amazed me, however, was how old some of these pubs and the buildings they were in were. As Ben pointed out, some of the buildings were older than our entire country (the U.S.). Insert shocked emoji.
Another of my favorite dining experiences of the weekend was afternoon tea at Dalloway Terrace, but more on that below.
Things to do
Being a big city, there are all types of entertainment options in London. Only having a few days, we decided to mostly just explore and do whatever tickled our fancy at the time while prioritizing a few different historical attractions.
We continued shopping a bit as we walked towards our bus stop to catch a double-decker to the Oxford Street and SoHo area. It was on this walk that I had a shopping score that alone would have made the trip worth it. Katie and I spotted some gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana pumps in the window of a designer consignment store, so we decided to pop in while the boys decided to grab a pint at the pub across the street. This shop was wall-to-wall, impeccable resale designer accessories. I happened upon the perfect pair of black patent leather Christian Louboutins, which just happened to be in my size. Oh, and they were only 180 pounds! I just had to adopt them. The quality was still exquisite (as this shop has high standards for the quality of the items they sell), and price plus my plane ticket would have equaled the original retail price. SCORE!
As I mentioned earlier, we went to afternoon tea at Dalloway Terrace. Katie and Ben introduced us to this gem of a restaurant in Bloomsbury, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. We lounged for hours, both on the outside terrace for tea service, then inside at the indoor lounge.
Every course for tea was just as good as the one before. I can't recommend Dalloway Terrace enough.
I don't know why afternoon tea is not a bigger thing in the U.S. I could do this every weekend!
Being that we were staying so close to so many tourist attractions in Westminster, it was easy for us to spend some time just touristing. We walked by Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Parliament, and also strolled along the Thames.
It was so great to see this girl again! Katie - my blonde long-lost sister across the pond!
We also did a few tours. The first was a visit to the Tower of London.
Royal Guard protecting the entrance of the Crown Jewels display.
I was just awestruck by the Crown Jewels. It took my breath away looking at these priceless pieces of history, and I had to keep myself from drooling over all the giant diamonds!
The Tower Bridge as seen from the Tower of London.
We also had a chance to tour Buckingham Palace.
We couldn't take photos inside of the palace, but we did get to see the state rooms and a collection of The Queen's wardrobe as part of an exhibit in honor of her 90th birthday.
As I said earlier, we also spent a lot of time just walking around and exploring. We walked around South Bank, Covent Gardens, SoHo, and Trafalgar Square during different points of the weekend.
A skateboarding park in South Bank.
Ben showing Nik some art he participated in creating.
Me having an Eat Pray Love moment with some gelato in Trafalgar Square.
One of my favorite moments of the weekend was when Katie and Ben took us to their neck of the woods in North London near their place in Belsize Park. Before we retired for the night we walked up to the top of Primrose Hill.
At Primrose Hill we had the most stunning view of the city, and I felt that I was in one of those profound moments of appreciation for where I was in the world at that moment of life, and who I was spending that moment with.
While I know it sounds crazy to go so far for only a few days, we really had the most perfect, fabulous weekend. It was everything we needed and hoped for, and I hope you're not afraid to give a whirlwind weekend like this a try for yourself if you need a romantic getaway. We will be back to London again before long, I am sure, and look forward to spending more time exploring, and getting to show the kiddos someday.
If you are curious to know more about my outfits, stay tuned for Friday's post, where I'll post details on my style from the London trip. In the meantime, you can see a preview of some of the looks on Instagram (@fabeverydayblog).