While we love spending time in the countryside here in England, we also love being in the city. This week I headed into London and found myself in a mini school reunion.
My old school friends share my love of travel and are now living across the world. One of my best friends now calls London home and I look forward to catching up with her every time I’m here.
Serendipitously, my now-Toronto-based bestie is in London for work. The last time we were all together was at my wedding so it’s time for a reunion. We’ve decided that school reunions are overrated and that organising your own friend-reunions are much more fun.
Read on below for some tips on what to do in London that I picked up on this trip.
British Summer Essentials
Summer is finally here in the UK! So much so that I had to go and buy a bigger sunhat. I picked this wide-brim hat while I was up on the high street on sale from H&M.
We’ve also both been wearing these new Tom Ford sunnies thanks to Vision Direct. Jim’s are the Andy frames and I love my Anoushkas.
Where to find good coffee in London
British coffee has improved immensely but we’re still putting up with some very bad attempts at flat whites and crunchy cappuccinos. But when you’ve got three Australians together in London, we won’t settle and so we found the Espresso Room in Holborn.
Here you can get a real flat white, filter or cold drip coffee. Plus they offer a good range of alternative milks if that’s your thing.
Sir John Soane Museum
After recharging we head to the Sir John Soane Museum in Holborn. Sir John Soane was an architect who lived in London over the start of the 19th Century and his home was set up as an exhibition and education space during his life.
Students from the Royal Academy would come into his home to learn and observe the collection. His obsession for so many different periods of architecture and history makes his home one of the most interesting spaces I’ve ever been in.
Entrance to the museum is free though I would recommend joining a guided tour so you’ll able to see more of the artworks that are only available at certain times of the day. Unfortunately, I can’t share any images as they make you switch off your phone before entering and there’s a strict no camera policy.
Where to eat an amazing British pie
A short stroll from the Sir John Soane museum is the Holborn Dining Room. Its pie room is renowned and the pastries did not disappoint.
This classic brasserie is located inside the Rosewood Hotel and serves up a great Sunday roast too.
I had my eye on the potato, comté and caramelised onion pie but as it was decided to share this one, I went for the steak tartare which was served with a generous salad and delicious crispbreads. The curried mutton pie was also a hit.
We also sampled their cocktail list and I was impressed with their specialist gin and tonic range. I only feel bad that Jim wasn’t there to experience it with me, but it’s a very good excuse for us to go back soon.
Where to eat a great pizza in London
London has no shortage of great restaurants but finding them when you’re near touristy spots is really difficult. Just off Trafalgar Square you’ll find one of the best pizza restaurants in London – 50 Kalo di Ciro Salvo.
We were tipped off to this place by an Italian, so we felt pretty confident going in. But he’d only given us vague directions and we forgot the name. If we’d thought about it, I would have realised that Ciro Salvo is a famous master pizza-maker from Naples.
The pizza list is much longer than I expect for an Italian pizzeria but the range is fantastic. You’ll also find a select list of Italian craft beers too.
Prices are super reasonable for central London and I’d put this as a top bargain eat for this part of the tourist trail in the City.
Tips for traveling by train to London
Flights to Europe can be cheaper than taking a train to London.
From our town, only an hour away, it can cost £50 to take a train to central London. But we’ve found the trick is to purchase tickets online at least a day in advance. You have to specify your train, which isn’t great for spontaneous travellers like us, but it can be a significant saving.
If buying on the day, ask about couples or group discounts too as they’re not clearly advertised. Groups are only 3 or more people and you can save around 25% on your journey.
Since we last visited, it’s now possible to use your credit card to tap on to catch the Underground as well. This is perfect if, like us, you forget to bring your Oyster cards with you.
In London one of my favourite things to do on every trip is just to wander through the parks. It’s amazing the difference green space makes in calming all the people and creating a really good energy in the city.
My friend lives a stone’s throw from Hyde Park and by chance, we found ourselves over near Buckingham Palace just in time to see the horse guards passing.
The weather doesn’t look that sunny in some of these pics but we’re having a great British summer. London is blooming and there are flowers all over the city.
Every time I’m back in London I think about bringing my sister over with me. She’s terrified of flying and it breaks my heart because I know she is missing out on so many things she would love. I can’t wait to bring her here and Mary, if you are reading this, know that I am going to bring you here with me one day.
The rest of our week here feels like we’ve just transported our life from Sydney to the other side of the world. We’re cooking dinner, we’re playing with our friends’ dogs, we’re working on our laptops – it’s just that the weather is a lot better than Sydney right now.
Nothing beats these long days and BBQs that stretch into the evening. I’m so grateful to be missing out on the Sydney winter and spending it here with good friends.
My favourite thing about how we travel is that home never feels that far away when you’ve got a friend.