Back to London City Guide
Making my way back to London Town a second time this year alone was such a sweet retreat. There was a lot of unfinished touristy business, like searching for the best fish n' chips and finally exploring the London Bridge and its surrounding open-air markets. Then there's the fine dining scene, which was hugely uncharted the last time I was visiting. As I fill in the blanks from my first trip to London, I am delighted to put together a more concrete guide to make sure your next trip across the pond is a hospitable, architectural and gastronomic experience — brought to you by Uber, because there’s so much to see but so little time to do it all.
Where To Sleep
CitizenM Tower Hill, hands down. It's a convenient alternative with high-end hotel amenities, which puts you right by major tourist attractions. In fact, our deluxe room has a semi-panoramic view of the Tower of London and The Shard, which is essentially one of the tallest and visually-distinctive buildings in all of London. You can't miss it! This particular CitizenM location is so convenient that it actually houses the Tower Hill subway stop as well, so you are practically connected to the entire city within a matter of steps. The best part of this hotel is how it manages to delicately cater to the needs of the roving tourist and traveling business people: 1) HD versions of all the current movies are available for free for your viewing pleasure inside the rooms, 2) the breakfast buffet is so gourmet you’d skip the nearby restaurants (side note: the cafe is open 24/7, perfect for those late-night munchie moments), 3) and the lobby area is so chic and modern — it transforms into a workable coffee shop in an instant. And then there’s the legendary rooftop bar, with its own set of picturesque views and an array of respectable cocktails. If these reasons aren’t compelling enough for you to book your next stay, I can’t help you much further.
Where To Eat
Budget-Friendly - Keepers Restaurant
This hip restaurant with casual dining vibes was a no-brainer, because it wasn't too far from our hotel. Came in on the first night for some good ole fish n' chips and chowder and it blew our minds away. The fish n' chips was, by far, the best version I've had in a long while. So what makes this dish stand out? I have to say it comes down to the crispy beer batter with the fresh haddock cod underneath. Each bite was increasingly more addictive thanks to its house made tartar sauce as well.
Address: Hotel Novotel London Tower Bridge, 10 Pepys St, London EC3N 2NR, UK
High Tea - The Wolseley
Since most of you are aware of how I felt about Sketch on my last London trip, I decided to give high tea another earnest try at a different establishment. This time, we went to The Wolseley at the recommendation of an industry friend. The decor was exquisitely beautiful, along with the bustling ambience generated by the fervent conversations of local Londoners and tourists alike. While the food was a tad of a disappointment, the tea and atmosphere more than make up for it.
Address: 160 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9EB, UK
Multi-course Experience - Typing Room
I happened upon Typing Room when I was in the process of figuring out the high-end dining scene in London. The Typing Room stood out for me, because it was situated in the up and coming neighborhood of Shoreditch. The historical building its in has been fully modernized, while still retaining classic elements of its yesteryear architecture. I love the contrast in that it provides the restaurant with more character. The food, compared to other restaurants in its category, can come off as a hit or miss. The bread was probably the most outstanding dish we had, while the main dishes suffered a bit from the lack of balance and overpowering seasoning. Dessert was another high point of the meal. Because the menu changes seasonally, almost daily, it is certainly worth revisiting.
Address: Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF, UK
The Surprise Contender - Ippudo London
We pretty much stopped by Ippudo out of desperation. London is still quite cold and dreary even in May. After our Uber dropped us off in the Soho area, we were rampantly searching for options to cure our cravings for a hot heaping bowl of ramen. Ippudo did that and so much more. The shio pork ramen was fantastic as usual, but it was the A5 seared wagyu platter (with a side of chips!) that surprised us. We honestly didn’t have high hopes for the latter, but the wagyu melted in our mouths in the best way possible. It was an unexpected divine moment of gastronomy. Whether you are in the mood for ramen or not, Ippudo delivers in all instances.
Address: 3, Central Saint Giles Piazza, St Giles High St, London WC2H 8AG, UK
What To See
Touristy - London Bridge / The Big Ben / London Eye / London City Hall
Yes, these are your typical touristy destinations, but there’s so much in between and surrounding to explore. The Borough Market was a delight to walk through and doubles as an intimate glimpse into the way of life for Londoners. In addition to being a market where you can purchase fresh groceries, there are plenty of alleyway restaurants in the area to keep your appetite satiated.
Nature Stroller - Serpentine Gallery / Hyde Park
The trek to Hyde Park from where our hotel was a daunting one. Thankfully Uber made it that much easier and affordable with its fare splitting option! I have an affinity for wide open spaces: Hyde Park fits that description to the tee. It covers quite a lot of ground, while being a charming property and home to a number of cafes and even galleries. Stop by the Serpentine Gallery for to experience some modern art in the midst of this historical and beautifully manicured park.
Architectural Adventurer - The White Cube, Mason’s Yard
If you are an architecture aficionado like me, The White Cube is a must-see. There are two locations in the London metro area; it’s very easy to get to especially when both are just a short Uber ride away. The White Cube gallery in Mason’s Yard is essentially a free-standing, cubist structure with stark grey and off-white walls. It’s a minimalist dream come true. As a structure itself, it can be easily perceived as art. This location houses two underground galleries, which unfortunately were not open when we had stopped by. But that didn’t stop us from taking advantage of its architectural beauty with a brief photoshoot.
Despite the recent tragedies and political turmoil that has beset London, it remains a buzzing capital of vibrant and diverse communities and cosmopolitan charm. It is a city of history and modernity that astounds the senses, even with its perpetual gloom. It is in those rare moments of the day, when the sunlight finally comes through, that you see London is truly built on a foundation of resilience, hope and humanity. Here's to London, a city that continues to bloom and gloom against all odds. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this city guide as much fun as I had compiling it together.
A huge thanks to Uber for partnering up on this London city guide together! All words, opinions and images above are entirely my own.