My London Luxury Travel Guide will help you find the best things to eat, see, and do in the city, while ensuring that you know how to travel the city conveniently and safely. Discover Michelin Star restaurants, stunning luxury hotels, fantastic museums, gardens, and architecture, and so much more. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comment section below, and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.
A Brief History of London
From iconic red phone booths to “Big Ben” and Buckingham Palace, London is one of the world’s most iconic cities. London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, and is the United Kingdom’s largest city. Technically ruled by a monarchy, the British Royal Family, London has long been an important city for trade, scientific development and industrial revolution, politics and diplomacy, and it’s one of the most powerful cities in the world to this day.
Heavily devastated during the fire bombing and multiple attacks during World War II, London has been built and rebuilt over throughout the ages and still stands strong in a world that is moving away from tradition and monarchies and towards democracy, diversity, and a dynamic, shared history of triumphs and tribulations. Read on to discover the full London Luxury Travel Guide.
When to Visit
London is beautiful all year long, but the city’s gardens, which grace nearly every building in some way, shape, or form are at their peak from May to July. This is also when temperatures are warmest, and the weather is the most pleasant. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, which brings warm air and prevents the city from being as cold as its counterparts on the North American continent, London is generally much more comfortable in the cooler months as well, meaning there’s never a bad time to visit this beautiful urban paradise.
How to Get to London & Getting Around the City
As one of the most frequently visited cities in the world, reaching London is very simple. Fly into either Gatwick or Heathrow airport from any major city in the world, or take a train into London’s King’s Cross station that services much of the United Kingdom. Driving or taking a bus via the “Chunnel” from mainland Europe is also an exciting option that offers travelers a unique and interesting perspective of the United Kingdom, and London.
Once in London, buy an Oyster card from any major rail station or airport kiosk and load this pre-paid travel card up to take the red city buses or underground, commonly called The Tube, practically anywhere you could want to go in the city. During the entire week we traveled around London, we each spent roughly £50 with our Oyster cards, which made traveling so simple and convenient. Simply tap the card at the front of the bus or the gate of underground, continue to your destination, and then tap out at the back of the bus or the subway exit and your card will automatically be debited. It wasn’t the most elegant way to travel, but it was surprisingly comfortable and extremely convenient and authentic, so I decided to include it in this London Luxury Travel Guide for your consideration.
There are kiosks inside any train or underground station that allow you to check the balance of your card or “top up” your card and add more funds to it via credit card or cash. It’s seriously so convenient!
Taxis and ride sharing services are also available in London, but can be costly. Unless you’re familiar with driving on the left side of the road, driving in heavy stop and go traffic, and driving a manual vehicle, I don’t recommend renting a car as it’s nerve wracking even for experienced drivers, very expensive, and parking is hard to come by in the city.
Walking is of course always a great option as well, just much slower if you want to go form one neighborhood to another.
Where to Stay
We loved our stay at the 5-star Kensington Hotel in the fashionable South Kensington neighborhood of London. It was a beautiful place to stay, convenient located near many of the major attractions we wanted to see, but still quiet at night and very relaxed yet elegant. It was just a block away from the South Kensington underground station, which made traversing the city and heading to places like Kew Gardens or The Ivy Chelsea a breeze. Read the full hotel review here.
Other beautiful 5-star hotels like Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London, Corinthia Hotel London, The Dorchester, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, and Rosewood London are gorgeous luxury accommodations fit for any king or queen. In fact, royal families from around the world frequent these six hotels, so of course I couldn’t exclude them from my London Luxury Travel Guide.
What to Do
A person could live in London their entire life and never do everything the city has to offer. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting places in the world, because if you can dream it up, chances are high that you’ll find it in London. Below are some of our favorite things to do in London, in no particular order.
Enjoy afternoon tea in the city at Ting Restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel, The Ritz Carlton Hotel, or at The Kensington Hotel
Have a pint at a British pub, we recommend Churchill Arms or Zetland Arms pub
Head to the Sky Garden Observation Deck
Ride a Boat down the River Thames
Ride a red double decker bus
Ride the London Eye Ferris wheel
Stroll through Hyde Park, or bring a picnic lunch to enjoy there
Stroll through Kensington Park
Stroll through St. James Park & Gardens
Tour Buckingham Palace in the summer while the queen is away (no photography is allowed inside)
Visit Big Ben (under construction until 2021)
Visit the colorful buildings of Notting Hill
Visit Kew Royal Botanic Garden
Visit Platform 9&3/4 from Harry Potter at King’s Cross Station
Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum
Walk the Princess Diana Memorial Walk
Walk the Tower Bridge
Watch tennis at Wimbledon
Where to Eat
London is home to 69 Michelin Star restaurants, including famous British chef Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant “Gordon Ramsey” which has held three Michelin Stars, the highest possible ranking, since 2001. In addition to this astonishing amount of Michelin Star restaurants, London is home to a plethora of vegan, gluten free, halal, and exotic eateries with cuisine inspired by the global residents of London, an increasingly international metropolis. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in London as part of my London Luxury Travel Guide.
Chuc’s Café, South Kensington
Casual English food, their breakfast is a great way to start the day, and there are plenty of options for those with special dietary needs.
Daiquise Polish Restaurant, South Kensington
This Polish restaurant was one of our favorite places to eat in all of the United Kingdom. The food here had so much flavor, which was a welcome relief compared to some of the disturbingly bland English food we had at places that were excluded from this list. The mixed salad with fennel & orange, and the potato and onion dumplings were simply delectable, and the atmosphere was surprisingly romantic, making it the perfect spot for an intimate dinner.
Dozo Japanese Restaurant, South Kensington
A beautiful Japanese restaurant, located near the South Kensington Station. Intimate private dining downstairs, with indoor water features, and English takes on Japanese traditional cuisine. The waitstaff here were very kind and happy to practice Japanese with us!
Le Gavrouche, 3 Michelin Stars
This beautiful, French restaurant has an entire tasting menu dedicated to vegetarians, which made it simply irresistible to us. The plating and presentation is brilliant, and the atmosphere is fun and laid back, yet elegantly unassuming.
Ikoyi, St. James Markets, 1 Michelin Star
This beautiful restaurant exists due in part to a number of collaborations between potters, extremely talented chefs, and design experts. If you’re looking to try something completely new in London, head to Ikoyi. We recommend the blind tasting menu, but if you need exceptions made for allergies or dietary restrictions, you’ll need to call ahead as they don’t offer an a la carte menu.
Itadakizen Vegan & Organic Sushi
Europe’s very first organic, vegan Japanese restaurant, Itdakizen was a place my husband surprised me by planning this stop without telling me. I LOVE Japanese food (if you hadn’t noticed by the fact that half of my food recommendations are Japanese restaurants), so believe me when I tell you this place was amazing. I recommend making a reservation, because it’s very small and fills up quickly, but even if you aren’t vegan, this place is absolutely worth a stop!
The Ivy, Chelsea
Situated inside a gorgeous orangery, and boasting a large and inviting garden patio, The Ivy Chelsea is a delightful spot to grab brunch, lunch, or dinner with friends or loved ones. Everything we had was delightful, and there were plenty of options for vegetarians.
The Kew Greenhouse Café, Surrey
This beautiful greenhouse/café is located just outside the Kew Gardens station stop, and is not connected to the gardens, but they served up tasty café style food, and had lots of delightful gluten free options, making it the perfect place to stop on our way back from the gardens.
Kitchen Table, 2 Michelin Stars
Only 20 seats fill this small restaurant, but with such an intimate settings comes the opportunity to learn from the chefs, interacting with them as they prepare multiple courses from a set menu that changes daily. If you’re up for something new and interesting, head here.
Le Pain Quotidien, Chelsea
This brunch spot was a beautiful way to start our day, and despite being called “The Daily Bread”, they had lots of gluten free and light, fruit laden vegan options, which was a delightful and refreshing way to start our day before heading to Kew Gardens.
Located just around the corner from the Tower Bridge, Zen Café is a sweet, and tranquil Japanese style café serving Japanese pastries, teas, and coffees.
Other Cities Near London
Edinburgh is a 4 hour train ride away, making it the perfect weekend destination from London. It is also one of my favorite places I’ve ever been!
Safety in London
We never once felt unsafe in London, although admittedly we did stick primarily to Chelsea and South Kensington after dark, which are notoriously safe. It was eerie how early the streets cleared out. I remember one night we were walking back from Itadakizen near King’s Cross Station heading back towards The Kensington Hotel just after sunset, and for several blocks we didn’t see another single solitary soul. We worried perhaps that others knew something we didn’t, but we didn’t have any troubles whatsoever.
Just like in any large city, when traveling around it’s always best to keep any valuables securely stored in inner pockets, and keep handbags in front of your body in large crowds. Be aware of your surroundings, and use common sense and you shouldn’t have any troubles.
Follow Me for More: @AnnieFairfax
See More by Annie Fairfax
Amusement Parks | Castles | Festivals | Fine Dining | Gardens | Golf Courses | Hotels & Resorts | Museums | Spas | Style | Temples & Shrines | UNESCO World Heritage Sites |
Baden-Baden | Bay Harbor | Bay View | Berlin | Beverly Hills | Black Forest | Carmel | Chicago | Cincinnati | Colmar | Disneyland | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Grand Rapids | Greenland | Hakone | Harbor Springs| Heidelberg | Holland | Indianapolis | Irvine | Isle of Skye | Kurokawa Onsen | Kyoto | Laguna Beach | Loch Ness | London | Los Angeles | Mackinac Island | Mexico City | Nara | New Orleans | New York City | Niagara Falls | Nikko | Northern Michigan | Osaka | Petoskey | Querétaro | Riviera Maya | Rome | Tokyo | Tokyo DisneySea | Toronto | Traverse City | Tucson | Tulum | Vatican City | Venice | Warsaw | West Hollywood |
Hillary Conheady says
I wish I had this travel guide when I went to London! Definitely saving this for a future trip!
What an awesome compliment, thank you! I’m so glad you think it would have been useful! Do you have plans to go back soon?
I’ve always wanted to go to London and this guide is soooo helpful! You always have the best travel guides. I am so surprised that the streets cleared out so early!
Aww, thank you so much! You just made my day! I hope you get to visit soon, it’s such a fun city, and there’s always something fun happening no matter what you’re into! It was surprising to us too, but I was really thankful I could get clean photographs haha
I still have yet to visit London and I really need to! The city sounds so amazing, and your guide is awesome!
Thank you so much! I hope everyone visits at least once in their lifetime!
I’ve always wanted to travel to London. I will use this guide when I plan a trip! Thanks for posting!
London is an amazing city for sure, I hope you visit soon! It’s especially beautiful in the summer time when all of the flowers and trees are in full bloom!
London is my favorite city. I love it there. And this is such a great guide. I used to work around the corner from The Kensington back in the day.
How cool! What was it like living in London?
I loved visiting London! The Queen had a dress display up at Buckingham Palace when we were there last. it was incredible!
Oh wow, I would have loved to have seen that! It sounds absolutely amazing!
I have yet to travel to London and I’m dying to go! Maybe for my birthday in April I’ll finally cross the destination off my list!
A birthday trip to London would be absolutely amazing, you should absolutely go!
Candace Hampton says
London is iconic for sure! There’s always something fun to do in London. It’s a never ending learning experience.
Yes! Iconic is such a great way to describe it! I think a person could live here for an entire lifetime and not see everything there is to see!
London is my favorite city in the world. This post is making me want to go back so badly!
It quickly became one of my favorite cities as well! I hope you get to return soon!
This guide hits all the high points of London! I’m so jealous that you stayed in the Kensington, what an amazing hotel!! Reading your review of it next.
Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment! It was such a beautiful hotel, I highly recommend it!
Laura R says
I couldn’t love this more! I’ve been dying to go to London!
London is SUCH an amazing city! I loved it, there was so much to do here!
Were the people nice? I’ve heard mixed things…
Annie Fairfax says
Yes! Everyone in England was very kind and polite to us. We didn’t encounter a single rude person. I’ve heard that stereotype too, and in my experience it’s totally false.
Larissa Page says
I’ve always wanted to go to London! Thanks for the travel guide!
Sophie Eppolito says
I’m thinking of going to London this month! (Studying in Dublin so it’s not a far flight) This is super helpful- thank you!
Nick Meyer says
The train from London to Edinburgh was amazing with the scenery!
Megan Sturm says
We lived in London for a few months and I miss it every single day. Thanks for sharing your awesome finds!
Lisa Yeadon Riley says
We are going in September, so this is great information.