When planning our honeymoon, London was admittedly not the first place that came to mind. However, when the opportunity to see the Red Sox play the Yankees in London presented itself, we jumped at it. We then leaped head first into planning a two week trip to Europe. London, which we had only visited for less than 48 hours before this, was our first stop.
Leading off: We flew non-stop from Seattle to London, using Norwegian air. We left at 1PM on a Wednesday and arrived in London (Gatwick) at 7AM.
Pro tip: If you take a similar flight, be prepared to be sluggish and out of it. Most hotels will not allow you to check in until the time stated on your confirmation. The time difference can hit hard!
Touching down: We powered through and took the Thameslink train from the airport to Blackfriars, which was then about a ten minute walk to our hotel. When we arrived at our hotel just before 9AM, they gave us the good news and the bad news. The bad news was they did not have a room ready for us. The good news was that we only needed to kill 3 hours, instead of the original 5 we thought. They were kind enough to keep our bags for free.
Pro: In the heart of a less touristy area, so there is a more of a local vibe. Breakfast included.
Con: Standard hotel, not the most picturesque for honeymooners.
The Breakfast Club
Our first stop of the day was at The Breakfast Club for…breakfast! Although it was now well after the work day typically begins for us Americans, the restaurant was quite crowded. In addition, it isn’t a very big space to begin with. We snuck our way into two bar seats and ordered coffee number one. I had a classic eggs benny, while Rob tried The Club Burrito. Both were delicious. Plus the vibe is really fun.
Borough Market/ Bankside
When we were done with the meal, we still had quite a bit of time to kill, so we began to explore. We went on the hunt for coffee number two, and ended up in Borough Market. Later, we found out that the market is a popular tourist/ local attraction. Being from Seattle, this market resembled a more spread out version of Pike Place with local fruits, vegetables, fish, cheeses, and more! Lots more.
From there, we began walking down random streets to see what else this neighborhood had to offer. We ended up at yet another coffee shop, The Gentlemen Baristas, where we were able to kick our feet up before heading back to the hotel to officially check in. This two story coffee shop had a lot of seating, where you can choose between a lovely little patio outside in the sun, or inside by the window to people watch.
Following coffee number three, we checked into our room. Admittedly, we then proceeded to nap…hard, only waking up to make our tea time.
The ever-popular Sketch tea room is known for its eclectic vibe and uniqueness. The decor and ambiance was just as fun, quirky, and beautiful as photos make it look. In addition to tea, we were served a wide variety of finger sandwiches and confections. Although each serving was small, together they made for a pretty mighty meal. By the end of our time there, we were both stuffed.
Pro tip: Come hungry to tea. Each time I have done high tea, I have been offered additional sandwiches and a snack(s) to go.
Also, how could we talk about Sketch without talking about their loos…egg-loos to be exact. A stark contrast from the pink velvet room where the tea is served, the white wall bathroom is full of individual toilets and finished off with a rainbow tile ceiling. On the outside, the individual loos resemble eggs, hence the name egg-loo. On the inside, they mimic nicer versions of portable toilets. Overall, the whole experience was unlike anything I’ve ever seen or done.
Pro tip: You definitely pay are paying for the experience. So, first make sure you are up for trying new flavors, because some of their foods are just as posh as their decor. A bonus for me was trying caviar for the first time!
Despite the overly decorated inside, the street-side facade is quite unassuming. Had we not made reservations, we would not have picked it out from the hustle and bustle of the nearby in Piccadilly Circus. We walked through what felt like a true circus of motorbikes, cars, and people, near the National Portrait Gallery, and across the Golden Jubilee Bridges to get back to our hotel.
Once we were ready for more food, we walked across the street to The Prince William Henry for a true English pub type of dinner.
We went from egg-loos on day 1 to igloos on day 2. For breakfast, we enjoyed our meal from a clear surf-shack igloo at Coppa Club Tower Bridge. They update the decor according to the season, so surfer vibes made it feel like summer. It helped bring the beach to the middle of the city.
Pro tip: Make a reservation. I booked a few months in advance and breakfast was the only time available.
The food was good, the view was better, but the juice and smoothie might have been the best.
Our hotel was just across the river from the restaurant, so we chose to walk back past the Tower Bridge of London, over the Tower Bridge, and through Southwark.
After a quick pit stop at the hotel, we continued to walk. We followed Rick Steves’ Westminster walk fairly closely, which took us by the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Ministry of Defense, and ended in Trafalgar Square.
In the midst of the walk, we found the Sherlock Holmes Pub on the map. Leave it up to this bar to be nestled down a few back streets. When we got there, I was surprised to see how busy it was during the middle of the day. Obviously other folks also thought it would be a nice pit stop on a beautiful day. What made it even better was the pub staff did not care if guests took drinks (in glass) outside to enjoy the sunshine.
Fun fact: the clock tower is not actually called Big Ben, but instead Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben is the name for the several ton bell that rings inside the clock tower.
Once we hit Trafalgar Square, we spent a good portion of our time meandering through shops and stopping to admire the government buildings. Our final stop before heading back to freshen up for the evening was Milk Train. This is not only an ice cream lover’s dream, but also an Instagrammer’s dream. Being a big fan of both, I had to try their ice cream cone with all of the toppings and a cloud of cotton candy. Between the stickiness of the cotton candy and the melting ice cream, it was a lot to handle at once. But, oh so worth it!
Peggy Porschen Cake
Later that evening, we stopped in at a restaurant called The Boot and Flogger for dinner. Before we knew it, it was once again time for dessert. As if we hadn’t had enough sweetness for one day, we stopped by the ever popular and pink Peggy Porschen Cakes. They were about to close, so we had to take our treat to go. But, we found a bench near the confectionery shop and enjoyed our goodies. I snacked on a seasonal fruit tart, while Rob had a slice of raspberry cake. To top it off, we split a jam stuffed cookie. Everything was delicious!
A short walk away from the cake shop is the world famous department store, Harrods. During our last trip, we hadn’t made a point to stop in. So, this time we made sure to do just that. We paid especially close attention to the gift shop. Honestly, that was all we really needed to see because that was the only place we really spent any money.
Our last day in London was all about baseball. As mentioned, the first-ever MLB London Series was our true reason for returning to London when we did. Although the game wasn’t until later that evening, we had quite a bit we wanted to get done before the first pitch.
After eating breakfast at our hotel, we headed toward London Stadium. This is not only where the game was being played, but also the only place (that we knew of at the time) that sold official London Series merchandise. We found everything we needed (and probably much more) at the pop-up store and set out to find stop number two.
Fortunately, Truman Brewery was within walking distance of the field. Unfortunately, it was definitely not the same Truman Brewery that was hosting the MLB fan fest. Once we realized it was the wrong (very wrong) part of town, we jumped in an Uber.
Eventually, we did make it to the correct place, which was known for this event as London Yards. Since it’s days as a brewery, the building has been gutted and is now used for special events. For London Yards, there was baseball inspired VR games, batting cages, and food & beverage vendors. Plus, this was the second place we found a smaller merchandise store.
Cereal Killer Cafe
When I realized what neighborhood the actual London Yards was in, I immediately looked to see how close the building was to Cereal Killer Cafe. This cereal-inspired shop originally caught me eye on Instagram, and luckily it was less than five minutes away from Truman Brewery. As the name suggests, this restaurant sells cereal all day. But, not just any old box of cereal. Instead, they serve specialty cereals with flavored milk. For example, I had Unicorn Poop, which is “a glittery rainbow of fruity cereal and marshmallows with blue bubblegum milk.” Which, if you haven’t gathered by this point, I love my sweets. So, this hit the spot.
In addition to the crazy cereals, they also have wacky decor. Being a 90’s baby, I was immediately transported back to my childhood with the old cereal boxes, cereal toys, 90’s TV character wallpaper, and VHS tapes displayed throughout the place. Plus you’ll feel right at “home” if you are seated in the back. Your chair will be a twin size bed.
With this being the first-ever MLB game played in England, we arrived just after the gates opened to take in as much as possible. It was such a unique experience, that I wrote another blog dedicated just to my takeaways.
I still get chills thinking about listening to all of the English spectators loudly and proudly singing their national anthem. Or, when I think about the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were there for the first pitch. Personally, I hope this is something that is able to sustain itself for years to come.
And just like that, our time in London had come to an end!
Bonus: A short video of our time there.