I love London. After 5 visits, it is the European city I have visited the most (considering the fact my husband is British, this makes perfect sense). London somehow manages to feel big and small all at the same time. Go to Piccadilly Circus and you are surrounded by a big bustling city, but stroll through Notting Hill or St. John’s Wood and you feel like you are in a small community. London has so much to do and explore, and I am excited to kick off a series of posts to tell you all about my favorite things to do there.
First things first, we stayed at the Soho House in Shoreditch, and we loved it. The neighborhood is so uber trendy were we both mildly scared that we would be kicked out for not being cool enough and at the same time complete fascinated by all of vibrant street art, boutiques, and outdoor food halls.
In addition to being in a neighborhood primed for exploring, Soho House accommodations are loaded with amenities. They go above and beyond. The room had a hair straightener in addition to a hairdryer, homemade shortbread cookies (which they refreshed, and I consumed, on a daily basis), toothpaste, toothbrushes, and a full line of bath products. And that is just the room – you also get full access to the Soho House facilities which include a gym, rooftop pool, bar, and restaurants. It felt like home, but better.
Here we are enjoying happy hour beers on the rooftop. I spent 3 of our 7 days in London sick in bed with a brutal sinus infection, so this was one of the only photos of the two of us from the trip.
The photo shows the incredible view of London from the Soho Shoreditch House roof.
While in Shoreditch we discovered some incredible restaurants. My favorite was Andina, a Peruvian restaurant just beside our hotel. I had not been exposed to Peruvian food before, but instantly became a fan. The restaurant has a small plate format, which meant that we could try 5 different things – and that was the perfect amount.
We ordered the Croquetas de Maca, croquettes made with quinoa and chia and we crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and a creamy yogurt sauce. Charles loved the Ceviche Clasico, one of six on the menu. The Thick-Cut Chips with Huancaina Sauce is a fun take on a British classic with a Peruvian twist. The cheesy amarillo chili sauce was just the right balance of cheesy and spicy.
The Tacu Tacu Quechua might have been my favorite, it is a vegetarian dish made with braised eggplant, quinoa tacu tacu, and queso fresco. Tacu Tacu is basically the Peruvian version of rice and beans, but in this case the quinoa is used in place of rice, and eggplant is used instead of beans.
Our favorite pub in Shoreditch was The Owl and the Pussycat. It’s a pub with British charm and lots of personality. We hung out there eating snacks and watching the Euro Cup.
Another fun pub was called Trapeze. A funny slogan on the sign outside lured us in for happy hour at the gastropub with circus themed decor.
On our last day in London we grabbed breakfast at Dishoom before our flight. Dishoom is a Bombay style café with four locations in London. We had tried to get in for dinner on Saturday night, but the line was going down the block, so we went for breakfast instead. Dishoom is known for having one of the best breakfasts in London.
I had the Egg and Bacon Naan, which was basically a classic bacon and egg breakfast sandwich that used naan as the bread. The folded naan did a lovely job of holding the sandwich together while also soaking in the runny yolk. This is the type of thing I could eat on a daily basis.
Charles had The Big Bombay. I am going to directly quote the menu here, because it was the most beautifully written menu I have ever read,”Your plate will be laden with abundant Akuri, char-striped smoked streaky bacon from The Ginger Pig, peppery Shropshire pork sausages, masala baked beans, grilled field mushroom, grilled tomato and buttered pau buns.
We also explored Box Park, a small urban shopping center constructed out of freight shipping containers. It’s home to hair salons, manicure parlors, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and pop up activities. While we were there you could sit in beach chairs and watch Wimbledon.
Another thing we loved was all of the pubs with outdoor spaces. Shoreditch seems to be home to lots of outdoor food halls.
If you find yourself in London, I would recommend spending an evening exploring Shoreditch – even if you aren’t staying in the area, it is worth checking out. Wander around exploring the street art, stop in a pub, and grab dinner. You get a sense of how locals spend their time, and it’s a nice change of pace from the typical touristy spots.