I just spent 7 days in London and it is truly a magical place where tradition is king and the government is run by a Queen. Yes, an actual Queen. The Queen is not just a ceremonial position. She actually signs off on every bill that comes out of Parliament.
Queen Elizabeth is highly respected for her devotion to her civic duties and will be celebrating her 70th anniversary as England’s monarch – the longest any monarch has served. The celebration is called The Jubilee and takes place for 3 days beginning on Friday, June 3rd, 2022.
Because of the unusually clear skies and sunny days, I decided to make the most of London from the outdoors and by walking as much as possible. This trip recap can be used as a guide to help you plan your own vacation to London.
London’s Overall Look and Feel
There is so much to see you can get bogged down with just visiting museums, churches, and castles without getting a real sense of what life is like living in London. I chose not to go this route and did not go to Buckingham Castle, The National Gallery, or Westminster Abby. The weather was too perfect each day to spend it in dark spaces. Instead, I chose to soak up the sites, sounds, and overall feel of the city by taking advantage of all that Hyde Park has to offer, eating at high-end restaurants, taking a side trip to the English countryside, and shopping til I almost dropped.
London in 7 Days – The Look and Feel
Overall, you’ll notice from the pictures that the city is incredibly clean and well-manicured. Every home and store either has colorful blooming window boxes or pots, or both. The buildings are much lower than in US cities like NYC or Chicago, letting in more sunlight. It doesn’t have that cement feeling because trees and flowers accent virtually every street.
Day 1 of My 7 Days in London- Hyde Park
While Hyde Park is about half the size of Central Park in NYC, it feels much bigger. The formal gardens, fountains, commemorative statues, diverse walking paths, and Kensington Palace and Gardens make it feel much grander. Alongside the walking path is a bridle path for horseback riders.
Some iconic views not to miss are:
Day 2 – of My 7 Days in London – A Cruise up the Thames
This is a really great way to see London.
The West End
The West End is London’s theater and arts district. Ticket prices for shows are far more affordable than in New York City. We saw a great pop musical titled Six which is now on Broadway. It’s a must-see.
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Days 3 and 4 – of My 7 Days in London -The English Countryside
We took an overnight trip to Windsor – approximately 45 minutes west of London. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular and so was the hotel we stayed in. It’s called the Oakley Court Hotel and is a fully renovated Victorian-style mansion built in 1859. It sits on 35 acres along the Thames and is a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle.
There is a grand entrance, many sitting rooms, eating areas, and approximately 150 hotel rooms. The traditional details have been meticulously restored and is decorated with modern furnishings. It doesn’t feel old and stodgy as some of these old estates can feel.
Visiting Windsor Castle
This is a side trip worth your time – no matter how limited it may be. Windsor Castle is where the Queen spends most of her time when she is away from Buckingham Palace attending to her official duties. It is the most used palace of all.
It was built in the 11th century and has been used by the reigning monarchs since then. It is the longest-occupied palace in all of Europe. The tour takes you through all the staterooms which are bigger than any room I have ever seen and are lavishly decorated.
And every hour there is a formal ceremony for changing of the guard.
The Food Scene in London
There is a very strong pub culture that frankly surprised me. After work, people swarm the pubs and drink out on the sidewalks. Pubs are less of a bar and more of a neighborhood gathering spot. While I ate in a couple, I much preferred the more contemporary restaurants with great decor and dine where the beautiful people go.
Dinner at Fischer’s
Fischer’s has a warm ambient light with a warm cozy atmosphere. They serve Vienese (Austrian) fare and it is delectable. I had a traditional Viener Schnitzel and it was perfection
Lunch at Chiltern Firehouse
Chiltern Firehouse is both a hotel and a restaurant and is a converted firehouse. It offers indoor seating as well as a beautiful tented terrace. We ate on the terrace. The food was delicious.
The food scene includes traditional English fare. On Sundays, everyone goes to their neighborhood pub to enjoy Sundy Roast as a late lunch. This can be found in any decent pub throughout the UK.
Days 5 and 6 – of My 7 Days in London – Shopping in London
We hit 4 main shopping areas and that’s not even half of what’s available.
Selfridge’s is a unique department that is equal parts apparel, jewelry, and fragrances mixed in with entertainment, and live experiences.
Marleybone is one of the poshest residential neighborhoods in London that also includes great shopping and dining. There are a few American chain retailers like Theory and Lulemon, but we didn’t go into them. Instead, we focused on purely English brands. And we did quite well.
Notting Hill / Porto Bello Road
This neighborhood was made famous by the movie with the same name. It was once a slum inhabited by immigrants, but has been gentrified to become an affluent neighborhood that hosts an incredible amount of boutiques.
Porto Bello Road is within the confines of Notting Hill, but has its own shopping district and an open market on the weekends.
Day 7 in London
I was sad to leave but knew this was a city worth coming back to for at least another 7 days. Read about my other excursions here
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