Thursday, July 6, 2017

48 Hours in London: The Ultimate Travel Guide

You may have noticed on the gram that I've been hit by the travel bug again. I've been taking my weekend escapes seriously and jetting off just about every chance I've been able to. So far this year, we've been to Palm Springs, New Orleans, LA, and of course, wine country. Not so bad for the first half the year, if I do say so myself. Now that summer is in full swing, I've got longer itineraries on my mind. Although nothing is booked yet, I'm thinking I may pull the trigger with all of these international deals. But where to? Well, for starters, the pound is at a 31-year low. Yes, 31-year low. Can you imagine how much you can save on travel to London right now? (If not, refer to this handy Brexit Calculator that Virgin put together to help you calculate your savings!) If you're itching to head across the pond, then I've got the perfect post for you. I've partnered with Virgin Atlantic to put together a handy guide for all the things to see, do and eat in London in 48 hours. Of course, if you're heading all the way over, may as well stay longer.. but just in case, here's all the musts.
Day One

First thing's first. After you've got your flights nailed down, the next most important thing to book is your hotel. Personally, I'm not one to sacrifice comfort, nor charm, so I take my hotel-hunting very seriously. I also have a personal goal to stay at all of the Ace Hotels (which you may have noticed from my travels - I've stayed at four so far!), so my first pick is the Ace in Shoreditch. I love the vibe and their beds are incredibly comfy! Whereas before Brexit a stay at a 5-star hotel may have run you nearly $10K for a week, now you can go for thousands less. Shoreditch is also a hip and happening part of London - it's full of great eats, art and music, so is a great neighborhood to stay in if you want to see something a bit different.

So, now that you've got your flight and your hotel picked out, let's get get to the fun stuff! You've just arrived at your hotel, unpacked and you're ready to get out and start exploring. First stop? Load up on the caffeine! London Grind is a buzzing espresso bar, that serves breakfast until noon. (Hey, if you're going to be walking around all day, filling up is a must.) You can sit, map out your day and routes, and head on out a happier camper after you've powered up. There are multiple Grind locations (even one in Shoreditch, so hey, near the Ace if you choose to stay there), and each has a personality of its own. Definitely worth a stop.

If you happen to have chosen the London-proper location of the Grind, then surprise! You're a-top the London Bridge. See? Two birds, one stone. If not, no worries, because again, each location is incredibly charming and has something unique in itself to see. (Kind of like the Ace... are you noticing a trend, yet?) But, if you have made it to the London Bridge location, then you've found yourself in a good spot. Literally and figuratively. You're smack dab in the middle and can choose your own adventure of sights to see. Since I'm running this particular adventure, we're now heading to Borough Market, which is just minutes away by foot. The market, is London's largest and oldest food market. You can get anything from meat and cheese to pasta and wraps. It's a great place to visit for a quick bite, or for people-watching. If you decided to simply stick with a cup of joe at Grind, then you must taste-test at the market. Do note that most vendors (like most farmer's markets) is cash-only, so make sure you have some pounds in your pocket. Being that I am of the "eat multiple meals" type, I would grab a bite regardless. Kebab, anyone?

Ah, by now you must be full, so it's definitely time to walk it off. Luckily for you, we're a minute away from the Tate Modern. The Tate is a free modern gallery, perfect for filling up on culture and history. There are certain exhibits that do require an entrance fee, but you can easily spend 1-2 hours just wandering around, taking in all the art on the other levels for free.

Of course, if you are just going for free, then you've certainly saved up your pounds for the second half of your day. Which means it must be time for dinner and drinks. Since it's day one, why not make it an official UK experience with a pint and some fish and chips, right? London's great in that you can walk into almost any pub, sit down and enjoy a drink. And of course, with the pound being so low, you can surely grab a drink on the low.

Finish off the night by taking a walk alongside the River Thame, admiring Big Ben and the London Eye. They're just as beautiful in the evening as they are during the day.

Day Two

After a restful night's sleep, it's time to tackle day two. We're heading straight into the hustle and bustle. After a few stops on the tube, we're now in Piccadilly Square. Piccadilly is a famous traffic circle in London and notable tourist destination. You're in the center of food, entertainment and shopping. Today, we're feeling more of a shopping vibe (you need souvenirs, after all), so we're walking down the street to Regent. Regent is comparable to New York's Fifth Avenue. Plenty of high-end shops for window shopping. After a quick walk down Regent, we're now headed straight to Oxford, London's most famous shopping street. Here we'll stop into Selfridges, Topshop, & Other Stories, and River Island.

With all that shopping (window, or not!), you've surely built up an appetite. So, what's London without some tasty (and I do mean tasty) Indian food. Ask any Brit and they'll tell you that you must take a seat at Roti Chai. If you've been hankering to go to London, then I am certain I am not the first to recommend this place. And, luckily for you, Roti Chai is just minutes off of Oxford, so it's convenient and tasty. Double whammy. I recommend a few sides and a few curries if there are two of you. Or one of you. You do you.

Now, since we're pretending that you're only in town for 48 hours, we have to make the last few hours before your flight count. Might as well spend the last few finishing off sight-seeing - you can take the tube down to Portobello Road to see the world's largest antique market and beautifully colored homes, you can head down to Westminster and grab a photo of you crossing the street Beatles-style, or, if you can head to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. I'll let you choose your last adventure.

Whatever you choose, it's a great time to visit London. If you don't believe me, head over the Virgin's Brexit Calculator and see what you can save on. Perhaps it will even spark some ideas for your own itinerary! Any Brits out there who think I'm missing a thing or two? Would love to hear your suggestions, too! 

As always, special thanks to the brands partnering with me to do cool things (like this post!). And shout out to you guys for supporting me and the brands I work with. Until next time!

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