A trip to London can bring two different and competing views of the holiday: the first, a vision inspired by royalty, with high tea parties, shopping at Selfridges, and pictures outside Kensington Palace, and the second somewhere grungier, filled with Smokey Camden bars and vinyl buy Soho. Why not do both? At ELLE Escapes, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite spots to make the most of your trip across the pond. London Calling – here’s where to eat, drink, stay, and shop when you answer.
Things to See
In 2000, the Swedish super band ABBA turned down $1 billion to get back together. Now, thanks to the advent of technology, you can see them reconnecting… sort of. ABBA Voyage is a first-of-its-kind show featuring members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad performing digitally with a 10-piece band at the ABBA Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is more of a reality than anything else.
There’s a reason why London’s Hyde Park is always on the list of top places to buy. Especially in summer when it rains, the 350-acre royal park is perfect for a picnic or a walk with tea to go. If it’s good enough Kate Middletonit is good enough for every guest.
Annie’s Ibiza is the perfect place to score that last minute outfit you’ll wear again and again. The store sells high-end clothing and accessories from new and up-and-coming designers along with vintage pieces.
Where to Eat
Tea Lounge at the Biltmore Mayfair
If you’re looking for a casual tea, The Biltmore Mayfair’s Tea Lounge is your best bet. With a menu created by Michelin star chef Jason Atherton, there’s everything from tea sandwiches to scones and sweets (tarts, sponge cake…you name it). Skip the option that comes with a glass of champagne for an extra 15 pounds. You deserve it.
When it comes to British dining culture, it doesn’t get more famous than The Wolseley. Located on Piccadilly, the interior is superb from the 1920s when the building was a showroom for the now-defunct Wolseley Motors, and later a bank. More than a nice place to stay, you have a great breakfast, including the best pancakes with fruit.
Grill at The Dorchester
Your cooking isn’t complete without a Sunday Roast. For that and more, try The Grill at The Dorchester, a legendary restaurant that first opened its doors in 1931. Expect contemporary fare with premium fare – including but not limited to a carving trolley. (We’re spitting too.)
Where to Drink
Located in a firehouse, the bar at Chiltern Firehouse feels like your grainy, homey friend—the vibe invites you to a Williamsburg loft—but like, in a good way. The airy space has floor-to-ceiling windows, tons of greenery, and the perfect floral seating for tea or cocktails – your choice. If you want to keep the party going, try popping into the Ladder Shed bar after the after-hours parties.
Mercato Metropolitano Mayfair
Housed in an old church (complete with altar, stained glass, and all), this sustainable market offers food from around the world, but the real draw is the Jim and Tonic gin bar, where gin is distilled on site. the foundation of any gourmet restaurant you can imagine.
It’s not a wild night in London if you don’t somehow, at some point, end up in Shoreditch, and Tonight Josephine is the perfect maximalist looking for an Instagrammable place to end their night. The decor reminds us of early club life, with lots of hot pink, neon signs and – of course – a photo booth.
The Londoner is a quiet corner of the city’s famous Leicester Square – a pedestrian area full of all the entertainment and shopping you could want. It goes without saying that at the end of a long day, you will want a peaceful place to relax. We recommend that you get cozy in one of the hotel’s rooms and dine at Whitcomb’s, one of the Londoner’s six bars and restaurants. The French Mediterranean cuisine and world-class wine list do not disappoint. Bonus for foodies: The Londoner is not too far from The MAINE Mayfair (reserve a table on the terrace, you won’t regret it!) and the top Italian place Sparrow Italia.
When it comes to location, The Beaumont is unmatched. Located on a quiet street in Mayfair, the five-star hotel is steps from some of the best shopping in the area, including Selfridges (and Mercado Market, if you’re in the mood for shopping). The hotel harkens back to another era with a cozy bar, delicious restaurant, and stunning rooms overlooking Brown Hart Gardens.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park was brought to life by artist Joyce Wang, and the interiors are some of the most beautiful you’ll see at a hotel in London. With Art Deco finishes and thoughtful amenities like yoga mats and a GHD hair straightener, guests will feel right at home.
Jessica Roy is the Site Director of ELLE.com. Previously, he worked as News Editor for TheCut.com. She loves cooking, running and your dog’s Instagrams.
Claire Stern is the Deputy Editor of ELLE.com. Previously, he was an editor at Bergdorf Goodman. Her interests include fashion, food, travel, music, Peloton, and Mountains-not necessarily in that order. He used to own a Harriet the Spy pamphlet and isn’t shy about admitting it.
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Carine manages social media for ELLE.com. When she’s not wandering around food, you can find her watching a movie on Netflix, meditating, or cooking something she hopes will be amazing.