My London trip has come and gone in what has felt like a matter of seconds. What a lively, bustling city; it boasts so much to see and experience.
Despite adoring most of what the city has to offer, I’d be lying if I referred to it as a prime vacation destination. It isn’t. I imagine it is a fantastic city to reside and work in, thanks to the many career opportunities and copious things to do, but it is far too busy of a city to head to for a vacation, in my eyes. London is the kind of city I would one day like to call my career’s base – but not the kind of location I was incredibly charmed by. And with every city trip, I guiltily end up comparing the location to Paris; because truthfully, I always long to return back there when I am just about to catch my return flight to Malta. Nonetheless, I truly did enjoy my time in London and struggled to come back to the island.
Throughout my short stay, I explored a few notable areas, shopped a lot (namely on fancy Italian leather notebooks and other writing props), and dined at some of the most fantastic of restaurants. Here is a list of the places I would highly recommend when in London:
Grand Royale London
If there is any one thing I have noticed about this city, above all else, it is that it is far too expensive. My four days there depleted my savings to an almost shameful extent. Ubers drained my account, restaurants’ service charges shocked me each time and shopping was a particularly painful venture – and this is coming from someone who lived in Paris, a city I now consider to be affordable. Accommodation was no exception. I tried, desperately, to find a decent looking hotel for a somewhat reasonable price, and this is pretty much the only one I did find. Located about a minute away from the underground station, it boasted most amenities – especially its positioning. The room I stayed in was tiny, but the exceptional service and stunning lobby are what drew me in. Dark leather seating and vintage interior décor, plus a red-and-gold themed bar; it was a gorgeous enough setting to spend our nights in.
Fumo, situated nearby Trafalgar Square, is a place we accidentally stumbled into when desperately seeking to satisfy our cravings – and honestly, I am not sure if we were just this lucky to continuously stumble into exceptional restaurants each time, or if all restaurants in central London are so fantastic. Fumo is owned by the famed San Carlo restaurant group, and it is truly a delight. Picture elegant, cream coloured interiors consisting of marble table tops and leather seating – and an exceptionally priced menu, when one considers what is on offer. We dined on truffle and cheese rice, rib eye, croquettes dipped in truffle sauce and a fillet of seabass covered in Etna’s black salt.
After watching a lovely but cheesy show at Her Majesty’s theatre, we walked into a nearby Italian restaurant for a serving of pasta. As a Maltese individual, I have grown up with the advantage of being able to feast on delicious Italian pasta whenever I wanted, which is why I am rather picky when it comes to eating high quality Italian dishes. This place certainly was not a let-down, however. I enjoyed a plate of seafood spaghetti, and I would certainly recommend it.
This adorable deli was yet another spontaneous find located in Covent Garden. You could choose to sit outside but we decided to brunch indoors, underneath floral arrangements hanging from the ceiling while overlooking the market. Our stay here resulted in a lengthy chat with the friendly Sicilian owner, and I feasted on brie toast sprinkled with truffle.
I had been meaning to visit this restaurant in Mayfair for a good three years, and I am so so glad I did. Sketch is actually made up of four separate rooms – or well, restaurants. Each room offers a completely different environment and list of culinary options. We booked a table at the most popular, being The Gallery, which is painted entirely in fuchsia and consists of matching velvet seating as well as quirky wall art. The Michelin-starred food is celebrated chef Pierre Gagnaire’s creation, and let me tell you, it is worth every penny. I feasted on some frog legs and a serving of beef and liver drenched in truffle sauce.
This restaurant is just in a league of its own, and the experience certainly makes it worth the visit. Each table is assigned an individual server – who will most likely be sporting an extravagant floral headband – and as you can imagine, the service is outstanding. Oh, and the bathrooms – wow. Let’s just say, you’ll have to pay those a visit to understand why I am so in awe (or just have a look at my Instagram highlights.)
Harry’s Dolce Vita
On our final day in the city, my companion and I chose to enjoy breakfast at this stunning spot in Knightsbridge. Yet another Italian favourite, the interiors of this restaurant are made up of dark brown leather boots and reflect on a chic, 1950s Italy. The vintage feel and black and white photographs hanging on the wall give it the most sophisticated of looks, but best of all is the breakfast menu. I feasted on Eggs Royale and a cappuccino (god bless London’s generous serving of coffee).
And finally, I conclude my list with this stunning bar located on the 31st floor of the Shard. We did not dine here, although I have indeed heard fantastic things about the food on offer. I ordered a couple of glasses of wine, which were, admittedly, not the best. However, if you have read any of my past travel guides, you would know I choose a place primarily for its interior décor and overall aesthetics – not even ashamed of this! Even if all the drinks turned out to not be the best around, I would still recommend this bar just for its incredible views.