Abbey Road, Beatles, British Street Style, British Style, California, city boat cruise london, city boat tour london, Daphne's, Europe, Harrods, Hereford Arms, Hobbs, Lily Cole, London, London Evening Standard, London Style, London Underground, Made in Chelsea, Natalie Portman, nightclubs, NOVIKAV, partying london, Santa Barbara, shopping London, Spencer Mathews, Stanhope Arms, Surf with Vanessa, Surfing, The Hills, Time Out London, truffle season, truffle tasting menu, Tube Maps App, white truffles, XS Vegas
It’s going to rain. So bring your umbrella with you always. Every time a day starts out sunny, coaxing me to leave my umbrella home with its promising morning sunshine, by nightfall I always find myself in the same position, cowering under the London Evening Standard, with a “chance of showers” gushing down around me while I wonder why the hell wont I ever learn and just bring the damn umbrella?!
Everyone reads the London Evening Standard. It’s like Santa Barbara’s weekly Independent, but it’s a daily paper and is read by over 1.6 million Londoners. Every night people grab one of these free papers to read on the tube on their way home from work. Mine from last Thursday night is still sitting on our coffee table unread, but at least I have one to prove I am trying to be British.
The tube is better than the subway. I am a small town girl, so while the city will always be a little intimidating to me, I feel safe and confident exploring London thanks to the London Underground. Unlike the subway in NY which is a bit sleazy, the tube is clean, safe and there’s a FREE app you can download called Tube Maps that makes calculating routes quick and easy.
British men dress better than American men. I have never in my life seen so many hot, straight, men walking around in nice suits, dressy jackets, scarves and hats. Men in NY dress well too but often times they look like they are trying too hard. British men generally look classy yet effortless, like their mom had been dressing them in that cute tweed hat & scarf since they were in diapers. Check out Spencer Mathews, and the other well dressed British hotties in Made in Chelsea, London’s version of the reality tv show The Hills.
Don’t shop at Harrods. Harrods is an awesome must see experience but it’s beyond overpriced and London is already expensive enough. Go there to browse and have lunch, but if you want to do some serious shopping and don’t want to waste money on 25%+ mark ups, then head to Sloane Street, Kings Rd, or High Street Kensington. On High Street Ken you will find hip, yet affordable brands such as Top Shop, H&M and Zara. Then hop on the tube from High Street Ken to Sloan Square where you can shop a modern mix of eclectic British fashion design on famous King’s Road or browse the world’s most high-end luxury retailers on Sloane St.
Don’t follow people across the street. In 1969 the Beatles made crossing the street cool with their famous Abbey Road album cover, and every year since the tourists have made it totally uncool. Just last week I saw a few people dart out into the intersection in Westminster, along with 25+ additional tourists following after them and within seconds a huge bus came billowing around the corner, honking its horn and slamming on its brakes, nearly hitting all the people who were now stupidly halfway through the intersection on a green light. Do not follow the people in front of you into the street because they are probably tourists and have no idea they are about to get run over. And remember look Right, then look Left.
Nobody wears sandals in London (unless they are in the locker room at their gym), and you will need a nice, warm, black jacket. Talk about culture shock coming from Santa Barbara, California where I have spent the last 10 years of my life surfing and laying out at the beach in 75 degree weather through January! I have practically lived in flip-flops and jean shorts every winter and I have never owned a proper jacket, so last fall I splurged on a nice black HOBBS Pea Coat which I literally wear every day in London, paired with jeans and boots during the day, or a nice dress and heels for a night out.
The British drink a lot. If we had a partying competition the US would easily win thanks to our amazing clubs like XS in Vegas, that blow European nightclubs away. But if we were having a straight drinking contest the British would win, especially if it was consuming beer or hard cider. By 5:30pm every good pub on the street is packed with people huddling under patio awnings, chugging pints and smoking cigarettes. At least when I spend an afternoon working on my computer at the HEREFORD ARMS pub down the street from our flat, I am not alone while I’m drinking Guinness for lunch!
The food does not suck! London use to have a bad rep for bad food and sure if you eat at pubs every day then the food will not be great (although I do love the “codfather” fish and chips at Stanhope arms!), but beyond pub food there is a crazy amount of fantastic restaurants with delicious cuisine from all over the world. Two of my favorites in Knightsbridge are right across the street from each other, Zuma Sushi and Signor Sassi (Italian). I am also obsessed with Cambio De Tercio (Spanish tapas) on old Brompton Rd, and Bombay Brasserie (upscale Indian cuisine) just off Gloucester Rd, both in South Ken. NOVIKAV is a must experience offering Asian and Italian, in an opulent, sexy atmosphere. And it’s truffle season (yum!) so a visit to DAPHNE’S off Walton Street for lunch or dinner is also a must. The atmosphere made me feel like I was visiting my Italian family in the small beach town of Polo del Colle, and their special truffle menu was very affordable at lunch time, and offered a generous portion of mouth-watering, delicious white truffles to any plate. Pictured below, the Buffalo Ricotta Tortellini with white truffles on top. So good!
The London Eye is boring and a total waste of time. If you are lucky enough to be in London on a sunny day you will probably want to see the city from a bird’s-eye view. But so does every other tourist. So unless you like waiting in line for 2 hours, then spending 45 minutes going up & around on the world’s slowest “ferris wheel” with kids screaming and running around you, while you’re trying to snap pictures that probably won’t turn out because of the dirty glass capsule you are in, then I would not recommend going on the London Eye. Instead take the tube to Westminster, take a pictures from Westminster bridge, then hop on a City Boat Cruise up to the Tower of London. The ride is 30 minutes and the guides are hilarious, pointing out all the major sites and telling jokes the whole way. Tower of London tour is a must with a Beefeater guide (They take tours out every 30 minutes. Just buy tix and ask when the next Beefeater guided tour starts.), and then if you still want to take pictures from a bird’s view of the city head to The Shard. It’s overpriced but you get to see breathtaking views of London, snap pictures and leave whenever you please.
Time Out London is a great resource. For what’s hot this week, deals & info on everything going on in the city check out Time Out London. And if you have questions send me a message via my contact form above and I’ll be happy to help you plan your next visit to London. Happy traveling! xo, Vanessa