Yes, Your Next Vacay Needs to Be to London's West End

rosewood london hotel
The London Hotels You Need to Scope Out ASAPRosewood London


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If your favorite things include, but aren't limited to, traveling, Taylor Swift's 'London Boy,' and The Parent Trap, then let me introduce you to your next vacation destination: London. Listen: It's been a long/tough/emotionally draining year, so when the opportunity came across my desk (re: email inbox) to take a quick trip across the pond, I quite literally jumped at the chance to pack my bags.

A few things to note: Never before had I been to England or anywhere else in the UK for that matter. Prior to this trip, the extent of my London knowledge came solely from my college BFF who studied abroad in the Kensington neighborhood (casual!). Well, that, and those Taylor Swift bangers mentioned above. I pretty much went in blind. But! Lucky for you, I've listed out everything you need to know prior to touching down in London Town. Read on, fellow tourists and Swifties alike...

(FYI, the writer received comped flights, accommodations, meals, & experiences during this trip.)

STAY:

  • The Biltmore Mayfair: This hotel have the best location in terms of food, theaters, and shopping. Interested in seeing some royal spots during your trip? Boom. Buckingham Palace is just a short walk away. More of a shopping girlie? Regent Street is lined with designer stores worth perusing. Also, The Biltmore Mayfair is situated right across the street from Grosvenor Square Park, meaning you're in for some serious garden pics that'll look *chef's kiss* on your grid. From the hotel's swanky afternoon tea (more on that below) to luxe spa, staying here was the perfect intro to my time in London's West End neighborhood. And honestly? One of my favorite things about this hotel stay (other than the standalone bathtub in my room) was the straight energy within the space. It felt like what I want my future home to feel like: Warm. Inviting. Chic.

  • The Mayfair Townhouse: Located just around the corner from The Biltmore Mayfair, this hotel is like the Biltmore's more modern sister. Upon walking into the lobby, you're greeted by The Dandy Bar (please order their old fashioned) a sexy space that serves as a relaxing respite from the busy Mayfair streets. AKA, it's the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail (or three, just sayin'). The TL;DR: Come for the posh rooms, stay for the lobby vibes.

  • Rosewood London: The third hotel of the trip was (surprise, surprise) equally as extraordinary as the other two. Located closer to Covent Garden, Rosewood London is palatial. From the courtyard to the hotel breakfast spread, staying here felt like I was an English traveler circa the 1800s (but, like, in the very best way). The rooms were spacious and the service was next level. Not only did the staff provide a property tour upon checking in (yes it's *that* big), the doorman are able to grab taxis for the guests on the go. That was a crucial perk, since I wasn't interested in looking like a total fool while flagging down taxis in a different country.

PLAY:

  • Choose a fragrance at Penhaligon’s: I, for one, love picking up some sort of fragrance (perfume, candle, etc.) as a scented souvenir. I swung by the iconic perfumery and picked out one with the help of a Penhaligon's store associate. I was able to choose a scent—I'm big into floral scents so I went with The Favourite—that I could wear throughout the trip, and because the bottle is so beautifully designed, it's basically a piece of art in my apartment now. Genius!

  • See a show at the theater. If there's one thing London's West End is known for, it's the incredible shows. The streets are lined with grand theaters and people milling about, popping in and out of performances. If you're looking for a little bit of ✨ spice ✨ check out Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical because everything about the show was epic. The songs! The dancing! The cheering crowd! The experience was unreal.

  • Get your shop on. There are several diverse shopping areas located in the West End. First up: Neal’s Yard. It's a colorful alley tucked away from the main shopping drag. In this alcove, you'll find a spa, pubs, and cosmetic stores perfect for scoring souvenirs. (Neal's Yard Remedies has the most luxe smelling soap, so add that to your must-shop list.) There's also Carnaby Street. Ya know, that area in London where some of the greatest musicians of all time (The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones) were regular patrons. Mhmm, *that* Carnaby Street. While you're there, shop for chic jewelry at E&E, or treat yourself to a stuffed double-chocolate cookie at Crumbs & Doilies.

  • Schedule a gin tasting. At Bullard’s Gin Tasting & Cocktail Masterclass, spirit buffs show you exactly how their signature gins are made, plus they give you the full rundown of how to create your own handmade gin cocktails at home. A lil pre-dinner drinking paired with a Gin 101 education? Get you a vacation experience that can do both.


EAT:

For a chic brunch:

  • Sketch: If you're looking for the typical influencers-go-here-just-for-the-pics sort of vibe, Sketch is *the* place to book a res. Each room in the restaurants has a completely different theme, from the Gallery that boasts monochromatic pink everything, to the Glade room with its woodland fairytale vibes. Sketch truly has a room that fits any and every mood. Grab a table for afternoon tea in the aforementioned Gallery room, where you can sip British sparkling wine while noshing on mini cucumber sandwiches. So chic of you!

  • Frenchie Covant Garden: Located in the West End's shopping/dining/theater hub, this is the perfect spot for an upscale dining experience. Their sommelier is on hand to dish out wine recs, the food is OTT seasonal, and their a la cart menu has everything from herbed lamb to a savory mushroom tarte. Cosmo tip: Order a slice of banoffee pie with pecans, and thank me later.

For afternoon tea, because duh:

  • Afternoon Tea at The Biltmore: Poise your pinky finger and head down to the The Biltmore café for a typical English tea experience. I'm talking scones, jams, and of course, your choice of tea. (Psst, the smoked salmon sandwich is an absolute must.)

  • Cakes & Bubbles: If you're looking for even more excuses to eat, grab a table at Cakes & Bubbles. They've partnered with Champagne House Veuve Clicquot (!) to bring you the best champs brunch in town. Save room for dessert, since C&B is known for their sweet stuff. The "Cheese Cake" is filled with hazelnuts and white chocolate, and their signature scone is a light and airy meringue filled with an oh-my-god-that's-incredible blueberry compote. Long story short, you can't go wrong here.

For an Instagram-approved dinner:

  • Apricity: Three words: Farm-to-table. This restaurant was developed with sustainability in mind (we love to see it!) and they source all of their veggies from small-scale farmers. Oh, and they source their expansive drink list from local wineries and distilleries that use regenerative harvesting, so you can feel good about what you're sipping. One last thing: When I say they have the best scallops in the world, I truly mean they have the best scallops in the world.

  • Ave Mario: I thought about gatekeeping the pasta at this famed trattoria, but I wouldn't do that to you. The Mafaldine al Tartufo pasta features homemade mafaldine noodles tossed in a truffle mascarpone sauce and topped with freshly shaved black truffle. My only regret here is that I didn't order a bonus dish of goodness to enjoy as a lil late-night snack.



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