Weekend Getaway: London, United Kingdom 

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When many of us think of London, we picture afternoon tea, the royal family, and pubs. While all those things do exist there, London is actually home to more — think delicious restaurants of all cuisine styles, gorgeous flower markets, and beyond. This centuries’ old city is steeped with history + culture. English writer Samuel Johnson summed it up perfectly when he said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Whether you’re visiting as a stop off before another  European adventure or if you’re staying for days to explore the Big Smoke, Hoboken Girl has the itinerary sorted. Keep reading discover everything there is to know about a weekend getaway in London.

london travel getaway

A Bit of London’s History 

Before planning a London getaway, it’s important to know the city’s history. London was originally founded by the Romans as part of the Roman Empire, under the original name of “Londinium,” founded in around AD50. The Romans conquered and settled what is today known as the City of London by building a wall around their territory. Today, remnants of that original wall can still be found in the city alongside buildings cleverly named “One London Wall.”

st pauls london

^ Spot St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance! 

Fast forward hundreds of years to September 1666 and the city experiences a grave tragedy — the Great Fire of London. Burning down the central parts of the city, the fire also destroyed the original gothic {for example’s sake, think a structure designed similarly to Notre Dame} architecture of the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral there today in a classical Roman architectural design {curved edges, domes, etc.} is actually the restored building designed by architect Christopher Wren and was completed in 1708.

Jump ahead some more years later and we’ll find ourselves in present-day London. Today, the city is bustling with trendy restaurants, festivals, exciting pop-up events, + so, so much more. A European holiday minus a visit to London would simply be incomplete.

The Flights

Getting to London is simple — there are daily, regular flights out of Newark and JFK to London’s infamous Heathrow Airport {LHR}. Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and American Airlines are just a few of the commercial airlines that will get tourists across the pond. Additionally, if flying into LHR is too pricey, travelers can look into flying to one of London’s other airports — Gatwick, Stansted, and London City Airport.  

See More: {Long} Weekend Getaway: Porto, Portugal

Where to Stay

Now to answer the biggest question tourists might have — where to stay. Luckily, the former Londinium is filled to the brim with lodging options.

{Pro tip: The postal codes in England include letters AND are necessary when giving an address, as the specific postal code reflects the specific address being looked for. So when typing the address into Google Maps or a car-sharing service app, be sure to include the postcode!}

The Hoxton, Shoreditch {81 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HU}

the hoxton shoreditch

 For those staying a little more to the East, The Hoxton, Shoreditch is a great option. As a Team HG favorite, The Hoxton is more than simply a place to lay your head once the gallivanting is over. Firstly, it’s prime location has it just a few minutes walk from a plethora of restaurants, clubs, and pubs in the bustling, exciting neighborhood of Shoreditch. If venturing outside the hotel for an evening out doesn’t sound fun, fear not — the lobby of The Hoxton, Shoreditch is bustling all day, every day. In the daylight, visitors will find locals and hotel guests alike perched on one of the many couches in the lobby doing work. And when night falls, a DJ enters the room and the lobby is bustling with locals + tourists sipping on a drink or two and swaying to the tunes.

The Bailey’s Hotel {140 Gloucester Road, SW7 4QH}

This boutique hotel in South Kensington is a great location for those visiting London for the first time. Literally a few steps away from the Gloucester Road Tube station + feet away from the nearest Big Bus Tour stop, this local lodging is an incredibly accessible place to stay. Plus, every afternoon the hotel serves afternoon treats in the lobby. Added bonus: The Bailey’s Hotel is also no more than a 20-30 minute walk away from Kensington Gardens + Kensington Palace for some afternoon park lounging + palace viewing. 

Hotel Xenia {160 Cromwell Road, SW5 0TL}

Another Kensington hotel, the Hotel Xenia is an Autograph Collection hotel that is just a few minutes walk away from that same Gloucester Road Tube stop. It’s also just minutes away from the nearest Waitrose or Sainsbury’s {local grocery stores for treats at all times of the day}. Also, the hotel is just a 12 and 16-minute walk from the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, respectively. Again, Hotel Xenia is ideally located for any first-time visitors of the Big Smoke.

Where to Eat

Food — the best part of any trip. London is no stranger to a myriad of delicious foods. From delicious dishes that Hail from Bombay to savory bites that originated in Peru, London’s restaurant scene will satiate every appetite.

Smokestak {35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB}

smoke stak london

For those in the mood for barbecue, Smokestak is the place. From savory brisket and tender pork belly ribs to coal-roasted eggplant {aubergine, in England} and miso-glazed corn on the cob, there’s something to satisfy every barbecue need. As it’s located right along the famous Brick Lane, this London is eatery is a great pit stop for lunch after perusing the markets in the area or for dinner before a big night out. 

Ceviche {17 Firth Street, W1D 4RG + 2 Baldwin Street, EC1V 9NU}

For fans of South American fare, Ceviche is the place to go. This restaurant can be found in both Soho and Old Street and boasts some of the tastiest + savory Peruvian food throughout the city. Meat lovers will be fans of the lomo saltado {a traditional Peruvian dish of marinated steak}. However, the can’t miss menu item here is the namesake dish — the ceviche. We recommend ordering the Don Ceviche. Seabass is served with avocado + red onion, and arrives smothered in amaraillo chilli tiger’s milk — it’s deliciously tart and will have diners wanting a second order. {Team HG Tip: Keep the dish from the first order of ceviche, as the leftover tiger’s milk makes for a great dressing to drizzle onto + dip other bites into}. 

Blanchette {9 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8DR + 204 Brick Lane E1 6SA}

blanchette soho london

With locations in both Soho and Brick Lane, Blanchette is a Team HG favorite in London. For fans of French cuisine and vino, we highly recommend stopping by. Both locations boast a charming atmosphere {think wooden floors + cozy quarters}, making it the perfect location for either a first date {should you schedule one while across the pond} or a fun brunch, lunch, or dinner outing. Start with an order of charcuterie, of which the menu has many options. As an entrée, we suggest ordering the moules marinère, which comes with smoked bacon and equal parts creamy + savory white wine sauce. Plus, Blanchette offers a pre-theatre menu, so definitely opt dinner and a show over in the West End.

Things to Do

Ah yes, the activities itinerary. For those lucky enough to spend even just a few days in the Big Smoke, there’s no shortage of things to do. From browsing the stalls of a famous market to having tea next door to Princess Diana’s old stomping grounds, London has it all.

Visit Portobello Road Market {306 Portobello Road, W10 5TA}

portobello road london

For those who are fans of the film Notting Hill, be sure to pay a visit to Portobello Market. Located on the aptly named Portobello Road, this famous market is nestled in the Notting Hill neighborhood. Here, tourists can find treasures such as antique finds and massive cauldrons of simmering paella. 

Take a Ride on the London Eye with Champagne {Lambeth, SE1 7PB}

Everything is better with bubbles, this is a fact. For sweeping views of the entire city {that are 100% Instagram-worthy}, take a ride on the London Eye. Kick things up a notch too by opting for the Champagne ride, where each rider will get a complimentary glass of bubbly {for a different price than the standard ride, of course}. Please note, however, that there are non-booze themed rides for those who aren’t keen on a glass or two. 

Have Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace {Kensington Gardens, W8 4PX}

kensington palace london 

Kensington Palace — the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge {aka William + Kate} and the former home of the beloved Princess Diana. When visiting the palace, enjoy the quintessentially British activity of indulging in afternoon tea. Here, the afternoon tea is held in The Kensington Palace Pavillon and consists of the usual tea suspects — scones, jam, and finger sandwiches. Spice things up but opting for a Champagne tea, where guests will receive tea and a glass of bubbles. When the tea drinkers are finished, take a stroll through the gorgeous Kensington Gardens. 

Read More: {Long} Weekend Getaway Idea: Paris, France

Have a Well-Crafted Cocktail at Lyaness {20 Upper Ground Street, SE1 9PD}

Formerly known as Dandelyan, Lyaness is the newest venture from owner Ryan Chetiyawardana {who helped the former Dandelyan earn the no.1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars list}. Today, Lyaness still oozes the effortlessly cool + trendy vibes of what it once was. The cocktail menu is ever-changing and focuses on the ingredients going into the drink rather than the cocktail itself. Offering a gorgeous view of the River Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Lyaness is a great locale for pre-drinks or a nightcap. 

Spend a Night Out in Shoreditch

Shoreditch — one of Hoboken Girl’s favorite neighborhoods. For a night out, Shoreditch is the spot. Teeming with bars + clubs like HG pick Old Street Records {350-354 Old Street, EC1V 9NQ}, Barrio {141-143 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE, and so much more, a night spent in this neighborhood will definitely craft a proper night out in London. 

Visit Columbia Road Flower Market {Columbia Road, E2 7RG} 

columbia road london

When the Saturday night partying dies down and Sunday morning slowly creeps up, take a walk through Columbia Road Flower Market. Picture fresh flowers, quaint shops filled with antiques + unique treasures, and snacks + food galore. For just £10, market-goers can get a bouquet of tulips or other flowers. Brighten up any hotel room or Airbnb with fresh finds from this HG top pick. 

And there you have it — a quick how-to-explore London guide. Remember, however, that this is just the surface of what this city has to offer. There’s more than meets the eye of this historic + charming city. Whether you’re in town for work or play, be sure to make the most out it {and swing by a proper British pub for us for a quick pint, while you’re at it}. 

Have you visited London yet? What’s your favorite thing about the city? Let us know in the comments!   


Written by:

Arielle is a born-and-bred Jersey girl and like a true NJ native, half her diet consists of bagels and the other half pizza. As a graduate of both American University and City, University of London, she’s been a passionate writer ever since she wrote her first “book” in the first grade. When she’s not furiously typing away at her keyboard, she spends her time ticking places off of her “to travel to” list, trying any and all new foods, and trying to stop herself from spending too much money at Zara.