December 9, 2011
Amy Thomas loves London, and so do we. In fact, we adore it so much we just launched our very first London vacation apartment, a gorgeous 2-bedroom rental in the heart of Chelsea. If you’d like to do London in more than a day, and enjoy afternoon tea or cocktails in your very own central London flat, let us help you plan your trip. Thanks Amy for this wonderfully ambitious London itinerary.
The daily menu at Lantana
From Gare du Nord to St Pancras in just over two hours? Do you really need another reason to hop on the 8:13 Eurostar and spend the day in London? Vite, mes amis! Allez à Londres!
Where the delicious flat whites at Lantana are made
The key to tackling the jolly old British capital in just a day is to focus on a select few neighborhoods—and fuel up on caffeine immediately after arriving. Both can be accomplished at Lantana in Fitzrovia, a relatively quick walk west of the San Pancras train station. The toasted banana bread with blueberry butter is divine and a “flat white,” more delicious than the best café crème, will put a spring in your step all day.
Gorgeous furniture by Designer’s Guild
Once caf’ed up, head to nearby Marylebone, where the shopping is as spectacular as the architecture. A stroll down Marylebone High Street will reveal everything from colorful home accessories at Designers Guild and Emma Bridgewater to beauty supplies at Space NK and Boots.
A selection of cheese at La Fromagerie
But the real jackpot is Daunt Books. The two-story Anglo bookstore has so many great titles, along with a massive selection of travel tomes, that you’ll probably need to fortify yourself from all the browsing around the corner at La Fromagerie’s Cheese Room. This glass-walled walk-in is a stinky den of creamy delights from all over Europe. (Eat your heart out, Frenchies!)
The beautiful space at Daunt Books (Hannah Swithinbank)
Next, head south through chichi Mayfair, making your way to The Wolseley for a proper lunch. This London classic offers everything from chopped chicken salad to grilled sea bass to scones, and it’s just a few doors down from Fortnum & Mason so you can pick up pretty tea tins and other food bits and bobs for friends back in Paris.
Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason
With your belly sated, it’s time to feed your mind on art—contemporary art at the Tate Modern. Meander south through Green Park, peek at Buckingham Palace (you’re in London, after all), and carry on through the lovely Saint James Park. London is a massively sprawling metropolis with barreling double-decker buses and hordes of tourists, but the plentiful green trees are lush and utterly transporting.
Once at the Thames, hop on a river bus from the Westminster Pier to Bankside. This quick trip to the South Bank is about the price of a Tube ride but filled with sightseeing ohhs and ahhs and photo opps, and lets you off right near the museum. The Tate Modern, located in an old power station on the South Bank, is such a cool building it’s worth going just to check out the grand, sloping Turbine Hall. But do due diligence and check out modern masters such as Francis Bacon, Jenny Holzer and Anish Kapoor.
Chutneys for your pork pie at Borough Market
The day is getting precariously short but, before heading back to St Pancras, visit London’s oldest food market, Borough Market (open Thursday – Saturday). Even if you don’t pick up a chocolaty brownie or savory meat pie, or stop at the always-mobbed Monmouth Coffee, it’s a visual delight of fresh produce, fish, baked goods and local wares.
Tea jars at Lantana
Since London traffic—especially on the Tube—can be so brutal, make your way back to St Pancras. Worst case scenario, you have a little time to kill before your 20:02 train, and can take a glass of bubbly at the longest champagne bar in all of Europe, located on the second level of the station. But if time is more limited, head to WHSmith and scoop up some Brit mags and Cadbury chocolates to savor back in Paris.
After such an exciting day, you may need to take a cab so you don’t miss the train! (Josh O’Sullivan)
Either way, be sure you’ve booked a Standard Premier ticket, so you can enjoy dinner, drinks and free magazines while chunneling back to gai Paree—arriving at Gare du Nord with plenty of time for un verre at Chez Jeannette.
- Looking for a place to stay in London? Our Chelsea vacation rental flat is impeccably located, and has its own garden!
- The London Foodie shares London foodie faves.
- For great pubs and restaurants in London, Emerald street knows the scoop.
Written by Amy Thomas
Amy Thomas is a sweets-obssessed writer based between New York and Paris. She penned the Sweet Freak column for Metro newspaper and has written about Paris' best chocolatiers (New York Times), desserts for two (Time Out New York), chocolate for guys (Rachel Ray) and the best hot chocolate in the city (Metro). Check for updates from Amy on her blog, God I Love Paris.
Website: God I Love Paris
Tags: Amy Thomas, Daunt Books, Day Trip from Paris, Designer's Guild, Fortnum and Mason, La Fromagerie, Lantana Cafe, London guide, One day in London, St Pancras champagne bar, Tate Modern, The Wolseley
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