Cahoots: London’s Secret Bar

A secret bar in an disused underground station? That sounds right up my alley, I thought.

After trying to pop in (unsuccessfully), I finally went the smart route and made a reservation for Cahoots, a bar I had heard so much about since moving to London. Continue reading “Cahoots: London’s Secret Bar”

Top 5 Rooftop Views in London

One of my favorite ways to see a city is from above, and London doesn’t disappoint in ways for you to do so. Below are my top five favorite London rooftop views:

Duck and Waffle – Liverpool Street

Duck and Waffle is a 24 hour restaurant and bar where you’ll get great views of the Gherkin. Come for brunch (although make reservations ahead!), or for a glass of wine at their bar.

Entrance fee: None

View of the Gherkin as seen from Duck and Waffle

Madison – St. Pauls

Madison is a rooftop bar and viewing platform (both free to enter) near St. Paul’s Cathedral. For a family friendly rooftop view, this is the place to go as the viewing platform is separate from the bar.

Entrance fee: None

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Atop Madison rooftop bar

Dalston Roof Park – Dalston

A bit of a hidden gem, Dalston Roof Park is a seasonal favorite, open from spring to the end of September. Here cocktails are served while a DJ spins music on weekends.

Entrance fee: £3 normally, more for special events


Sky Garden – Monument

Sky Garden, located in the “Walkie Talkie” building, is the only rooftop on this list that has full 360 views of London. Sky Garden is quite large, and it’s nice to take a walk around the gardens.

Entrance fee: None

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Sky Garden Halloween weekend

The Shard – London Bridge

The “View from the Shard” is the biggest rip off attraction in London at £26. However, if you enter the Shard from the restaurant entrance (it will be marked), then you can head to one of the Shard’s bars where a drink may run you £8, but entrance is free.

Entrance fee: None

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Tower Bridge as seen from the Shard

Which of these looks most appealing to you? Is there another rooftop you recommend in London?

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What’s next?

This upcoming week my friend Miriam will be visiting me in London. We have plans to check out Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland festival and go to Cahoots, an old tube station converted into a 1940s cocktail themed bar.

Over the weekend I’ll be heading to Prague, Czech Republic. I’ll be exploring the old city and also partaking in a Czech food tour with my friend John who lives in the city.

Till next time all!

London and Beyond with Sister and Friends

I was a bit pleasantly surprised at myself this past week as my sister and her friend Colleen visited from Wisconsin because I really know my way around London now!

When I first had visitors back in March and April, I felt a bit lost. I led my mom and Markie onto the wrong bus one day, and I wasn’t sure where to go to for good dinners or fun nightlife. What a difference the months have made! So with my sisters nine days in the city, I really wanted her to have the best time possible.

We started her visit with one of my favorite English past times, afternoon tea. We headed to the Hilton Islington for an afternoon of mini sandwiches, scones, and nice pastries – I was so full after!

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The Hilton’s Afternoon tea

Sunday after a late wake up, we headed over to a popular pub in my neighborhood, The Jolly Butchers, for Sunday Roast. Sunday Roast is a delicious English tradition which consists of vegetables, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, and a meat – normally beef.

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A delicious Sunday roast

After that, we headed to Big Ben and Parliament. Since it was Sunday, Westminster Abbey was actually free to enter provided you went to a church service. So, I participated in my first Evensong which is basically a  church service that is mostly singing with a sermon included.

The next day, my sister had booked a day trip for us all, so we spent the day at Windsor Castle, followed by Stonehenge and Oxford. While we were at Windsor Castle, the Queen was actually home, but sadly we did not see her (next time!). After was Stonehenge which seemed bigger to me than the first time I visited, and our last stop was Oxford. I’ve been to Oxford twice now as well, but always on bus tours, so my time there has been really rushed. The city is quite beautiful though.

The next evening, in the Kensington area, my friend Miriam had reserved a Groupon wine and cheese tasting for us. The wine tasting was great, and only cost us £12 each! (For the deal we used, click here).

Saturday, my last full day with my sister was jam packed as well. We did an escape room in an old tube station, followed by a bit of shopping in Camden Market, and then walked up to Primrose Hill for a great view of the city.

The evening was concluded with a visit to Madison rooftop bar, and dinner at another great Italian restaurant in Kensington.

Last but not least my week ended with a game I have been waiting for since I bought tickets in February – my hometown team, the Washington Redskins, played against the Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London. Mark and I went and had a great time despite the end result of a tie. Apparently the stadium was sold out that day – an 87,000 attendance!

All in all the week was amazing – it was great to have friends and family in town, spend proper time with my London friends, and have Mark here.

What’s Next?

Next weekend Mark and I are heading to Luxembourg, a small country nestled between Germany, France, and Belgium. We are staying in Luxembourg City to explore the city briefly, and also heading to the Moselle Valley, a wine region in the country.

Till next time all!

My Top 10 Favorite London Restaurants

London is a huge city with thousands of restaurants, but I quickly learned when moving here that not all of them are created equal (thanks to a few rough tummy aches early on). After being here now over seven months, I’ve narrowed down what my favorite restaurants are of the ones I’ve visited. What really sets an average restaurant apart from a favorite for me is delicious food, reasonable prices, and a good atmosphere. I hope you find this list useful when deciding on your next meal in London! Continue reading “My Top 10 Favorite London Restaurants”

Top Nightlife Areas in London

London is a huge city, so as a tourist, or a new resident of the city, it took me some time to figure out where the best areas to go for a night out are. Below I’ll share a few of the top areas I’ve been to, and some of the specific places in each area I recommend.

Kensington

If you want to hang out with a posh crowd, this is where to go. I kid you not, when I went out in Kensington a guy was telling me all about the ‘struggle’ of having to wait for his boat to be sailed across the Atlantic since he just used it in the Caribbean but now was going to use it in the Mediterranean… such a rough life (eye roll).

Where I recommend: Kensington Roof Gardens, The Churchill Arms, Piano Kensington, Eclipse

SoHo

SoHo in London reminds me of SoHo in NYC – there’s a ton of restaurants, pubs, bars, and clubs all around. This is a great area to go for a night out because there’s something for everyone. There’s also a good mix of tourists (SoHo is close to Picadilly Circus) and Londoners who go here.

Where I recommend: Coach & Horses, Dirty Martini, Kingly Court, Ain’t Nothing But Blues Bar

Camden

Amy Winehouse used to live in this area. It’s very hipster but has a lot of cool art and a good vibe. You’ll find a mix of Londoners and tourists here as well. There’s also a nightly bar crawl of Camden (mostly for tourists), but is a good way to go to a few bars with a group at night.

Where I recommend: The Hawley Arms, The Camden Head, Camden Comedy Club (£5 and £10 comedy nights!)

Dalston

Dalston is a rapidly gentrifying area, and hidden within there are some really cool places to go out. This is a bit off the tourist track (there aren’t really any tourist attractions in this area), but as its a fifteen minute walk from my flat I go out here quite often.

Where I recommend: Dalston Roof Park, Escudo de Cuba, Jolly Butcher, Tipsy Dalston

Shoreditch

Shoreditch is near Bank, so lots of bankers come to this area for happy hour after work, although it’s more of a hipster area overall. It has a lot of cool bars, and regular bar crawls.

Where I recommend: Zigfrid von Underbelly, Queen of Hoxton, Blueberry, Bavarian Beerhouse

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Which of these areas do you think you’ll visit on your next trip to London? Hopefully all of them!

Till next time all!