Every year for my birthday I always plan to travel somewhere. I’m not big on parties or big celebrations but I love just being somewhere new when I’m celebrating a new year! This year I decided to go to Europe with my friend Jenna. Our birthdays are two weeks apart and we try to keep a tradition of taking one trip a year together.
And so we decided on London (my favorite city as you know), Portugal and Barcelona. This trip was a little special though because I also decided to vintage shop for Locks and Trinkets. The beauty of vintage is that it’s unique and most times you can only find one of an item so how amazing if you could shop the world without leaving your couch?! Between exploring, site seeing, shopping and eating all the foods, it ended up being a great trip. (with a little bit of crazy happenings but we’ll get to that later)
I’m going to break the trip up into 3 parts so this post isn’t too long so today we will start with London.
If you’ve been following my blog you know I moved to London last year for a few months. I also lived in London one summer in college for a work study. It’s my absolute favorite city and any excuse to go back I’ll take it!
We got in at night and checked into our place around 8:30pm. I ended up using the same company I leased an apartment from Shortlet London. I highly recommend them to stay in London (they have a minimum 4 night stay). They have great prices and an assortment of flat sizes. I actually ended up booking something in the same exact building I lived in without even knowing it. We stayed in the Willesden Green area which is NorthWest London in zone 2. I love the neighborhood because it was very close to the train (also known as the tube) and not too far from everywhere we needed to go. Also in the neighborhood are cute and delicious places to eat, local markets (big and small), convenience stores, and pharmacies. There’s even a nail salon I used to go to when I lived there. It has all the things you need. Being back there made me miss living in London but it was fun to show Jenna where I stayed. We went to bed shortly after arriving to start exploring the next day.
The next day we started off at Notting Hill. Of all the places I shopped in London, Notting Hill ended up having the best vintage. We walked the neighborhood and stopped at Portobello Market. Afterwards we headed to Elan Café for lunch. I had gone to Elan Café last year and remembered they had this really cool floral tea (see here) where a flower blooms in the hot water before your eyes, it was so cool. But when we went back the tea was different and not as cute. They changed the restaurant a bit but the décor is still cool and the food and cakes are yummy so it’s worth visiting but I was disappointed in how they presented the tea this time. The location we went to is really tiny inside so I would try to choose a time when it won’t be as crowded. We went on a weekday around 3pm and it wasn’t very crowded. There was no wait. I ordered the Shakshuka and Jenna had the avocado toast. Both were yummy.
Afterwards we walked through Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace. This part was just for Jenna. If you go to London you’ve got to see the palace! It’s just want you do.
At night we ended up at The Ned Hotel. I had gone there with Emily last year and we loved it so I knew I wanted to go back. The Ned is a fancy hotel with live music and beautiful décor. It feels like you’ve walked back into the 40’s or 50’s. They have multiple restaurants and we chose to eat at Malibu Kitchen. It was taco Tuesday so we couldn’t resist when they had a fixed menu serving apps, tacos, and a desert. Honestly, the tacos were reallyyyy good. We were pleasantly surprised. The other food on the menu looked great too. And the spicy margarita was one of the best I’ve had.
We headed over to the other side of the hotel to sit at Millie’s Lounge after dinner. (They also do high tea there during the day) We listened to the band which was really good and had another drink. The Ned honestly has a bit of an uppity snobby vibe, it’s not very chill as far as the people and service if that’s what you’re looking for, but I just love ambiance.
The next day we started our day vintage shopping again in the neighborhood Shoreditch. We went to Brick Lane Vintage market where I found so many gems! It’s a large basement with a bunch of vendors who sell all types of vintage pieces.
Afterwards we headed to the market with different food vendors called Old Spitafields Market. I’m not sure if this was here when I was in London last but it was super cool. Shoreditch in general is a really cool eclectic neighborhood and you can find really good shopping, food, and bars/clubs. We decided to try something new to eat and stopped at one of the vendors that served rice wraps. I’m more of a creature of habit so I’m so happy we decided to try something new because they were delicious.
We should had gone home afterwards to take a breather but instead we headed to Camden Market. Word of advice, do not go to Shoreditch and Camden in one day, unless you’re pressed for time. We were exhausted by then but I wanted to show Jenna all the different neighborhoods. I did end up getting some tea from Camden Tea Shop that helped tremendously with my cramps. If you’re going to get tea, London is the place obviously and Camden Tea shop had such a great variety. The person working there really knew her stuff, she was good at recommending teas for our needs. After being defeated by all the tourist and craziness of Camden Market, we decided to stop to our flat for a minute so we could change for dinner.
We had dinner at Rum Kitchen in Brixton. I always wanted to try Rum Kitchen when I was staying in London but literally every time I went it was packed and they wouldn’t take any more people. So this time I made a reservation way in advance. And of course when we got there the place was not busy at all lol. Oh but the food was really good. To be honest I usually tried to go to the Rum Kitchen in Carnaby and you definitely need a reservation for that one cause it’s always packed. Brixton is a very cool neighborhood though so it’s worth visiting.
Definitely slightly a European take on Jamaican food but still really good. I have to say when people say the food isn’t good in London they are talking about British food. Honestly, I really dislike British food, like really reallyyyy, but because London is extremely diverse they have so many different cultures in the city so the food from other countries is actually amazing. So don’t let the critics fool you, there are great food options in London. I also had a really yummy drink called the PainKiller that tasted like a Jamaican version of a Pina Colada.
The next day was my birthday!! I didn’t really plan anything special, I was just happy to be in London. All I knew that I wanted to do was eat at an Indian Restaurant called Dishoom. I never really liked Indian food until I ate it in London and now I LOVE it. Indian food is BOMB in London.
During the day we decided to go to Covent Garden, it’s an area I didn’t really get to explore that much and they had a few vintage shops I wanted to check out. Annoyingly it was our last day in London and the airport broke my suitcase upon arrival so I had to buy another one before we left to the next country. We ended up in Leicester Square- theater district and went to TK Maxx for a suitcase. (Yes TK Maxx not TJ Maxx, don’t ask why it’s literally the same store lol)
We also went to Primrose Hill because I had never been and I thought it would be nice to read in the park. We actually never made it to the park but we did have lunch at a spot Greenbury Café. They were between dinner and lunch menu so the options were limited but I had the wild rice and quinoa salad and matcha latte and Jenna had beetroot latte and a chicken avocado salad. Never passing up desert, we had to try their homemade salted caramel ice cream and brownie. It was so so good. We paired it with fresh mint tea. I love how in London they literally serve you the mint tea fresh with mint leaves.
That night we headed to Dishoom for my official birthday dinner. Dishoom doesn’t take reservations for small parties so we had to wait about 40 minutes for a table. Every time I’ve gone there I’ve had to wait so that’s pretty standard. I always go to the one in Carnaby. Dinner did not disappoint at all. Seriously this place is amazing, I wish I could eat it again as I’m typing this.
Overall we had a great time in London. It never disappoints for me. And of all the places we visited it had the best weather as far as it being consistent can you believe it? Everyone always says how rainy London is but honestly all those countries in that region are rainy and every time I’m in London I’m never caught in super bad weather and I’ve been a lot so I really can’t say their weather is horrible. We had horrific weather experiences in the other countries but more on that later!
Where We Stayed:
Shortlet London (Willesden Green area)
Where We Ate:
Elan Café in Mayfair
Rum Kitchen in Brixton
Dishoom in Carnaby
Malibu Kitchen at The Ned Hotel
Millie’s Lounge at The Ned Hotel
Brick Lane Vintage Market
Mag Pie Vintage