For this Weekend Getaway Series, a group of Seattle bloggers jetted off to London to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight celebration from London to Seattle on the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The London getaway involved experiencing the food scene, exploring attractions, and venturing out to various boroughs in the city. Let’s get right into it. Also, if you want to check out some social posts on Instagram, check out #LondonSeattle.
Day 1: The Departure, 10:00AM
We started with a quick flight from SEA to SFO to experience Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse in San Francisco which is perfect to pass time during a layover. The lounge was equipped with fast wifi, plenty of seating throughout the area, great cocktail program, tasty bites, a work station if you need to get any work done, and even a shower if you’re feeling like a cleanse.
Day 1: The Flight, 6:00PM
We boarded the famous “Dream Girl” Virgin Atlantic airplane on a 10 hour flight to London Heathrow airport. We sat in Economy Comfort which is actually incredibly comfortable for the long haul. Additional leg room, larger arm rests, and best of all, an endless supply of wine/liquor on request. The food on the flight was quite tasty with various options from Braised beef short ribs, Herb marinated chicken, and Wild mushroom pasta.
If you’re curious about jet lag, London is 8 hours ahead of Seattle. A pro tip is to adjust your watch to London time when you get on the plane so you can start adjusting your sleeping schedule.
Day 2: The Arrival, 1:00PM
Upon arrival, we took a private shuttle to the beautiful Mondrian London at Sea Containers which sits on the Thames River. The hotel is seductive and very art forward throughout the building. What I loved about the Mondrian London is the proximity to the city and local attractions like The Global Theatre, Tate Modern, and the London Eye.
If you’re into design, the Mondrian was designed under the creative direction of renowned British designer Tom Dixon, the hotel captures the essence of the original building, exuding 1920s cruise ship glamour integrated with the modern twists and sophisticated design for which the Mondrian brand is known.
Downstairs of the hotel, you’ll find the best cocktail bar in London called Dandelyan, Winner of Best New International Cocktail Bar (2015) and World’s Best Cocktail Menu (2016) at Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Winner Best Bar Team in London (2016) at the Time Out Bar Awards. Awarded #3 at World’s 50 Best Bars (2016).
Inspired by the Golden Age of transatlantic travel and designed under the creative direction of visionary Tom Dixon, by Design Research Studio, Sea Containers at Mondrian London brings the best of American and British cuisine to the Southbank, offering a modern yet casual dining experience in an informal setting alongside the River Thames.
Day 2: Twilight Soho Food Tour, 4:30PM – 8:00PM
One of the great ways to experience the food culture in London without getting lost is through a Eating Tour Company. We were hosted by Eating London Tours, which I highly recommend. We were able to hit the major spots in Soho and several best-kept secrets.
Here is a list of spots we visited, make sure to check these off your list next time you’re in London:
- La Bodega Negra: make sure to try the jicama shrimp tacos and a margarita.
- London Square (Park): A beautiful park located at the heart of the centre of Soho and provides a small oasis behind Oxford Street.
- Pintxos: small tapas restaurant that has killer bites from churros with chocolate shot, rice cakes with quail eggs, Marinated Olives, Seared Tuna Pipperade on Focaccia, Serrano Ham & Bechemal Croquetas and much, much more.
- Enrique Tomas: this place has the best jamon in London, thinly carved off a leg. The longer the age on the jamon, the more buttery and silky the taste.
- The London Gin Club: On a constant quest for fine and remarkable gin we have over 270 of the best premium and super premium gins available including micro-distilleries and small batch producers from around the world. We had the opportunity to sample the Gin, and it is smooth.
- Opium: Tucked away in Chinatown behind an emerald-green door and up 4 flights of stairs, you’ll find our very own Soho secret: Opium – whose incredible décor really feels like a hidden opium den. This was my favorite food spot during my visit, super secretive and the food was incredible.
Day 3: Harry Potter Studio Tour, Saturday 9:00-12:00pm
One of London’s most visited tourist attractions is the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio. You can go behind the scenes and relive the magic through the eyes of the filmmakers who brought the Harry Potter film series to life. I especially enjoyed the experience there seeing all the details that went into the movie.
Some tips if you’re planning to go:
- Ride the London Tube (subway system), then take a short cab ride to the studio. Total time will take about an hour. The Studio Tour is located 20 miles north-west of London and less than three miles from the M1 and M25 motorways.
- Book ahead, and book a timed ticket slot as this place gets super packed. The Studio Tour admits 590 new guests every hour, with an average time of 2.5 hours to get through the tour.
- When you arrive on site, pick up Potter Passports for your children (4 and under is free) – and include a treasure hunt for kids, and let them ‘stamp’ their passports at key points around the tour.
- When touring the interior sets, don’t miss the opportunity to ride a broom in front of a green screen. It’s a very interactive experience where you reenact the flying broom scenes.
- Try the Butterbeer.
Day 3: Lunch at Galvin HOP, Spital Square, 1:30PM
If you’re a fan of beer, Galvin HOP is a spot you have to add to your itinerary. One beer, three ways. The beer is a fresh unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell, delivered weekly and stored in spectacular tanks above the bar. This means it is the closest to drinking the beer straight from the brewery as possibly without being there. The heritage of PIlsner Urquell means that over the years they have developed different ways of pouring the beer to emphasize different characteristics of the beer.
- The Crisp ‘Na Dvakrat’ – Preferred pour that has a crisp finish
- The Milk ‘mliko’ – Opposite of the crisp, has a sweet taste to it. This is the one with the full foam.
- The Smooth ‘Hladinka’ – Preferred pour from the Czech Republic, catches the freshness of the beer.
Day 3: Notting Hill, 3:00PM
Nestled in the trendy London district of Notting Hill, Portobello Road is home to one of London’s (and the world’s) most iconic and famous markets. The neighborhood is so charming and a great area to walk around in. If you stroll through, you’ll find colorful buildings and doors of every shade.
Day 3: View from the Shard, 5:00PM
The Shard is similar to the Space Needle in many ways in the way there’s a restaurant and you can go to the top for sightseeing. The major different? The Shard is almost double the height! Space Needle 605′ vs The Shard 1,016′ at 95-story high. Also, The Shard has private residences in the building as well as the Shangri-La Hotel.
Day 3: Dinner at Sea Containers, 7PM
After visiting the Shard, we had an incredible meal at Sea Containers at the Mondrian Hotel filled with sea and land variations of food types. Sea Containers restaurant focuses on seasonal, farm-to-table dining – with all of our dishes designed for sharing. Some of the dishes included Mixed olives, Grilled octopus salad (our favorite, we couldn’t get our hands off these) with smoked yogurt, ice leaves, seeds, Oven-roasted lamb meatballs with soft sheep’s milk cheese, Moroccan spiced vinaigrette, and Truffle Mac and Cheese.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and offers a bottomless Bloody Mary or Prosecco brunch on the weekend, with menus reflecting the best locally sourced produce.
Day 4: Thames Rocket, 10:00AM
The next morning, the crew went on what was coined as the “Fastest River Thames Speedboat Experience!” The speedboat was awesome! Super exhilarating with great history lessons from the commander of the boat while blasting music. You’re able to see over 20 London landmarks and sights on the Ultimate London Adventure.
Day 4: London Eye, 11:00AM
One of the coolest attractions in London is the London Eye, locals hate it if you call it a “ferris wheel” because it’s more than that. The views are stunning as you make a spin around the wheel. We were lucky enough to get our own pod, normally guests share one with other guests.
- 443 feet high, fourth-largest Ferris wheel in the world.
- A ride on the London Eye takes 30 minutes, and it travels at a speed of about 0.6 miles per hour.
- Roughly 3.5 million visitations per year.
- The entire wheel weighs more than 1,000 tons (1 million plus pounds).
- U.K. Kate Moss holds the most rides by a celebrity on the attraction with 25 spins.
Day 4: Lunch time, 12:30PM
Along River Thames in the The Wharf Restaurant, you’ll find a small British pie shop called Pieminister, they have been cooking up pies for 12 years and only uses 100% free range British meat and the finest fresh ingredients. I was a huge fan, can I get another.
Day 4: Seven Dials Tour, 5:00PM
One of my favorite areas in Soho, everything about this area is super charming. The name Seven Dials comes from the intriguing network of seven atmospheric streets that link Covent Garden to Soho. The area is filled with independent boutiques, international fashion labels, heritage brands, beauty salons, men’s grooming specialists, traditional pubs, cool cocktail bars, cafés, restaurants, theatres and smart hotels.
After strolling through Carnaby Street, we went to a really cool Korean restaurant called Jinjuu. The name means “PEARL” and is run by celebrity chef, Judy Joo, at the helm. The menu encompasses both traditional and contemporary fare, highlights include the selection of “Anju” (that’s food that you eat while you drink) such as tacos, Bulgogi-style Sliders and our mouthwatering Carnitas Fries; Ssam sharing platters of succulent Bo Ssam Pork Belly, Braised Short Rib, and grilled Sea Bass amongst others; and of course the famed Korean Fried Chicken.
On our flight back we went direct from London Heathrow to Seattle, such a big time saver, no transfers is a very good thing. We sat in Premium Economy and it was great! Larger arm rest, more leg room and space between the seats, oh and the food was quite good. We also had a special live performance by Raye on the flight which was awesome.
Here is a list of Seattle Bloggers that accompanied me on the trip. You can read about their experience about London.
London was everything I would imagine it would be, a city filled with life, music, design, architecture, and a great food scene. Excited to go back! You can view more photos on my Instagram here.
Comment below with any of your questions and I’ll answer them.