London, I ADORE YOU. While I was in there living it up, I was getting so excited to share my travel guide to London with you! So many of you asked about my recommendations, where we ate, what we loved, and so here it all is, wrapped up into this pretty lil blog post.
Several of the images in this post, including the one above, are thanks to my talented sister-in-law, Melissa Boehmer! You can follow her travels over on her Instagram.
There was so much to do and see in London, and SO many incredible restaurants to check out, and we could walk (safely), to just about anywhere. Everyone that we came across was kind and welcoming, and I loved soaking up every moment of the experience.
Travel Guide to London: Where we Stayed, Ate & Played!
Travel Guide to London – Where we Stayed:
My sister-in-law booked all of our places to stay, and they were seriously EPIC. This location was amazing!
This Airbnb was called the British Museum Penthouse, and it was literally right across from the British Museum (hence the name) and walking distance to just about everything. This home was really interesting and incredibly unique, with all original artwork.
It was one of those places that the more you looked at it, the more pieces came into play. From the wallpaper that I originally thought was flowers (turns out it wasn’t at all), to the clear glass floors that looked straight down into the kitchen, it was all SO FUN.
From our Airbnb we were able to simply walk to and from really great restaurants, including all of the places that I’ve listed below!
If you’re looking to book a place to stay in London, I’d highly recommend staying in the area surrounding the British Museum.
I was in awe of the view from where we stayed! That’s the British Museum right across the street, and this is the moment that we first arrived…
Travel Guide to London – Where we Adventured:
This area reminded me so much of Disneyland! Covent Garden is filled with restaurants, shops, talented musicians and street performers, where you can walk around and grab a bite to eat, shop, or just people watch. This is where we dined at The Ivy on our first day, as well as Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast on our last. I also grabbed hot chocolate from Venchi, which was anything but your average hot chocolate. More on that below!
My tip – go hungry! We went to this market right after eating breakfast, and I’d only wished that I’d been hungry so that I could have enjoyed some of the treats here. This is a huge, busy, open market with tons of incredible, local options. If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, like we were, then this would be a great place to pick up meat, cheese, bread (lots of gf options), fresh produce & eggs.
Image courtesy Melissa Boehmer
Our first full day in London was left completely open for exploring the city, and after wandering around Borough Market, we ended up booking tickets for the Tower of London. I’m someone who never really loved history class in school (snore), but getting to see and experience it in person is a whole different story.
This was the first castle that I’ve ever toured, and we had a great time checking it out! Plus, it’s right next to the Tower Bridge (shown above), which is BEAUTIFUL, and just a quick walk to Sky Garden, which we didn’t get to check out this time, but will during our next visit, for sure! The Tower of London was one of the few Uber rides that we took, as it was raining and about a 10-minute drive from where we were staying.
Image courtesy Melissa Boehmer
On our third day in London, we spent the entire day out on a tour to see the Roman Baths, La Cock & ended the day at Stonehenge. It was a LONG day (12 hours, including 5.5 hours of driving), on a guided bus tour – both of which I wouldn’t typically seek out, however, this ended up being both me and Mike’s FAVORITE day.
We booked this tour through Premium Tours, which I highly recommend. Carol was our guide, and she did such an amazing job. She kept us in the loop about where we were going, how long it would take to get there, what there was to see, along with the history behind each stop. I’m also not super into history, but she kept it interesting!
Our first stop was to the Roman Baths, where once we were given our tickets and led inside, we were free to roam on our own for 2 hours. The time went by in a blink of an eye, as there was so much to see! It’s pretty incredible to imagine how they built these baths wayyy back when.
For our second visit on this tour, we stopped in LaCock, a small village in England. It’s a TRIP to see how people live in places that are pretty much the exact opposite of where I live. This was a slow, sleepy town, and we stopped at the George Inn for lunch. We’d pre-selected our meals, all of which were homemade, and they had gluten-free options listed on the menu.
Image courtesy Melissa Boehmer
This was our final stop on the tour, and it was absolutely perfect! Stonehenge is located literally in the middle of nowhere, in Salisbury, England. I didn’t know a much about Stonehenge before visiting, and had no idea just how massive the stones were, until I saw them in person. There’s an undeniable energy here, and it’s also a place where unexplained crop circles have been reported.
In order to be able to tour the inner circle, you currently need to book a tour for sunrise or sunset, which is SO WORTH IT.
In my opinion, this is the only way to really experience Stonehenge. We were in a group of 40, and were the only ones brought to Stonehenge for sunset. We were let into the inner circle in groups of 20, and explored this ancient wonder for about 30 minutes.
It’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen the Harry Potter movies, but they’re some of my brother and sister-in-law’s absolute favorites, so we went along for the journey and ended up having a really great time! If you are into the movies, I’d plan to go early so that you have plenty of time. Even if you aren’t, there’s a TON to check out, and I found it super fascinating to see how they put it all together – especially the makeup department!
After spending 4 full days in London, it was time for us to head to Edinburgh, Scotland! We left out of the King’s Cross station (talk about the best station name), where they had great options for food.
Image courtesy Melissa Boehmer
I so recommend taking the train to Scotland, as the ride is BEAUTIFUL. We booked first class tickets on the LNER train (formerly Virgin Train), where we traveled along the English countryside and coast for a total of 4 hours 15 minutes. I haven’t traveled on other areas of the train, but in first class you’re given a menu to choose your meal, and it was labeled with what was/wasn’t gluten-free. The food was GOOD, and created with locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients! Mike and I both had the chicken casserole with crispy potatoes. It reminded me so much of my Chicken Pot Pie Soup!
Travel Guide to London – Gluten-free Restaurant Guide:
It was the easiest EVER to eat gluten-free in London, as well as all of the UK! Mike and I are always able to find options anywhere that we go, so I wasn’t worried at all about traveling. I ended up only being so surprised with just how many options there were – FAR more than in the US!
Although I already had a basic understanding of how different the food industry is in the US vs Europe, seeing it in person was still truly eye opening. The food takes time to serve here, as it’s all made from scratch. Organic, whole foods just seemed to be the standard everywhere that we went, and the yolks were so orange (aka coming from healthy chickens), even when we ordered a quick breakfast to go in the train station.
At every restaurant that we went to, the server asked immediately about any allergies. They took gluten-free seriously, and always had tons of options. I was so impressed!
Travel Guide to London – Where we ate:
This was our first stop after checking into our Airbnb and walking around Convent Garden. We had lunch/dinner here, and while it was good, it wasn’t something that I’d seek out again. It could also be that we were so tired and our bodies really didn’t know what time it was – 4pm in London and 8am back home!
What I enjoyed: Asparagus with truffle butter & lobster risotto
This little café was located in Covent Garden, which was a quick, 10-minute walk from where we were staying. They serve coffee, gelato & hot chocolate.
What I enjoyed: I ordered the hot chocolate, which ended up being a far cry from what we call hot chocolate in the states! This was a super-rich, dark drinking chocolate topped with whipped cream. It was so so sooo good. Basically, America needs to step up their game and start serving this!
On our second visit I grabbed a latte to-go, which was served with a square of chocolate (genius). One thing to note if you haven’t been to Europe yet is that their serving sizes are MUCH smaller than in the US. A medium latte there is smaller than what we’d consider a small latte here, but it was perfect and I savored every sip. Next time, I’ll definitely be back for the amazing looking gelato!
This restaurant/café/bakery was AMAZING. Everything was 100% gluten-free, and they have the most insane almond croissants. I’m still dreaming of the croissants!
What I enjoyed: We had breakfast here on our first day, where I had charred goat cheese over gf sourdough, along with rocket (aka arugula) & poached eggs, with the most orange yolks ever. We also grabbed a bunch of treats to go on multiple visits – including these croissants & cinnamon rolls.
If you only ever go to one restaurant in London, let it be Dishoom!
This was hands down, the BEST meal of my life! Mike rarely gets super stoked about food, and yet he was just as obsessed with this place as I was. If you asked me what my favorite type of cuisine is, I’d rattle off 10ish different types before I even mentioned Indian, and yet this restaurant was SO good, that it officially tops my list.
Before even hearing about Dishoom (which several of you amazing readers ended up recommending), we passed by the location near Covent Garden on our first day, and the line out the door caught my attention. Especially considering how cold it was. No other restaurant had anything close to a line, so I took note and looked it up.
Mike and I ended up back here a few nights later, and waited about an hour in line for a table. While in line they served us their homemade house chia latte (so good), and asked to be sure that we didn’t have any allergies, as the chia had some dairy in it.
Even waiting in line was a joy, and something that Mike and I will always remember! The entire staff was so friendly and accommodating, going out of their way to make us feel welcome. We loved Dishoom so much that we ended up taking our family back 2 nights later – where we also learned that they do take reservations!
We were also told that they’re opening a location in New York City in the next 1-2 years as well as San Francisco in the next 4-5 years…so I’ll just be over here patiently waiting for that.
What I enjoyed: Dishoom has an entirely gluten-free menu (along with dairy-free & vegan menus as well), where we ordered just about everything. Seriously, from our two visits I learned that you can’t go wrong! The Mattar Paneer, Chicken Ruby, Dishoom Chicken Tikka, Gunpowder Potatoes & East India Gimlet (to drink) were on the top of our list! I’m over here drooling just thinking about it all.
But for reals, go here!
This adorable café/restaurant is in Covent Garden (I also noticed a location in the train station – and realized that they have locations in the US as well), and while the majority of the bread that they sell contains gluten, as with everywhere that we ate at, they did have gluten-free options available!
What I enjoyed: My gut was craving a super simple, healthy breakfast, and so I ordered scrambled eggs with roasted mushrooms, bacon, a gluten-free granola yogurt parfait and a delicious green juice.
Pret A Manger is a grab-and-go coffee shop & café, with tons of healthy options! They’re as frequent as Starbucks is in the US, and they had great options for meals and snacks. This place is also super allergy-friendly!
What I enjoyed: Coconut yogurt smoothies, green juices, and a Greek salad that I grabbed for our flight home.
Travel Guide to London – Other Recommendations:
We didn’t make it to these spots this time around, but will be hitting them up next time for sure! These came highly recommended from several of my readers:
Sketch: Go for high tea or a cocktail
Shard: Go for a cocktail with amazing views
Sky Garden: FYI, we learned that you need to book a reservation in advance, as this is why we weren’t able to visit.
Byron: Go here for grass-fed burgers & fries! They have a LEGIT gf bun as well, and like every other restaurant that we went to, are super careful with cross-contamination. We actually ate here while in Scotland, and it was awesome! They have tons of locations in London, which you’ll def find me at next time!
You can also get an entire guide to gluten-free restaurants in London HERE.
Travel Guide to London – What I Wore:
I was warned that in London (and really all of the UK), that it can rain in the drop of a hat, and that couldn’t have been more accurate! We were visiting in May, and the weather would go from perfectly sunny skies to dark clouds and a downpour of rain or hail in a matter of moments.
Layers were KEY in London, and really everywhere that we visited while in the UK. While it was never what I would consider even vaguely warm (keep in mind that I live in California), sometimes it wasn’t quite cold enough for my big rain coat, so I pretty much stuck to this outfit that I’m wearing in the photo above, swapping out the pants & shoes.
Travel Guide to London – here’s the basics of the clothing that I packed & wore the most:
- Long sleeve shirts: I mostly wore flannel button-ups with a down puffer vest over it, although even indoors, it was rarely without a jacket on top, as it was collllllld. I packed one short sleeve shirt and actually got a chance to wear it on our last day in York, when the temps hit the 60’s – still freezing in California, but so warm compared to what we were now used to!
- Jackets: I packed 2 jackets for this trip, which I knew would be super versatile. The down jacket was incredibly warm (I couldn’t find the exact one that I have from Mountain hardware (shown above), so I linked a similar one from Patagonia), but I also know that it isn’t waterproof, only slightly water resistant. I also packed a raincoat from Columbia, which I still say was one of the best purchases that I’ve ever made. It was so warm, and had removable layers, as well as a removable faux-fur hood, which was lined with fleece on the inside as well.
- Over the knee boots: My Vince Camuto over the knee boots were the BEST for this trip! I wore them nearly every day, simply swapping out jeans & socks. Not only are they super comfortable, but they look great too!
- Hiking shoes & converse: Once we arrived in the UK, I’d wished that I’d packed my Sorel Hiking Boots, rather than my Salomon hiking shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Salomon’s and wear them just about daily when I hike with my pups back home, they weren’t something that I really needed here…as they truly are for hiking, which we didn’t do much of at all.
- Jeans: It goes without saying that you need pants while traveling in the UK, and I simply wore jeans throughout the entire trip (Madewell are my FAVE – they’re all I wear anymore), along with a couple pairs of Lululemon yoga pants that I brought for the days that we were traveling.
- Socks/base layers: Super warm base layers were KEY for our travels! I wore Smart Wool Socks & Smart Wool long sleeve base layer tops throughout our entire trip, which helped to keep me warm. Just when I thought it was cold in London, Scotland was on an entirely new level of freezing, and I’ll be sharing more about that in my next post!
- Scarves: I brought along my favorite blanket scarf, which is super warm, and ended up purchasing a cashmere scarf in Scotland, which I’ll talk about more in my next post as well!
Stay tuned for my guides to Scotland and York, coming soon!
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