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Would you like to plan my trip to London?
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:47 am    Post subject: Would you like to plan my trip to London? Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I'm planning on traveling (again) to London in May. I'm on a serious budget as the British pound is equivalent to almost 2 US dollars! I haven't been to London in over 3 years, but I am a little familiar with some of the neighborhoods --- mostly Bloomsbury. I love the parks and museums and the theatre, but I'm a bit short-changed on restaurants. I plan on spending 4 full days there. Would any of the more experienced London travelers on the board like to propose an itinery for me, including places to eat and secret haunts? I would also like to squeeze in a walking tour if anyone can recommend one that was particularly memorable.

Thanks much,
Audrey
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Audrey,
My husband and I are going there in February and are staying in Bayswater for a few nights. We are staying at the London Guards Hotel, it looks nice, nothing amazing but clean, private bathrooms and decorated nicely. We plan to stay away from tourist traps and we have some aquaintances there who will be directing us to some good spots. I will report on my finds when I return.
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commissaire



Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:01 pm    Post subject: a few ideas for London Reply with quote

My 2 sisters, 2 cousins from Norway & I met in London in May 2004. Here are a few things that we did:
We stayed in Bloomsbury at the Thistle Hotel- quite adequate, good breakfast & we found it really easy to get around from here.www.thistle.co.uk/thistle/hotels/booking/book.do
Definitely try Caffe Nero for full bodied, Italian style coffee
www.caffenero.co.uk/
My favourtie cheese shop is Neal’s Yard Dairy
www.nealsyarddairy.co.uk/ourshops.html/
And a really reasonably priced restaruant chain is Wagamama Restaurant www.wagamama.com
Bloomsbury location: 4a streatham st, london, WC1A 1JB
Covert garden location: Covent garden, london, WC2E 7PG
(but there are lots of them in London)
I've been to London a number of times but that year we took a boat down the Thames as far as Kew Gardens www.rbgkew.org.uk/ and then took the train back to London, as easy day trip & we had a beautiful clear day to see the sights and enjoy the early flowers.
hope these ideas help.
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! That sounds lovely. I've heard of Kew Gardens but have never been there. Thanks for the cheese shop reference too!
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kara



Joined: 10 Nov 2005
Posts: 5
Location: san francisco

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was recently in London (Sept.) and loved it so much I am going back again in February!

I really enjoyed the bookstore Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. They are closed Sunday/ Monday. The store is completely cookbooks and there is a little cafe in the back that serves a light 3-course lunch. Each day the menu comes from a different cook book. You can choose 2 or 3 courses, and the prices are quite reasonable. (I think it was 7 pounds for 2 courses). Get there early because once they run out of food, that's it. You can also just have dessert and coffee if you choose, as they have a selection of lovely desserts each day. Their website is www.booksforcooks.com. They also have cooking demos/ classes upstairs. Advance registration is required.

The day I was there, the featured cookbook was Moro, which happened to be the restaurant we were having dinner at that night! The food was wonderful (both the bookstore cafe, and the restaurant www.moro.co.uk). The restaurant is reasonably priced (considering the exchange) and has a buzzing atmosphere.

The London Eye is a really cool experience and if you go at night you can see the city all light up. If you purchase your tickets online in advance there is a small discount.

Of course many of the museums in London are free- The National Gallery also has a very nice cafe, as well as the Tate Modern.

4 days isn't very long, so my suggestion would be to do your research and plan your activities/ restaurants by neighborhood to maximize your time. I was there for 7 days and felt like I did a lot, but there was so much I still want to do. (National Portrait Gallery, The Wolseley for afternoon tea, shopping...)

If you can get your hands on a copy, April 2005 (i think) Gourmet Magazine was all about London. A great resourse for restaurants.

Oh, and Borough Market (Farmer's Market), which is open on Fridays 12-6pm Saturdays 9-4 if you are there...

There is so much to choose from- do what interests you most, not what everyone expects you to do in London. (But some of those things are fun too!)

Enjoy!
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am eagerly scouring everyone's posts here, as we are headed to London mid-April (right after Easter). We will be looking for good restaurants, but bargain prices (ha!). The Cook Book shop in Notting Hill sounds like a find!

The week before Easter, we will be in Dublin, visiting our son who will be studying there. His school is in the Temple Bar area, so if you know of good places to eat, listen to music, visit, please post a reply! We are also looking to get into the countryside a bit, probably just day trips, so include that if you are an old Ireland hand!

Thanks,

Donna
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Pockymonkey



Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 63
Location: Northfield, MN

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Donna,

In Dublin, I really like walking around Grafton Street, which is a pedestrian area with lots of shops and restaurants and pubs. It's close to Trinity College (with the Book of Kells - worth a visit, I think) and Temple Bar. I like a cafe called Gruel for sandwiches. I remember taking an evening walking tour of "Haunted Dublin" that was pretty entertaining.

I would recommend a day trip to Country Wicklow (south of Dublin). A worthwhile place to spend a day - Powerscourt Estate (http://www.powerscourt.org/). It's got a really lovely old estate, extensive gardens, both formal and wild, that are lovely to wander around in (and picnic in, weather permitting), a very nice restaurant with good views - great for a hearty lunch or tea with nice desserts.

North of Dublin, I'd also strongly recommend a trip to Newgrange with its mysterious neolithic passage tombs. These are really interesting - and puzzling, since no one really knows the first thing about the stone carvings around their sides, but they are fascinating objects.

If you're up for it, I'd also advocate a trip to Northern Ireland. A bit long for a day trip I guess, though Belfast is only 2 hours from Dublin by train or car. I know people who came up to Belfast for the day and took in a city tour of the political murals and then headed back down to Dublin in the evening. If you are willing to overnight it in Belfast, you could also take in the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim in the north - really spectacular landscape and a flat-out gorgeous drive.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone ever been to 15 or Fifteen, Jamie Oliver's restaurant in London?
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sian gamble



Joined: 10 Nov 2005
Posts: 4
Location: United Kingdon

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 2:09 pm    Post subject: London Reply with quote

Not been to 15 but its very popular as our Jamie is never out of the press or off the telly. So if you intend to go you will need to book
Good area to explore is around the Borough Market and along the river to the Tate Modern Gallery - nice walk along the river and free (if you're not soft and give to the those begging. The Globe theatre has a guided tour if you want to see how they did stuff in Shakespeares time and is near here
Neals Yard dairy is small but perfectly formed! and the market good if you want a dead goat!!! There is a really hip Tapas bar nearby it but cant remember the name - reasonably priced. If you fancy a tipple experience the Vinopolis - wine museum and you can opt the tastings.
There are so many place to eat its really hard to suggest - I would avoid the obvious (the Ivy etc) as these are expensive , can be a bit snotty, and hard to get a booking - I would try referencing with Hardens - they do a yearly restaurant guide and I think they have a website.
If you want to splash out Gordon Ramsay is kinda man of the moment - try Claridges but again second mortgage required.
Hope this helps.
Oh and a good mag for food recommendation is OLIVE try www.olivemagazines.co.uk there are some spotlights on different places in London and always some ace suggestions.
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London Lucy



Joined: 19 Nov 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:43 pm    Post subject: London Reply with quote

Hi Audrey,

I am a born and bred Londoner so I hope I can give you a few useful tips. Piccadilly has lots of interesting, if pricey, places to shop - Fortnum and Masons of course but also La Maison du Chocolate and an interesting Japanese Patisserie. Also the Wolsey is along there if you want a High Tea. And of course the Royal Academy is over that way - I don't know what they'll have on then but it's normally something good. Another thing which is always good fun and can be free if you can stop yourself being tempted is a trip to Harrods' Foodhall! Over in High Street Kensignton there are lots of interesting shops and a really nice Singaporean restaurant called Nong Ya which has this special kind on Malay/Singaporean food. If you like Chinese food then you should also try Yauatcha on Berwick Street which has the BEST dim sum - their venison puffs are out of this world. If you need a quick, cheap bite in the Covent Garden area there is a row of kiosk places on a balcony over-looking one of the markets - not the red-brick one in the centre of the square but the one just south of that. If you walk through it away from the central merket and look up you'll see the balcony. The best one is the Caribbean stall. I'm not promising gourmet food but you will get a tasty, good value meal. I would thouroughly recommend a visit to Somerset House. The Courtald Gallery is housed within there with lovely Impressionist and other paintings And if you're in that area something which few people do but which is very interesting is a walk round the Inns Of Court - these are the historic centres for the law in Britain and are full of history. If you've read The da Vinci code the Inner Temple church which he talks in reference to the Knights' Templar is in one of these Inns called Inner Temple. However they are only open during the week - the porters wont let you in during the weekend. Lincoln's Inn runs along Chancery Lane and there is a small restaurant just off this street called the Chancery which I have't tried as yet but which has had good reviews. Also a little museum which is interesting if a bit overwhelming is the Sir John Soames' museum which exemplifies the lifestyle of the 18th century gentleman. If you can stomach it and can get up early in the morning you might think about going along to Smithfield Meat Market. This is the last of the great markets which still exists in the City of London (the historic town centre) - you need to be there about 3am ish to get the real feeling of it but you can go about 7am-8am to get a last glimpse. You need to walk through the big buildings in the centre which look a bit intimidating but which are open to the public. There are lots of places selling wholesale goods but be warned there are whole animal carcasses being butchered all around you. In that area there are a few good shops - Flaneur Foodhall and Restaurant on Farrigndon Road, Smiths of Smithfield (aka SOS - trendy all day restaurant) on Chaterhouse Street, the Sutton Arms (pub) at the top of the Chaterhouse Street, Carluccios' (Italian chain) on West Smithfield Square, Club Gascon (VERY expensive French restaurant) also on West Smithfield Square and St John's (restaurant and deli) on St John's Street. The City of London has lots of interesting places, including the Museum of London, which people ignore because of the big law and finance firms but just walk around and always take the little alleyway as that is where the most interesting things are Wink!Kew is lovely - you should try to go. Hampton Court Palace is also worth a visit - I think you can even get a river ferry there and back. All the places have websites so you can just google them to find out more. Sorry its so long but I hope that helps.
Lucy x

ps I haven't been to 15 but have been told its not that good and only gets a lot of business because its associated with Jamie Oliver
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After the last post about 15 I decided to check out some reviews, with sad results. I hold Jamie Oliver in high esteem, but am sad to say that I'm soured on the idea of visiting 15. Thanks for the heads up.
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thepassionatecook



Joined: 19 Nov 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 12:27 am    Post subject: london in may Reply with quote

Hi Audrey - I may not be a born-and-bred Londoner, but I've lived here for more than 6 years... and I would guess that coming to London afresh, I am experiencing this city more like you will: someone who knows it a bit, but still has lots to explore.
For things off the beaten path, visit those small and quirky museums: Sigmund Freud's House in Hampstead (enjoy the glorious views over London on a stroll through Hampstead Heath, preferrably with a picnic), the Charles Dickens House in Bloomsbury, ... go see a Shakespeare play at the (rebuilt) Globe Theatre (you'll need to book early - last two weeks of Feb - to get a seat, rather than a standing ticket just in front of the stage for just £5), do not miss the Comedy Store in Piccadilly, 'cause humour is what the Brits do best, spend a weekend afternoon on the South Bank, watching the performers do what they do best with the backdrop of beautiful views over the Thames and just soaking in the atmosphere - in fact, here's a whole Saturday for you: up (reasonably) bright and early to go to the Borough Market: Cranberry's have the best nuts, especially the wasabi peanuts, & dried fruit, Neal's Yard cheeses are a must, queue for ages for a chorizo & rocket sandwich from Spanish supplier Brindisa (can't miss the queues), put your name down to buy pata negra ham (hand-carved, which explains the waiting time of up to two hours) - there's so much to graze on that you might not feel hungry, but if you do, Glas (Swedish fish-based restaurant) and Roast (Great British food) come recommended. Walk past the Golden Hinde (Sir Francis Drake's Ship, which you can visit) and Vinopolis upstream towards the Globe Theatre (Viewing recommended) and the Modern Tate (always great for exhibitions and views of St. Paul's), continue to the South Bank, soaking in the athmosphere, there's a Wagamama's (great Asian food on a budget) and a Strada (best - thin-crust - pizza in town) down below Royal Festival Hall (being renovated) if you feel peckish again, then move on to the Millenium Wheel, past the Aquarium and across Westminster Bridge, see the usual touristy stuff, but cross St. James' Park and stop for a glass of bubbly at Inn The Park there - best for tranquility in this mad town.
King's Road in Chelsea and Islington are great for boutique shopping (forget Oxford Street), Richmond and Kew great for a day out - walk with deer in Richmond Park, visit the great gardens of Kew, Hampton Court, or for something smaller, but also very impressive: Ham House in Richmond/Petersham. There are boats from Westminster to Richmond, but they take 2 hours and the views are sometimes, but not always great. If you're in the area, try the Victoria Inn - a very nice Gastro Pub right by Richmond Park.
For restaurants: London has every cuisine imaginable - best known for its Indian and Thai food, there's also French, Italian, Malaysian, Swiss, Tunisian, South African, even Ethiopian...
Salt Yard is great, see http://thepassionatecook.typepad.com/thepassionatecook/2005/06/salt_yard.html
Yauatcha have great Dim Sum, good chains are Wagamama's and Strada, Busaba Ethai have great oriental food as well, Wizzy (616 Fulham Road, SW6 5RP, Tel 020 7736 9171) is the latest in sophisticated Korean food - so trendy it doesn't feature in any guides and has no website, Belgo Centraal is good value for the best moules frites in town served in cellars in the middle of Covent Garden by waiters dressed in monks' attire. If you're after pasta, an unusual venue is traditional mafia haunt "Il Miraggio" - again, so secret it's not in any directory: 510 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5NJ; Telephone 020 7384 9774 proper home cooking and BYO wine.
Gordon Ramsay is one of the UKs best chefs and his Sunday lunch at the Claridges Hotel is great value at £30 for 3 courses... do try it.
For a proper afternoon tea, head for the Lancaster Hotel on Hyde Park corner, for Michelin-starred Thai food visit Nahm at the Halkin Hotel in the same area.
On Sunday morning, have brunch in Notting Hill, at the Electric Cinema, then catch a movie (if it's raining) - they play B-list flicks and lots of foreign films. For AUTHENTIC Mexican, dine at Mestizo in Hampstead Road - great value for money.
For a quick bite to eat, try Paul (French bakery in Covent Garden), Pret A Manger (all over the place), Fresh and Wild (organic grocery in Camden, Piccadilly, etc), the Villandry (near Oxford St), Flaneur (see previous post), Kipferl (Austrian deli in the same area - Smithfields).
Harrod's Food Halls are impressive, yet very expensive, I would give F&M a miss, but Harvey Nichols have a quieter and more modern approach - they do great sandwiches - made to order and seriously huge! Consume them in Hyde Park, Speaker's corner if it's a Sunday, if not, sit by the Serpentine and visit Kensington Palaze after to see an exhibition of Princess Di's impressive frock collection (if you're into this stuff).
Don't forget to buy TimeOut for the week's listings - it's full of good ideas!
For restaurants: http://www.london-eating.co.uk; http://www.toptable.co.uk/ and http://www.squaremeal.co.uk/.
Hope you have fun - don't hesitate to get in touch for more ideas...
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:30 am    Post subject: Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful tips! Reply with quote

There's nothing more gratifying than receiving travel advice from other people who are as passionate about food as I am. On my very first trip to London, I came as a theatre buff and saw 6 plays in the city --- 5 of them Shakespeare and well worth it! I fell in love with the museums and parks as well. Now, armed with all these wonderful tips, I'm off to explore London as a culinary explorer. That's the wonderful thing about London --- she has something to delight all facets of our curiosity!

Thanks again to everyone for these insightful tips and comments!

Audrey
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Filipe



Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 32
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Audrey

I am portuguese but I travel to London like 4-5 times a year, so I'll share some of my preferences with you.

There are three places in London which I really LOVE.

The first one is the famous Asia de Cuba, the restaurant at the Ian Schragger's St. Martin's Lane Hotel. You should try to book in advance, as it's not an "easy" place.

Another place which I fell very cosy, where you can eat some good (not awesome) food at very affordable prices (like 1/3 or less of the Asia de Cuba prices) is called Caffé Rouge, and it's located right behind the Convent Garden Opera House, on the opposite side of the the London Theatre Museum. They had a Coq au Vin which was VERY nice Smile but it seems they've took it out of their menu Sad

My final advice (for now) is a place called Yauatcha. Although it's also a restaurant I usually go there at tea time. It's my alternative version of a traditional english tea at the Dorchester or simillar. It's on 15 Broadwick Street, in Soho. The place is very trendy, and the tea room on the ground floor is absolutely awesome. You can find lots of chinese/japanese pastries, and a HUGE selection of teas. And you should try their scones as well, they're great.
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Filipe



Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 32
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's another restaurant, which I haven't already been to, but as it's a portuguese restaurant, and I've eard some good critics on it, I would like you to know about it. Maybe some londoners could give you a more precise opinion on it...
It's called Tugga, and it's on 312-314 King’s Road (Chelsea).
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