This post is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic. All opinions are my own and always will be! Thanks for supporting content that keeps Jojotastic going.
What a whirlwind my recent trip to London was! I’m definitely one of those travelers who does a lot of research before I arrive, but I also make sure to leave room for those happy discoveries that travel (especially international travel) always brings. Virgin Atlantic sent me and 5 other Seattle-based bloggers to London to celebrate the launch of their new direct flights between Seattle and London, so of course I was totally in for a trip to explore this gorgeous, historical city. Without further ado, here’s my travel guide for London!
Brace yourself, this is a looooong post!
Everything about our trip was luxurious, from the champagne to the variety of snacks on our flight to the provisions kits we were given in Premium Economy. I was actually quite amazed by how delicious the meals were! On our flight back to Seattle, we were served afternoon tea, complete with a warm scone and, my personal favorite, clotted cream. It was such a treat.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and checked into the Sea Containers London. The best way to describe the vibe of this hotel is with a loooong list of adjectives: modern, sophisticated, and just a bit sexy! My room was super comfy (I was sort of obsessed with the light-up mirror and bathroom) and had a lovely view of the Thames river. After checking in, we immediately got started exploring with the Soho Food Tour… and we ate SO MUCH. London’s food scene seems to be a mishmash of different international influences, which we really witnessed when we were offered samplings from Spanish jamón, Chinese dumplings, margaritas, and a gin tasting. My personal favorite stop was Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlor — there’s a hidden away back-bar that is super sexy.
The next day, Saturday, we started the day early! Via cab, we went to Pimlico and got distracted exploring the charming streets of London. Our stomachs started rumbling though, so we went to breakfast at Cambridge Street Kitchen, which was a treat both aesthetically and food-wise. I found myself photographing every element of the restaurant because it was just that pretty. The interior sort of felt like the perfect mix of everything I love and all the design details I want to bring into my home.
Seriously, I took so many photos of Cambridge Street Kitchen, but how could I not??
Part of our group went to visit Harry Potter, we tried to visit the Tate Britain to see a David Hockney exhibit, but getting tickets was a bit of a challenge! Instead we went to the Victoria & Albert museum which was at the very top of my must-see list. When I worked at Anthropologie, my mentor always went to the V&A when she was in London, so I knew that it was a really important place for me, inspiration-wise. And it did not disappoint! I was floored by the space itself, the curation of the exhibits, and the array of artwork. I would highly recommend going to the V&A if you’re interested in design, interiors, and art.
We also did some shopping and walked through Hyde Park. London was in bloom while we were there, so I probably took about 5,400 photos of flowers alone. While walking, we found a few fun shops:
And then… the main event: high tea at Sketch! Honestly you guys… I should write an entire blog post about this spot alone. I’ve been lucky to experience some truly incredible culinary treats, but this… this was in my top 3. Everything was so on point: the David Shrigley art and pottery (I’ve been a longtime fan), the string quartet, the pink velvet, the mixed media floor, the rosé, the tiny sandwiches, the mini desserts and cakes… EVERYTHING. I cannot recommend Sketch enough. If you go to London, book reservations as soon as you book your flights. No joke.
After high tea, we met up with the rest of our group at Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill. While the market was a bit crowded, we were able to veer off the main drag and explore the charming streets and take in the sites of some truly gorgeous and inspiring homes. If you’re looking for COLOR, Notting Hill is where it’s at! Every door is a different shade of pink, lavender, turquoise, crimson, black… and even more.
photo credit: Ryan Hodgson
From there, we used the tube to travel to the Shard, which is Western Europe’s tallest building. From there the viewing platform, you can see over 1,000 years of London’s history all at once! We happened be there during the sunset and it was gorgeous. After the sunset, we went back to the Mondrian to refresh ourselves for a lovely dinner at Sea Containers, the restaurant in our hotel. We feasted for hoursss on many delicious courses and then sipped on exquisite cocktails at Dandelyon, one of the top bars in the world. This night of incredible food, drink, and company will always be an amazing memory of mine.
Our last full day in London was Sunday, so we made sure to maintain a very full schedule! We started our day with a speedboat tour of the Thames River with Thames Rockets. It was great to see so much history and architectural from such a different perspective! We also road the London Eye and got to see the city from yet another perspective.
Next, we explored Shoreditch, which was such a fun, chill neighborhood with LOTS of great shopping and restaurants. This part of London felt most similar to Seattle with it’s chill, somewhat grungier vibe. Every street brought something different and so much texture, graffiti, Banksy, and brioche. I fell in love.
A few favorite places in Shoreditch:
- House of Hackney — all of the pattern you could ever want!
- Labour and Wait — a great utilitarian shop, I bought many pieces for my prop library here!
- Modern Society
- Monologue — lots of great gift items and photoshoot props.
- Albion — I had an delicious pie there for lunch.
I really wish we had had more time to explore Shoreditch, but from there we were whisked away to Seven Dials for a tour of this neighborhood. You can find boutiques, traditional pubs, cocktail bars, and more in Seven Dials. We stopped at My Cup of Tea for a matcha tea tasting (and I ended up buying a lottttt of tea for Sean).
Then we toured Carnaby Street, which is know for being the hip spot to be in the ’60s. It’s since been reinvented as a shopping and style destination. Liberty of London is located here and I desperately wanted to see it, but we unfortunately arrived after they closed… next time! We ended the walking tour with dinner at Jinjuu, which was super delicious. We feasted, family style, on Korean street food such as kimchi fries and Korean fried chicken. The cocktails were fancy, too. After dinner, we went to Cahoots, a cocktail bar set in post-war 1940s Britain in an underground tube station. Lots of punchbowls and strong cocktails.
And, just in case, here are a few other spots that looked really cool, but we didn’t get a chance to check out:
And don’t forget the main reason for our trip: to experience traveling directly from London to Seattle with Virgin Atlantic! I have to say, this was one of the most luxurious travel experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have. The Clubhouse in Heathrow was truly something special. I loved how comfortable it was, as well as all the delicious food and drinks. I wouldn’t mind hanging around there more!
Our direct flight back to Seattle was delightful, too. Honestly, flying direct for international travel is such a treat. No need to transfer and wait around. I think my favorite part of flying with Virgin Atlantic was all the snacks they gave us during the flight (and, like I said before, the afternoon tea!!). We were also lucky enough to witness a really fun live performance by Raye. So much excitement for one flight!
Be sure to check out the recaps by my travel partners:
This trip was truly an experience of a lifetime. I had never been to London before, so exploring this city that is so deeply rooted in food, design, music, and amazing cocktails was the best. I already know that I’ll be visiting this magical city again soon!
photography by Jojotastic unless otherwise stated.