Weekend Getaway: London
London is the perfect short weekend getaway from Paris. It is roughly 2 hours by EuroStar, and if you are an expat like me, everyone speaks English. Also the currency exchange is much better than years past whether you are converting from Euro or USD.
How to get there
Best way to get there is to take the Eurostar from Gare du Nord. Make sure to get there about 1 hour and a half before your train departs as Customs is done on the Paris side, which is really great so you are not wasting any of your valuable time on line once you arrive in London!
Where to Stay
I normally NEVER recommend to stay by the train station, so this will be my one exception. You will arrive in London at the San Pancras station and I would recommend staying in Kings Cross if your visit is short. I normally stay in Marylebone and Hyde Park area, but during my last visit stayed at The Pullman Hotel since I was only there for 2 days. It's a great business chic hotel and is roughly a 5 minute walk to the train station, which was wonderful for me because I didn't have to stress about missing my train back to Paris because of unforeseen traffic or me just running late. The location was central to everywhere I wanted to go (Marlyebone, Mayfair, Regent Street, etc)--basically no more than 20 minutes to my destinations with traffic, plus good connections to the Tube when I didn't want to uber.
Where to Eat
The London Food Scene has improved drastically since my first ever visit right after college. I remember when Indian food was the only game in town. Now there is such a great choice of culinary delights. I'm sure you will make your own discoveries when you are there, but here are a few of my faves.
Coco Momo in Marylebone is one of my favorites for brunch or a super late lunch by far. I always go with the Eggs Benedict, but they always have a pretty solid menu. The Anthropology like ambiance really sets the mood for some old world charm in a modern city. Also love the casual, hip and friendly neighborhood vibe.
If you are craving a more fancy experience of the posh people watching variety, I suggest The Wolseley in Mayfair. The room is grand and you feel as if you have been transported to decades past. You may also run into a celebrity or two.
Mews of Mayfair is a MUST for any London trip. I've only been there for dinner and drinks but am pretty sure their lunch and brunch is amazing as well. The location converted mews houses dating back to the 18th century, which adds to the whole experience of dining there. There are many options depending on what mood you are in as it houses a formal dining room, brasserie and cocktail bar. The downstairs also becomes a club around 11pm if you are in the mood for dancing. Definitely add it to your list for at least one visit.
Another one of my faves is Fischer's, also in Marylebone. It is a Viennese restaurant with delicacies such as Schnitzel and Brötchen. Will warn you that you should bring your appetite, as well as wear something not too constrictive. The portions are huge and filling, but very worth it. You will want to eat everything off your plate. Definitely save room for dessert and then have a digestif at Chiltern Firehouse, which is about a 10 minute walk away.
Things to Do
OK, so of course one of my favorite things to do in a city besides trying out the local fare is shop. My favorite neighborhood to shop in is Marylebone (shocker). I tend to stay away from the major department stores and Oxford Street in general because I don't like crowds. I did have to go into Harrod's to pick up something for my mom, but if you don't have a reason to go, DON'T. It is the most overwhelming place I have ever been and I have been to a lot of places.
My style is pretty much sensible, yet trendy. One store where I can find a few great pieces is KJ Laundry. They carry styles that suit my aesthetic and carry lesser known designers, which I love, because who wants to look like everyone else?
If you feel like shopping is a sport, Cabbages & Frocks will be a treat for you. It is London’s first bespoke market and located in a charming cobbled stoned courtyard behind St Marylebone Parish Church. The market happens every Saturday from 11am to 5pm and is the place not only for fashion but also for vintage finds, tailoring, Italian accessories, handmade crafts, unique jewelry and specialty food items. There are many designer finds and they also support up and coming designers and artisan creations. Pro Tip: Get their early if you are on the prowl for one of your favorite hard to get designers. Also, if you are a dog lover, check out this upcoming event on April 21st!
I'm an avid reader and need my fill of books written in English. Every time I'm in London, I always tend to make a visit to Daunt Books. They have a vast assortment of literature and have a style similar to Shakespeare & Company. I literally can and have spent afternoons there.
So, I'm usually not into the tourist stuff when I'm in London, as it is my English weekend retreat to unwind. AS for MUST sites and attractions, I do recommend Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey and maybe one of the museums depending on what you are into. I honestly just like walking around and seeing what I feel drawn to. If you are looking to see London from a bird's eye view, you can do the London Eye. I will warn you that it does come we a price tag.