As you touch down at Heathrow airport, the anticipation and excitement both grow knowing what lies ahead. You are about to pay a visit to one of the most magnificent cities in the world…London, England. The capital of the United Kingdom boasts so much to offer you could literally spend weeks here and not see everything. The best part about visiting this royal city is that you can always enjoy the usual historical sites such as Buckingham Palace, the soaring arches of the Westminster Abbey, the iconic Houses of Parliament and of course Elizabeth Tower (most know as Big Ben, although that’s only the clock portion), but there are always new tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels popping up to try as well. Since London is such a melting pot of cultures there are endless opportunities to try; new dining experiences, cultural festivals, art galleries, museum exhibitions, sporting events, just to name a few. Due to the massiveness and diversity the city has to offer it is important that you plan out how to maximize your time in order to create the best travel experience. On our last trip to London we planned for the perfect mix of old and new and had an amazing and memorable stay.
Getting There: Smooth Flying from LAX to LON
With daily nonstop flights to London from Los Angeles, Air New Zealand is the airline of choice for our travels. With friendly and attentive Kiwi service, travelers can relax on their internationally bound journey with over 1,000 hours of on-demand entertainment all while enjoying complimentary New Zealand wines. We can certainly cheers to that!
Heathrow to London City Center
Since the city is a ways from the airport it can be difficult not to worry about how you will get from point A to point B upon arrival. A simple resolution to this concern is Blacklane. Offering the most reliable global professional driver service at the most competitive rates in 50 countries Blacklane’s five-star service combines multi-lingual, 24/7 customer care, real-time service control for tens of thousands of quality cars, and all-inclusive fares guaranteed at the time of booking. Passengers can schedule a pickup using Blacklane’s website, iOS app or Android app at the touch of a finger. Who wants to take a cab when you can ride in style at a reasonable cost?
Where to rest your head
The Classic: The Langham
Hosting visitors to London City since 1865, this classic Victorian style hotel is centrally located and within walking distance to major attractions, restaurants, and shopping. The stylish rooms have marble bathrooms, traditional British decor and various amenities including complimentary WiFi. Suites and club rooms include access to a club lounge where free breakfast, snacks and evening drinks are served. Langham Club privileges also include late checkout and broadband access. Located in the heart of the West End, Theatreland and just steps away from luxury shopping guests have everything they need right at their doorstep.
The Oasis: 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites and Residences
Located in the middle of Westminster, this luxury hotel includes 85 suites and residences. Complete with butler service and the exclusivity of a private home each residence comes with your very own kitchen and living area. The suites provide roughly 550 square feet of space and are available in one, two, three bedroom suites and five to nine bedroom residences, many overlooking the award-winning courtyard garden. Amenities include Nespresso coffeemakers, iPod docks, washer/dryers, complimentary Wi-Fi, the premier Golden Keys Concierge service, tailored treatments at the Wellness Centre and a host of on-site dining options including Quilon, the signature Michelin star Indian South West coastal cuisine restaurant. Tip: Don’t skip out on breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant Kona; it is the best breakfast we have experienced in the city.
Hotel Highlight: The hotel’s signature 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea features a half bottle of Luxor Pure Gold 24K Brut Champagne, which includes flakes of 24-karat gold. Inspired by Luxor, Pastry Chef Nikhil Vyas with the direction of Executive Chef Vikas Milhoutra has created a series of decadent delights made with edible gold. The 24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea includes Gold Leaf Jelly, White Chocolate Delight with Gold Leaf and Strawberry Tart with Gold Flakes and is accompanied by a selection of scones and delicate finger sandwiches. It is truly a delicious way to spend the afternoon.
Unique Experiences in the City
Dine in the Dark at Dans le Noir
This is one of those must do’s if you are a true foodie. Dans le Noir translates to “in the black” in French and this is exactly how you dine here. One of the most unique dining experiences you will ever have, we can guarantee that! First, you are told to put your cell phones in a locker before you enter the restaurant and then and only then can you fully use your most important senses while dining, your taste buds. Next, you are guided into the pitch dark room led by a blind server along with complete strangers that you soon become closely acquainted with. There are no single tables here, you are seated with people you have never met before which really seems to enhance the experience that much more. Order from four different categories; meat, seafood, vegetarian and of course the surprise option. You will be extremely amazed as to how much your taste buds are worked here. The conversations are quite amusing at the table amongst your new friends, especially when trying to figure out exactly what you are eating. As you leave the restaurant you are shown what you ate and trust us you will be amazed. Dans le Noir offers something you will not get anywhere else; delicious, unique cuisine, new friends and a story to tell your friends and family for a very long time!
Get Techy with it at Inamo-St James
If you’re in the mood for oriental fusion and technology inspired dining, Inamo St James is the place to be. Using the new technology of E table you will get a glimpse into the near future on how many restaurants may change their patron’s method of ordering. Each table is an interactive food ordering system almost like a giant Ipad with an overhead projector showcasing a visual look at each item before you choose it. The system gives the restaurant the ability to show off their many creative dishes and drink options as well as giving the user the ability to see exactly what they are going to eat before they order. Situated on Regent Street in the heart of the West End, you are only minutes away from many of Central London’s theatres and shops, making it the perfect place for pre-theatre and post-theatre dining. Choose dishes from all areas of Asia to tantalize your taste buds. In the mood for sushi, Thai and Chinese all in the same meal? Inamo has you covered whatever your needs are. Using the E table you even have the option to change your virtual table cloth or order a taxi home!
Press for Champagne at Bob Bob Ricard
If you are visiting London and want an authentic and sophisticated meal look no further than Bob Bob Ricard. The Russian-British fusion restaurant is a very rare specimen to start off with but now throw in the fact that they have a “press for champagne” button at every table… and this becomes a must do on your culinary bucket list. Famous for pouring more champagne than any restaurant in the United Kingdom this all-booth dining establishment takes comfort food to a whole new level. The menu is as eclectic as it is tantalizing and your only worry will be that you can’t try everything in one sitting! There are so many delectable dishes offered here. From a variety of Caviar to Truffled Potato and Mushroom Dumplings, to Chicken Kiev and the all famous Beef Wellington you’re in for a fabulous meal whichever entree you choose. The serving staff is on point at BBR, each table is well looked after, to say the least. Press the champagne button and your server will be at your table within seconds. We were enthralled to have a strapping young lad named Bernard from Belgium who provided impeccable service that we will never forget! The champagne menu is one of a kind so make sure you plan to Uber it back to the hotel after this dining adventure!
Bring on the Paparazzi with Localgrapher
London is well known for having some of the best backdrops in the world for photography, the question is, are you ever able to catch the perfect moment and keep those shots forever? Now you can with localgrapher.com. The company will set up a photo shoot just for you to guarantee the best shots possible. Plus as a bonus, your photographer acts as a tour guide and provides some really interesting history and facts about the city. The whole process is very simple and smooth from start to finish. You set the location and they send the photographer. After the shoot, they send your photos to an online photo gallery for you to cherish the memories forever. Get photographed with your loved ones in front of all the iconic sites London has to offer such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Big Ben, the London Eye and more!
The Champagne Experience at the London Eye
When visiting the city of London you can’t miss one of the most iconic views in the area, the London Eye. The Champagne Experience at the London Eye makes your ride that much better and involves breathtaking and enlightening views of London while being served champagne for guests to enjoy and celebrate the city sights with. This sophisticated experience involves a glass of chilled Pommery Brut Royal Champagne accompanied by a personal Coca-Cola London Eye Host. Celebrating a special occasion? Upgrade your city adventure and purchase the Cupids Capsule which is designed to lure your loved one into a romantic and private evening. The private capsule offers special services such as exclusive check-in, fast pass boarding and tickets into the newly opened 4D Experience. The Private Capsule also includes a bottle of Champagne and box of truffles that are exclusively brought to you by your host. Now that is a way to earn some brownie points!
Afternoon Tea Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Aldwych Hotel
One Aldwych Hotel located in the midst of London is a prime location for spending a delicate day sipping afternoon tea especially when the tea service is inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This exquisite and playful afternoon tea spread is laid out to celebrate the West End’s most enchanting musical. Small bites such as self-indulgent golden eggs, blueberry brioche, and lively tasting candy floss are all available to accompany your spot of tea. Every item off of the menu emulates the classic humor and curiosity that comes with the classic Roald Dahl’s tale. Complimenting the teatime treats are a variety of selected award-winning loose-leaf teas from Canton. Each of the teas has been selected to accompany and enhance the delightful flavors offered by the kitchens creations. We highly recommend the chocolate tea to stick with the full experience.